White House Open Petition hits 100,000 Plus Signatures


March 11, 2015

 Well done Ambassador Malott: White House Open Petition hits 100,000 Plus Signatures

http://www.malaysiakini.com

 

White House --We the People

In the latest twist to yesterday’s sudden removal of a White House online petition which mysteriously re-emerged just before midnight, it finally reached the 100,000 mark early this morning – one day before the 30-day deadline.As at 8am, the total signatures on the petition are 106,419.

The petition which called for the release Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and spearheaded by former United States ambassador to Malaysia John R Malott, was suspended for 14 hours when it was about 4,000 signatories shy of the target.

The deadline for the petition is tomorrow, March 12. A petition requires 100,000 signatures to warrant a response from the US President.

John R. Malott2The petition was yanked from the White House website yesterday ostensibly for “violation of the terms of participants”. Malott (left) told Malaysiakini he did not receive any notifications from the White House regarding the removal of his petition.

“I was surprised to learn that the petition had been suspended, and that the White House website said that we had violated the terms and conditions, which we had not. The website also said that they would contact me, but they never did. So I was mystified,” he said.

Malott said he subsequently called the White House, and the office which handles the petitions told him to send an email regarding his query.

No explanation

There has been so far no explanation why the petition was suspended and why it was put back online.

“I can only speculate what the reason was for this mistake. I have two theories. The White House computer system tries to detect signatures that are not ‘real’ and which are generated by computer bots,” said Malott.

“So one theory is that their computer system detected the fast rise in signatures over the past few days and automatically shut down the petition until someone could check the validity of the signatures.

“The computer did that around 10pm at night (10am yesterday Malaysian time) and put up the ‘removal’ page. Then, when a real live human being came to work on Tuesday morning (Washington DC time) and looked into it, they saw that the signatures were valid, and so they reinstated the petition.

“The other theory is human error. They confused the two petitions – the Anwar petition and the ‘respect the sovereignly of Malaysia’ petition. Many people in Malaysia believe that the counter-petition signatures are in large measure computer-generated and are not genuine.

“So the theory is that someone in the White House said ‘take the petition down’, and they confused the two Malaysia-related petitions. That would explain why we were later reinstated and instead, (and) why the counter-petition has now been removed.”

Malott ‘elated’

The counter petition which urged the Obama administration not to interfere in the Malaysian judiciary was suspended early this morning by the White House website. Malott said he did not request for the petition to be taken down.

Both petitions were neck-to-neck a few days ago, but the pro-Anwar petition added more than 30,000 signatures in the past 48 hours, likely due to heavy campaigning by PKR and DAP.

Malott said he was “elated” that his petition crossed the 100,000 mark before the deadline expired.

“It is very rare for any petition on the White House website to garner more than a few thousand signatures. But this is only the first of several steps to focus international attention on Anwar’s incarceration and the deteriorating status of political freedom in Malaysia.”

The pro-Anwar petition was launched on February 10 – the day Anwar was sentenced for five years jail. “The future of democracy in Malaysia is at stake. Securing Anwar’s release from prison must be a top priority in US policy towards Malaysia, to be advanced in every way possible,” says the petition.

Ex-top Judge KC Vohrah’s disclosure vindicates Syed Ahmad Idid


March 5, 2015

Ex-top Judge KC Vohrah’s disclosure vindicates Syed Ahmad Idid

by Hafiz Yatim@www.malaysiakini.com

EXCLUSIVE Following recent revelations by former Court of Appeal Judge KC KC VohrahVohrah of questionable actions by ex-Chief Justice Eusoff Chin, the man who had first revealed judicial corruption in Malaysia feels quietly vindicated.Syed Ahmad Idid Syed Abdullah Idid was the High Court Judge who was forced to resign for writing an anonymous letter exposing the matter in 1996, which was sent to a select set of high officials.

Among its allegations, it revealed Eusoff had gone on a New Zealand holiday with VK Lingam, a senior lawyer who appeared before the then Chief Justice in court on a number of cases.Pictures of the duo taken together with their families underscored their close ties. It resulted in Syed Ahmad Idid being told to resign when the letter he sent mysteriously found its way into some government departments and then spread to the media.

Syed Ahmad Idid’s immediate reaction to Malaysiakini’s article on Vohrah was elation – that the former Court of Appeal Judge had written on the matter and he was certain other Judges could also tell of similar experiences.Among other transgressions, the Ayer Molek case that Vohrah referred to was filed in the Special and Appellate Powers Division whereas it should have been in the Commercial Division.

Syed Ahmad Idid (above center) also recalled a similar incident as a Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge with the Commercial Division from 1995 to 1996.

According to him, a case involving a sum of a quarter of a billion ringgit was correctly filed in the Commercial Division before him. But before it could be called in open court, the file was wrested away by Eusoff. “That matter was given to another judge who now resides, and must be enjoying life, in Europe,” he quipped.

Appalled at Corruption

Syed Ahmad Idid was a former Assistant Director with The Royal Customs and Excise Department before he left to read law in the Inner Temple London. He was legal director of a bank before being appointed a High Court Judge in 1990. In 1996, appalled at the corruption and dubious practices in the corridors of justice, he turned whistleblower.

eusoff chin and vk lingam

He remembers that his anonymous complaint over misconduct in the Judiciary, especially on the then Lord President  Eusoff Chin (above with VK Lingam), was sent to a few top government officers whose duties he hoped included enhancing the standards of performance in the government and protecting the integrity of the country.

Unfortunately someone in a department had disseminated it to the media, along with a ‘covering note’.“The aim was to frame me. The then Attorney-General (the late Mokhtar Abdullah) – a reader of English fiction – described this as a ‘poison pen’ letter.”

Somehow the letter was traced back to him and he was given two options – to resign honourably or be detained, possibly under the Internal Security Act.

A senior official, representing the A-G, had met him armed with the offer, revealed Syed Idid.He said Mokhtar was seen as overly enthusiastic to kill the ‘poison pen’ letter writer rather than investigating the allegations made against Eusoff. “He went to the press as though he was out for revenge.”Queried why he did not fight back, Syed Ahmad Idid said as a judge he could not join the political fray.

“I had no political party and so no political pull or push. The press jumped in and wrote all sorts of things against me. A reporter wrote I had escaped to London. In reality, I was eating ‘nasi lemak’ right here in Section 21, Petaling Jaya.

Even a Professor took advantage by writing about people who wrote poison-pen letters. So the lies mounted. But the newspapers which printed the lies paid dearly through their falling sales,” the former Judge said.

Threat of imprisonment

Asked as to why he did not take legal action, Syed Ahmad Idid said he was threatened with imprisonment. “I had a heart attack the previous year. Naturally I was fearful I could not survive the ordeal of a prison or even a lock-up stay. Also I had no savings to engage counsel and had no hope for the ‘justice that money can buy’.4th PM of Malaysia“So you see my predicament.

I made ‘doa’ and learned that discretion is the better part of valour.” Syed Ahmad Idid added he believed then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad relied a lot on his advisers and as Mokhtar held the reins, the PM had no alternative but to believe what the A-G told him.

“I did not contact the former A-G or the former IGP. Both knew my complaints were not investigated. On the contrary, I, the complainant, was punished. Thankfully, I have genuine friends both in the government, the courts and also the private sector who support me a lot, (and) I am grateful. Naturally I wish they can get UMNO to push for remedial action in my favour. However I guess UMNO is busy with so many issues.”

Lingam was later implicated in a video showing him having a phone conversation with then Chief Judge of Malaya (Tun) Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Halim in 2001 over the fixing of judges. This eventually led to a Royal Commission of inquiry in 2008 to investigate the issue.

The five-member panel proposed action be taken on Lingam, Eusoff and four others including Mahathir. However until today, no action has been taken against any of the six.

“After the Lingam inquiry, there should have been “korek, korek and korek” (dig, dig and dig) for more truths,” Syed Ahmad Idid sighed in dejection, playing on the now legendary Lingam’s “correct, correct, correct” quote that was caught on the video.

However in a manner of speaking, Syed Ahmad Idid had the last laugh. He received many calls and text messages congratulating him on being vindicated for the revelations he made more than a decade before the infamous video was made public.

Compensation received

He has also seen former Lord President Salleh Abas and five other Supreme Court Judges being compensated in 2008.

In 1988, following the UMNO debacle in which the party was declared illegal by the court, Salleh and other Supreme Court judges were forced to resign. Two decades later the government under Abdullah Ahmad Badawi decided the Judges were hard done by, and granted compensation and returned their pensions. Syed Ahmad Idid now hopes the government will similarly look into the injustice done to him.

“I hope the government would remedy the wrong done to me…,” he said, stressing that he had sent his 1996 complaint to a few top government officials but did not however make it public. In fact, a professional forensics expert could easily confirm that the typeset, font and paper of that covering note and the attachment could not have come from me but from a department over which I had no control.”

Syed Ahmad Idid’s only regret was that he had been perceived to be an opposition sympathiser after the late Karpal Singh spoke well of him in Parliament when news of his resignation became public and again in 2006. This, he said, had resulted in some within the government branding him as an opposition supporter.

According to Syed Ahmad Idid, he was informed of this by a former cabinet minister. “I was denied any form of support. How more injudicious can the country get,” he said. Despite this, Syed Ahmad Idid is glad that current Judges, especially those appointed by the Judicial Appointments Commission, are of quality, possessing experience and qualifications.

“This is essential in persons chosen to administer justice. A few may be young or ‘belum masak’ (not mature). But so long as they gather knowledge day by day and are fiercely honest and impartial, our judiciary will move a long way from the Eusoff Chin regime,” he remarked.

After his premature end in government service, Syed Ahmad Idid has kept himself busy with visits to the Inner Temple, his alma mater, and the International Court of Justice in The Hague as well as studying the plight of Muslims in Mindanao. He has written extensively on the negotiations between Manila and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and on basic law.

In addition to speaking at arbitration conferences overseas, Syed Ahmad Idid has participated in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (Uncitral) meetings in New York and Vienna. In 2012, Syed Ahmad Idid wrote a book titled ‘Writing of Judgments: A Practical Guide for Courts and Tribunals’.

The Release of Nik Raina


March 4, 2015

The Release of Nik Raina

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/azrul-mohd-khalib/article/the-release-of-nik-raina

by Azrul Mohd Khalib

Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz

To say that it had been an emotional morning would be an understatement. The Judge had just delivered his ruling and Nik Raina’s head had turned sharply to the back to glance at her boss. Everyone in that courtroom pretty much expected an application by the prosecutor for another lengthy six-month sojourn of the Nik Raina-Borders case to be granted, depriving her yet again of reprieve and justice.

Discharge of the charges was certainly not what anyone expected to hear that day in the Shariah courtroom. Just a moment before, everyone had heard the response from the prosecutor to lawyer Rosli Dahlan’s impassioned plea on behalf of Nik Raina for compassion, kindness and understanding from the court. To correct an injustice which had been inflicted and sustained for three years.

It was her problem, the prosecutor responded, if she felt that she had suffered humiliation, embarrassment and anguish as a result of this case. He continued by saying that her decision to take the case to the civil court amounted to disrespect of the Shariah court system and that her actions resulted in the prolonging of the case. Basically that it was Nik Raina’s own fault that it had come to three years since that fateful day in 2012.

JAWI was determined to continue the case to the highest court in the land. If the words and actions of the Shariah prosecutor were anything to go by, in the case of Nik Raina, they just wanted to win the case or to at least say that they had exhausted absolutely all avenues in their crusade to do so.

It is rare, for me at least, to hear words of compassion, understanding and most importantly, empathy in these settings. But I heard them that morning.

I heard the Judge, Mohd Amran Mat Zain, emphasise on the need to adhere to the spirit of fairness and justice in which the civil court and the Shariah court are grounded, as well as respecting the Federal Constitution.

The Honourable Judge emphasised that he had considered the fact that the very accusation and the charge itself have been deemed suspect and doubted. He considered that JAWI’s actions had been chastised and were found by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal to be not only illegal but unconstitutional and done in bad faith. He recognised and empathised with Nik Raina’s suffering as a result of this case and spoke of how he considered that the circumstances of injustice could cause kemudaratan.

Amidst the gasps of surprise and disbelief, sharp intakes of breath and the loud slapping of a forehead (a member of the prosecution team), the Judge ordered the charge be dropped.

Just an hour earlier, all of those present had been wondering whether the day’s outcome would be any different than others before. There had been too many disappointments. This outcome caught everyone totally off guard.

Rosli Dahlan (new)

An emotional Rosli then requested permission from the court to permit his client to step out from the dock, as she was no longer under the shadow of a criminal charge, and be allowed to address the court. In a halting voice filled with much joy and fighting back tears, Nik Raina thanked the judge for his ruling. There were very few dry eyes after that. Everyone shed tears, even the normally unflappable Rosli.

In a statement made to the press outside the courtroom, Nik Raina stated that she fought for the right of all Muslims in Malaysia to work without fear of harassment or persecution. “I stand here today not only for myself, but for all my colleagues, especially the Muslims who could face the same action by the religious authorities for merely doing our jobs.”

Because of this case, Nik Raina has become an inspirational role model for so many young women and men. I wish her the very best and I am happy for her that she is able to continue on with her life with this whole episode behind her.

I do hope that the Attorney General’s Chambers will take heed of the learned Judge’s judgement and emphasis on needing to uphold the Islamic principles of fairness and justice. There is no longer a need to defend JAWI’s unlawful actions. Let it end here.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

Anwar Ibrahim can’t be in Parliament unless pardoned–Abu Talib Othman


March 4, 2015

 Anwar Ibrahim can’t be in Parliament unless pardoned, says former Attoney-General Abu Talib

By V. Anbalagan, Assistant News Editor@www.themalaysianinsider.com

Abu TalibFormer A-G Tan Sri Abu Talib

Convicted Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will not be making an appearance when the Dewan Rakyat convenes next week as no one has the legal authority to direct the prison authorities to produce him in parliament, said former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman.

The government’s former Legal Adviser further said neither the Dewan Rakyat Speaker nor the Home Minister have the legal clout to order that Anwar be produced in Parliament.

“I don’t think the law has been amended to allow the Speaker and the Minister to order that a convicted MP attend proceedings,” he said.

Talib said Anwar had been sentenced by a court of law in accordance with the Federal Constitution and the applicable law.

“He has been ordered to be placed in custody after he was sentenced to five years jail,” he told The Malaysian Insider in response to allegation that Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was evading his responsibility in deciding whether Anwar could attend Parliament next week.

Anwar Ibrahim Ops Leader

He said the Speaker only presided over meetings and his powers were all provided in the constitution and the standing orders.”It is beyond the powers of the Speaker to direct the Prisons Department to produce Anwar, who is also the Permatang Pauh MP, to attend the daily parliament sittings,” he added.

Earlier in a joint statement, lawyers N. Surendran and Latheefa Koya said the law was clear that Ahmad Zahid was the final and legal authority to decide whether Anwar could attend Parliament’s first sitting which begins on March 9.

Ahmad Zahid had said on Monday that only the Pardons Board, Attorney-General and the Speaker had the final say whether Anwar could attend Parliament. “Zahid’s statement is shocking, incomprehensible and a direct contradiction of the Prisons Act 1995,” they said.

The lawyers referred to Section 13(1) of the Prisons Act which states that the Prisons Director-General “shall be responsible” to the Minister for the due observance of the provisions of the law.

Malaysian Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, pictured in 2010

The lawyers also criticised Ahmad Zahid’s suggestion that the Pardons Board be allowed to make a decision first, saying that if the Pardons Board made a decision one way or the other, the issue of bringing Anwar to Parliament from prison would not arise at all.

They also decried Ahmad Zahid’s move in responding to their request for Anwar to attend the sitting through the media instead of replying to them directly.

Anwar’s lawyer had written a letter to Zahid on February 25 to instruct the prisons department to escort Anwar to attend the sitting. Meanwhile, PKR Secretary-General Rafizi Ramli said yesterday that Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers would stage protests in the event Anwar was barred from attending the sitting.

Although he did not say what form of protests would be held, Rafizi confirmed that his party and allies DAP and PAS would take steps to address the matter.

“There are some plans specific to the unjust decision taken against Anwar that PR MPs will take. I think it is better for the parties’ whips to announce but definitely we will have some action,” he told a conference at PKR headquarters yesterday.

Talib, who was Attorney-General for 13 years until 1993, said Anwar could attend Parliament if he is given a pardon. He said in the interest of Permatang Pauh voters, the Pardons Board should sit as soon as possible to dispose of this matter.”The people of Permatang Pauh must not be deprived of an elected representative in the Dewan Rakyat,” he said.He said attending proceedings was only one of the duties of an elected representative.

“More importantly, the elected representative has to be around to serve his constituents,” he said.

Talib said since the Speaker had made a decision not to declare the seat vacant, it was only fair for the board to deliberate on the petition as soon as possible.

“The administrators should fix a suitable date which is convenient for the King to sit,” he added.

On February 24, Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia announced that Anwar remained as Permatang Pauh MP and Opposition Leader pending a decision on his petition to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Anwar’s wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar presented a petition for a royal pardon to Istana Negara just before the 14-day deadline expired.

Nurul Izzah, the PKR Vice-President and Lembah Pantai MP, said the petition for pardon was made on the basis that her father’s conviction failed to adhere to the principles of justice.

On February 10, a five-man bench led by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria found Anwar guilty of having carnal intercourse with his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.The apex court also upheld the five-year jail term imposed by a lower court. He committed the offence at a unit of the Desa Damansara condominium in Bukit Damansara on June 26, 2008.

Anwar’s application for pardon would be chaired by the Agong and the members of the board would consist of the Federal Territories Minister, the A-G and two others.

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.

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

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