The Law starts with you, Tawfik Tun Ismail urges MPs to stop Hadi’s bill

March 8, 2018

The Law starts with you, Tawfik Tun Ismail urges MPs to stop Hadi’s bill

 by FMT Reporters

The former MP again says while the Royal Address is being debated, the Dewan Rakyat is set to debate PAS’ shariah bill in defiance of the High Court judgement.

KUALA LUMPUR: Outspoken former MP Tawfik Tun Ismail who is seeking to stop the tabling of PAS’ shariah bill in Parliament has again warned that matters on religion come under the jurisdiction of the Malay Rulers, and as such it would be against the Rule of Law to list the bill in the Dewan Rakyat’s Order Paper.

Image result for tawfik tun dr ismail

“The Rule of Law starts at the House of Laws,” said Tawfik, the son of the late Tun Dr. Ismail Abdul Rahman who served as Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs in the Seventies.

Tawfik has named Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia and Secretary Roosme Hamzah as defendants in his bid to seek a court order to stop the tabling of a bill to amend the the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, known by its Malay acronym RUU355.

Image result for tawfik tun dr ismail
Image result for tawfik tun dr ismailWhat Rule is the Speaker talking about? Most of the time this moronic Pandikar does not know his job. The Rule of Law is Greek to him. He is another Najib Razak’s horndog, says The Chimp


The amendments proposed by PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang seek to give wider powers to shariah courts as well as introducing stiffer sentences on Muslim offenders.

On February 22, Tawfik scored an initial victory against Pandikar after the High Court rejected the Speaker’s attempt to throw out his suit.

Tawfik has since warned against debating the bill in Parliament, and urged the Attorney-General to advise Pandikar that it would be subjudice to list the bill in the Order Paper, which lists the day’s business for the Dewan Rakyat.

Image result for Hadi Awang and Najib Razak

Strange Bedfellows in a Pact to ruin Malaysia for Political Gain

“It is unparliamentary and most improper of, and against the rule of law, for the House to debate the motion of thanks to His Majesty… while Hadi’s bill to amend RUU355 stares you in the face in the daily Order Paper, in defiance of the judgement from the High Court, using laws that were passed in this August House, and in blatant contravention of the Constitution,” he said today.

Tawfik said listing Hadi’s bill in the Order Paper also contradicted the Speaker’s own decision in the past to stop debates on matters that had gone to court, including foreign courts.

He said Pandikar “should apply the same standards to this matter currently being heard before our own nation’s courts”.

“As the next general election is imminent, members from both sides of the House must stand united and obey the very laws you passed, demonstrate your sworn commitment to the nation that gave you the sacred duty to defend, uphold and protect their constitutional rights, and demand the private member’s bill be withdrawn from the Order Paper immediately,” said Tawfik, who also reminded MPs of the oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend” the constitution.

“Not to do so is clear contempt of His Majesty and His Majesty’s judges, in blatant defiance and contravention of the constitution, and the trust that the citizens of this nation have placed upon you all, and the thin end of the wedge that would open the door to further erosion of our fragile Constitution.”

Hadi’s bill seeks to raise the maximum punishment on shariah offenders from the current 3 years’ jail to 30 years, as well as to impose a fine of up to RM100,000 and 100 strokes of the cane.

But Tawfik, in his suit against Pandikar, said Hadi’s motion did not conform with the requirements of the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat and that it violated Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees equality for all Malaysians.

Rafizi Ramli and the Price of Idealism

February 9, 2018

Rafizi Ramli and the Price of Idealism

by James

Would you be willing to go to jail for something you believe in?

30 months in jail. That is the price Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli and former Public Bank clerk Johari Mohamad are paying for something they believed in.

A bank clerk is very good at putting things in order. One day he finds data that could indicate the money trail of misused public funds. Anxious, he hands it to a politician. His heart stops racing momentarily. The politician investigates further and finds no cows. RM250 million later, still no cows.

Instead, we have 30-month imprisonments for the man and the politician. Isn’t there something wrong?

Image result for Wanita UMNO Chief and National Feedlot

 UMNO’s Dato Shahrizat Abdul Jalil

Isn’t there something wrong with our criminal justice system when we convict people too easily and sentence too excessively? Isn’t there something wrong when our judges are not tempered with judicial sensibilities of justice and mercy? Isn’t there something wrong when good people with good intentions go to jail?

Rafizi and Johari–Ordinary Malaysians who couldn’t stand the stench of corruption and abuse of power became victims of injustice.

When Rafizi first investigated the National Feedlot Corporation scandal, he wasn’t well known to the public. At that time, both Johari (on right in photo) and Rafizi were simply ordinary citizens who couldn’t stand the smell of alleged corruption and abuse of power.

Injustice is not something only known to academic scholars or moral philosophers; injustice is something universally and timelessly felt – everyone can smell it.

Some skeptics are cynical of Rafizi’s singular devotion to truth. They say that all of this is merely a ploy in his journey to martyrdom.

Image result for NFC's Chairman Datuk Dr Mohamad Salleh IsmailNFC’s Chairman Datuk Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail


But we would be damned to think that this is a self-serving journey. One conviction resultant from the struggle for truth is one conviction too many. Prison walls are supposed to house only those who present an imminent threat to society – the “worst of the worst”.

Prisons are placed at the lowest rung of every social hierarchy, since its primary purpose is to punish unacceptable actions and behaviours. It does so by removing your physical mobility, torturing your mental authority and decimating the last of your soulful existence.

If we look at what Rafizi has done since the eve of his political career, and at the insurmountable courage of ordinary people like Johari, they hardly fit the description of being the worst of the worst of our society.

In fact, people like them ought to be exemplary reminders of what ordinary people can do. Words like “justice,” “truth,” and “struggle” find their owners in men like these.

Actualising Idealism

Rafizi and Johari had everything to lose. Rafizi was the youngest senior manager at PeTRONAS and could have remained and risen spectacularly through its corporate ranks.

Instead, he chose to expose the NFC scandal, which first sent him to the cunning world of politics – and now to prison. Once he was at the very top of the mountain; now he is forced to march to the lowest abyss of prison cells.

Johari was a bank clerk living from hand to mouth. He knew that he would have his livelihood forfeited if he was to be served with imprisonment. Many called him an “ordinary” bank clerk – but I refuse, for he is anything but.

Many of us are idealistic when we are young. Our aspirations for how society should be are a central part of our being.

But as we get older, we are told to be more practical. We are told to “earn money first, do justice later”. We are told, “Dear, no one pays you to fight for justice; you only pay dearly.”

The rat race of adult life reveals that your youthful idealism is actually just naïve foolishness. So maybe Rafizi and Johari were indeed just a foolish pair who believed fairness and justice were possible for humanity.

But maybe – just maybe – they are who we are if we had a heart of steel and spirited moral courage. Maybe they are who we want but are too afraid to be. Maybe a part of them is a part of who we are.

The process of combating evil is so terrifying that we need courageous soldiers to walk into the fire first. If idealism is the fire in your belly, then actualising idealism means walking through the fire.

After all the words of tongue and pen, this question visits me again and again: Would you be willing to go to jail for something you believe in?


JAMES CHAI works at a law firm. His voyage in life is made less lonely with a family of deep love, friends of good humour and teachers of selfless giving. This affirms his conviction in the common goodness of people: the better angels of our nature. He tweets at @JamesJSChai.


Dr Kua Kia Soong: An Insider’s View of Ops Lalang (October 1987)

October 29, 2017

Dr. Kua Kia Soong: An Insider’s View of Ops Lalang: Closure to this dark episode in our history

No, Mahathir may not owe these elite any apologies. But he certainly owes an apology not only to all the victims of Ops Lalang, but also to the former Lord President and the Supreme Court judges that he sacked in 1988, and to the Malaysian rakyat for all the financial scandals since the 1980s that have cost the rakyat billions of ringgit.–Dr. Kua Kia Soong

by Kua Kia


As with the pattern of ISA detentions under the Alliance and then the BN government, the mass arrests and detentions without trial of innocent Malaysian dissidents in 1987 was an attempt to create a climate of terror as a backdrop for Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s other agenda.

It was the prelude to the sacking of the Lord President (Tun) Salleh Abas and the suspension of five Supreme Court judges, who were about to judge the case brought up by Team B of UMNO challenging the party election results.

Geoffrey Robertson, a leading UK barrister said of the sacking that “the Tribunal Report recommending the sacking of Tun Salleh Abas is among the most despicable documents in modern legal history.”

Image result for tun salleh abas

The reality was that if the highest court in the land had judged in favour of Team B in 1988, it would have been the end of Mahathir’s tenure as prime minister. Thus survival was Mahathir’s main agenda, and we the victims of Operasi Lalang were just the pawns in his game.

Did the human rights of innocent Malaysians matter to him? Does he need to apologise and show remorse now that he claims to have seen the light and become a born-again democrat?

Harapan leaders held Dr M responsible for Operasi Lalang

This was the declaration by all the Ops Lalang detainees including myself, Karpal Singh and the other Pakatan Harapan leaders today on the first anniversary of their detention in 1988:

“The year since this dastardly Operation Lalang has been an outrage for all freedom-loving and democratic-minded Malaysians. The Mahathir administration has made even more brutal attacks on the democratic institutions in this country.

“The doctrine of separation of powers has been dealt a serious blow by the threats to the judiciary not only through legislative changes but also by the scandalous suspension of five Supreme Court judges as well as the lord president.

“The subsequent dismissal of the Lord President and two of the judges demonstrated the depths to which the Mahathir administration is prepared to go to stay in power.

“Civil liberties have been further eroded by new changes to the law. It is quite clear, therefore, that this so-called Operation Lalang was a signal for calculated repression and intimidation of the Malaysian people and to divert attention from the irresolvable problems confronting the ruling party and coalition.”

Dr M cannot erase history

Mahathir cannot escape from the historical records in, among others, my “445 Days under Operation Lalang,” DAP’s “The Real Reason,” Carpa’s “Tangled Web,” Amnesty International’s “Operation Lalang: Detention Without Trial under ISA,” K Das and Suaram’s “The White Paper on the October Affair and the Why? Papers.”

And judging from the comments on the “Black October “affair by eminent persons both local and international, we can see clearly who they held responsible for this dastardly affair – it was certainly not the inspector-general of police!

In the words of Tunku Abdul Rahman himself:

“UMNO was facing a break-up. Prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s hold on the party appeared critical when election rigging was alleged to have given him a very narrow victory over Tengku Razaleigh (photo).


The Evergreen UMNO loyalist

“The case alleging irregularities brought by UMNO members was pending in court. If the judgement went against him he would have no choice but to step down. So he had to find a way out of his predicament.

“A national crisis had to be created to bring UMNO together as a united force to fight a common enemy – and the imaginary enemy in this case was the Chinese community…

“It’s a police state when you can go and arrest people at will without giving any reason other than they think they are a security risk. I do not concede Dr Mahathir’s contention that his measures are predicated solely on the extreme tension between Malays and Chinese last month which brought the country close to serious racial rioting…

“It’s not a question of Chinese against the government but his own party, UMNO who are against him.”

Tun Hussein Onn, Amnesty International, Inter-Parliamentary Union, International Commission of Jurists, Asiawatch, European Parliament, Australian parliamentarians,  Malaysian Bar Council – they all held then Prime Minister responsible for the detentions.

Closure on this dark episode in our history

What is an apology after all? We are not asking for compensation. Let me remind Mahathir that Malek Hussein was awarded RM2.5million as compensation for his ISA detention by a High Court judge. Multiply that a hundred times and it would still be insufficient to compensate some of us who were detained for more than a year.

An apology on this occasion is for Mahathir to declare his regret, remorse and sorrow for having inflicted pain and suffering on victims of Ops Lalang, the top-ranked judges of the judiciary and other democratic institutions in Malaysia.

For any closure on this dark episode in our history, and any hint of humility towards reparation, such an apology is vital to:

  • Document and confirm the facts surrounding what actually happened;
  • Specify the harm done to victims and their loved ones through Mahathir’s actions;
  • Highlight the ways in which democratic institutions and human rights were violated;
  • Demonstrate Mahathir’s acceptance of moral responsibility for what he did in 1987/88;
  • Express publicly Mahathir’s regret and apology for what was perpetrated on the victims; and
  • Demonstrate specifically what kind of reform Mahathir is now committed to.

The leaders of Harapan who insist that Mahathir does not need to apologise for his arrest and detention of more than a hundred innocent Malaysians in October 1987 do not seem to realise the consequences of their actions.

Pakatan Rakyat betrayed Freedom loving Malaysians by associating itself with the man who destroyed our Constitution.

Now if Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak decides to step down in the light of the 1MDB scandal or after GE14, will the Harapan leaders then “forgive” him just like they have “forgiven” Mahathir?

If they think there is no need for Mahathir to say sorry, why does Najib have to say sorry if he decides to go? Why does Najib have to step down if he is charged with corruption since the Penang CM has not stepped down?

No impunity for kleptocrats

This is what I am getting at – in human rights, democracy and justice, miscreant autocrats and kleptocrats cannot get away with impunity. Impunity refers to the failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations, rule of law flouters and the corrupt to justice and constitutes a denial of the victims’ right to justice and redress.

Let us not forget that some of our elite did rather well under Mahathir – some got favoured contracts including legal contracts, others gained from his privatisation policies in all areas from energy to private higher education; some politicians who were not physically tortured under Ops Lalang actually wore their ISA detention as a badge of honour to boost their political careers. They might even want to thank Mahathir for his autocratic reign.

As one of these Harapan leaders has recently confessed: “Under Mahathir, we could hold our heads high, not like now under Najib…”

No, Mahathir may not owe these elite any apologies. But he certainly owes an apology not only to all the victims of Ops Lalang, but also to the former Lord President and the Supreme Court judges that he sacked in 1988, and to the Malaysian rakyat for all the financial scandals since the 1980s that have cost the rakyat billions of ringgit.

Mahathir can be seen as the “Father of Crony Capitalism” in Malaysia. According to journalist Barry Wain, Mahathir squandered close to RM100 billion during his reign as Prime Minister.

The leader of the opposition knows of these scandals more than anyone else in this country – during the 1980s, he called Mahathir’s privatisation of our national assets, “piratisation” which is a ruder word than “kleptocracy.”

This is not to mention the billions lost through the Proton fiasco and its costs to the environment and the failure of a public transport system in the country.

And don’t forget the RM5 billion arms deal that Mahathir signed with Margaret Thatcher in 1988 also led to allegations of “commissions” paid to UMNO which led to the “arms for aid” and “buy British last” furore in 1994.

Sorry is all that he can’t say

Leaving all that aside – all we are asking for now is for Mahathir to say “sorry” for that dastardly deed in October 1987 when he took away so many days of our freedom (445 days of my life) and made us withstand torturous days. And he can’t even do that?

Sorry does seem to be the hardest word for some autocrats. According to law professor Andrew Harding, “What Dr Mahathir has done in 1987 is to sacrifice, for the sake of a transitory, temporary and possibly illusory political advantage to himself and his supporters, the priceless asset of judicial independence…

“It is the Constitution, as the supreme law, entrusted to the judges, which is the best guarantee that the executive, once elected, will not act dictatorially.”

Thus, on this 30th anniversary of Operation Lalang,

  • We call on all Malaysians who cherish justice, human rights and the rule of law to demand the end to detention without trial and to restore the rule of law in Malaysia.
  • We demand a public apology and a sincere expression of remorse from Mahathir for depriving so many innocent Malaysians of their freedom and making them endure the torture of detention under Ops Lalang.
  • We call on the BN and Harapan to commit to setting up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission and to ratify the UN Convention against Torture in the first 100 days after GE14. Suaram demands a thorough investigation into all allegations of torture and for the torturers to be accountable for their actions.

KUA KIA SOONG is Suaram adviser.

The Public Prosecutor, Politics and the Rule of Law

September 30, 2017

The Public Prosecutor, Politics and the Rule of Law

by Walter Woon For The Straits Times

Image result for Walter Woon For The Straits Times

Former Attorney-General of Singapore Walter Woon and the brilliant Ambassador at Large Tommy Koh

The Attorney-General occupies the hottest legal seat in Singapore. This is because the Attorney-General is the public prosecutor. Under Article 35(8) of the Constitution, the Attorney-General “shall have power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for any offence”.

In recent times, we have seen the President of a country, which is not shy about wagging its finger at others while lecturing about the rule of law, threatening to remove prosecutors and special counsel when investigations cut too close to the bone for comfort.

Closer to home, there has also been loose chatter online and off that question the Attorney-General’s decisions to prosecute. This is based on a misunderstanding of the Attorney-General’s function as public prosecutor. Ignorant criticism is unfair to the Attorney-General and his officers. Misinformation, deliberate or otherwise, erodes confidence in the system of justice.

It is necessary first to understand the nature of prosecutorial discretion. As a preliminary matter, a distinction must be made between a prosecution and a civil suit. When a person defames someone else, for instance, the “injured” party (the plaintiff) may seek compensation by means of a civil suit.

The public prosecutor is not involved in this. The commencement of civil litigation is a matter solely for the plaintiff. No one can stop him from suing. If he wins, he gets compensation (which does not have to be a substantial sum). If he loses, he pays the defendant’s costs.

Criminal defamation is an offence under the Penal Code. It is up to the Attorney-General to decide whether or not to lay charges. This is termed a prosecution, in contrast to civil proceedings. The object is not to obtain compensation for an injured party but rather to protect society’s interests by imposing some sort of punishment, often as a deterrent to others.

As provided in the Constitution, the Attorney-General has discretion over this. The accused person (defendant) and the injured party (complainant) are not involved in the decision. The defendant might tender an apology and offer to pay damages to the complainant, but the public prosecutor may decide to press on regardless if he thinks that there is a public-interest issue involved. The complainant cannot “drop the charges”, contrary to popular misconception.

Not every offence is prosecuted in court. If it were mandatory to prosecute every time an offence is committed, the courts would be jam-packed with jaywalkers and litterbugs. This is where prosecutorial discretion comes in. The public prosecutor can decide whether or not to prosecute. The question is, on what grounds?

It is obviously not possible for the Attorney-General to look at every individual file to decide whether to prosecute.

In practice, that is left to deputy public prosecutors (DPPs). There are currently two prosecution divisions in the Attorney-General’s Chambers: the Criminal Justice Division, and the Financial and Technology Crime Division. The legal officers posted to these two divisions are designated DPPs.

Generally, investigatory agencies (for example, the Central Narcotics Bureau, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, the police, to name a few) send investigation papers to one of the prosecution divisions. A junior DPP will then make recommendations as to whether charges should be laid, and, if so, what charges. The recommendations are considered by more senior DPPs -the heads of the various directorates, the chief prosecutor of the division, the Solicitor-General, the Deputy Attorney-General. The most serious cases end up on the desk of the Attorney-General, where the buck stops. In most cases, however, the buck stops far down the line from the Attorney-General.

Steps towards prosecution

In deciding whether or not to prosecute, there are, in general, four steps:

•Step 1: Find out what happened. This is the job of the investigatory agencies. It is the stuff of novels, TV and films. The DPP can ask for clarifications or further investigation.

•Step 2: Ascertain if an offence has been committed and, if so, what offence. This is a legal question – it is the reason DPPs have to go through four years or more of law school. Laypersons are seldom, if ever, qualified to appreciate the intricacies of Singapore criminal law.

•Step 3: Can the elements of the offence be proven in court? The prosecution must prove the case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt. It is not for the accused to prove his innocence.

At Step 3, the DPP has to decide whether there is enough evidence that will stand up in court. It is often possible to piece together what happened with a fair degree of certainty. However, there are cases where witnesses will refuse to testify in open court. In other cases, a witness may implicate others when questioned, but when it comes to actually testifying, he will have an attack of selective amnesia.

If the DPP thinks that the witnesses cannot be relied on, the prosecution will probably be dropped. If he decides to carry on, there is a chance that the judge may not be convinced beyond reasonable doubt. In that case, the defendant is acquitted.

Again, contrary to popular misconception, a verdict of “not guilty” is not synonymous with “innocent”. In some cases, it just means that there is a reasonable doubt. Thus, for instance, in a rape case the man may contend that the “victim” consented. The woman may be equally vehement in denying that she did consent. If the judge cannot be sure, then the accused is found “not guilty”, even though it may, in fact, have been rape.

Assuming that we have got past Steps 1, 2 and 3, the final step is: Should there be a prosecution at all?

Image result for Walter Woon For The Straits Times

The writer notes that the Attorney-General of Singapore has two roles: first, that of the Government’s legal adviser and, second, public prosecutor. ST FILE PHOTO

Prosecute or not prosecute

The public prosecutor must decide whether it is in the public interest that the matter should be laid before a judge in open court. He has discretion over this.

This is where the biggest problems arise. For good or ill, the public prosecutor must make a judgment call. There are many reasons why a decision may be taken not to prosecute.

The offence may be a trivial one, not worth tying up prosecutorial and judicial resources over. A person who drops torn-off tabs from parking coupons on the ground may be guilty beyond reasonable doubt of an offence but, in most cases, this will not end up in court. Composition fines may be imposed instead.

Sometimes, the prosecutor may decide that the accused should be given a second chance. For example, if two teenagers are caught having consensual sex, this is an offence if the girl is under 16 years of age. But would it be in the public interest to prosecute a 17-year-old boy for having sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend?

The prosecutor may (note, “may”, not “will”) decide that, under the circumstances, a conditional warning is better. If the boy does not heed the warning and repeats the offence, he will be prosecuted for the previous offence as well as the new one. But if he mends his ways, then there is no prosecution.

When Politics may cloud the picture

Politically charged cases are often a source of controversy.

Suppose that an opposition politician is charged with deliberate incitement of racial unrest. It is a given that his supporters will scream that the prosecution is politically motivated.

When one analyses the issue dispassionately, if the accused is indeed guilty of deliberately inflaming racial feelings, it does not matter whether the decision to prosecute is politically motivated. But the fact that it is perceived to be so undermines the credibility of the public prosecutor, especially if ruling party politicians are not similarly treated.

The public is not stupid. People have a sense of justice. That sense is outraged if double standards are practised – a lenient one for the rich and politically influential, a stricter one for ordinary persons and the strictest one for oppositionists. The public prosecutor has to maintain a scrupulous neutrality so as to avoid being accused of partiality.

Take a purely hypothetical example: Say that a powerful minister is accused of embezzling a substantial sum of money from a government-linked company. How does he avoid retribution? Bribing judges is risky – this can backfire spectacularly. Interfering with investigations is more promising, but in the age of social media, this may not stop the process. The best bet is to nobble the prosecutor.

There are many ways to pressure the public prosecutor. In some places, the threats are physical. I attended a conference of prosecutors in Canada some years ago. Several of my colleagues said that they carried guns for protection. One colleague from a Caribbean country did not even live there – his life would have been worth nothing in his home country.

But physical threats are crude. There are better ways.

The favoured way, as seen in some countries elsewhere, is to appoint as Attorney-General someone who can be counted on to bend when pressure is applied. If the Attorney-General decides that charges will not be laid, no one can challenge that decision. Not even the Chief Justice can compel him to prosecute, legally and practically.

So the question is: What can be done to strengthen the system? We accept it as a given that judges should be politically neutral and not take instructions from politicians.

I would argue that the same must hold true for the public prosecutor. Indeed, one should remember that if the public prosecutor declines to prosecute, the case will never reach a judge, even if there has been a blatant breach of the law.

Two Roles of the A-G

Many people mistakenly think that the Attorney-General is part of the political executive. This may have been so in colonial days, but under our present Constitution, it is not so.

Unlike in many other countries, the Attorney-General of Singapore is not a party politician or a member of the Cabinet. This mistake arises because the Attorney-General has two roles: first, that of the Government’s legal adviser and, second, public prosecutor.

When giving advice on civil cases by or against the Government, on legislation, on matters of international law, the Attorney-General is the Government’s Attorney-General. He is obliged to defer to the Cabinet when it comes to issues pertaining to civil litigation, international law and the drafting of legislation. If he is instructed to fight a case, he must follow his client’s instructions just like any other lawyer, even if he thinks the case cannot be won or that it is ill-advised.

But when it comes to his role as public prosecutor, the Attorney-General is not the Government’s Attorney-General. He is given discretion over prosecutions by the Constitution. It cannot be the case that he should just prosecute if a senior minister wants that to be done.

The rule of law is not the natural state of human society. For most of history, in most societies, the system has been rule by the powerful. The rule of law cannot be imposed by force or governmental decree. Citizens must accept it and actively cooperate in upholding it. Prosecutions are a tangible manifestation of the rule of law.

When the prosecutorial machinery is abused for political ends, ordinary citizens’ faith in the rule of law is shaken. If people do not believe that the system is fair, they will subvert it. Building a society based on the rule of law takes a generation and more – tearing it down can be the work of a single electoral term.

A quick look at the state of the world will show that pressure on prosecutors is common, even in countries that consider themselves to be shining examples of the rule of law.

It is foolish to wait until a hurricane hits you to strengthen your roof. Fix it now, when the sun is shining and the dark clouds have not gathered.

If one accepts the premise that the public prosecutor should be independent, the first step is to separate the two functions of the Attorney-General. As the Government’s legal adviser, he must take instructions from the Cabinet, whatever his own judgment may be. Take this function away from the Attorney-General. Give it to the Solicitor-General, for example. The three non-prosecution divisions of the Attorney-General’s Chambers – civil, legislation and international affairs – can come under the Solicitor-General or whoever is designated as the Government’s legal adviser.

The prosecutorial function should be left with the Attorney-General, who would have the two prosecution divisions in his charge. It is necessary for the Attorney-General to be the public prosecutor. A certain stature is required to resist politicians, foreign diplomats, domestic pressure groups and non-governmental organisations, not to mention the assorted people who try to influence prosecutions. In the legal hierarchy, the Attorney-General ranks immediately after the Chief Justice.

The next question is: Who should appoint the Attorney-General? At present, the Constitution provides that the Attorney-General is appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. The President does not have to accept the Prime Minister’s advice, which is the major safeguard against blatant abuse by appointing a political hack to the post.

Since the President has an independent mandate from the people and constitutional discretion, he (or she) should be the one to make the decision, ideally in consultation with the Chief Justice and the incumbent Attorney-General. This will ensure that, optically, the Attorney-General is not seen to be a political creature of the ruling party.

This is a vital consideration. All too often, when someone who opposes government policy is prosecuted, accusations will be made of political motivations.

Even where it is clear that the accused has broken the law (for example, by making a nuisance of himself in public), there will always be those who will say that the Government is trying to silence the opposition.

People posing as human rights activists will attract the knee-jerk support of foreign human rightists. Prosecute a journalist or blogger for insulting religions and you can be sure that there will be howls at home and from abroad about political persecution and restriction of freedom of speech.

These criticisms will be flung even if the Attorney-General has acted in good faith and the politicians have scrupulously avoided trying to influence him. This is grossly unfair to the Attorney-General and his officers, not to mention the politicians themselves. If the public prosecutor is truly independent and seen to be so, it will go a long way towards refuting such criticisms.

Finally, the Attorney-General’s term of office should be long enough to be useful. The Constitution originally envisaged that the Attorney-General would serve until the age of 60.

This provision was amended to allow the appointment of an Attorney-General for a fixed term. The norm in recent years has been two to three years.

Frequent changes of the Attorney-General are disruptive and not good for the morale of the DPPs. Different attorneys-general have different views about how prosecutorial discretion should be exercised. For the sake of stability, I would suggest a five-year term, renewable by the President at his or her discretion.

Some may ask, why change the system at all? If one believes that all is well and that the system will not buckle in future under the pressure of an unscrupulous powerful executive , then fine, don’t change anything.

But if the system can be abused, then the right thing to do is to address the weakness before it does become a problem. A quick look at the state of the world will show that pressure on prosecutors is common, even in countries that consider themselves to be shining examples of the rule of law.

It is foolish to wait until a hurricane hits you to strengthen your roof. Fix it now, when the sun is shining and the dark clouds have not gathered.

  • The writer, a Senior Counsel, is a former Nominated MP who was also attorney-general and public prosecutor of Singapore from 2008 to 2010.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2017, with the headline ‘The public prosecutor, politics and the rule of law’. Print Edition


Kim Jong Un — smart and strategic? by Dr. Fareed Zakaria

September 17, 2017

Kim Jong Un — smart and strategic?

by Dr. Fareed Zakaria

Kim Jong Un — smart and strategic?

Image result for fareed zakaria


I am sometimes asked what world figure I most want to interview. For me, the answer is obvious: Kim Jong Un. The general impression around the globe continues to be that the North Korean leader is crazy, provocative and unpredictable, but I think that he might well be strategic, smart and utterly rational. Because I am unlikely to get that interview, I have decided to imagine it instead.

Q: Marshal Kim, why do you keep building and testing nuclear weapons and missiles, even though they result in massive, crippling economic sanctions?

A: My nation faces a fundamental challenge — survival. The regime is more threatened than ever before. My forefathers had it easy. The Great Leader, my grandfather, ruled with the support of the world’s other superpower at the time, the Soviet Union, as well as our gigantic neighbor, China. The Dear Leader, my father, still had Beijing’s help for the most part. But today, the Soviet Union is history and China has become more integrated with the Western system. And the sole superpower, the United States, has made it clear that it seeks regime change in my country. And yet, we have survived with our ideology and system intact. How? Because we have built a protection for ourselves in the form of nuclear weapons.

Q: But China still provides you with crucial supplies of food and fuel. Don’t you see it as an ally?

Image result for Kim Jun aun

2017 News Maker of The Year–Keeping Trump, Xi,  Putin Abe and Moon Jae-in on on their toes

A: China is ruthlessly pragmatic. It supports us for its own selfish interests. It doesn’t want millions of refugees — or a unified Korea on its border that is a larger version of what South Korea is now, with U.S. troops and a treaty alliance. But I believe that China no longer considers us an ally. It has voted to sanction us in the U.N. Security Council. The current president, Xi Jinping, cultivates close relations with South Korea. He has never met with me, the leader of North Korea, something that the leader of China has always done. Meanwhile, he has had about 10 meetings with the last two presidents of South Korea. At the grand celebrations in Beijing two years ago commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, he placed the president of Russia and the president of South Korea at his side. In North Korea, we pay a lot of attention to ceremonies and what they signal.

Q: Is that why you seem to go out of your way to embarrass China and Xi specifically?

Image result for Kim Jong Un

What does it  take for him to sit down and talk since sanctions only strengthens his resolve to pursue the nuclearisation of his country and unify his proud people?

A: We will not be pushed around. We heard that senior officials in China and the United States were discussing whether to encourage a coup in North Korea to get a more pliable ruler. So I’ve taken steps to ensure that this can’t happen. The man in our government closest to the Chinese, who could have arranged such a coup attempt, was my uncle. The man who would have been my natural replacement was my half brother. Both have been liquidated, as have more than 100 disloyal high-level officials.

Q: So will you come to the negotiating table? Will you agree to denuclearization in return for the lifting of sanctions?

A: Yes and no. We will readily come to the table. But we will never give up our arsenal. We’re not stupid. It’s all that is keeping us alive. Look at Saddam Hussein — and we never forget that North Korea was named as part of the “axis of evil” a year before the United States invaded Iraq. Look what happened to Moammar Gaddafi in Libya after he agreed to give up his nuclear weapons program. Look at what’s happening to Iran right now. After Washington signed a deal and the Iranians have been certified to be adhering to it, President Trump now says he’s going to tear it up anyway. Do you think we would be stupid enough to believe American promises after all this? We are a nuclear power. That is not negotiable. We are willing to talk about limits, test bans, freezes — but we would need to be given something in return, and not just money. We need security, in the form of diplomatic recognition by Washington and guarantees of nonaggression from China, Japan and the United States.

Q: Many Americans worry that you will soon have the capacity and the intention to launch missiles at the United States.

A: We will have the capacity. And it serves my purposes to keep you off guard. But why would I strike America and invite a retaliatory counterstrike that would put an end to my regime? Keep in mind, the whole point of this — my entire strategy, all our efforts and the hardships we have borne — is to ensure that my regime and I survive. Why would I risk that? I believe in assassination, not suicide.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

10 Rs why we are not Independent; not Malaysia but Malusia

August 25, 2017

10 Rs why we are not Independent; not Malaysia but Malusia

by P

QUESTION TIME | At the stroke of midnight heralding August 31, 1957, the Malayan flag was raised in front of Selangor Padang, Kuala Lumpur before a crowd of thousands and the Union Jack lowered ushering in an era of an independent Malaya which would become Malaysia on September 16, 1963.

Image result for Raising of the Malayan Flag at the Padang on August 31. 1957

The Pinnacle –August 31. 1957 and from then on it was a secular decline into Malusia under Prime Minister Najib Razak–August 31, 2017 and sinking fast due to corruption, incompetence, racism and religious extremism and ketuananism

In the morning, at an elaborate ceremony at Stadium Merdeka, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman cried out “Merdeka!” seven times, echoed by a capacity crowd at the stadium, before the new national anthem “Negaraku” was played for the first time publicly. You can watch a short video here and a longer one here.  If you have not seen them before, I recommend that you do.

In his speech that morning, the Tunku, as the Kedah Prince with a common touch was known to most Malayans, said the nation is based on a constitution and the foundations of freedom (kebebasan), democracy, independence, justice and harmony.

Hopeful faces from all communities and all walks of life packed into the stadium that day, but 60 years later have their hopes, dreams and aspirations been realised? Sixty years later, are we really independent? Sadly, no.

Here are 10 reasons why independence still eludes us.

1. We don’t have freedom in key areas. Freedom is the right to do what you want to do so long as you do not affect the rights of others. But in Malaysia, you can’t even express what you truly feel as many things are considered to be seditious.

Informed debates are out, different lifestyles are looked down upon, you can’t even start a newspaper without the approval of the Home Minister, you have religion interfering in administration and state matters and the Constitution being blatantly disregarded in the name of expediency and a higher law.

2. We don’t have democracy. Democracy is not just only about proportional representation but the right to air your valid opinions and to have the means to spread them to others without restriction. We don’t even have proportional representation because rural seats are given a lot more weightage, sometimes as much as 10 times urban ones. Constitutional safeguards for this have either been ignored or changed over the years. The ruling party holds sway over the mass media by extensive controls as well as ownership webs.

3. We have oppressive laws. The Sedition Act, Sosma, Poca, OSA and various provisions in other legislation provide extensive power to the police and the home minister designed to keep things under wrap and to stifle legitimate dissent. Some of these are even more draconian than the laws which were in place during the time of the British occupation, which is astonishing considering that we have been “independent” for over 60 years. (and we don’t have bola too!)

4. Our government is not transparent. Because the government does so much wrong, it shields so much of what it does, coming up with the infamous Official Secrets Act which dishes out a mandatory jail term for disclosing “secrets”. These so-called “secrets” are most often not even in the national interest to be kept secret but instead reflect serious corruption within government. Unjustly, those who unearth and reveal such secrets face heavy punishment under the law.

5. Our government is not accountable. Our government stopped being accountable long ago. Bad things get done but nobody is brought to account. Billions are lost but no one is charged in court. The same problems crop up over and over again and the same excuses are trotted out over and over again. We don’t ever learn from the past – and the reason is obvious. Corruption prevents correction. This and the previous point reflect the emasculation of our key institutions of check and balance, as our next five points indicate.

Image result for Mahathir the destroyer of institutions
Tun Dr. Mahathir is back to rebuild institutions which he conveniently destroyed


6. Our Judiciary is not independent. Mahathir Mohamad infamously put paid to what was once regarded as an independent arm of the government which will rule on the basis of existing laws and the Constitution, resulting in a number of decisions not being made in accordance with legal principles and precedents. This continues to haunt us today with judges now being increasingly influenced by religious beliefs rather than the law and by who is in power.

Image result for IGP Khalid Abu Bakar retires

Hey, Chief, after September, 2017, we don’t care too

7. Our Police are not independent. Selective implementation of the law with the opposition and dissidents feeling the brunt of Police action while government and ruling party elements often get by with a rap on the knuckles or no action at all when others face jail sentences for similar offences. The all-encompassing Sedition Act, OSA, Sosma and Poca have all been selectively used by the police.

8. Our MACC is not independent. While the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission suddenly seems to be active, its image is shattered by the omission of action against the largest theft in the country and probably the world as a result of which a huge sum of money came into the accounts of the prime minister. Also, MACC’s actions are quite clearly one-sided towards the opposition, ignoring many cases of corruption involving ruling party officials.

Image result for Paul LowMr Integrity Paul Low –We owe him a lot for allowing corruption to be rampant. We need more big talkers like him 


9. Our EC is not independent. The Elections Commission has not shown itself to be independent, allowing gerrymandering to realign boundaries of constituencies and allowing by a large amount proportional misrepresentation to continue by giving undue weightage to rural constituencies.

Image result for Apandi Ali

This A-G only serves UMNO and the Prime Minister

10. Our AG is not independent. The Attorney-General has famously decreed that the Prime Minister has no case to answer despite considerable evidence to the contrary, and especially extensive documented investigation by the US Department of Justice.

The latest appointment of the Auditor-General has been called into question because her spouse is a prominent UMNO member who declared that he will die for the Prime Minister. There are more reasons of course but these 10 are among the main ones.

Although this has culminated with Najib Abdul Razak at the top, it did not start with him. It started much earlier, pushed forward through a racial, racist party which thought that it knew what was best for the country and which twisted and turned this way and that to use religion and race to stay in power. It was not about Malaysians anymore – not even Malays.

It was corrupted by power and money, and along the way, as checks and balances were removed one by one giving the state enormous legislative, judicial, policing and administrative powers to ultimately protect the economic interests of its upper classes especially those in UMNO. Now, kleptocracy rules supreme.

This party must change or go so that freedom, democracy, independence, justice and harmony – the five foundations the Tunku mentioned – are restored, and restored in full. And it requires the efforts of all of us Malaysians, no matter how small or big, whichever community we come from, to ensure that happens. Our survival and the survival of our country depends on that.