Najib is tough to dislodge as Prime Minister


March 3, 2015

Najib is tough to dislodge as Prime Minister

by RK Anand@www.malaysiakini.com

Najib and RosmahNajib has tenacious and loyal Rosmah

Unlike Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, his successor is cast in a different mould. He had collaborated with Dr Mahathir Mohamad to remove his predecessor from office. And now, Najib Abdul Razak finds himself in a similar situation.
With Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim incarcerated and the opposition struggling with internal problems, the situation appears ripe for the juggernaut in UMNO to be unleashed again.

The attacks have intensified, especially on the Prime Minister’s links  to the reported problems faced by his brainchild 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). With most UMNO ministers maintaining a wall of silence, the party grassroots are given the impression that their President is a political liability.

This has prompted the question as to whether Najib, now in his sixth year as Prime Minister, will survive to celebrate his seventh.

Najib’s toxicity

However, PKR Vice President Rafizi Ramli believes that unlike Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, dislodging Najib will not be a simple task. “The interests of his family and associates are too deeply entrenched,” Rafizi told Malaysiakini.

“Abdullah is a soft man. Najib appears soft in public, but he is cast in a different mould,” he added.

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi
Setting aside partisan politics, the opposition lawmaker agreed with those in UMNO who are bent on ousting the Prime Minister. Without mincing words, Rafizi described Najib as “toxic” for the nation.

“UMNO has never been in such a situation where there is no clear successor and the incumbent Prime Minister is proven to be toxic to his party and the government.In a way, the dilemma extends all the way to the public in general – while we do not cherish the thought of more right-wing UMNO leaders taking the helm, allowing Najib to continue a single extra day diminishes the country’s potential even more,” Rafizi said.

Is Zahid next in line?

Some speculate that Najib’s exit will clear the path for Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s ascension to the top post. Being the UMNO Vice President with the highest number of votes, he may be named as number two should Muhyiddin Yassin take over the leadership reins.

With UMNO shifting to the right, Zahid is seen as the best man for the job. In order to retain its hold on federal power by playing up racial and religious sentiments, an observer noted, UMNO needs a hatchet man.

Two Cousins
“Someone who is not concerned about his international reputation unlike the ‘WOGs’ (Western-oriented gentlemen) in the party, such as Najib and his cousin Hishammuddin Hussein. A leader who does not bow to pressure and repeal laws that are crucial to ensure the continuance of UMNO’s dominance,” he added.

However, Rafizi pointed out that Zahid’s credentials received a bruising with regard to his infamous letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The PKR leader said Mahathir, the chief architect behind the rise and fall of Prime Ministers, is also suspicious of the Home Minister, who was once a close ally of Anwar.

“Then again, Mahathir never sees things in the long-term. He may agree to Zahid rising, just to take out Najib. But a rapid change of guards in UMNO, more so when each one after Mahathir is pushed out of office, will only weaken UMNO.

“UMNO is used to the authoritarian style of Mahathir and it is as if UMNO now is trapped in its own doing when it doesn’t seem to be able to unite behind any leaders – all of whom are considered weak,” Rafizi added.

 

The need for Mr. Spock in an Age of Madness


March 2, 2015

The need for Mr. Spock in an Age of Madness

A Tribute by Dr. Farish Noor@www.nst.com.my

Leonard-Nimoy-image-2 AN ICON: Nimoy’s Mr Spock was a role model for humanity and a voice of logic and reason

THIS week, I would like, if I may, to write about something rather differ­ent from what I usually write about. Regular readers would know that this writer has focused more on issues of re­gional politics in the past.

The pass­ing of actor Leonard Nimoy has struck a chord with many who grew up in the 1960s-80s, and who are familiar with the TV series, Star Trek. Among the characters of the series, the character that Nimoy played – Mr Spock the scientist ­was perhaps the most familiar and iconic. For youngsters like myself who were at school then and who were hooked on the series, he was an icon and role model for book-de­vouring nerds and geeks who enjoyed the sciences and were fasci­nated by the charms of modernity.

Actor Leonard NimoyMr. Leonard Nimoy

While tributes to Nimoy the actor have come from all over the world, it is interesting to note that he was, and remains, in the eyes of many the same figure as Mr Spock whom he played. There is, however, one as­pect to the character of Spock that particularly deserves mention today, in the context of the troubled times we live in where irrational sectarian violence is rife across the world: Spock was a man of science and in the series Star Trek he was often presented as the contrarian voice to the more emotional Captain Kirk.

Indeed, the legacy of Mr Spock’s character is precisely that: That he was a man of reason, science and cool temper, in contrast to the vi­olent characters that often appeared in the many episodes of the series. We need to place him in the context of the times, and note that Star Trek appeared at the height of the Cold War where fear and animosity on both sides of the iron curtain was also high.

Star-Trek-001The Original Cast of Star Trek

At a time when Hollywood TV series often featured men of vi­olence and brutish action, his was perhaps one of the very few char­acters that constantly professed the opposite: A belief in the power of logic and reason, and the hope that science would uplift the lot of hu­man beings. In contrast to the cow­boy and war films being made then, it is astounding that Star Trek became a hit, and the character of Spock a popular hero.

In so many respects the figure of Mr Spock offered an alternative model of masculinity that was in stark contrast to the male stereo­type of that age. Eschewing vi­olence and irrationality, his char­acter placed his faith in the ability’ of reason and logic to discover truths and to enlighten the igno­rant. In total contrast to the image of the man of violence being pop­ularised elsewhere, his image of­fered a reversed interpretation of what masculinity could and should be like.

Today, we live in a world where religious and political sectarian vi­olence has led to terror attacks, indiscriminate killing of civilians and hostages, the burning of li­braries and the wanton destruction of relics and monuments of the past. All of this violence has been justified in the name of political ideologies or religions, by people who profess belief in things they may not even understand. If one were to take a snapshot of the age we live in today, one might conclude that we do indeed live in an age of madness and unreason.

Bust_of_Mahatma_Gandhi,_Saughton_Park,_Edinburgh_(1997)Mahatma Gandhi

Now, more than ever, we need role models and heroes of non­violent nature who can point to an alternative vision of the future that is more enlightened and tolerant of everyone. Now is the time when the world needs a Spock-like vision of a common humanity united in ra­tional thinking, fair and balanced discourse and objective analysis. Sadly, popular media today has in­stead fed us with a steady stream of popular nonsense, and no film to­day would be complete without some monster, alien, zombie, ter­rorist or murderer on the loose.

The passing of Leonard Nimoy was not merely the passing of an actor, but of a character who managed to get a generation to pause and think. Now is when we need such models most, and now is when reason has to be seen as an act of valour.

Farish Noor is an Associate Professor and Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and Visiting Fellow at ISIS Malaysia

 

 

Measuring Islamicity yet again


March 2, 2015

Measuring Islamicity yet again

by Zainah Anwar (01-03-15)@www.thestar.com.my

Zainah AnwarA Syariah Index funded by taxpayers’ money remains unused and unknown to the public while a new study has been launched.

FOR some five years during the premiership of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Malaysian Govern­ment spent millions on a major effort to develop the Maqasid al-Shariah Index to measure the “Islamicity” of a country, both in terms of governance and society.

A team of over 10 international Islamic scholars from diverse parts of the Muslim world, representing all schools of law in Islam, worked with ratings and indexing experts from the Gallup Poll to develop the methodology and measurable indicators for what is supposed to be a rigorous index that can be used to measure how Islamic a country is on the basis of how well it has delivered on the goals of Syariah – to protect and promote life, religion, intellect, family and property.

It seems there was much debate among the scholars on how best to go forward with this huge project. None of them believed that a focus on hudud law and punishments was the way to go to measure how Islamic a country is. But all agreed that nothing but justice can be objective of Islamic law. They developed documents to define the essential features of syariah-compliance governance and embarked on a rigorous exercise over several years to define in scientific, measurable ways what each objective of Syariah should be.

What does protecting and promoting life, religion, family, intellect, and property mean today, and in accordance with Islamic principles? And what are the indicators and ratings indexes that should be used to measure if OIC governments have delivered on the objectives of Syariah to deliver justice, to do good, to advance life and society for all?

For example, in developing the index on protecting life, they looked at data to indicate a govern­ment’s achievement on providing food, housing, healthcare, infrastructure, and other basic needs. The focus was on deliverables to advance the life of citizens.

Except for one public presentation at the International Institute forImam Feisal Rauf Advanced Islamic Studies last year, nothing more has been heard of this study, which was led by Imam Feisal Rauf from the Cordoba Institute, and included two Malaysian experts. A book on its methodology and findings was supposed to be published by the end of last year, but until today there is no news of the publication. Malaysia, not surprisingly, came out well among the OIC countries measured by this Index.

But now another study has been launched by the current Prime Minister to develop yet another Syariah Index based on the maqasid principles. Why? Has anyone examined the Maqasid Index already developed with millions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money? Why is there a need to launch yet another project to develop a similar index? Do they even know this Maqasid Index was initiated, completed and funded by the same Prime Minister’s Office, just by the last office holder?

The methodology of this new Syariah Index project is already under question. Looking at the survey questionnaire sent out to UMNO members, this new project seems like an approval rating exercise.

The 13-page questionnaire made up of 146 questions covers six issues – Islamic law, politics, economics, education, health, culture, infrastructure and environment, and social. For each issue, a list of questions is prepared to measure how well the government has done under the five categories: religion, life, intellect, family and property. Respondents are asked to rate on a scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree.

For example, to measure whether Islamic laws in Malaysia have protected life, it asked three questions: whether zakat, wakaf institutions, JAKIM and the state religious departments uphold Islam; whether government “shelter centres” for syariah criminals are effective and whether distribution of zakat is effective.

On protecting intellect, it asked if laws to prevent alcohol consumption are effective, if the quality of human resources is adequate and if information on Islamic law is easily obtainable.

In its measurement on social issues, it asked questions on the effectiveness of enforcement agencies’ efforts to prevent Christianisation activities, the system to determine the qualification of religious preachers, the process of inculcating understanding of fardu ain and fardu kifayah in society, and the adequacy of programmes in mosques throughout the country!

And it goes on and on in this random mode of haphazard and arbitrary leading questions being asked of respondents. They were in fact asked to rate if the Malaysian Government has done enough to measure how Syariah-compliant Malaysia is.

I am not sure if the research team has any clue how serious and rigorous a process for deve­loping an index that is meant for global use should be. What is the purpose of setting up yet more committees and spending more money to duplicate what has been done just a few years ago by the very same office of the Prime Minister?

Perhaps the team can start by examining the Maqasid Index book manuscript, titled Islamic Government and Rule of Law Index. Have they consulted the experts from the previous team? Why the need for a new team and a new Index? What is the budget for this new initiative?

rehman-scheherazadeThey could also read the academic papers available online writtenhossein_askari by two Professors at The George Washington University, Hossein Askari (right) and Scheherazade Rehman (left), who have developed the “Islamicity Index” and the “Economic Islamicity Index” and who are now working on their own Maqasid Index. They are also working with the Islamic Development Bank to develop a Syariah-based index of socio-economic development.

Their Islamicity Index mea­sured economic and human development, laws and governance, human and political rights, and international relations in accordance with a set of Islamic principles. For example, for economic and human development, they developed 12 fundamental Islamic economic principles that included indicators on equal economic participation, economic equity, personal property rights and sanctity of contracts, poverty prevention and reduction, etc.

Compare this to some of the indicators on economic achievements in the Malaysian Syariah Index survey: “numbers of Islamic insurance consumers are increasing” (how is a respondent supposed to know that?), “financial institutions practising syariah-­compliant finance principles expand” and “prostitution and LGBT phenomena is not a concern in Malaysia (?)” It is hard to fathom the methodology and logic behind these questions and what they are really trying to measure.

As with so many things to do with religion in this country, much suspicion has been aroused as to whether this effort to ­develop yet another Syariah Index on the heel of one just completed, unused and unknown to the public, is yet another effort to lull Muslims into believing how Syariah-compliant this government is.

Never mind if in the end, it is the Muslims that they proclaim they want to protect and serve who will become the biggest losers in this race to prove who is more Islamic than the other. In Kelantan, we see a state government desperate to implement the Hudud law even while any right-minded citizen would think that it should be focusing its attention on helping the rakyat to rebuild their lives and property and repair the massive damage to infrastructure and goods caused by the devastating floods.

When you have nothing much to showcase for your achievements, press the Islam button and hey presto, the rakyat will be pleased – so they think.

Rosmah with NajibAt the federal level, a government that has lost popular support in two successive elections and that is desperate to prevent further regression, again and again turns to race and religion to create a siege mentality that the Malays cannot survive without the dominant ruling party in power.

This is all a charade. The sooner we wake up to the games politicians play with religion in order to stay in power or to win power, the more strategic we can be to bring about the real change that we the rakyat are desperate for.

Zainah Anwar is the internationally acclaimed co-founder and former executive director of Sisters in Islam (SIS Forum) and the co-­founder and director of Musawah, a global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family. She is a former member of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam). The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

 

Defending constitutional democracy


February 28, 2015

Defending constitutional democracy

by Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Bin Kassim

http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Letters/2015/02/25/Defending-constitutional-democracy/

Sheriff KassimI THINK anyone reading the open letter on December 7, 2014 (published in The Star on Dec 8) by the G25 (a group of prominent Malays) will find it easy to understand its core message about the kind of country that we want Malaysia to be.

We want Malaysia to remain a constitutional democracy because it is the most effective form of government in defending the rights and freedoms of citizens.

It is also most suited for Malaysia, given the multi-racial character of its population; the differences in language, culture and religion among the people; and their desire as citizens for fair and equal treatment under the law. A Federal Constitution that recognises the basic rights of all communities is the glue that holds together this multi-racial nation.

We want Malaysia to remain a constitutional democracy because it is the most effective form of government in defending the rights and freedoms of citizens. It is also most suited for Malaysia, given the multi-racial character of its population; the differences in language, culture and religion among the people; and their desire as citizens for fair and equal treatment under the law. A Federal Constitution that recognises the basic rights of all communities is the glue that holds together this multiracial nation.–Sheriff Kassim

In a constitutional democracy, there is clear separation of powers between the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Executive, and there are checks and balances to guard against abuse of power by any one branch of government.

The system is designed to provide avenues for the people to act against any branch of government that tramples on their rights and freedoms. Thus, if the Executive, such as the Federal or state government, takes an action infringing on their personal liberties, the people have a right to seek justice from the courts.

Second, when elections come, they can exercise their vote at the ballot box to show their disapproval of the government or their local representative in parliament or the state assembly.

In the G25 letter, the signatories talk about the administration of Islam in the country and our concerns over religious authorities issuing fatwas and making syariah laws on criminal offences, beyond the powers conferred upon them by the Federal Constitution and in violation of our individual rights and freedoms as guaranteed under the constitution.

Our system of constitutional democracy expressly provides that the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the country.The civil courts have the power to declare actions of other branches of government to be invalid, including to strike out any laws enacted by the state authorities if they contravene the provisions in the Constitution.

As in other democratic countries, the people are sovereign. Any aggrieved person can challenge the constitutionality and legality of any state law by bringing it up in the civil court for a judicial review, as has been successfully done in a few cases.

Unfortunately, any attempt to question and challenge the religious authorities has often created a tense situation in the country, with extremist groups issuing all kinds of threats to intimidate those who raise issues relating to administration of Islam. They have developed a habit of hiding behind the Sedition Act and the rulers to dignify their actions.

To avoid unnecessary tensions, and since syariah laws do have various implications on society, both Muslims and non-Muslims, we are asking in the open letter for a rational discussion on the place of Islam in society, so that we can arrive at a clear understanding with the religious authorities that under our system of constitutional democracy, the Federal Constitution is the primary source of law for the land, and that the religious authorities must act within the limits prescribed under the Constitution.

It is obvious that these limits are imposed to ensure injustice is not caused to the individual and his rights are not eroded by the overlapping of jurisdiction between the civil and syariah courts in the administration of justice.

We are suggesting that this rational discussion be held through a consultative process in which relevant experts and representatives of stakeholders can review the existing syariah laws to determine where they are unconstitutional and where they can be improved to protect the rights of individuals, in particular women and girls, as they are often the main victims of over zealousness by the religious authorities.

We need the Prime Minister’s leadership to set up the consultative council and to make the public pronouncement that he encourages open discussion on Islam and that such discussions are not seditious or an insult to the sultans.

The Federal Constitution provides that the civil courts shall have higher status and authority over the syariah courts. This is meant to ensure that all Malaysians live under one system of justice based on the universal principles of democracy.

These principles make our constitutional democracy the same as those commonly used around the world. It has served us well to protect our interests and rights, and has encouraged investors and businesses to have confidence in the stability of the political system. It has been the main reason for this country’s growth and prosperity.

Other groups have totally different views from those of the G25. They are proposing the Constitution to be amended to elevate syariah courts to the same level as civil courts. They want the syariah laws not to be narrowly confined to the Muslim faith but to be the primary source of law and to be used in all spheres of life in the country – the legal system, the economy, the financial and banking sectors, the shops and restaurants, the education and health systems, the professional services like accounting.

This is worrisome because besides the implications on the administration of justice, it will put Malaysia on the road to becoming a totally different kind of country.

Malaysia cannot afford to make the same mistake of some Muslim countries whose leaders have suddenly realised that their countries had gone too far in implementing syariah laws and needed to reform and modernise to get the economies moving and to improve the lives of the people.

These countries’ experience should be a lesson to us that once religious laws like the hudud have taken roots and after the Islamists have changed the constitution to put themselves and the ulamas at the top of the government and above all other institutions of power, it’s extremely difficult to reverse the changes.

Admittedly, Malaysia is nowhere close to being a failed democracy or a theocracy. We have a relatively well-educated population that can see what is happening elsewhere and can understand why our present system is more suitable for this multi-racial country.

An open economy like ours, with strong trade and investment links with the rest of the world, needs to maintain the existing liberal and open policies in politics, economics and in the social and personal life of the people.

Otherwise, all the progress and prosperity that have been achieved over the past several decades will be lost, resulting in poverty, high unemployment and internal instability.

We don’t want our youths to be like the 40% unemployed university graduates in the other Muslim countries. They are so bored with life and have lost all hope that they become easy prey to extremists looking to recruit volunteers to join the militants and jihadists.

We want the present Constitution to stay and our future generation to inherit a better and an even more prosperous country.

A functioning democracy, a vibrant economy and good governance – these are the best defences against extremism. At the same time, we must not take the extremists for granted.

Although they are small in number, they can create a lot of tension in the country. They have lately become more aggressive in their racial and religious agenda, using political leverage to bully and intimidate, not taking any public criticisms on issues relating to the administration of Islam and Malay rights.

They insult non-Malays by calling them ungrateful pendatang for talking about the rights of the minorities or questioning race-based policies. Civil society movements fighting for democracy, free and fair elections, and human rights have been labelled as traitors for drawing world attention to their causes. Muslim women activists have been accused of liberalism and pluralism, which have now become chargeable offences under the religious laws.

All these are bad news, raising concerns at home and abroad about the spread of extremism, racial politics, the rule of law and the country’s future direction.

Amidst all these concerns, the G25 has emerged as the voice of moderation, giving hope to the silent majority that constitutional democracy is here to stay, in defence of our rights and freedoms.

As a country with aspirations to achieve high-income status by 2020, Malaysia must not indulge in racial and religious supremacy ideologies as these will lead to our downfall, as seen from the experience of other countries in the last century. Instead, we must build on our successes to align our priorities to be with the modern world, index ourselves against the progressive countries and adopt their best practices.

In this region, countries that were once poorer than us have now overtaken us and have gone far ahead. Despite lacking in natural resources, they have used their human skills and entrepreneurial culture so well to become highly developed socially and economically.

We should emulate them by using policies that cultivate our people’s confidence in the rule of law, based on the democratic principles of integrity, transparency and accountability, the hallmarks of good governance.

Further, we must reform our economic, education, social and religious policies to eliminate bigotry and create a conducive climate for healthy competition, creativity, economic justice and personal freedom. This is most essential if we want to be recognised as a developed country in every sense of the word.

Nik Raina: Free At Last


February 26, 2015

Nik Raina: Free At Last

by Jennifer Gomez@www.themalaysianinsider.com

Nik Raina Nik Abdul AzizNik Raina of Borders

Borders Bookstore Manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz said that legal battle with Islamic authorities over a charge of selling and distributing a book deemed to be against Islam had changed her and made her realise her larger role to ensure other Muslims are not harassed for doing their jobs.

Given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal by the Shariah High Court today, Nik Raina said she had been a shy and reserved person before the raid on May 23, 2012 on the bookstore where she worked, but her ordeal had turned her into a more outspoken person.

Along the way, she realised that she had a role to play in facing up to the charges against her.Nik Raina said most of the management staff at Borders are Muslims, and she feared they could be subject to the same intimidation if she did not stand up for her rights in facing the charges.

“I stand here today not only for myself, but for all my colleagues, especially the Muslims Irshad Manjiwho could face the same action by the religious authorities for merely doing our jobs,” she said outside the court today.

Nik Raina had been charged with selling and distributing the book “Allah, Liberty and Love” by controversial Muslim writer Irshad Manji (right).

The Borders employee said she drew comfort from the company’s top management, adding that Berjaya Group founder Tan Sri Vincent Tan would always tell her when they met at company events, “Do not be afraid”.

Nik Raina said she would never forget these words, which were also repeated to her by Tan’s son, Datuk Robin Tan, after he took over his father’s portfolio in the group.

“He would tell me what his father used to say to me, to not be afraid, that I have done nothing wrong,” she said.Still, Nik Raina never imagined when she took this job over seven years ago that she would get into this much of trouble.

Yet, even after the ordeal, there was nowhere else she would rather work because she felt it was “right” to be working with Borders, she said as she fought back tears.

“From the first day I had my interview with them, it felt like the right place to be, because the interviewers were so welcoming.I would not want to be anywhere else,” she said.

Nik Raina said she felt that the Shariah prosecutor’s submission in court today, where he had told the Judge that the pressure she faced was not his problem, was as though his main intention was to punish her.

Rosli Dahlan (new)Nik Raina’s “Best Lawyer Ever”

This was after her lawyer, Rosli Dahlan, submitted that Nik Raina faced anguish and pressure in having this case hanging over her head for the past three years. “He could so easily say that I went the wrong way and so it was my problem.But he did not put himself in my shoes. And what about the anguish faced by my family, especially my father, who has been so worried about this case?” she said.

Nik Raina was equally emotional when she spoke about the support from Rosli.”He is the best lawyer ever”.

Open letter to the Attorney-General of Malaysia


February 26, 2015

Open letter to the Attorney-General, Tan Sri  Abdul Gani Patail

 Gani PatailHe has plenty of explaining to do

I strongly believe that had an inquiry into the cause of death of Altantuya Shaariibuu was promptly done, we would have found the answers to most of the questions that are, at the moment, bothering us.

FMT LETTER@www.freemalaysiayoday.com

From Shamsher Singh Thind

I write this open letter in response to an online article published by Malaysiakini entitled “I never admitted to killing her, says Sirul”.  Among others, it was reported therein that Sirul Azhar ‘… maintained that he had acted under orders and was being made a scapegoat.’

This news has certainly created another round of global shock waves, since from the beginning, for one reason or another, this trial has been linked to our Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak.

I have read another online article published by Asia Sentinel entitled “Sirul Azhar Statement”. This article supposedly contains the cautioned statement made by Sirul Azhar on November 9, 2006 after his arrest.

Sirul purportedly confessed that ‘… I met Azilah at Central Market …[and] [h]e instructed me to observe Malaya Hotel[,] where the woman who was disturbing the businessman stayed [and] [o]n the way there, Azilah talked about a reward of between RM 50,000 and RM 100,000 if the case was settled.’

Of course, I am not in any position to confirm whether or not both of these online articles are true. However, the contents therein are highly believable. On January 13, 2015, the Federal Court has reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal and restored the conviction and punishment set by the High Court but the motive of killing of Altantuya Shaariibuu was never established.

altantuya

No one seems to know until today why the two elite Police Officers from the Special Task Force (Unit Tindakan Khas–UTK) abducted and murdered a foreigner. For the public, it is a natural thing to blame the Police for not doing a thorough investigation professionally. However, my humble opinion is that it is your office that has to be blamed for this blunder.

Let me explain. Firstly, Section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Code clearly provides that ‘[w]hen any person dies while in the custody of the Police …, the officer who had the custody of that person … shall immediately give intimation of such death to the nearest Magistrate, and the Magistrate or some other Magistrate shall … hold an inquiry into the cause of death.’

Put it simply, the duty of a Magistrate to hold an inquiry, where a person has died in Police custody (and not necessarily in a Police station), is mandatory and not discretionary. This mandatory requirement is reiterated in the Practice Direction No 1 of 2007 (Guidelines on Inquest). Para 3(A)(1)(a) thereof provides that ‘[t]he Magistrate must hold an inquest if any person dies while in the custody of the Police …’

“Cause of death” is defined by Section 328 of the Criminal Procedure Code to include not only the apparent cause of death as ascertainable by inspection or post-mortem examination of the body of the deceased, but also all matters necessary to enable an opinion to be formed as to the manner in which the deceased came by his death and as to whether his death resulted in any way from, or was accelerated by, any unlawful act or omission on the part of any other person.’

Furthermore, Section 337 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that ‘[a] Magistrate holding an inquiry shall inquire when, where, how and after what manner the deceased came by his death and also whether any person is criminally concerned in the cause of the death.’

There is no doubt whatsoever that Altantuya died while she was in Police custody, regardless of whether the arrest itself was sanctioned by the Police. Section 15(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that a lawful arrest is made when a Police officer touches or confines the body of the person to be arrested.

I strongly believe that had an inquiry into the cause of death of Altantuya Shaariibuu was promptly done, we would have found the answers to most of the questions that are, at the moment, bothering us.

I agree with the Courts that motive of killing is irrelevant in securing a conviction under section 302 of the Penal Code. However, without knowing the motive, how was it possible for the Police to conclude that only Sirul Azhar, Azilah Hadri and Abdul Razak Baginda (to a certain extent), with the exclusion of all others, were responsible for the brutal killing of Altantuya Shaariibuu?

There is a legal maxim in Latin that says nemo judex in causa sua, which literally means no one should be a judge in his own cause. This is one of the fundamental principles of natural justice.

The Police cannot be given the task to investigate its own wrongdoings. I can vividly remember that Police investigation had failed to reveal the identity of the person who caused bodily injuries to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on September 20, 1998 at the Bukit Aman Police lock-up.

In fact, the former Attorney General of Malaysia, Tan Sri Datuk Seri Mohtar Abdullah in the concluding part of his press statement dated  January 5, 1999 stated that ‘… I am also of the opinion that the Royal Malaysian Police is fully responsible for the injuries to the Complainant whilst he was in the legal custody of the Police [but] … the investigation which have been carried out so far have not identified the person or persons responsible for such injuries.’ (emphasis added)

However, today everyone knows that the former Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Mohd Noor, was the person who had caused the said injuries to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Interestingly, we were able to know this truth only after a Royal Commission of Enquiry was established under the Commissions of Enquiry Act 1950. Since the inquiry into the cause of death of Altantuya Shaariibuu was not done in accordance with the law, it was your duty to direct for such inquiry to be carried out. Unfortunately, you did not do that as well.

To make the things worse, you also did not appeal against the decision of the High Court to acquit and discharge Abdul Razak Baginda on  October 31, 2008.

Therefore, in the interest of justice, I call upon you, the Attorney General of Malaysia, to direct a Magistrate to hold an inquiry into the cause of, and the circumstances connected with, the death of Altantuya Shariibuu, in accordance with Section 339(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The restriction under Section 339(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, that a Magistrate cannot make further investigation where a finding of murder or culpable homicide not amounting to murder has been returned against any person, does not apply in this case because that restriction only applies when an inquiry into the cause of death has been carried out and closed.

I will end my open letter with a quote from an Irish philosopher, Edmund Burke. He said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Shamsher Singh Thind is a law lecturer in Penang

With a firm belief in freedom of expression and without prejudice, FMT tries its best to share reliable content from third parties. Such articles are strictly the writer’s personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.