Sodomy 2: Prosecution’s Objection rejected

June 30, 2009

Court of Appeal rejects prosecution’s objection

Hafiz Yatimby Hafiz Yatim@

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal against the transfer of his case from the Sessions Court to the High Court kicked off at the Court of Appeal with a preliminary objection raised by the prosecution. The appellate court, however, dismissed the objection and fixed for the appeal to be heard tomorrow.

The appeal started before a three-member panel – Court of Appeal justices Abdull Hamid Embong, Abu Samah Nordin and Jeffery Tan Kok Wha – at 2.30pm with an objection raised by Solicitor-General II Yusof Zainal Abiden. Yusof argued that the transfer of the case was not appealable as the trial proper has not started at the High Court stage.

“If there is judgment, sentence or order by the court then it is appealable.In this case the decision to transfer from the Sessions Court to High Court was just procedural as the trial has yet to start,” said Yusof.

After hearing submissions from both Yusof and Anwar’s lawyers led by Sulaiman Abdullah, justice Abdull Hamid dismissed the objection raised by the prosecution and set for the merits of Anwar’s appeal to be heard tomorrow.

Anwar is appealing against the High Court decision on March 5 which reversed the Sessions Court’s decision to retain his sodomy trial at the Sessions Court.

Anwar, 62, is charged with sodomising his former aide, 23-year-old Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, at Unit 11-5-1, Desa Damansara Condominium, Jalan Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26 last year. The case is fixed for trial on July 8 before Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah. Anwar has also filed an application to strike out the case and that application will be heard on July 8 as well.

Anwar is cautiously optimistic

The politician’s appeal is based on his challenge on the validity of the transfer certificate signed by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail. Anwar had claimed that Abdul Gani could not sign the document because he was still under investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in connection with Anwar’s police report on the “black eye” incident.

The Court of Appeal today also allowed an application by Sulaiman for a stay of proceedings at the High Court tomorrow pending the disposal of this appeal.

The High Court is slated to hear tomorrow Anwar’s application to get further documents from the prosecution in the sodomy trial.

Commenting on the outcome today, Anwar said he was “cautiously optimistic” with his appeal application. He also noted that the judges hearing the appeal have a clean and unblemished record.

Prosecution would be crying foul

Justice Abdull Hamid, in making the order after a 45-minute break, said he and his colleagues had a hearty discussion on the issue. Abdull Hamid then painted a scenario for the prosecution if it were unsuccessful at both stages – where the Sessions Court decided that the matter be heard in the High Court, and then the High Court upheld its decision that the trial be maintained at the lower court (Sessions Court).

“The prosecution would arrive at the Court of Appeal to appeal the decision and Haji Sulaiman would raise the same argument by virtue of Section 3 of the CJA that the matter is not appealeable.

“That would close the door on the public prosecutor (to appeal) if the situation were reversed. You would be crying foul at Anwar’s forum as you (prosecution) would all feel the attorney general’s certificate of transfer was valid.”

Hence, Justice Abdull Hamid said it certainly would not be right for it to be interpreted within the realm of “decision” as claimed by the prosecution. “The prosecution’s preliminary objection is thus over ruled and this court would hear the merits of the case tomorrow,” he said.

Justice Abdull Hamid also told the court the decision was unanimous and allowed Sulaiman’s application for a stay.

Limit submissions tomorrow

Justice Abdull Hamid then reminded all parties to limit their scope of submissions as the judges were well aware of the background of the case. He instructed the parties to focus their submissions on three key issues:-

* Legitmate expectation i.e. – the assurance made by Abdullah over the minimal involvement of Abdul Gani;

* Doctrine of necessity – whether it was necessary to transfer the case from the Sessions Court to the High Court;

* Question of bias – perception of bias in Abdul Gani signing the certificate of transfer.

Dr. Denison on Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) Bill

June 30, 2009


By Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria*

dato denisonThe Federal Government is finally tabling a bill in parliament in response to the recommendation of the Royal Commission to enhance the operation and management of the Royal Malaysian Police (RC) to establish an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

This has been a long journey as the RC completed its report and presented it to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on April 29, 2005.  While the government tabled a bill in 2008 to replace the  the IPCMC called the Special Complaints Commission (SCC), it did not secure the support of a majority of Malaysians and fell extremely short of the standards set in the IPCMC. Then the government withdrew the SCC and on March 11th, 2009 introduced the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission bill (EAIC) for the first reading and on June 25, 2009 it was tabled for second reading.

The EAIC bill is comprehensive and has incorporated many of the major points of the IPCMC. It is a much stronger bill in contrast to SCC. The new bill has also taken into consideration many of the criticism leveled at the SCC It can even be regarded as a much stronger bill in contrast to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act (SUHAKAM) especially in terms of the investigative powers.

In this article I  will attempt a comparative study of the EAIC in the backdrop of the IPCMC proposal, noting some of the major points incorporated or excluded in EAIC. There are five major aspects that are important for our reflection and analysis.

Not just the Police but twenty one enforcement agencies

The first is that the IPCMC was proposed to specifically target the Police force and not other agencies. In one sense the RC could not recommend other enforcement agencies as its terms of reference were confined only to the Police.

The proposed EAIC is an external oversight body for twenty-one Federal enforcement agencies. The criticism is whether the scope for the EAIC is too wide. Public concern is largely on the misconduct of the Police force in terms of corrupt practices, excessive use of force or inaction as indicated through the findings of the RC as well as documented in the SUHAKAM Annual reports and inquiry findings.

However there have also been many complaints of the misconduct of RELA officials and therefore the enlargement might be better to set a more conducive culture for good governance, ethical and professional conduct of all the federal enforcement agencies.

The federal government must make available adequate funds and personnel necessary for EAIC to effectively carry out its task as an external oversight body which plays a complementary role alongside internal disciplinary authorities such as the Police Service Commission and the Public Service Commission.

EAIC composition of Commissioners similar to IPMC

The second aspect of review is the composition of the EAIC commission members described in Section 5 of the proposed bill. Here there are some similarities but there are also differences from the IPMC and SCC composition.

As recommended by RC, EAIC will have seven commissioners including a Chairman and Deputy Chairman. They will all be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister for a three year term and a maximum of two terms consecutively.

In addition, EAIC indicates that no person who is or was an enforcement officer will be appointed as members of the Commission, although they could be employed as a staff of the commission. This is in contrast to the earlier SCC bill tabled which proposed that among the members would be the Inspector General of Police. The neutrality and impartiality of the commissioners is integral to the integrity of EAIC.

However the EAIC does not provide any indication of who should be appointed. In the case of the IPCMC it was indicated that the Chairman and Deputy Chairman should have at least ten years of service as advocate and solicitor of the courts or in the judicial and legal service of the Federation or the State. In addition the RC indicated that three (Chair and two deputy chair) of the seven commissioners should be full time. In the EAIC the provision for full time or part-time commissioners is not indicated.

It is of utmost importance that the selection process and appointment is done in an open and transparent manner. The RC did not make any recommendations for any consultative process in the appointment of commissioners. However this has now become a critical aspect in restoring public confidence in the light of the establishment of the Judicial Appointments Commission, as well as the criticisms raised on the appointment of SUHAKAM commissioners.

It might be necessary to add in the Schedule Section of the EAIC some indicators and guidelines on the selection of EAIC commissioners and some process of consultation among major stakeholders including civil society before the Prime Minister make his recommendations to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. This is a very important dimension of ensuring that the EAIC commissioners will fulfill their duties without fear or favor. The credibility of EAIC is largely dependent on who is appointed as commissioners.

There is a need for some serious thinking on the background and expertise of Commissioners especially with EAIC having a very strong investigative role. Therefore as the IPCMC had indicated that at least three of the seven commissioners should have at least ten years of legal expertise. This should be provided as one of the guidelines in the Schedules. Furthermore EAIC commissioners should be full-time similar to that of the members of the Election Commission and members of the Public Service Commission. Holding office in a part-time arrangement would not be suitable for such a heavy task.

In the case of SUHAKAM which has a provision for the appointment of twenty commissioners however only sixteen have been currently appointed. All of whom serve in a part-time capacity. Critics of SUHAKAM have indicated that in a number of cases involvement of certain commissioners in their other capacities might be regarded as a conflict of interest.

On this score the EAIC has a provision in Section 11 of the proposed bill for its commissioners to disclose interest and not take part in any discussion, proceedings or hearings or in any decision making pertaining to that case.

IPMC & EAIC are very similar in the description of functions of the Commission

The third aspect of comparison is in the functions of the commission (Section 4). The description in the EAIC is almost identical to that of the IPMC. This is commendable and therefore the recommendations of the RC are intact on this matter.

While the emphasis is upon receiving complaints on misconduct and to investigate them, there are seven other functions. In this context dealing with complaints (Part IV) seems to be the major task of EAIC. Section 21 explains the scope of misconduct. The major difference here is that IPCMC had a very strong emphasis on corruption which is not the focus of EAIC as it comes under the purview of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

The scope of oversight to twenty one agencies and functions stretching from direct in-depth investigations to a whole range of role must be a real tall order for one commission. They might be over stretched and become ineffective in the numerous functions. However, the seven functions could also been seen as inter-related functions and therefore not in conflict with one another.

Furthermore, the EAIC would establish two committees, namely the Complaints Committee (Section 16) and Task Force (Section 17). The EAIC is empowered to appoint consultants including retired or former members of enforcement agencies (Section 15). If the right people are recruited with the technical competencies and commitment, the EAIC will definitely make an impact in uplifting professional standards and reduced misconduct among enforcement agencies.

However what is of utmost importance is whether parliament will make available adequate funds for EAIC to employ highly experienced and qualified consultants and staff.

EAIC Powers of investigation similar to that of IPCMC

The fourth aspect for reflection is the investigation powers of EAIC as described in Part V of the proposed bill and the legal obligations to give information and cooperate with EAIC. EAIC has powers to conduct a hearing, receive evidence, summon any person and issue a warrant of arrest. It also has powers to search with warrant (Section 40) and without warrant (Section 41).

In addition the EAIC Task Force members shall have all the powers of investigation as contained in the Criminal Procedure Code ( Part V, Chapter 13, section 107 till 120) which provides wide powers. These will enhance the investigative role of  EAIC. However one area which IPCMC proposed namely the power to intercept communications whether postal, other communication tools or to intercept conversations is not provided for in EAIC.

In addition if someone does not give information to the EAIC, the person is said to have contravened the law and could be fined up to RM10, 000 or jailed for two years (Section 33). Another strong power is the protection of witnesses from threats as described in Section 44, where the offender could be fined up to RM100, 000 and imprisoned not exceeding two years.

These are strong compelling powers and therefore EAIC has much bite and could not be labeled as a toothless tiger. There is one other matter with regards to scope and cases for investigation, the demarcation between the EAIC and MACC on corruption related matters are clear. However the EAIC complaints and investigation will overlap with that of SUHAKAM which are related to human rights violations. A large number of SUHAKAM cases and public inquiries were matters pertaining to human rights violations by the Police and Rela. These will be now handled by EAIC. In addition EAIC is also expected to visit police stations and lockups which is also one of SUHAKAM’s function as stated by the SUHAKAM Act.

There is a need for SUHAKAM to review its roles and functions. Government should also review the SUHAKAM Act to address the current criticism of appointment of commissioners, and their term of office in order to ensure that it complies with the Paris Principles on independence which was one major subject for consideration at the UN Universal Periodical Review process and SUHAKAM’s accreditation to the International coordination Committee. In addition the Act could be strengthened to incorporate many of the provisions for enhancing the investigative role of SUHAKAM in addressing the human rights violation. In addition there could be new provisions which will ensure that all relevant agencies respond to the findings and recommendations of SUHAKAM within a reasonable time frame.

EAIC has no powers to act independently, the major difference to IPCMC

The fifth aspect of comparison between the proposed EAIC and the IPCMC is the power to act independently and implement the findings in terms of directly taking action on the guilty officer and by-passing the disciplinary authority or the public prosecutor. This was the recommendation of the RC in the case of the IPCMC.

There were many objections to this provision in the IPCMC proposals by the Police. The argument used was no single institution should be empowered to undertake investigation, prosecution and finally making a judgment without an appeal process with the IPCMC. In addition another objection was that this action will usurp the role of the Police Service Commission which is a Constitutional provision. There is a need to also amend the Federal Constitution on transferring the disciplinary provisions to EAIC.

Civil society criticism and skepticism on this matter is based on the current provisions in the SUHAKAM Act that after conducting an inquiry on human rights violations, SUHAKAM then makes the recommendations to the relevant agencies to take appropriate action. However in a majority of cases the relevant agencies ignore the findings and SUHAKAM is deemed as powerless. Furthermore SUHAKAM’s Annual report has never been discussed in Parliament and therefore accountability to Parliament is non-existent.

Another criticism leveled by civil society on the current practice by enforcement agencies and relevant institutions is selective prosecution especially in cases pertaining to corruption or in the exercise of fundamental liberties. Based on this track record and ineffective action by the State, IPCMC was proposed to act independently.

The current concern over EAIC is, would its fate be similar to that of SUHAKAM which has the powers to undertake an inquiry and make recommendations but ineffective to ensure that the human rights violators are brought to the books.

While the EAIC in this context falls short of the IPCMC, however there is one redeeming grace in the EAIC. The proposed bill in Section 30 indicates that when a misconduct constitutes a disciplinary offence, then EAIC will refer their recommendations to the appropriate Disciplinary Authority. In the case of a criminal offence then it is referred to the Public prosecutor.

The redeeming case factor is that the relevant institutions must within 14 days provide information to EAIC of their action and reasons for it. This the EAIC will make public. Therefore it would revert back to public opinion and public pressure on this matter. However in practical terms can any agency make a decision within 14 days, is this too short a period? Would they just say in writing that they have received the report and are in the process of reviewing the findings?

Would the Disciplinary Authority on receiving the EAIC findings and recommendations reconvene another internal investigative process or would they accept the recommendations of the EAIC. The proposed bill is silent on this. Furthermore what happens if one of the twenty one agencies ignores the recommendations of EAIC, the proposed bill does not make any provisions for compelling a agency to take the recommended action or some specific action.

To further strengthen public accountability on this matter it is proposed that a Parliamentary Select Committee be established to review all the information and data on the investigations, its findings and the appropriate action undertaken by the relevant bodies.  This could be in the form of the Public Accounts Committee comprising both government backbenchers and opposition members of parliament.

Strengthening the parliamentary mechanism is essential for democracy to flourish in Malaysia. These avenues will enable members of parliament to play a more constructive role in public policy and delivery matters as demanded by the citizenry of Malaysia. This parliamentary accountability process will compel the Ministers responsible for the twenty one agencies to be answerable to parliament on how they recommended to the EAIC findings and recommendations.

It is also important to recognize that both internal disciplinary mechanisms such as the Disciplinary Authorities and external oversight mechanisms such as SUHAKAM, MACC and the proposed EAIC are necessary.

The external mechanisms must operate in an independent, transparent, accountable, just and fair manner. All agencies must be held accountable to respond in a credible and professional manner. Senior ranking public officials must be accountable to how they respond to the independent findings of inquiry and investigations undertaken by external oversight mechanisms.

In order to strengthen the internal mechanisms, capacity building within each of the enforcement agencies is important through effective training, supervision and monitoring mechanisms. Each of the enforcement agencies must establish a high standard of professional conduct for its officers. There must be zero tolerance for indiscipline and misconduct. This must become an agency culture. Internal cover-up and in house protections must be eliminated. The role of the senior officers and civil servants are imperative to foster professional and ethical conduct.

We all now recognize the need for external oversight mechanisms. EAIC is one avenue to restore public confidence and check on misconduct among enforcement agencies.

*Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria is currently Principal Fellow at the Institute of Ethnic Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and member of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM). He was a member of the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police.  The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of these institutions.

Opposition Leader calls for urgent debate in Dewan Rakyat on Penang Second Bridge

June 30, 2009

Kenyataan Media Untuk Edaran Segara


Pada hari ini saya telah mengusulkan supaya mesyuarat Dewan Rakyat ditangguhkan untuk membincangkan perkara tertentu, berkepentingan ramai dan perlu disegarakan.

Saya mencadangkan:

Bahawa Dewan Rakyat membincangkan cadangan projeck pembinaan Jabatan Kedua Pulau Pinang memandangkan kos projek tersebut adalah terlalu tinggi berbanding cadangan laluan alternatif yang mampu menjimatkan RM4 billion dana awam“.

Pada Ogos 2006 Kerajaan Persekutuan mengumumkan projek pembinaan Jambatan Kedua Pulau Pinang di bawah Rancangan Malaysia Ke9 dan upacara perasmiain tanah telah disempurnakan pada 12hb November, 2006 oleh Perdana Menteri ketika itu, YAB Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Ia dibina oleh usahasama Cina Harbour Engineering Co Ltd dan UEM. Pembinaannya menggunakan laluan selatan dengan jarak 24 km dengan kos seleruhannya melibatkan RM12 billion dan dijangka siap pada pertengahan 2012.

Menurut sumber industri, saya difahamkan bahawa projek yang sedia ada ini tidak wajar diteruskan, kerana ianya melibat kos pembinaan yang terlalu tinggi. Saya difahamkan juga bahawa adalah lebih wajar untuk membina projek Jambatan Kedua Pulau Pinang ini dengan menggunakan laluan alternatif melalui laluan utara. Laluan tesebut ternyata lebih dekat dengan hanya berjarak 10km serta melibatkan anggaran kos keseluruhan yang lebih rendah berjumlah RM7 hingga RM8 billion.

Berbanding dengan projek yang sedia ada, amat jelas bahawa cadangan projek laluan alternatif bagi membina Jabatan Kedua Pulau Pinang berupaya menjimatkan RM4 billion dana awam. Berikutan itu, saya mencadangkan supaya Dewan Rakyat membincang hal ini bagi membolehkan rakyat mendapat gambaran mengenai permasalahan dan alasan-alasan kukuh mengapa cadangan laluan alternatif bagi pembinaan Jambatan Kedua Pulau Pinang tidak boleh dipertimbangankan meskipu iany berurpaya menyelamatkan RM4 billion wang rakyat.

Atas perkara yang tertentu ini yang melibatkan kepentingan rakyat umum yang perlu disegerakan, saya telah memohon secara rasmi kepada Yang di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat supaya usul ini dibincangkan pada hari ini.


Mimpi Najib di siang hari: Satu Malaysia

The Malaysian Insider
June 29, 2009

1 Malaysia: Diantara realiti dan fantasi

oleh Amin Iskandar

Nujum Pak Belalang

Nujum Pak Belalang

Sebaik sahaja diangkat menjadi Perdana Menteri Malaysia yang ke-enam, Datuk Seri Najib Razak melancarkan gagasan “Satu Malaysia” atau dalam Bahasa Inggeris di panggil “1 Malaysia”. Selain daripada itu, Najib turut melancarkan slogan “rakyat didahulukan, pencapaian diutamakan”, mengingatkan kita slogan-slogan di zaman Perdana Menteri terdahulu seperti “Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah” dan “Cemerlang, Gemilang dan Terbilang”.

Diantara komponen terpenting dalam gagasan 1 Malaysia yang dibawakan Perdana Menteri ialah rakyat Malaysia tidak kira Melayu, Cina, India, Iban, Kadazan, Murut, Melanau dan lain-lain bersatu sebagai bangsa Malaysia. Najib mengakui bahawa konsep 1 Malaysia ini bukanlah satu konsep baru. Ia adalah kesinambungan daripada kepimpinan negara yang terdahulu dan bercita-cita untuk menyatupadukan rakyat Malaysia dari pelbagai latarbelakang kaum dan agama.

Dalam Wawasan 2020 yang dicadangkan semasa era pemerintahan Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, turut mensasarkan pada tahun 2020, rakyat Malaysia yang berbilang kaum dan agama akan hidup sebagai bangsa Malaysia. Malaysia hanya tinggal 11 tahun sebelum tahun 2020. Jika dilihat keadaan semasa dan politik hari ini, bangsa Malaysia sukar diwujudkan menjelang tahun 2020 nanti.

Setelah lebih 50 tahun Malaysia merdeka, negara masih lagi membicarakan tentang rancangan untuk menyatupadukan rakyat sebagai satu bangsa walaupun itulah perkara yang harus ditekankan dan dilaksanakan diawal penubuhan Malaya dan Malaysia dahulu.

Satu Malaysia ala UMNO

Satu Malaysia ala UMNO

Negara jiran kita Indonesia yang merdeka 12 tahun sebelum kita telahpun menyelesaikan permasalahan yang ingin diselesaikan oleh Malaysia pada ketika ini di era Presiden pertama mereka, Sukarno. Di Indonesia, semua rakyat yang terdiri daripada pelbagai latarbelakang etnik dan agama bersatu sebagai bangsa Indonesia. Mereka bercakap dalam satu bahasa yakni bahasa Indonesia. Mereka sudah selesai dengan isu pokok tersebut dikala jirannya Malaysia masih lagi terkial-kial mencari hala tuju untuk mewujudkan “bangsa Malaysia”.

Penulis bersekolah disebuah sekolah yang terletak ditengah-tengah bandar Kuala Lumpur. Najib dikatakan pernah bersekolah disekolah ini sebelum beliau melanjutkan pelajarannya ke luar negara. Semenjak berada di bangku sekolah rendah lagi, kami telah diajar untuk menghormati kawan-kawan dari pelbagai kaum dan agama.

Pihak sekolah akan mengadakan sambutan perayaan-perayaan seperti Hari Raya, Tahun Baru Cina dan Deepavali untuk mendidik anak-anak agar mengenali dan menghormati sesama sendiri. Saya percaya, jika di sekolah tersebut mempunyai pelajar-pelajar Iban dan Kadazan, Hari Gawai dan Tadau Kaamatan pasti akan turut disambut oleh pihak sekolah!

Pada ketika itu, tidak pernah terlintas di hati penulis untuk melihat kawan-kawan lain sebagai orang Cina atau orang India sehinggalah kami mula mendapat kad pengenalan. Ini adalah kerana dalam kad pengenalan, kami mula dibeza-bezakan mengikut agama.

Semasa dalam Tingkatan Dua, penulis berpindah ke sekolah lain yang terletak di kawasan pinggir bandar di kawasan bekas perlombongan bijih timah. Masih lagi bersekolah di sekolah kebangsaan yang terdiri daripada pelbagai bangsa dan agama.

Apabila di sekolah menengah, jurang diantara kaum sudah mula melebar sedikit demi sedikit. Tambahan lagi dalam usia-usia sebegitu “sifat memberontak” dan melawan begitu tinggi di dalam sanubari pelajar-pelajar. “Sifat memberontak” ini amat mudah diterjemahkan untuk mencari “pasal” dengan kawan-kawan daripada bangsa-bangsa lain. Telah kelihatan polarisasi mula berlaku dimana pelajar-pelajar Melayu bercampur gaul dengan sesama mereka. Begitu juga dengan pelajar-pelajar Cina dan India.

Interaksi diantara kaum yang berbeza hanyalah dalam program-program yang formal dan hanya apabila disuruh oleh guru. Setelah selesai program atau aktiviti yang melibatkan percampuran antara pelajar pelbagai kaum, pelajar-pelajar akan mula mencari kaum masing-masing untuk berbual dan melakukan aktiviti-aktiviti.

Selepas mendapat keputusan SPM, perpisahan antara kaum mula berlaku lagi. Pelajar-pelajar Melayu yang mendapat keputusan cemerlang dapat masuk terus ke IPTA sedangkan teman-teman daripada bangsa lain terpaksa menghabiskan masa dua tahun dalam Tingkatan Enam sebelum diterima masuk ke IPTA awam. Bagi pelajar-pelajar Cina dan India yang datang dari keluarga berada, meraka dapat terus memasuki kolej-kolej swasta atau keluar negara.

Di universiti, polarisasi diantara kaum semakin parah. Jelas kelihatan mahasiswa-mahasiswa terpecah-pecah mengikut kaum dan agama mereka. Di kolej-kolej kediaman juga, mahasiswa-mahasiswa dipisah-pisahkan mengikut kaum dan agama. Pernah ada cadangan daripada sebuah kelompok mahasiswa agar mahasiswa dari pelbagai bangsa dan agama dicampur adukkan didalam setiap bilik di kolej-kolej kediaman.

Cadangan ini mendapat bantahan hebat daripada Majlis Perwakilan Mahasiswa Universiti dengan alasan sukar bagi mahasiswa untuk bersembahyang jika mahasiswa dari pelbagai bangsa dan agama tinggal sebilik. Sedangkan di kolej kediaman tersebut telah mempunyai surau dan daripada apa yang saya perhatikan di kolej kediaman tersebut, hanya lebih kurang 5 peratus sahaja mahasiswa di kolej tersebut yang terdiri daripada golongan beribadat.

Jika pensyarah tidak mewajibkan sesebuah “kumpulan tugasan” agar bersifat Malaysia, kemungkinan besar, penulis sendiri juga tidak mungkin mempunyai kawan-kawan bangsa lain. Persatuan-persatuan mahasiswa dalam universiti pada ketika itu juga didominasi oleh persatuan-persatuan yang berasaskan kaum dan agama. Agak kurang sekali persatuan-persatuan yang mempunyai ahli yang berbilang bangsa dan agama.

Ertinya, sejak mula mengenali politik, mahasiswa telah diajar dengan persatuan-persatuan yang berasaskan kaum dan agama. Tidak kelihatan usaha yang serius daripada pihak pentadbir universiti untuk mencegah perkara ini daripada terus membarah. Lebih tenat lagi apabila persatuan-persatuan mahasiswa yang berasaskan negeri-negeri turut popular dikalangan mahasiswa. Sudahlah dipisahkan mengikut kaum dan agama, mahasiswa kini turut dipisahkan berdasarkan negeri asal mereka!

Begitulah parahnya polarisasi antara kaum yang berlaku di universiti ketika penulis dibangku universiti pada akhir 90an sehinggalah diawal-awal abad millenium. Penulis kadangkala terfikir apakah masa depan Malaysia pada masa akan datang?

Jika mahasiswa-mahasiswa universiti yang bakal menjadi pemimpin negara pada masa akan datang hidup dengan keadaan polarisasi antara kaum yang serius, apa lagi rakyat diluar sana yang tidak berpeluang untuk mendapat pendidikan tinggi? Menurut Yunus Ali, salah seorang aktivis mahasiswa tahun 70an, di zaman beliau menuntut di universiti, majoriti mahasiswa universiti yang berbilang kaum dan agama pada ketika itu hidup dalam keadaan harmoni.

Persatuan Mahasiswa Universiti Malaya (PMUM) pada ketika itu terdiri daripada pimpinan yang pelbagai bangsa dan agama. Diantara dasar PMUM pada ketika itu adalah mewajibkan setiap mahasiswa yang tinggal dikolej-kolej kediaman agar tinggal bersama bangsa yang berbeza.

Dasar ini telah terbukti merapatkan jurang diantara mahasiswa-mahasiswa pelbagai kaum dan agama. Jika Perdana Menteri serius dengan usahanya untuk mewujudkan bangsa Malaysia, mengapa tidak dilaksanakan kembali dasar ini sekurang-kurangnya di IPTA-IPTA seluruh negara?

Selagi rakyat tidak dilatih untuk hidup bersama-sama tanpa mengira bangsa dan agama, tidak mungkin 1 Malaysia, bangsa Malaysia atau Malaysian Malaysia akan berjaya. Retorik tersebut akan terus dikitar sepanjang zaman sehinggalah bumi ini berakhir.

CitizenNades: Don’t Shoot the Messenger
June 29, 2009

Don’t shoot the messenger

by CitizenNades

p18nov3-speakup.indd“A JOURNALIST will always protect his kind,” is the common remark we usually get when we attempt to defend our professions from friends and foes who disagree with what we write or do. “You guys will never let each other down, however wrong you are,” is another often-repeated claim. I take pride in stating that if I have made a mistake, I will apologise and have done so before.

Terence Fernandez was abducted and held at gunpoint in Baghdad at the height of the US invasion in 2003. He was released unharmed – though not before two people in his convoy were shot and killed. Despite wanting to stay on, Terence was ordered home in my capacity as his editor, after consultation with the senior management of this newspaper.

I justified this decision in an open letter to the readers by saying that no story is worth your life. Many, including those in the government which had sponsored the Joint Malaysian Media Team to the war zone to give an “independent view” of the American onslaught were not happy with the decision but it stood. We were accused of being cowards but I would rather have a living coward than a dead hero.

To those who had offered support and sympathy for the 24 hours that we had lost contact with Terence, I penned these words: “It had been a harrowing day for me at the office, but nothing is more satisfying to note that our boy is still there, making me proud of being a journalist, his colleague, friend and confidante.”

Over the years, both of us had brushes with the law – not of our doing – but over-zealous law enforcers who think they can cow us into revealing our sources. We have always protected our sources and still seek legal counsel when the need arises. If we break that code, no one would ever want to deal with us. And wherever we go, we tell our audience to not treat us as enemies but as friends who can help further a common cause. Not that we would take sides, but sitting over a cuppa beats a confrontational interview, hands down, every time.

Long before Terence’s harrowing experience, there has always been a tinge of support in my heart for my brethren journalists if they had done no wrong. It was on that premise that I walked into the Brickfields police station many moons ago to demand why my late colleague Raymond Nathan was handcuffed behind his back. His “offence” was to have harshly demanded why an accident victim was not attended to immediately. Having said that, I stayed away from the cause of another journalist who was detained for drug-related offences.

Therefore, after reading the plight of Nevash Nair of The Malay Mail (where I started and honed my investigative journalism trade), who was questioned for six hours by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), I can relate my feelings. I too, not long ago, underwent a similar exercise (though I was not detained) when police officers came to record my statement on the Balkis affair. Nair’s alleged offence (gathered from news reports) was reporting what a member of Parliament experienced at the MACC office. His laptop and handphone were seized – a new experience for those in the fraternity.

What offence did he commit? Did he take a bribe from the MP or any other party to write the report? If that is the case, I would rest my case and declare that the law must take its course. However, this was not the case. While it would be wrong to “interfere” with investigations, no one has told us what Nair is being investigated for. The National Union of Journalists has come out strongly against the treatment of the journalist, but the silence on the part of two senior newsmen in the MACC’s Consultation and Anti-Corruption Panel is deafening indeed. No one expects them to defend any wrongdoer – journalist or not – but they owe a special duty to find out and explain the nature of the so-called offence and if the methodology used by the MACC in the course of its investigation is commensurate with the provisions of the Act. We are likely to be told that “MACC has wide powers” but the speed with which it embarked on Nair’s report and its almost immediate statement – the files were never missing – gives us, lesser mortals hope that the commission can work on cases and produce results in a jiffy if it wants to.

I am not against the MACC and I will be the first to admit that there are bad apples among us and there a handful who are involved in dubious deals, for whom there should be no sympathy. The MACC has a job to do and it should show no favour to anyone – journalists included. In this case, no money changed hands and apparently, they wanted to get to the bottom of the issue where the MACC officials had been quoted saying that “the files are missing”.

If I had been the investigation officer, I would have had a chat with him and asked him how and why he came to the conclusion that the files were missing. Surprisingly, to add to MACC’s perception problem, it singled out Nair while other journalists who filed similar stories were spared the detention and interrogation.

The Fourth Estate has a duty to play in nation-building and the creation of a better society. It has a duty to work with both the public and private sectors in disseminating news which the public wants. If there is something wrong, it has a job of pointing it out and if there’s something positive, it has to be reported as well. This is the credo in every journalist’s mind and most of us are aware of this when we put pen to paper. We are aware of the laws of defamation and the other punitive laws which could land us in jail. But when we are faulted for reporting what was said, is it not a case of shooting the messenger?

R. Nadeswaran does not want special dispensation of the law for journalists but asks that they be treated fairly. He is editor (special and investigative reporting at theSun. He can be reached at:

LAND: It is not only legal, but also very political


On Saturday June  27, I joined Nurul Izzah Anwar’s team to witness the launch of the Member of Parliament for Lembah Pantai’s free medical clinic to cater for  senior citizens and children of Kampong Kerinchi. This project was well received. While I was there, I was taken on a quick tour of Kampong Kerinchi and met with  housewives and village leaders.

During my informal “get to know you” meeting on behalf of PKR Head Office and Anwar Ibrahim’s Office, the Kerinchi folks told me that they were threatened by certain parties purportedly representing developers closely allied to UMNO-BN to vacate their homes and little garden plots to make way for development. No one is against progress and development, but the people in Kampong Kerinchi want justice.

I have been reliably informed that Dato Seri Shahrizat Jalil is a major landowner in the Kerinchi Area and that she and the present Minister of Federal Territory, Raja Nong Chik and the UMNO cabals there are active to regain Lembah Pantai constituency for coming the next elections.

One way to win is to change the demographics of Kampong Kerinchi and its surrounds. That would involve, inter alia, relocating and dispersing pro-PKR and PR supporters and voters who have been living in the area for more than 40 years. While not making promises of quick solution, I assured them that I would raise their plight with PKR Party Headquarters and the Office of the Menteri Besar.

Land is thus not only a legal matter, but also very political. But there must always be justice.—Din Merican

Land: What’s legal not always just

by Terence Netto@

What is sometimes apparently legal may not be necessary just. This was particularly true on issues involving land, and the many recent disputes over who had the right of ownership and residence, said PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim.

anwar3Commenting to Malaysiakini on a raft of land issues ranging from Kampong Buah Pala in Penang, Pandamaran in Selangor to Layang Layang in Johor, he said the law may be on the side of the government or private sector in instances of disputed ownership between occupiers and developers, but that there was a question of justice which cannot be ignored.

“The question of justice is inevitably bound up with the question of ownership,” he said. “To pretend otherwise is to bury your head in the sand,” he remarked.

“The legal aspects of these cases may favour the developers but questions of justice and equity may be on the side of the long-standing occupants,” he observed.

He said the tug of conflicting imperatives of legality and of justice thrown up by some of these disputes was hard to resolve.“Frank admission of this difficulty is not a counsel of despair; it is a confession that on certain issues, the law and the imperatives of justice are in conflict,” opined Anwar.

He said the role of government in such cases ought to tilt in favour of the people in distress who could not help themselves. “For that reason, PKR has formed a special task force with deputy president Syed Husin Ali in charge to study these issues so that their resolution does not adversely affect the people involved,” said Anwar.

Legacy issues involving land

PKR is a member of the ruling Pakatan Rakyat coalition in both Penang and Selangor where the state governments are grabbling with legacy land issues from previous BN administrations.

On Thursday, some 65 families from 24 homes are to be evicted from Kampung Buah Pala – the last remaining Indian traditional urban village in Penang – to pave way for a condominium project. The 100-year-old village is known among locals as ‘Tamil High Chaparral’ because of its population of cowherds, cattles, goats and Tamil traditional cultural features.

The embattled residents lost their final court battle last week when the Federal Court ruled in favour of the developer. The DAP-led Penang government has been slammed for failing to do more to stop the eviction.