Sanity returns to Pandi Fella: Sedition Prosecution Against Academic Azmi Sharom dropped


February 13, 2016

Sanity returns to Pandi Fella: Sedition Prosecution Against Academic Azmi Sharom  dropped

by Malaysiakini.com

Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali has today decided to discontinue the sedition prosecution against University of Malaya Law Professor Azmi Sharom (above).

“In the interest of justice, and after examining the evidence given by the prosecution’s witnesses in court, I am using my discretion under Article 145(3) of the federal constitution and decide to discontinue prosecution against Azmi,” said Apandi in a statement today.

Article 145(3) gives the Attorney-General the sole and exclusive authority to institute and conduct any criminal proceedings. Apandi pointed out a similar sedition case involving Seputeh MP Teresa Kok previously.

The law don was charged under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act for a comment he made to Malay Mail Online on the Selangor menteri besar crisis that was brewing in 2014, in an article titled ‘Take Perak crisis route for speedy end to Selangor impasse, Pakatan told’.

A-G Pandi uses his discretion?

In the article he had suggested the Perak example in 2009 where UMNO ousted the incumbent Pakatan Rakyat government as a solution to resolve the imbroglio.

He also faced an alternative charge under Section 4(1)(c) of the same Act. The charge carries a penalty of a maximum fine of RM5,000 or three years’ prison, or both, upon conviction.

When contacted, Azmi expressed his gratitude with the A-G’s decision.“I’m thankful that common sense has prevailed. I am grateful to my family, my lawyers, my friends and to so many people I don’t even know who have been so supportive,” he told Malaysiakini.

‘Reverse sedition crackdown’

Human Rights Watch Asia Division Deputy Director Phil Robertson said  Azmi should not have been charged in the first place.

“He should have never been prosecuted in the first place. But at least now there appears to be a flicker of candle light in the dark tunnel of Sedition Act prosecutions being brought by the Malaysian authorities against numerous lawyers, NGO activists, opposition MPs, and academics.

“The question now is whether that light will grow, or whether it will be snuffed out?,” said Robertson in a statement.

“The A-G should reverse the sedition crackdown and show he understands how wrong it is to criminalise people for expressing peaceful political views that disagree with the government.

“These include cartoonist Zunar, lawyer Eric Paulsen, opposition politician N. Surendran, and more than two dozen others,” he added.

Putrajaya Apes (Primates) in the Year of the Monkey


February 10, 2016

Putrajaya Apes (Primates) in the Year of the Monkey

by Dr.M Bakri Musa
Morgan-Hill, California

Former Prime Minister Mahathir ( and he is no Prophet!) recently expressed his deep regret in having groomed the young Najib. Mahathir grooved the path for Najib because he (Mahathir) felt he owed a huge debt of gratitude to Najib’s father, Tun Razak, who “rehabilitated” Mahathir when he was in the political wilderness after being expelled from UMNO in the early 1970s.

It looks like Mahathir will carry to his grave not only his huge debt of gratitude to Razak but also the burden Mahathir had imposed upon the nation for being instrumental in Najib becoming Prime Minister.–Dr.M. Bakri Musa

Dr. M. Bakri Musa with Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz

I was visiting my old village near Sri Menanti, Negri Sembilan, recently and was struck by an unexpected but common sight. That is, the absence of any fruit trees or vegetable plots around what few remaining houses there that were still being occupied.

Such a scene would have been unthinkable during my youth. Then there were always nearly-ripe papayas or bananas ready to be picked for breakfast, and enough long beans in the garden or chickens scurrying around to fill a cooking pot should unexpected guests arrive for lunch.

On querying my few elderly relatives who were still there and loving the serene kampong lifestyle, they replied that the monyets and keras (monkeys) have descended from the jungle to destroy everything, including the chickens. Those monkeys have become so brazen and aggressive that my relatives now fear for their safety.

That is one of the many consequences of our having destroyed the primates’ natural habitat through illegal logging and replacing it with the hostile monoculture plantations of rubber and palm oil. Like displaced people, those monkeys are forced into the kampongs to survive and unleash their frustrations. Meanwhile those loggers and planters luxuriate in their new wealth oblivious of the burden they had inflicted on those monkeys and poor villagers.

Back in the city I read the daily papers, only to discover that marauding monkeys of another kind have also descended on and ravaged Putrajaya. The year of the monkey began early in Malaysia.

The havoc wrecked by the keras in the kampongs are readily visible and the damages they inflict potentially recoverable. The critters too could also easily be scared away by letting those villagers have shotguns.

Not so with the primates of Putrajaya. The damage they inflict, while not readily visible, appearing only on the computer terminals of banks and other financial institutions, is nonetheless no less devastating, if not much more so. Worse, it is being borne not only by citizens of today but also generations to come.

Already scholarships for some of our brightest students are being withdrawn for lack of funds. They are our next generation of talent, their dreams crushed at the last minute through no fault of their own. What a loss to the nation!

At least my relatives in the kampong are smart enough to be aware of the menace posed by those monkeys. By contrast many Malaysians, in particular the Malay elite, hold their chief monkey marauding in the nation’s capital and plundering the country’s wealth as the Prince of Putrajaya, perverse though it might seem to the rest of us.

Such an obscenity and the perversion of our values are possible only because the Malay elite holed up in Putrajaya and elsewhere have abandoned their souls. They have unabashedly sold theirs. Their price is pathetically cheap; the leftover crumbs that fall their way after their chief monkey has satiated his gluttony.

When confronted with their chief monkey’s continually changing and contradictory “explanations” to rationalize his gluttony, those little monkeys around him would insist that they have not sold their souls rather that they have merely “loaned” or “sacrificed” them to their “beloved” chief monkey.

Well, monkey see, monkey do. When they see that their chief monkey being “exonerated” upon returning the money it had earlier stolen, the little monkeys around soon get the message. That is, if you get caught stealing, then return the loot, or make a pretense of it. Then it would not be considered a wrong or a crime.That is the new ethics of those Putrajaya monkeys.

They also have a new religion. That is, if they steal something and not get caught, then the loot is halal. Likewise, if they are caught and then returned the loot, then they have not committed a dosa (sin)

With the loot that they have acquired, if they still harbor a tinge of guilt or remorse, they could “cleanse” themselves by undertaking the Hajj or Umrah, just to be sure.What a mockery of our great faith of Islam! Today our monkey chief has sold, oops, “lent” his soul to the Arabs; tomorrow it would be the Mainland Chinese. Who will be next?

The philosopher HAMKA related a story of the Prophet (pbuh) who encountered a sad young man in the mosque one day. When asked as to the cause, the young man replied that he was deep in debt and unable to repay it.  He now feared for his life.Whereupon the prophet advised the young man never to be fearful of another mortal. We should fear only Allah.

There are eight ways in which we put ourselves in fear of our fellow human being, the Prophet(pbuh) counselled the young man. For brevity as well as relevance, I will mention only the last one.

We put ourselves in the grip of others by being indebted to them. Ah Longs instill fear and dread in their victims. We could spare ourselves such a terrible fate by simply not borrowing or being in debt. That was the lesson the Prophet (pbuh) imparted on the frightened young man.

Debts of money or material things are potentially repayable and you would then be freed from the bondage and carry on with your lives. You may have to work very hard to achieve that, but at least it is doable.

There is one debt however, that can never be repaid, the Prophet (pbuh) advised the young man, and that is the debt of gratitude. An ancient Malay saying reflects this wisdom:  Hutang emas boleh dibayar, hutang budi di bawa mati. A debt of gold is repayable, but you carry your debt of gratitude to your death.

Former Prime Minister Mahathir ( and he is no Prophet!) recently expressed his deep regret in having groomed the young Najib. Mahathir grooved the path for Najib because he (Mahathir) felt he owed a huge debt of gratitude to Najib’s father, Tun Razak, who “rehabilitated” Mahathir when he was in the political wilderness after being expelled from UMNO in the early 1970s.

It looks like Mahathir will carry to his grave not only his huge debt of gratitude to Razak but also the burden Mahathir had imposed upon the nation for being instrumental in Najib becoming Prime Minister.

Najib in turn owes a huge debt of gratitude to the Arabs for their generous “donations” before the last elections, and to the Chinese for currently bailing out 1MDB by buying its generating plants and other assets.

I could not care less what burden Najib would carry to his grave, but I am concerned with the huge burden he has imposed and continues to impose on Malaysians of today and on their children and grandchildren.

The keras in my old village could easily be gotten rid of by giving those villagers rifles. Getting rid of the monkeys of Putrajaya is more problematic.

Najib Razak: Malaysian Liars in Officialdom change their stories


February 10, 2016

Najib Razak:  Malaysian Liars in Officialdom change their stories

by John Berthelsen

http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/story-changing-malaysia-pm-embarrassing-accounts/

What Obama will not do for his country–He  even shakes hands with Malaysia’s No.1 Crook

By now, the mysterious US$681 million (RMB2.83 billion at current exchange rates) that showed up in the personal AmBank account of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2013 has been said to come from so many different sources and to be used for so many different purposes that the government can’t keep track.

The source of the money is just one of a series of questions dogging Najib, who has fought to stay in power by firing or neutralizing anybody who might get in his way, including Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and a long string of others.

To reports that he is being investigated in Singapore, New York, Switzerland and France, Najib has blamed unnamed dark forces or political enemies. He has hinted that the Chinese are involved in a plot to take over the country from ethnic Malays. He has paid vast amounts of money, created make-work jobs or allowed rent-seeking from top UMNO cadres through dodgy contracts to keep himself in power. In his latest move, last week he ousted Mukhriz Mahathir, the son of the onetime Prime Minister, from power in Kedah after a bruising fight that sources in the northern part of the country said was won by payments to turn around the votes of state assembly members backing Mukhriz.

When the US$681 million was first made public in July 2015, Najib said it came from an unnamed Middle Eastern source whom he declined to identify and denied that it was for his personal use. He refused to go beyond that.

Then officials said the money had come from a Saudi source and that it was to be spent in the 2013 election to ward off Islamic fundamentalists, although there were none – a violation of Malaysian constitutional law, which bars donations from foreign sources from being used for political purposes – and that US$620 million had been returned to the donor.

On January 26, the Attorney General, Mohamed Apandi Ali, a longtime United Malays National Organization stooge, held a hasty press conference “clearing” Najib of any wrongdoing in the affair while at that time refusing to name the source. Then he told the Malaysian daily Sin Chew the money had come from a member of the Saudi royal family “out of a belief in [Najib] and his leadership on key issues.”

But on February 5, the New York Times reported the Saudi Foreign Minister as saying the money hadn’t come from the Saudi Royal Family, but that he believed it had come from a businessman who was involved in a business deal with Najib – although he offered no further details. In any event, in the intervening three years, there has been no evidence that Najib was involved in a business deal that would require that much money.

In fact, the only thing that is clear about the donation is that nobody knows where it came from or what it was to be used for. There has been no documentation produced to show the provenance of the money. Apandi didn’t produce a paper trail when he cleared Najib on January 26.

According to a July report by the website Sarawak Report, edited by Clare Rewcastle Brown from the UK, the money actually was sent to Malaysia from a British Virgin Islands shell company into the Singapore account of a private Swiss bank and from there into Najib’s personal account at AmBank in Kuala Lumpur. It seems unlikely that either a Saudi prince or a businessman would choose to channel that much money through a shell company from the BVI for legitimate business purposes, or to seek to ward off Islamists in a moderate Muslim country that has no problems with fundamentalists.

A few months after the 2013 election, the US$620 million was returned to the same account. Some reports have said the money has been frozen by the Singaporeans. The Singaporeans announced last week that they were investigating several Malaysian accounts although they didn’t name who the accounts belonged to. Mahathir Mohamad, who has become the most potent adversary against a man who was once his protégé, has demanded an answer from the Singaporean on whether they froze the money or not.

Story Keeps Changing on Malaysian PM’s Embarrassing Accounts

Apandi Ali–The Destroyer of The Rule of Law

The main informant for newspaper and television reports giving the Saudis as the source of the money appears to be a minor Saudi prince named Turki bin Abdullah, the late King Abdullah’s seventh son, who is known to have received US$70 million from a firm connected to 1Malaysia Development Bd., the troubled state-backed investment fund.

Turki has been linked to the renegade Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, as he is known, who collaborated with Najib in setting up 1MDB in 2009. The Swiss government has charged that 1MDB has been looted of US$4 billion, although it didn’t name Najib. Jho Low is currently keeping a low profile, believed to be living in Taiwan. The huge yacht he owns, the 91.5-meter Equanimity, is sitting at a dock in New Zealand, apparently for servicing.

In any case, the growing confusion over the explanations is raising further doubts in Malaysia and portraying a government in disarray, to the point where Apandi has threatened journalists with life imprisonment and 10 strokes of the cane under proposed amendments to the Official Secrets Act for being a party to leaking state secrets. Both Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists said they are “appalled” by Apandi’s statement.

In the past, “state secrets” have largely been anything the government says is a secret including criminal breach of trust and abuse of power. In addition, Khalid Abu Bakar, the Inspector-General of Police aka Twitter King, is warning the public not to comment on the 2006 murder of the Mongolian beauty and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu in the wake of reports in France that two top officials connected to the 1996 purchase by the Malaysian Ministry of Defense when Najib was Defense Minister, prior to becoming Prime Minister of French submarines have been charged with bribing Najib.

The purchase earned Najib €114 million (US$127.1 million at current exchange rates) in kickbacks that allegedly were transferred to the United Malays National Organization. Another €36 million, said to be for the personal use of Najib and his close friend Abdul Razak Baginda, was routed to a mysterious company in Hong Kong called Terasasi Hong Kong Ltd., which is nothing more than a name on a wall at a Wan Chai accounting firm’s office.

Muslim Politics is not subsuming Malaysian politics


February 8, 2016

Muslim Politics is not subsuming Malaysian politics

PutraMosque-440

Power plays for notions of “Malayness”, and not Islam, continue to shape the nation’s politics, argues Manjit Bhatia.

I become very cynical whenever the awfully clichéd word “discourse” is thrown up as if it is the only term that can effectively describe political, economic or any other social science narrative. And so it turns out for Ooi Kok-Hin in his essay, The rise and rise of Muslim politics (in Malaysia), to which he lends repute to Bayesian probability.

Ooi begins with a bold claim — the politicisation of Islam in Malaysia has gained “momentum and influence” over the last 30 years. He also asserts that “society and the state” are becoming “increasingly Islamised” and to that extent “there is likely to be an increase in political Islam.”

If I were to add a third teaspoon of sugar to the one already in my Nescafe Blend 43 (usually black), my coffee definitely would be sweeter. I can measure that. But how does one measure an “increase in political Islam”?

At any rate, the sugar becomes the centre of how my coffee tastes, as much as would Ooi’s “Muslim-centered politics will play an increasingly important part in Malaysian politics, and the discourse in the public sphere will adopt the language of political Islam.”

Thus, Ooi claims, Malaysia’s future rests upon the “type of Islam practiced in society,” which is, he argues, “most likely to be the dominant, state-sanctioned political Islam that emerged victorious in its battle for supremacy over other types of political Islam”. When was it not state-sanctioned? Also, one’s unsure what Ooi means by “society”. It would be sacrilegious of him to suggest that Chinese, Indians (Sikhs included) and Christians in Malaysia practice Islam. It would be factually incorrect, too.

As if Ooi has not already created a few problems in his opening two paragraphs, he starts to open a third can of worms. After alluding to rival forms of Islamism, he fails to mention which are competing for Malaysia’s political centre. An easy guess: Sunni versus Shi’ite.

But then, curiously, in the rest of his essay, Ooi seems disinterested in critically extending on his thesis of competing political Islamism. He redacts what he promised to discuss; instead, he revisits Malaysia’s undying obsession with its characteristic politico-ideological trait – race/racism wrought, of course, by religion; Islam, in this case. Three-quarters through, Ooi offers the clincher: “Overall,” he says, “religion is superseding race and royalty.”I don’t know how he arrives at this summation.

Notwithstanding his disjointed essay, and quite apart from his crude positivism, Ooi’s many problems cannot be covered in a short space. Nevertheless, I tender two counter-arguments. One, Ooi’s assertions are undermined because he presents an erroneous reading of his own country’s politics, historical and contemporary. Second, while UMNO has been sidling up to greater Islamisation, it’s only in name and for desperately opportunistic politico-ideological reasons (apropos Ooi’s claim that “the lack of substantive ideological debate is telling”).

Religion — as if only one is practiced in Malaysia — is not superseding race and royalty. It never will. Nor will Islam, whatever its variant. To be fair, Ooi is correct that the UMNO-dominated one-party Malay state has taken a great deal of shine to Wahabist Islamism. But the supplanting of race and royalty by religion is not being manifested for the positivist (survey-based) reason Ooi posits: that today Malay identity with Islam displaces Malay racial identity.

It would be wrong to construe this exchange as a turn towards Islamic fundamentalism or Islamic conservatism, for two reasons.

One, UMNO and its Wahhabist Islamism have actively and unapologetically denigrated Shi’ite Islam and persecuted its followers. This can be better understood in the context of the growing role of Saudi Arabia and its financing of Wahhabism as a bulwark against the spreading influence of Shi’ite Iran, theologically and geo-strategically. Neither afoot here is a perverse form of Huntingtonian clash of civilisations nor a (prophet) Muhammadian theological utopianism. This leads to the second point.

In no essential or substantive way is this vilification different to Malay-Muslim UMNO maligning Christianity and Christians and openly lauding its vile bigotry towards Judaism and Jews at every political opportunistic moment. And here’s one contradiction that flies in the face of Saudi influence-peddling — Riyadh’s “affinity” to Tel Aviv just as Iran steps up to carve out a greater sphere of influence from the Middle East and northern Africa to Southeast Asia.

When are the moments in Malaysia that the UMNO state is seen to peddle Wahhabist Islamism (these days in association with once arch enemy Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS)? These moments often relate to a crisis within the UMNO political movement, a party that is far from unified but riven by warring factions among its feudal-capitalist class. And when the moment is related not to the specificity of Islam’s place in Malaysia’s politics, which via its bastardised constitution, is incontestable, but driven principally by Malay support for UMNO, especially when it may seem to be rescinding.

 

And so residing at the centre of this schism is the increasingly warped, and thus desperate and dangerous, sense of Malay nationalism. Ooi would have done better if he had also stuck to an analysis of the notion of Bangsa Malaysia, the literal translation of which is the ‘Malaysian race’ or the ‘Malaysian community’. In other words, citizenship, but in an agency sense, not a literal one. But both Malay nationalism and Bangsa Malaysia are notions fraught with intractable problems — problems the UMNO state wants to keep as intractable as possible for as long as possible to ensure regime survival.

In fact, the notion of Bangsa Malaysia is anathema to the continued existence of the UMNO Malay one-party state in its present form. Maintaining the subservience, or ‘loyalty’, of the Malay population, most of whom are constitutionally given as Muslims anyway, is far more critical to the ruling UMNO Malay political elite and their dominant capitalist class for the reproduction of ersatz capitalist relations and real capitalist accumulation via manipulation by the state.

It is unfortunate that Ooi does not see that this politico-capitalist order has not changed since at least 1957. And if anything, it has intensified over the last four-plus decades. It has intensified because more and more urban, educated Malays, brought up also on a pluralist fodder of technological sophistication, are no longer aping the sycophancy of their elders by backing only and always UMNO. Today they have alternatives, such as the Malay-based, seemingly progressive, opposition parties in Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Amanah (and PAS to a diminishing extent).

Even the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) offers Malays political alternatives in airing their grievances against the UMNO Malay one-party state that has singularly failed in creating upwardly mobile job opportunities and job security while lessening their living standards. Ooi claims “race and racial politics are in decline but are given a lifeline when injected with religion.” This used to be the case, but it’s not a viable one today. The lure of materialism and capitalism for Malays is irresistible, especially when they see the Malay political elite and the capitalist classes living the high life of vulgar materialism (not to be seen in a coarsely erroneous Marxian interpretation).

The urban, educated Malays do subscribe to an Islam but whose variant is the gentler, kinder, non-violent, non hate-mongering toward non-Malays/non-Muslims kind — the sort Irshad Manji notes as more ‘liberal’-informed in its outlook. Conversely, the most likely candidates to be ideologically indoctrinated by Wahabist political Islam are those who are schooled in madrassas, where the sermons are anything but the liberal (reformist) Islam variety. These are the Malays, the Muslims, who are more likely to back and join terrorist organisations like ISIS, and, interestingly, the UMNO state is ‘repudiating’ them. Somehow Ooi missed all these nuances.

And if the urban, educated Malays are affected by the putridity of Najib’s voodoo economics, they do not, on evidence, automatically seek refuge in Islam. Rather, they point fingers at the UMNO regime for failing them despite their inheritance of their Malay “special rights”, not Muslim or Islamic special rights. They do not, as opposed to Ooi, engage in the so-called discourse or language of political Islam. Indeed, they are more likely than not to engage in opposition or protest rallies in seeking equality and justice.

These young Malay graduates may seem slow in uptake, but it does not mean they’re taking up the cudgels of Wahhabist Islamism. And just because Malaysia’s monarchs have been silenced by constitutional orders ordained by the former premier-dictator Mahathir Mohamad, it does not mean that religion has superseded their position in Malay life, any more than religion has transplanted the Malay race. How can it when race and religion remain, as yesteryear, strongly synonymous with “Malayness” today?

Ooi mistakes the rise of Muslim politics for the power-play around Malayness or the “Malay way,” as Diane Mauzy aptly coined it 30 years ago. All of this is still to play for, and even harder to play for, by the increasingly desperate, crisis-prone and deeply scandalous UMNO-Malay one-party state primarily for its material survival. The sooner we understand this, the less likely we are to exaggerate claims that Malaysian politics is being subsumed by Muslim politics.

By any stretch of the imagination, in 2016 it’s still the old order in Malaysia — only that some of the ground rules are fast changing, though not necessarily in UMNO’s favor, it would appear.

Manjit Bhatia is an Australian academic, journalist, writer, and research director of AsiaRisk, an economic and political risk analysis consultancy. He specialises in international economics and politics, with a focus on Asia

 

My friend Abu Talib responds to this UMNO Fella Apandi


February 8, 2016

My friend Abu Talib responds to this UMNO Fella: A-G Apandi

by V. Anbalagan, Assistant News Editor

My principle is to assist them in the performance of their duties and responsibilities.It was also my directive not to prefer any criminal charge on any suspect unless the prosecution has sufficient, credible and admissible evidence to justify prosecution.–Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman

Former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman today said he had never directed investigation agencies, including the anti-graft body, to stop their probes.

“My principle is to assist them in the performance of their duties and responsibilities. It was also my directive not to prefer any criminal charge on any suspect unless the prosecution has sufficient, credible and admissible evidence to justify prosecution,” he said.

Current A-G Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali had said he had followed in Abu Talib’s footsteps when he ordered the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to close its investigations into the RM2.6 billion donation and RM42 million SRC International funds deposited in prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s private accounts.

“I am just following my master’s footsteps. Now he said I couldn’t do that. I am confused.I hope he can come to see me so that I can offer my explanation,” Apandi reportedly told Sin Chew Daily in an exclusive interview.

Apandi was a senior officer with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) in the early 1980s when Abu Talib was the A-G. Abu Talib last week told The Malaysian Insider that the A-G, who is also the public prosecutor, had no authority to order MACC to close its investigations into the two cases.

“This is a case of public importance that has attracted worldwide attention. The A-G must help MACC to collect evidence as the source of the fund is outside Malaysia,” Abu Talib had said.

Today, Abu Talib said Apandi should refresh his memory of cases where he had directed an on-going investigation to be closed.”Frankly, I cannot remember,” he said.

Abu Talib also said Apandi would not have been in a confused state of mind if he had indeed followed in his footsteps.

“His decision in the circumstances has raised more questions than solve the allegations against the Prime Minister, the status of other investigations related to the activities of 1MDB and persons connected with the company,” he said.

He said that in all fairness to Najib and the public, and mindful that the RM2.6 billion came from outside Malaysia, Apandi should have given all the necessary assistance to MACC to complete their investigations.

“It may well be that at the end of the day, Apandi will find enough evidence to show that Najib had done no wrong under the law,” he added.

The public, said Abu Talib, was not likely to question Apandi’s decision (to clear the PM of criminal wrongdoing) if he had allowed MACC to collect evidence outside Malaysia.

“As it is, Apandi’s decision appears questionable and has cast negative perceptions on his impartiality, commitment to justice and rule of law,” he added.

Abu Talib said he was not answerable to Apandi and that he was free to exercise his constitutional right to comment on a case of great public interest, so long he did not cross the limits of freedom of expression.

“My comment is clear and made in good faith. There is nothing further to explain,” he said.He added that Apandi was welcome to see him if he wanted to learn and know more about the law.

 

Respect Citizens’ Right to Participation in Governance Mr Apandi Ali told


February 7, 2016

Malaysia’s  Attorney-General Apandi Ali told: Respect Citizens’ Right to Participation in Governance

by Edgardo Legaspi

http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT | It was a rather unfortunate statement from Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali (on harsher punishments for press who report on information leaks), one which may move Malaysia further backwards in its path toward transparency, accountability and democracy.

His reference to China is telling – as this is one of the most restrictive countries in the world – and it may indicate the direction he wants to the country to go. Malaysia has two states with Freedom of Information (FOI) laws (Selangor and Penang). This is a rarity in the region (only Indonesia and Thailand have FOI laws).

Now Apandi is threatening to strengthen the Official Secrets Act (OSA) by imposing harsher penalties on violators – and including medieval corporal punishment at that.

The A-G need not be too literal when looking at the constitution. It is true that the ‘right to know’ is not explicitly written in it, but it is generally accepted that freedom of information is an essential component to the practice of freedom of expression, as a guarantee to ensure public participation in governance.

This view is too literal. Is he also going to argue that Malaysia need not guarantee press freedom because it is not written in the constitution?He may well also argue that since Malaysia has not ratified the international covenant on civil and political rights, which is more explicit on FOI (“right to seek, receive… information”), that the country is not obliged to guarantee this right.

Secrecy means something to hide

As chief lawyer of the state, such a statement is irresponsible, as his duty is to promote the rule of law and public interest. It is not his job to defend politicians and government officials. On the contrary, his role is to protect the country and its people from abuse committed by such people.

The problem is that official secrecy is often used to hide corruption and state abuses.In these instances, whistleblowers must be protected as these disclosures are in the interest of the public and the country.

Who will be the Next Governor of Bank Negara and  who is the Replacement for MACC Top Post will confirm that 1mDB Cover-up is complete

Apandi’s statements are also a serious threat to freedom of the press.By threatening to prosecute journalists who disseminate information from whistleblowers, he is in effect telling the media to avoid covering such stories, or else face the risk of a criminal case.

The obligation of the media is to the public – to facilitate free speech and public participation by keeping citizens informed, especially about public affairs. To raise this threat of prosecution by forcing journalists to reveal their sources is a direct attack on the public trust that the media is trying to build.

Protection of journalistic sources is sacred in keeping this trust.It is precisely because whistleblowers face the threats and the risk of attacks from powerful people that protection of sources is at the core of journalistic ethics.

Related stories:

We’re truth seekers, not saboteurs, journalists tell AG

Rafizi: AG has no credibility to propose OSA amendments

Punishing the messenger, sparing the wrongdoer


EDGARDO LEGASPI is Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) Executive Director.