Utusan reaches new heights of absurdity


April 7, 2014

 Utusan reaches new heights of absurdity

By John Malott*

malott1It is shocking to see that an Assistant Editor of Utusan Malaysia has written that the 9-11 attacks were planned by the CIA, and that the agency could also be behind the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

It is yet another example that Utusan has become the laughing stock of Malaysian journalism, given to fabrication, conspiracy theories, paranoia, extremism, and racism. Just think of all the libel suits that it has lost in the past two years. Think of its declining circulation, as readers grow weary of propaganda that tries to pass as news.

But Utusan is not just any newspaper. It is owned by UMNO, Malaysia’s rulingnajib-razak1 party, whose President is Najib Abdul Razak. UMNO and its President traditionally have provided editorial guidance and supervision to Utusan.

So what say you, Najib? You will soon be welcoming President Barack Obama to Malaysia. Are you going to let this absurb statement in “your” newspaper stand? Or will you speak out – and denounce this nonsense – before Obama comes?

When Utusan had its screaming headline after the 13th GE, ‘Apa Lagi Cina Mahu’, Najib defended the paper. Then just a few months later, he told government-linked companies that they should buy more advertisements in Utusan in order to aid the newspaper financially.

Will Najib react differently this time? Washington certainly will take note of the editorial comment in this UMNO newspaper, and will be waiting to see if there is a reaction from Najib and his government.

* John Malott was former US Ambassador to Malaysia and friend of Malaysia

 

 

Anwar Ibrahim’s Conviction: State Department’s Reaction is mild and muted


March 8, 2014

Anwar Ibrahim’s Conviction: State Department’s Reaction is mild and muted

by http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

220px-Anwar_Ibrahim-edited

The United States yesterday voiced concern over what it says are politically motivated charges brought against Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, urging Malaysia to ensure fairness and transparency.

In a long-running case which stretches back to the late 1990s, the Malaysian Court of Appeals yesterday overturned Anwar’s acquittal on sodomy laws and sentenced him to five years in jail. He was freed pending appeal.

“The decision to prosecute Mr Anwar, and his trial, have raised a number of concerns regarding the rule of law and the independence of the court,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

“In this high-profile case, it is critical for Malaysia to apply the rule of law fairly, transparently and apolitically in order to promote confidence in Malaysia’s democracy and judiciary.”

She also raised the case of the conviction of opposition figure Karpal Singh, who was found guilty of sedition even though Kuala Lumpur had vowed to abolish the law.

The outspoken, wheelchair-bound 73-year-old parliamentarian faces up to three years in prison.

Yesterday’s ruling against Anwar, 66, overturns his 2012 acquittal onpresident-barack-obama-calls-atlantis-sts-125 charges he sodomised a male former aide – in a case which has dragged on since 1998 and cut short his promising career during a bitter power struggle with his rival then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar’s case was loudly condemned at the time as politically motivated, and when asked whether this was still the US stand, Psaki replied “It is.”

Sodomy remains illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia and punishable by up to 20 years in jail. – AFP, March 8, 2014.

TDM : the man synonymous with crony capitalism tells media how he fought corruption!


December 3, 2013

Tun Dr. Mahathir (TDM): the man synonymous with crony capitalism tells media how he fought corruption

by Lee Shi-lan@www.themalaysianinsider.com

mahathir-Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) today claimed that corruption in Malaysia is greater now than when he was in office.

Explaining why, Malaysia’s longest serving Prime Minister was quoted as saying that the law was enforced smoothly and without delay during his 22 years in office, compared to the current state of affairs.

“Quick action should be taken by the government on cases involving corruption and bribery as the public’s perception is important,” Dr Mahathir said.

“Corruption depended heavily on the law and the punishment meted out. One of the most important factors to battle corruption is the expediting of the investigation process,” Dr Mahathir was reported as saying by news portal, Malaysiakini.

He was speaking at a press conference at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur today after attending a forum ahead of the UMNO assembly which begins on Wednesday.

Dr Mahathir had been asked to comment on the issue as the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index Report is due out tomorrow.

The former UMNO President also said money politics was on the rise, as seen in the recent party elections.

“Although the voting format has been changed, but money politics is still alive and kicking,” Dr Mahathir said, declining to elaborate further.

Instead, he said he had an idea on how to combat corruption within UMNO and Malaysia.

“I have an idea and I will seek out a platform to explain and expand on the idea,” Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini. He also defended democracy in Malaysia, arguing that while it was not perfect, it was still better than having people take to the streets.

“Malaysia’s democracy may not be perfect, but an imperfect democracy is still better than the people taking to the streets and killing one another.”

He was adamant that Malaysia’s democracy was stable and capable of functioning as a social counterweight for all races and communities. However, Dr Mahathir said Putrajaya should own up to its mistakes and work on improving itself to develop Malaysia.

“The essence of democracy is not to achieve victory, but to accept defeat,” he said in his speech at the UMNO International Forum 2013.

image

Do you believe this Home Affairs Minister?


October 6, 2013

Do you believe this Home Affairs Minister?

Malaysiakini has called on Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to halt his attempts to intimidate journalists from the independent news portal. Journalists have a fundamental duty to ask questions of public interest, to which ministers have the responsibility to answer, said co-founders Premesh Chandran and Steven Gan in a joint statement today.

gan-and-chandran-malaysiakini-foundersSteven Gan and Premesh Chandran

The duo described Zahid’s  behaviour at a press conference yesterday as “conduct unbecoming of a Minister”. The Minister had launched into a tirade against Malaysiakini for allegedly “spinning” his words and confronted journalist Lawrence Yong after the press conference.

“If the Home Minister believes that Malaysiakini has misreported his statements, he can always contact us for a correction,” said Chief Executive Officer Premesh and Editor-in-Chief Gan.

“If he feels we are unfair to him, we are always ready to meet him or any other minister to discuss our reportage. To date, we have not received any complaints from him or his office.”

Hold Elected Officials Accountable

The co-founders of the portal reminded the Minister it is the job of journalists to hold those elected into positions of power accountable.

“In light of a perception of rising crime and lawlessness, the conduct of the police is of grave concern. The Home Minister should take cognisance of these public concerns and respond accordingly,” they added.

This is not the first time that Zahid had accused Malaysiakini of “spinning” news.He warned he was monitoring “every word, every sentence, every paragraph and every news item in Malaysiakini” during his maiden press conference as home minister last month.

zahid hamidi warning malaysiakini lawrence yong 2Meanwhile, Malaysiakini chief editor Fathi Aris Omar commended journalist Yong (left in photo) for keeping calm and standing his ground in the face of Zahid’s onslaught.

Yong had attempted to ask Zahid about the RM1.3 million worth of weapons and other equipment lost by the police force, as revealed by the Auditor-General’s Report 2012 released on Tuesday.

The Auditor-General reported that handcuffs topped the list of missing items at 156, followed by 44 weapons and 29 police vehicles.  Fathi called on UMNO to treat all media organisations with respect and fairness.

“UMNO is the only political party in the country which bans Malaysiakini from covering its functions, especially its supreme council meetings,” he said.

source: http://www.malaysiakini.com

Court lifts ban on Irshad Manji’s book


September 5, 2013

Home Affairs Ministry’s Ban on Irshad Manji’s Book removed

by Hafiz Yatim@ www.malaysiakini.com

NONEThe Home Ministry’s ban on the book by controversial Canadian author Irshad Manji titled ‘Allah, Liberty and Love’ has been removed.

This follows Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Justice Zaleha Yusof’s decision to allow ZI Publications Sdn Bhd’s application for judicial review today.ZI Publications, the publisher of the Malay translation of the book, had sought to quash the Home Ministry’s ban against the book as sales of the English version had been in the market over a year prior to the translated version.

UPDATED

ZI Publications and Home Ministry

by Hafiz Yatim @http://www.malaysiakini.com

The Home Ministry’s ban on the Bahasa Malaysia version of controversial Canadian author Irshad Manji’s book ‘Allah, Liberty and Love’ has been lifted.

This follows Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Justice Zaleha Yusof’s decision today to allow ZI Publications Sdn Bhd’s application for judicial review on the Bahasa Malaysia version.

NONEIrshad Manji’s (right) book was banned by the Home Ministry on May 29, 2012 and the ban on the English version remains.

ZI Publications, the publisher of the Malay translation of the book, had sought to quash the Home Ministry’s ban against the book as sales of the English version had been in the market over a year prior to its translated version ‘Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta’.

Justice Zaleha in her broad grounds reasoned that the English text has been on sale in the Malaysian market for a year and had not cause any disruption to public order. She asked if it is true the book was prejudicial to public order, then why was no action taken to ban the English version when it was first circulated.

“Why was the prohibition made only when it was translated to the national language?As I understand it, the root of the respondents’ concern is it would result in religious confusion as the authority decided to ban the book only when it was translated into Bahasa Malaysia.Does this mean that only the Malay speaking readers will be confused while English readers would not?”

Argument fortified

Lawyer Nizam Bashir who appeared with K Shanmuga for ZI Publications, said this fortified their argument that the sale of the Malay translated version would not result in untoward events.

Nizam indicated that the judge is expected to write the full grounds later.
NONEIn their judicial review application, ZI Publications helmed by Ezra Zaid (right), had named the Deputy Home Minister, Home Minister and the government as respondents.

The company claimed they were not allowed any opportunity to voice their views before the Deputy Home Minister’s ban on the printing, importing, producing and selling of the book last year.

They further claimed that the book only contained opinions in the form of brief summaries criticising current approaches in the administration of the religion, which were not harmful.

The ban, they alleged, was null and void as it was inconsistent with Article 10(1)(a) and 8(1) of the federal constitution, related to freedom of speech and expression. They are seeking to have the order declared nullified, with costs.

Besides this case, ZI Publications had also filed another judicial review application to challenge the power of the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department to prosecute them in the Syariah court citing it limited the company’s freedom of expression.

It was also reported that the Home Ministry and Federal Territory Islamic Department (JAWI) had been ordered by the Kuala Lumpur High Court to drop the syariah charge against Borders Gardens store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz for distributing the book.

Justice Zaleha Yusof had ruled that JAWI’s raid on March 23, 2012 predated the ban order issued by Home Ministry and that the prosecution of Nik Raina amounted to retrospective enforcement.

Nik Raina’s withdrawal of the charge was supposed to be heard at the KL Syariah High Court on August 28, then postponed to September 3 and postponed again to September 13.

This resulted in the Lawyers for Borders issuing another letter dated September 3 to the court and JAWI, expressing the hope that there are no more postponements as any judge could hear the matter.

Volcker-The Central Banker: The Triumph of Persistence


July 25, 2013

BOOK REVIEW

Volcker-The Central Banker: The Triumph of Persistence

by Felix Salmon

Volcker and ObamaPaul A Volcker and President Barack Obama

The global financial crisis destroyed reputations as effectively as it destroyed wealth. Alan Greenspan, Robert E. Rubin, Sanford I. Weill, Richard S. Fuld Jr., James E. Cayne — the list of the humbled is almost endless, while the number of heroes is minuscule. One man, however, bucked the trend and almost alone emerged from the crisis even more revered and admired than he had been already. And now, with the arrival of “Volcker: The Triumph of Persistence,” Paul A. Volcker has finally been awarded a meticulous historical account of exactly how he reached his exalted position.

William L. Silber, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, is more technocrat than traditional biographer, and his detailed book — he calls it a “biography of Volcker’s professional life” — concentrates almost exclusively on Volcker’s years in public service. There’s almost nothing here about Volcker’s private life: his marriages, for instance, and the births of his two children warrant scarcely a mention. Even the eight years he spent as a high-­powered investment banker for Wolfensohn & Company, first as chairman and then as chairman and chief executive, are dispatched in just a couple of paragraphs. If you’re looking for a portrait of Volcker the man, this is not the book for you: you’ll be much better off with Joseph B. Treaster’s breezy and easily digestible 2004 biography, “Paul Volcker: The Making of a Financial Legend.”

Volcker-The BookOn the other hand, this book is a treasure trove for policy wonks fascinated by gold prices and foreign exchange rates, and minutes of the meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee. The long account of Volcker’s years at the Treasury Department, from 1969 to 1974, will be particularly hard to follow for anyone who lacks a reasonably strong grip on the economic history of international exchange-rate policies. But one theme is clear: These were the years when Volcker became an international financial heavyweight and developed a reputation as a public servant of the very highest probity. That reputation was to serve him very well during the years that are the core of the book — Volcker’s career as Federal Reserve chairman and vanquisher of inflation, from 1979 to 1987. And it lasted all the way through the book’s final section, which covers the Volcker Rule, President Obama’s attempt to prevent too-big-to-fail banks from gambling with taxpayer-­guaranteed money.

All of “Volcker” is told very much through its subject’s eyes, as you’d expect from a book based mostly on a series of 42 lengthy interviews with the man himself. When Volcker is depicted running the Fed, that’s no problem: his history is the monetary history of the United States at that time. But when he’s at Treasury, or being roped into lending his name and stature to his eponymous rule, the perspective can feel a bit narrow.

Silber (right) is not the kind of person to admit that the Volcker Rule is ultimatelySilber William L little more than a footnote in post crisis financial reform: he clearly worships his biographee. At one point, when Volcker muses in a 1980 Fed meeting on the subject of inflationary expectations, capital positions and banks becoming “extended on liquidity,” his remarks are described as “a soliloquy worthy of the lead character in a Shakespearean drama.”

Still, it’s fascinating to relive the grim days of the early 1980s from Volcker’s perspective. The markets were truly crazy then: between April and July 1980, the prime interest rate dropped to 12 percent from 20 percent, and the price of gold rose by 30 percent. These are numbers that we can barely imagine today, when traders get excited by moves of a fraction of 1 percent.

Yet other parts of Volcker’s experience have very strong echoes in the present day. In 1981 he worried that the Fed was “the only game in town” and that it wasn’t getting any help from Treasury in terms of fiscal policy. Ben Bernanke would say the same thing today. And in 1984, Volcker orchestrated a multibillion-dollar bank bailout, of Continental Illinois — and ran straight into pushback from the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, who was expected to uncomplainingly provide all the money and take all the risk. William M. Isaac didn’t like that then, any more than Sheila C. Bair would 24 years later, when she was asked to do much the same thing on an even larger scale.

Volcker set less noble precedents, too. At no point did he ever cut interest rates because he felt that the unemployment rate was too high, for instance. But the minute there was a banking crisis, in 1982 — a crisis brought on in large part thanks to weak supervision by the Fed — he suddenly decided that he had to cut rates, in order to help rescue the financial sector. “Extraordinary things,” he said, “may have to be done.”

In an era when Fed chairmen are constantly assailed by ideologues of many stripes, one comes away from this book very impressed by Volcker’s pragmatism: far from being the stalwart anti-­inflationary crusader, keeping interest rates high at any cost in his quest to vanquish ever-rising consumer prices, he was always willing to break self-imposed rules. What’s more, Volcker’s most revolutionary innovation — the three-year period when the Fed set targets for the amount of money in the country, rather than for interest rates — was itself a deeply pragmatic move: he never had the support of genuine monetarists like Milton Friedman, and never really wanted it either.

In the end, Volcker achieved something genuinely magnificent. They really said it couldn’t be done: in 1980, the very deans of the economics profession — Paul Samuelson, Kenneth Arrow, Henry Kaufman — all claimed there was no way the Fed could bring down inflation, which was then running at a rate of 12 percent a year. But within six years, Volcker had it whipped, down to a rate of just 3.4 percent.

Volcker’s achievement shines through this book almost despite Silber’s attempts to underscore it: the editorial interjections from the author don’t make him seem particularly reliable. For instance, Silber devotes a substantial amount of space to putting together a dubious theo­ry that large budget deficits cause inflation, and that it was Congressional budget legislation in 1985, rather than Fed policy, that was ultimately responsible for the decline of long-term interest rates. He also doesn’t think much of Congress’s charge to the Fed that it try to achieve full employment as well as stable prices, calling the dual mandate “hydra headed.” And he seems to have a thing about the French: “Charles de Gaulle pursued gold the way Henry VIII did wives,” he writes, adding later, apropos of another French president, Georges Pompidou, that “perhaps a split personality is the real French disease.”

In a way, the greatest honor paid to Volcker can’t be captured in any book, and instead lies behind the job he always wanted but never got. Presidents from Nixon to Obama considered him for the position of Treasury secretary, but none of them ever offered it to him, for one very good reason: he would always speak his mind, and he couldn’t be trusted to toe the presidential line. Volcker’s loyalties were never to individuals, or even to political parties. Perhaps that explains better than any specific action how he retained his integrity while so many others lost theirs.

World Bank: Malaysia’s Near-Term Outlook still Favorable


Waldoff-Astoria, New York City

SAM_0139On the Hudson River with New Jersey in Background

June 25, 2013

MY COMMENT: The World Bank hints of tighter fiscal policies. Normally, this means that domestic economy would slow down. Fortunately, Malaysia’s external sector is still bouyant to enable growth to be around 5.1 per cent for 2013 and 2014. It, however, urges “policy makers in Malaysia consider measures to enhance structural reform and management of natural resource revenues going forward”. There is no mention of rampant corruption and other barriers; we can assume that structural reform means that Malaysia must intensify efforts to fight this scourge. We must also focus on enhancing productivity and rebuilding of our fiscal strength. Overall, the Bank’s assessment of our economic prospects for 2013 and 2014 is positive.–Din Merican

_______________

World Bank: Malaysia’s Near-Term Outlook still Favorable

June 24, 2012

Kuala Lumpur

Resilient domestic demand will allow the Malaysian economy to recover from a slow first quarter in 2013, says a new World Bank report. GDP is expected to grow by 5.1% for both 2013 and 2014, driven by higher consumer and business spending. As the global recovery gathers speed in 2014, the Bank report states, Malaysia’s external sector will increase its contribution to growth, offsetting the impact of tighter fiscal policies on the domestic economy.

Released today, the World Bank’s Malaysia Economic Monitor: Harnessing Natural Resources, notes that Malaysia’s trade has become more dominated by commodities such as crude oil, natural gas, rubber and palm oil. With prospects for demand in commodities dampened by weak growth in key export markets such as China and Europe, and an abundance of supply globally, Malaysia needs to accelerate structural reforms to ensure that its economy remains diversified and dynamic.

Kaushik Basu“Malaysia has done remarkably well over the last two decades,” says Kaushik Basu, Chief Economist at the World Bank (left). “However, the coming onstream of new sources of global energy is likely to put downward pressure on several commodity prices. This will no doubt put restraints on growth on a commodity-exporting country like Malaysia. I hope Malaysia will show the nimbleness it has shown in the past.”

Malaysia is one of a few developing countries that has successfully converted an abundance of natural resources into long-term sustainable growth. As noted in the report, sound policy choices ensured revenues from resource extraction were reinvested in the economy in the form of machines, buildings and education. This supported high rates of growth that was shared among the population, raising the average incomes of the bottom 40 percent of rural households by 7.1 percent a year over three decades, while poverty rates plummeted.

“Malaysia is a good example of a country that has successfully useddixon-world-bank-b9 natural resources to invest in other areas of the economy,” says Annette Dixon, World Bank Country Director for Malaysia (right). “This has allowed the country to promote diversification, create jobs and improve living standards for its people.”

While Malaysia can be seen in many ways as a blueprint for other resource-rich, developing economies to follow, important challenges have emerged as a consequence of the global boom in commodity prices in the 2000s. In recent years, the economy has become less diversified, with high-tech manufacturing declining and commodities increasing as a share of exports. As highlighted in this report, reversing this trend, as well as saving a higher share of revenues from oil and gas, will enhance the resilience of Malaysia’s economy.

frederico-gil-sander1“To reach its goal of becoming a high-income nation, Malaysia will need to continue managing natural resources sustainably,” says Frederico Gil Sander, World Bank Senior Economist for Malaysia (left). He added, “Some adjustments are needed to spend less of the resource revenues on consumption and more on building skills and institutions that will support further diversification.”

The report suggests that policy makers in Malaysia consider measures to enhance structural reform and management of natural resource revenues going forward, including:

  • Improving sustainable consumption of natural resources by increasing the role of Malaysia’s formal oil wealth fund, reforming fuel subsidies and reviewing gas pricing.
  • Diversifying the economy towards higher productive investments in non-commodity sectors through improvements in human capital and better public investment management systems.
  • Adapting agricultural commodity production to the effects of climate change.

The Malaysia Economic Monitor series provides an analytical perspective on the policy challenges facing Malaysia as it grows into a high-income economy. The series also represents an effort to reach out to a broad audience, including policymakers, private sector leaders, market participants, civil society and academia.

Media Contacts
In Kuala Lumpur

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tel : +6012 631 3011

In Bangkok

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tel : +66 807815165

In Washington

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tel : (202) 473-8087

Malaysia’s Sovereignty Sacrificed for Free Trade?


June 10, 2013

PRESS STATEMENT
6 June 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Malaysia’s Sovereignty Sacrificed for Free Trade?

The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is a Free Trade AgreementNurul Izzah (FTA) initiative involving 11 countries and is currently in its 17th round of closed-door negotiations. Malaysia joined the TPP discussions in October 2010. Unfortunately, in keeping with past traditions, Malaysians including their elected representatives have not been informed of the discussions pertaining to the TPP.

This unfortunate exclusion from discussions, debates or any other form of participation let alone the entire process of obtaining a Parliamentary ratification denies the public their right to oversight and scrutiny of international treaties and agreements – be they bilateral or multilateral – which could affect national interests and sovereignty.

Although the Government is allowed to enter into international agreements and treaties without having to obtain Parliamentary approval, the scale and size of the TPP supercedes any other treaties in the world. Consistent with President Barack Obama’s goal to make it the ‘trade treaty’ worthy of the 21st century, TPP far exceeds the authority and quality of the multilateral agreements already agreed at World Trade Organization (WTO). This in itself should have been a red flag for further caution.

Invariably, we are extremely worried that the Government will sign the TPP agreement without first seeking public opinion, or being attentive to the concerns and sentiments of the people of Malaysia.

While KEADILAN in principle supports FTAs if all stakeholders are involved in the process, alongside Parliamentary review and ratification, all FTAs nevertheless must be premised on “fair trade” principles without compromising the socio-economic sphere, environment, cultural domain, labour rights, public safety and national security. On that premise, we call for a parliamentary expert study group on TPP – formed of Malaysian experts and specialists drawn from around the world – to be immediately convened to look into the nuts and bolts of the FTA.

We have justifiable reasons to be concerned. This is because:-

- TPP confers greater legal rights on foreign businesses than those available to domestic businesses through a clause called the “investor-state” dispute settlement (ISDS) resolution. In lieu of this, we question the motives of the Government for entertaining the notion of joining an agreement that empowers foreign corporations to challenge domestic laws and regulations outside of domestic courts without first exhausting local legal measures. This is especially frightening as it allows foreign corporations to circumvent laws and regulations enacted by our Government in public interest such as those pertaining to natural resource, environmental protection, and health policies.

- TPP contains provisions concerning infringements of Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) ranging from basic pharmaceuticals to digital information online. These provisions would result in the increased costs of medicines purchased by our Government, and for the private consumer of medicines. Further, some provisions would hinder privacy, expression and innovation on the Internet as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would be required to monitor the everyday activity of internet users, and are given the authority to act upon them by means of disabling net access or throttling bandwidth, effectively hindering freedom of speech.

Accordingly, even if we accept TPP, we demand that the Malaysian Government ensure certain safeguards to be in place:-

1) Strengthen our environmental laws to that of international standards to prevent any abuse of our diverse ecosystem.
2) Emulate the international best practices to strongly oppose ISDS, and incorporate these best practices in the Trade Policy Statements.
3) Enact laws to protect the interest of domestic internet users and maintaining freedom of information as long as it does not breach existing security laws.

A study has been made by the Peterson Institute, stating that Malaysia stands to gain huge income gains through TPP. However, the projection has made no attempts to determine the impact of this trade deal on income inequality or environmental sustainability. Hence, we see TPP, and especially the processes leading to its ultimate acession, to be fraught with various social, political and economic risks, which could undermine the very integrity of the agreement eventually.

I will move a motion within Parliament strongly demanding a Parliamentary Expert Group on TPP be convened, with the added caveat that the legislature should be duly informed. This is to ensure the protection of the democratic rights of the Malaysian Parliament, especially in relation to the issue of review and ratification of all treaties.

Indeed, subsequent legislative amendments must be restored in light of this upcoming new treaty of TPP. Our concerns are not trivial. We will not accept the blind faith assurances that the Malaysian Government would perform its duties when they have failed miserably to protect our national interest and sovereignty in the past; including instances such as the territorial dispute cases of Pulau Batu Putih (with Singapore) and Block L and M (with Brunei), the Water Agreement (with Singapore) and the Singapore Tanjong Pagar KTM land deal (with Singapore).

I will further prioritise engagement with representatives from the Chinese, Malay, Indian and Chamber’s of Commerce regarding this matter. We take kindly to the invitation of the US Embassy which stated that they have offered give numerous groups from both business and civil society here in Malaysia the opportunity to be a stakeholder in the negotiations.

I fully intend to represent the interests of Malaysians during the upcoming round of negotiations that will be held in Malaysia and will be bringing with me representatives from the respective CCM’s to be stakeholders as well.

This TPP may have been in the spirit of ‘Free Trade’, but is it truly a ‘fair trade’ deal for the citizens of our country?

Nurul Izzah Anwar
Member of Parliament for Lembah Pantai
and Vice-President Parti KEADILAN Rakyat (People’s Justice Party)

The White House on GE-13


May 9, 2013

The White House on GE-13

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2013

Statement by the Press Secretary on Malaysia’s Elections

The White HouseOn behalf of the President and the people of the United States, we congratulate Prime Minister Najib on his coalition’s victory in Malaysia’s parliamentary elections on Sunday May 5.  We also congratulate the people of Malaysia, who turned out in record numbers to cast their votes, as well as the parties of the opposition coalition on their campaigns, as a vibrant opposition is a foundation of democracy.

We note concerns regarding reported irregularities in the conduct of the election, and believe it is important that Malaysian authorities address concerns that have been raised.  We look forward to the outcome of their investigations.  The United States looks forward to continuing its close cooperation with the government and the people of Malaysia to continue to strengthen democracy, peace, and prosperity in the region.

Mr Press Secretary
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC

Who’s going to address the irregularities?

Who’s going to address the irregularities?

Watch this Youtube about what happened on May 8 at Kelana Jaya Stadium, Selangor, Malaysia. Malaysians have shown to the United States and the rest of the world that they are unhappy with the outcome of the Malaysian elections no.13.  Your statement is, therefore, disappointing to say the least.–Din Merican

Observers: GE13 partially free but not fair


May 8, 2013
 

Observers: GE13 partially free but not fair

by Hazlan Zakaria@http://www.malaysiakini.com
 
GE13 partially free but not fair

GE13 partially free but not fair

While there are flaws and irregularities in the conduct of the recently concluded 13th general election, we should accept it – even if it is only partially free and not fair – as the starting point for reforms.

“I am too afraid to say if the flaws affected the results,” said Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) CEO Wan Saiful Wan Jan.

“But I personally believe that we should accept the result, it is credible as of now… partially free and not fair. If we don’t, where do we go from here?”

NONESpeaking to reporters in Putrajaya today, Wan Saiful (left) advised everyone to accept the GE13 results which were as close to credible as it was going to get, but then put their energy and effort not in anger, but towards reforming the system.

One question we should ask while taking a long hard look at ourselves in the mirror said Wan Saiful,was not to question how a person can vote twice, but why would someone do that.

“Why are we cheating? There must be bigger problems in our society if we do that,” he reasoned.

Wan Saiful spoke at a joint Ideas and Centre for Public and Policy Studies (CPPS) press conference to submit their findings as GE13 observers to the media.

Their unified view is that GE13 was partially free but not fair, though the leaders from both NGOs are of different minds as to the effect of flaws in the electoral process and their impact.

Different take

CPPS Chairperson Tan Sri (Dr) Ramon Navaratnam, for one has a slightly different take on latest polls. “We cannot find any proof of fraud… I believe that the results of GE13 is credible,” he stated.

While he acknowledged that there are flaws as Wan Saiful pointed out, the systemic failure of the indelible ink for one, Ramon believed the flaws be too insignificant to adversely effect the accuracy of the GE13 results, except in “one seat or two”.

“It accurately reflected the will of the people, that BN be re-elected but with a reduced majority,” argued Ramon. He also warned the public from laying too much of the blame on the Election Commission (EC) for perceived irregularities, adding that many of the problems were in fact explainable had the commission more people doing public relations.

NONERamon  (right) argued that with phantom voters for example, the main culprit is the National Registration Department who issued blue MyKad to non-qualified foreigners for whatever reason.

“The EC had no choice by law, but to accept those with blue ICs,” he said.

It is the NRD which must first be reformed contests Ramon. What is also more important he said, is to not only to correct the flaws, but also to handle the issue of unequal weight caused by the unequal population of constituencies.

Ramon added that all the issues, like flaws in EC practices, unequal constituencies and electoral roll integrity must not be tackled individually but attacked on all fronts simultaneously.

An image being shared amongst Malaysian Facebookers outlining the various acts of electoral fraud.

An image being shared amongst Malaysian Facebookers outlining the various acts of electoral fraud.


Poll observers: GE13 unfair, partially free

Anisah Shukry | May 8, 2013

IDEAS and CPPS find that the general election was unfair and partially free not because of polling day itself, but the weeks leading up to it.

Two accredited election observers concluded today that GE13 was conducted in a “partially free but not fair” manner, based on the weeks leading up to May 5.

“Our observation indicated that the EC functioned generally well during the period between the dissolution of parliament and polling day…the larger problem was the events leading up to the election period,” said the observers in their report  titled “Was GE13 Free and Fair”

Ramon and associates

The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) and Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) said that media bias, abuse of government facilities, lack of integrity in the electoral roll, Registrar of Society’s (ROS) perceived bias, uneven delineation, lack of transparency in political financing, and ethnic issues exploited for partisan purposes resulted in an “unfair election”.

Meanwhile, the elections were “partially free” because while people had the right to vote, the above factors made the freedom of choice “incomplete”.

But Wan Saiful Wan Jan, CEO of IDEAS, and Ramon Navaratnam who is chairperson of CPPS, said they personally believed the election results remained “credible” despite its unfairness.

“There could have been some little discrepancies which might have affected results, but overall it captured the spirit of Malaysians who returned the government with a narrower margin,” said Ramon.

On Sunday, BN won 133 parliamentary seats, compared to 140 in the previous election, and gained only 47% of the popular vote.

“The election result is credible…. If we say no, it’s not credible, then where do we go from here? I think it’s the best results we can get,” said Wan Saiful.

“I accept the results because I do not see how else we can move forward. I’m more interested in strengthening the institution, rather than criticising it.”

Their stand comes hot in the heels of election watchdog BERSIH 2.0’s declaration that it would withhold  recognition of the government until a fact-finding mission was complete.

Improving integrity of electoral roll

Earlier, in a statement, Wan Saiful said IDEAS found that EC successfully ensured that the overall process between nomination day and election day proceeded smoothly without any major glitches.

“Complaints have been filed about the possibility of phantom voters and the failure of the indelible ink to work as it should.  Both are important issues that must be addressed.

“However, we position these two issues in the context of the wider lack of trust in the integrity of the electoral roll, instead of simply a weakness of the EC,” he said.

Wan Saiful said to address the root cause of the problem, serious attention must be given to improving the integrity of the electoral roll. This, he added, involved improving the integrity of the National Registration Department’s database, which may not be within the EC’s purview.

He also noted that:

1. The media was heavily biased in favour of Barisan Nasional. State-funded media platforms have been abused to project partisan views to the public.

2. There were doubts about the EC’s impartiality and competency despite their many efforts to improve the electoral system. They were seen as being part of an already biased civil service. The fact that EC members repeatedly issued statements that could be construed as partisan did not help. Their defensiveness when criticised further angered the public.

3. Trust in the integrity of the electoral roll is low. This resulted in the public being very cautious when there were reports of foreigners being flown in, when they saw foreign-looking individuals, or when the indelible ink was seen as ineffective.

4. The Registrar of Societies did not treat all political parties equally, delaying the registration process of non-BN parties.

5. Constituency sizes are too unequal, allowing parties that win many smaller seats to win parliament, despite not commanding popular support.

6. Financing of political parties is not transparent, resulting in a big lack of clarity about the financial standing of the competing parties.

7. During the campaigning period, government and armed forces facilities were repeatedly used for campaigning purposes during the official campaign period.

8. Racial issues were dangerously exploited for political gains. There were many instances of BN fishing for votes by sowing mistrust between the Chinese and Malay communities.

Recommendations for the EC

In the report, the election observers had outlined a number of recommendations for the EC, but Wan Saiful said it was up to the EC to implement the suggestions.

“The idea is we now submit to the EC and we are informing the public of the findings, so we hope this raises public awareness. IDEAS intends to look further into the issues we raised, with the help of ASLI and CPPPS. But we have not planned any specific action,” he said.

The recommendations concern the appointment of election observers, improving the EC, improving the electoral roll, improving political party registration pricess, normalisation of constituency sizes and political financing.

Pakatan Rakyat: Guarantee our Territorial Integrity and Security


MEDIA RELEASE BY PAKATAN RAKYAT LEADERSHIP

March 4, 2013

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOW PRIORITISE ON GUARANTEEING OUR TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY AND SECURITY

Any leader of any country must defend his nation’s sovereignty and the security of his people. Failing to do so is a grave betrayal of the people’s trust in its government.

Therefore, Pakatan Rakyat urges the present national leadership to do that which is required of them, to defend our land and never to compromise the safety of each and every Malaysian, and the test of those principles is ongoing in and around Sabah’s Lahad Datu and Semporna with the escalating violence brought by armed foreigners.

In Lahad Datu two of members of our security forces have lost their lives, while the latest acts in Semporna have claimed six of our men in uniform. We express our sincere condolences to these men’s families and may God bless them for they have given the highest sacrifice for a grateful nation.

Pakatan Rakyat calls on all Malaysians to show unreserved support to our security forces, both the police and military. And pray that they remain safe while defending our nation and its people from harm.

Pakatan realises the recent incidents in Sabah raise concern and fear, but we urge the public to remain calm and not to act rashly and hurt their fellow countrymen.

The coalition takes this opportunity to restate its confidence in the capacity and capability of our security forces to protect our country’s sovereignty.

We are disappointed with the weak leadership show by the Federal government whose responsibility is to keep Malaysia’s security intact. While we are convinced that national security transcends political divides and all citizens must support the security forces’ efforts, it does not abrogate the federal leadership for its lax treatment of the whole affair.

This leadership has failed to pass accurate information quickly so that the public is aware of what is happening, an error which has caused rumour-mongering to be rife.

We understand that the government is investigating the leader of opposition to over the armed intrusions in Sabah. We would like to state categorically that Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim is in no way involved with the escalation of violence in Sabah nor the cause of it.

The Sabah intrusion is now into its fourth week (Day 23) — fourth day of hostilities — and the Federal leadership appears not to have a clear plan to overcome the violation of our sovereign territory, or to stop any further intrusions.Instead Putrajaya is irresponsibly trying to avert the eyes of the people from its own role.

It is time the Fderal government realises its jobs is to defend and protect Malaysia, its people and the warriors on the frontline.

Pakatan urges for an immediate meeting between the leadership of our coalition and the Prime Minister, Home Minister and Defence Minister, followed by a special sitting of Parliament to discuss the intrusion.

We strongly demand Putrajaya stops finger-pointing at others especially Pakatan Rakyat and never to betray the trust of the Malaysian people.

Anwar with Hadi and Kit Siang

DATO’ SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM
Leader of the Opposition

DATO’ SERI ABDUL HADI AWANG
PAS President

LIM KIT SIANG
DAP Adviser

BAHASA MALAYSIA VERSION

Setiap pimpinan mana-mana negara sekalipun bertanggungjawab mempertahan kedaulatan wilayah negara, keselamatan rakyat dan anggota pasukan keselamatan.

Kegagalan mempertahankan kedaulatan negara dan keselamatan rakyat merupakan satu pengkhianatan serta menodai amanah rakyat. Justeru Pakatan Rakyat berhasrat mengingatkan pimpinan negara agar tegas mempertahankan kedaulatan wilayah negara dan tidak alpa memastikan keselamatan setiap rakyat Malaysia, terutamanya di Sabah ekoran dari insiden pencerobohan sekumpulan bersenjata warga asing di sekitar Lahad Datu serta Semporna. Setiap inci tanah Sabah dan keselamatan rakyatnya wajib dipertahankan.

Pencerobohan di Lahad Datu telah mengorbankan dua nyawa perwira negara manakala insiden terbaru di Semporna pula mengorbankan enam nyawa perwira negara. Kita merakamkan ucapan takziah buat keluarga mereka dan rakyat Sabah serta berdoa moga roh mereka dicucuri rahmat.

Pakatan Rakyat juga mengajak seluruh rakyat Malaysia untuk tetap teguh mendokong pasukan keselamatan, samada dari pihak polis atau tentera. Kita berdoa moga mereka kekal selamat serta bersemangat mempertahankan negara dan rakyat Malaysia dari ancaman penceroboh.

 Pakatan Rakyat sedar keadaan mutakhir di Sabah sememangnya menimbulkan kebimbangan, akan tetapi kita menyeru agar orang ramai tetap bertenang dan tidak mengambil tindakan terburu-buru atau menyebarkan berita-berita fitnah yang boleh menimbulkan keresahan. Pakatan Rakyat ingin menyatakan dengan jelas keyakinan kita terhadap kecekapan dan kebolehan anggota pasukan keselamatan. Mereka pastinya dapat menjalankan tugas dengan profesional sekiranya diberi kebebasan bertindak tanpa sebarang campurtangan politik.

Sehingga kini, kita merasa kesal dan kecewa dengan sikap kepimpinan negara yang tidak mempamerkan kewibawaan dan iltizam dalam menyelesaikan masalah ini. Pimpinan negara juga gagal menyalurkan maklumat tepat, cepat dan telus serta memberikan penjelasan terhadap apa yang berlaku kepada umum sehingga menyebabkan khabar angin tersebar luas.

Pakatan Rakyat menggesa supaya isu ini tidak dijadikan arena tuduh-menuduh dan sewajarnya kepimpinan negara memberi tumpuan kepada isu keselamatan negara serta tidak mengalihkan pandangan rakyat dari kelemahan mereka. Sewajarnya mereka menyedari, keutamaan adalah demi mempertahankan kedaulatan negara, keselamatan rakyat dan perwira negara yang bertungkus lumus di perbatasan.

Pakatan Rakyat menuntut agar segera diadakan satu sidang khas Parlimen bagi membincangkan isu pencerobohan ini serta demi untuk mendapatkan gambaran sebenar insiden yang tercetus di Sabah. Kita juga berhasrat mengadakan satu persidangan meja bulat di antara pimpinan Pakatan Rakyat dengan pimpinan kerajaan dalam usaha untuk mencapai muafakat bersama berhubung isu ini.

_______________

Thanks to Malaysianunplugged. Note: If you have the time and patience, please  read this: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/66281/north-borneo-sabah-an-annotated-timeline-1640s-present

Army General: Intruders ‘well-trained’


Army General: Intruders ‘well-trained’

http://www.malaysiakini.com

by Nigel Aw | 1:08PM March 3, 2013

Army General Zulkifli Mat ZainArmy General Zulkifli Zainal Abidin opinied that armed intruders in Sabah have shown combat experience and adeptness in insurgency tactics.

“From our intelligence and observation, they have combat experience and their insurgency guerilla tactics are quite good, I would say,” he said.He said that the group has positioned snipers in one area with a large public space. He did not name the area.

“They know we are not able to go in without casualties because of the open area,” he told a press conference in Felda Sahabat Residence, Lahad Datu.

Today was the first ever joint press conference by the Police and Army, more than three weeks after the first standoff in Kampung Tandou, some 15km away from here.

The press conference was held following another landing by intruders in Kunak and an ambush on a police team in Sempoerna. It is still unconfirmed if the two incidents are related to armed intruders loyal to the Sulu Sultanate.

IGP: More armed intruders have landed


  • IGP: More armed intruders have landed
  • Nigel Aw | 12:43PM Mar 3, 2013
  • More armed intruders have landed in Sabah following clashes between Malaysian security personnel and followers of the Sulu Sultanate.

    Inspector-general of police Ismail Omar confirmed that the intruders had infiltrated two villages in Kunak, a town between Semporna and Lahad Datu – both flashpoints over the past two days.

    Ismail said the authorities were alerted late last night that at least ten intruders were present in Kampung Lormalong and Kampung Dasar Lama near Kunak.

    “There were sightings of a group of ten men, three of them were in military fatigues similar to those in Kampung Tandou,” he told a press conference in Lahad Datu.

    He added that security forces have moved in to contain the group within the area and a manhunt is underway.

  • image

What Dr Mahathir told war survivor Soros


September 27 ,2012

What Dr. Mahathir told War Survivor Soros

by Steven Gan of Malaysiakini. com

EXCLUSIVE: Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad told billionaire financier George Soros, a survivor of the Second World War, how he had personally witnessed a British soldier being killed by Japanese troops.

In a three-page personal letter he wrote to Soros six years ago to seek the support of his then-nemesis for his Perdana Leadership Foundation’s global anti-war efforts, Mahathir recalled the unforgettable incident in Alor Setar during the Japanese invasion of Malaya.

“The bayoneting death of a young British soldier by the Japanese in my hometown had left a lasting impression on me,” Mahathir wrote in his January 11, 2006 letter, a copy of which is with Malaysiakini.

“It may seem a minor incident but I cried for this young boy, 8,000 miles from home and family, feeling the bayonet piercing his body. And he screamed two or three times. And then there was silence. I was a teenager and I could not help imagining the thing happening to me. How could we kill people so cruelly and feel no sense of guilt.”

According to author Barry Wain in his book, Malaysia Maverick, this was one of the traumatic events that shattered Mahathir’s teenage innocence, and “thoroughly politicised him and changed the course of his life”.

Horrors of war

Soros himself is no stranger to the horrors of war. Born in Budapest, Hungary, to a Jewish family, he survived the Battle of Budapest, where German and Soviet troops fought house-to-house during the last days of the Second World War. In 1947, still a teen, Soros migrated to post-war England.

Mahathir had written to Soros to urge the much-maligned currency speculator to join him in his Global Peace Forum, which sought to criminalise war and outlaw it as an option to settle international conflicts.

“I write to invite you to lend your name to this effort to achieve the ultimate human rights – the right to life,” Mahathir says in his January 11, 2006 letter.

Both Octogenarians – Mahathir is 87 and Soros, 82 – have had a bitter war of words, with Mahathir calling Soros a “moron” and blaming the currency speculator for igniting the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, while Soros hit back by describing the Malaysian Premier as a “menace to his country”.

Mahathir also says in the letter: “We regard killing a person as a crime punishable with the most extreme punishment.It seems to me hypocritical – on the one hand, regarding killing as murder and a serious crime, and at the same time training our young men to kill people, ordering them to kill and glorifying their deeds.”

‘Identical views’

In highlighting their common war-time experiences both men had witnessed when they were in their teens, Mahathir had hoped that the billionaire philanthropist would “lend his name” to the global anti-war movement.

“Whatever may be the differences between us, we seem to have identical views on war, i.e. on killing people in the pursuit of a national agenda.”

It is not known what Soros had said in his response to Mahathir, but it is likely to have been a polite “no”, given that he did not join the Global Peace Forum.

Mahathir met with Soros in Kuala Lumpur 11 months after his letter to the billionaire financier, during which the two foes buried the hatchet.

Following the meeting, Mahathir said he accepted that Soros was not involved in the devaluation of Malaysia’s currency. However, four days ago, Mahathir dug up the hatchet and took another stab at Soros, claiming that the international financier was seeking regime change in Malaysia.

The enmity between Mahathir and Soros can be traced back to the early 1990s when Bank Negara Malaysia – then considered by financial observers as a rogue central bank for dabbling heavily in high-risk currency speculation – lost a whopping RM5.7 billion to the likes of Soros.

Yesterday: Dr M asks for Soros’ help in peace project

This Blog supports Internet Blackout Day and will be out of action till August 15, 2012


August 13, 2012

Support Internet Blackout Day–August 14, 2012

Guys,

There will be no new postings effective from midnight today. I would appreciate it if you could stop making comments as soon as you read this message. All comments received after midnight will be deleted.

The UMNO-BN government is so desperate that it has decided to curtail freedom of expression. It is behaving in a cowardly fashion. Nobody can help this government if it is scared of its own shadow.  If it fails to amend this law, then we as voters must show our disgust at GE-13. How can we support a government that does not respect our constitution which guarantees our fundamental freedoms.

Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) Executive Officer Masjaliza Hamzah said, “Under Section 114A  (of the Evidence Act), an Internet user is deemed the publisher of any online content, unless proven otherwise.

“It also makes individuals and those who administer, operate or provide space for online community forums, blogging and hosting services liable for content published through their services.This presumption of guilt goes against a fundamental principle of justice – innocent until proven guilty – and disproportionately burdens the average person who may not have the resources to defend himself in court”. 

 This blog will resume on August 15, 2012. Thanks for your cooperation.. –Din Merican

SUARAM highlights Malaysia’s Human Rights Abuses at the United Nations


June 20, 2012

SUARAM highlights Malaysia’s Human Rights Abuses at the United Nations

Press Statement

(Geneva, 19 June 2012):  A Malaysian delegation of civil society organisations, comprising SUARAM, Aliran and Bersih 3.0, are attending the 20th Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which opened yesterday in Geneva, Switzerland.During this week, the group will meet with the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as various permanent missions to the UN in Geneva and NGOs, to highlight and make recommendations on Malaysia’s poor human rights record.

The delegation was pleased to note that, in her opening address to the Human Rights Council, Navi Pillay (left), the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, actively championed working with countries towards the adoption of legislation which enshrine women’s human rights and protect women human rights defenders.

She further called on States to “fulfil their commitments to issue invitations, facilitate country visits, respond promptly to communications, and respect the independence and mandate of the rapporteurs.”

The Permanent Representative of Malaysia, Mazlan Muhammad, in his statement to the Human Rights Council, was adamant of the government’s position that human rights in general shall not sideline the right to development. He also advised the High Commissioner and her Office to not “succumb to the political agendas of certain quarters” and that the Council should focus on “real violations and not imaginary or over blown incidences”.

Nevertheless, at a parallel event , the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai (right), affirmed that he took the human rights situation in Malaysia very seriously, saying, “…the State cannot lose its duty to protect people, protestors alike…”.

Answering to the questions asked by SUARAM Executive Director Nalini Elumalai, he also repeated his offer to visit Malaysia ahead of the 13th General Election.

In June 2012, Maina Kiai had issued a joint press statement together with the Special Rapporteurs on the right to freedom of expression and the situation of human rights defenders, Frank La Rue and Margaret Sekaggya, requesting to conduct an independent inquiry into the human rights abuses during BERSIH 3.0.To date, the Malaysian government has failed to respond.

In discussing the recent violence at BERSIH 3.0, Maria Chin Abdullah (left) of BERSIH highlighted two issues. Firstly, how could assembly organisers reconcile the competing interests of demonstrators and private business owners?

Harm to business owners was the key rationale in the intimidation, harassment and personal attacks against BERSIH 2.0 co-chairman Datuk S Ambiga by the Traders Action Council, who had purportedly suffered financial loss during the rally. Secondly, what are the duties of the State and assembly organisers in ensuring the safety of protestors?

In his response, Maina Kiai reminded the audience that “…public space has as much right to be used by protestors as anyone else…” and urged for “one standard” – that peaceful protests be treated fairly whether or not the demonstration is in favour of the government, without bias or favouritism.

Moreover, it is considered trite law for the State to ensure a peaceful and safe environment for any demonstrators; this responsibility cannot be transferred wholly to the organisers.

The learned Special Rapporteur also stated that it is not remote that financial loss would occur in a demonstration and emphasised that financial interest cannot supersede the opportunity and space for freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

In collaboration with FORUM-ASIA, FIDH and Human Rights Watch, SUARAM will be hosting a parallel event, titled “Malaysia: Human Rights and Democracy Reforms Under Siege” on Wednesday 20 June at the 20th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

For inquiries, please contact:● Nalini Elumalai, SUARAM Executive Director, detention@suaram.net

Peaceful Assembly Our Legal Right


May 3, 2012

Peaceful  Assembly Our Legal Right

by Azmi Sharom

The Bersih organisers, the Police and DBKL should have met and sorted out the logistics of getting such a huge number of people together in Dataran Merdeka for a couple of hours.

WITHIN hours of BERSIH 3.0 being over, I received an angry e-mail from a reader asking me in no uncertain terms: “Are you happy now?” The writer was furious at the scenes of violence, and I suppose I was a convenient and appropriate target for his vitriol.

After all, I have been a consistent supporter of the right to assemble and have gone on record (along with nine other concerned citizens) to demand that the Government allow BERSIH 3.0 to go on without harassment at Dataran Merdeka.

Well, to answer the question, of course I am not happy that people, mostly participants, were injured during BERSIH 3.0.However, some perspective is needed here.

If thousands of people set out to cause trouble, the damage and injuries would have been astronomical.The fact that the number of injured was minuscule only serves to confirm that the vast majority of people went there with peaceful intentions.

The Police have been going on about how there would have been no trouble if the organisers had just listened to them and staged a sit-in at a stadium.This makes them look reasonable to the casual observer.

Why insist on going to Dataran Merdeka when alternatives were offered? I beg to differ. The issue is not about alternatives; the issue is about the constitutional right of the people to gather in public spaces.

According to our Constitution, and a plethora of international legal documents relating to human rights, the only limitation and consideration that authorities should take into account is with regard to national security and public order.

Traffic jams are not a national security or public order issue.This being the case, the organisers, the Police and DBKL should have got together and sorted out the logistics of getting such a huge number of people together in Dataran Merdeka for a couple of hours.

The duty of the authorities is to facilitate this right, not to offer alternatives based on their own convenience.

The violence on Saturday is unfortunate and regrettable. It is hoped that all culprits will be brought to book. I would also hope that if there is to be another BERSIH rally in the future, less prominence should be given to political parties.It is of course within the rights of political parties to take part in Bersih events, especially if they too have been calling for clean and fair elections.

However, in order to minimise the usual accusations that BERSIH is a mouthpiece for Pakatan Rakyat, it would be prudent if, in the future, the role of political parties be more one of solidarity, with no need for speech-making and the like.

However, what has almost been forgotten amid the accusations, blaming and finger-pointing, is that the largest ever group of Malaysians rallied together to demand clean and fair elections.The fact that so many people would take their feelings to the streets surely indicates that there is an important groundswell here.

Our right to choose our leaders must be done in a way that is above suspicion. The question that remains is: “Are those who matter listening?”

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