No Permit for Mkini:”Unconstitutional”

May 11, 2012

No Permit to Malaysiakini ‘unconstitutional’

by Hafiz Yatim@

The decision by the Home Ministry not to give a publishing permit to Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd to publish its news in the form of a newspaper is unconstitutional as it violates freedom of expression and is also against the laws of natural justice.

Lawyer K Shanmuga, who appeared for Mkini Dotcom, the owners of news portal Malaysiakini, submitted to the Kuala Lumpur High Court that the executive and the government must be fair in its approach as this is protected under Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution regarding equality before the law.

He said there was nothing wrong in giving a permit to the news portal, which had won numerous awards internationally and locally, as it is not considered a threat to the nation.

“The decision by the Secretary-General of the Home Ministry to reject giving a permit is also a restriction over the freedom of the press, which has long been recognised by the common law as a breach of the protection of free speech.

It also violates the freedom of expression of the journalists working in Malaysiakini as they had collectively won numerous awards. A judgment in India said the newspaper industry enjoys two of the fundamental rights – namely freedom of speech and expression,” submitted Shanmuga.

Also appearing with Shanmuga are lawyers Edmund Bon and Aston Paiva.NONEMkini Dotcom has applied for a judicial review after its application for a publishing permit under Section 6(1)(a) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 through its chief executive officer Premesh Chandran (right) was not considered by the Home Ministry in a letter dated August 19, 2010.

The company said the newspaper would be distributed in the Klang valley with a circulation of 40,000 at RM1 each and would report on current events including political issues, freely and independently.

Premesh submitted the application for a permit on behalf of Mkini Dotcom on April 14, 2010.

Shanmuga: Present newspapers significantly owned by BN

It claimed that the Ministry’s decision not to give a permit was irrational and without logic as the applicant as a media company had won numerous international awards and accolades without a single prosecution instituted against it.

“Hence it is not in any way a threat to public order, security or morality,” said Shanmuga. Shanmuga in his submission further said present newspapers like Utusan Malaysia and New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd are significantly owned by the Barisan Nasional which forms the Federal Government.

“It is said that UMNO which is the main partner in BN owns more than 40 percent of shares in Utusan Malaysia and also NSTP. This was disclosed during a proposal to unify Utusan Malaysia and the NSTP papers,” he said.

“The Home Ministry has also granted a newspaper permit to a non-governmental organisation, Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (PERKASA), as it allowed the publication of Suara Perkasa which is supportive of the Minister’s party (UMNO) and the Malaysian government’s policies, despite PERKASA bearing racial prejudices and inciting intolerance, it has not been reprimanded,” said Shanmuga.

Shanmuga said in this case the Deputy Home Minister did not give any reason for the decision to not grant a permit and the decision affects Mkini Dotcom’s and its employees’ constitutional right to speech and expression.

“Hence, the court should quash the minister’s decision as it lacks procedural fairness and violates the laws of natural justice,” he said. He further submitted that when public authorities are called upon to make decisions affecting fundamental liberties of citizens, it must act fairly, and afford reasons for their decisions.

“The decision has an impact on public life as it would result in a stifling of the nation’s public debate, restriction to the free flow of information and ideas to citizens, a stultifying of the Malaysian democratic framework and a monopoly of control of information and ideas in the country.”

Following this, Shanmuga said the company has applied for the judicial review application. Senior Federal counsel Norhisham Ismail said he will make his submission on three points – namely a permit is not an automatic right but a result of privilege by the government, the constitutional challenge was not proper and there was logical reasoning to the decision.

However, High Court judge Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim asked Norhisham to submit further on May 24 as time was approaching for Friday prayers.

Titles do not matter

June 12, 2010

Just call me Encik, thank you very much

by Neil Khor (

Whilst we cannot ever hope to understand why Chua Jui Meng was stripped of his Johor titles, one lesson has emerged from Chua’s experience. It is better not to accept any titles and honorifics except the ones that cannot be taken away.

Encik sounds very nice to my ears and anyone born in Malaysia can avail themselves to the title.  If one has worked very hard for a medical degree, one can call oneself ‘Doctor’. As medical doctors will tell you, once they have completed their post-graduate studies and become specialists, they revert to ‘Mr’.

The only “real” doctors around are those with a PhD, (Doctor of Philosophy). Once earned, such titles are impossible to lose. If indeed one loses them, the conferring body will usually have a responsibility to explain why, thus giving one the opportunity to defend one’s case.

Interestingly, we are a nation that is so “hard-up” for titles that those in private universities “confer” honorary doctorates on their own vice-chancellors. Honorary doctorates cannot be used as freely as real doctorates. But nowadays, there are so many universities and so many doctorates that the degree and title is fast becoming meaningless. One therefore has to affix the conferring body (i.e. PhD Oxon (for Oxford) or PhD Cantab (for Cambridge) etc).

Blame it on the British

Perhaps, like everything else, we should blame the British for our fixation with titles, medals and abbreviations. If we had been ruled by the French, we might not have such a system in place. We might not even have monarchs, for that matter, especially after France became a republic in the late 18th century.

But the British who colonised Malaya were class-ridden and feudal-minded. There was a colour bar and ‘whites-only’ clubs.

Even as late as the 1950s, the Sultan of Selangor was not allowed into the Lake Club. It required the iron will of General Templar, then the High Commissioner to Malaya, to “convince” the members to allow the Sultan to go through its hallowed doors.

In 1867, after the bloody Penang Riots involving fighting between rival Sino-Malay groups, which also demonstrated the possibility of Sino-Malay cooperation, the British went into overdrive to separate the races. It was better for the Malays and Chinese and Indians not to mix “too much”. It was not long after the incident that an Inspectorate of Police was established (1872), indirect rule through headmen ended in the Straits Settlements and secret societies that operated quite openly were regulated and later disbanded (1885).

But the most effective way to getting the unruly Chinese and the rebellious Malays into the ambit of the race-based and hierarchical colonial system was to set up a corresponding system of “merit” made up of medals and titles. Of course, this included the Malay rulers themselves and they were obliged to be included into the pecking order, with Queen Victoria at the top. In fact, it was the Jewish British Prime Minister Disraeli who cobbled together the title ‘Queen-Empress of India’ for Queen Victoria.

‘Rake’s progress of upward mobility’

To get onto to the social hierarchy, one must first earn the title Justice of Peace (JP). In Penang, the first Malay to be so honoured was Sheikh Omar Basheer, an influential religious figure who helped draw the Malays out of the secret societies. He was truly a peace-maker and community leader.

Among the Chinese, the first JPs included wealthy revenue-farmers like Koh Seang Tat, Foo Tye Sin and Cheah Chen Eok.

It would appear that the tradition of honouring business tycoons began a very long time ago. In those days, however, business tycoons were also civic-society leaders, philanthropists and patrons of schools. The income disparity was also much wider and society was more “respectful” of their social betters.

As the years passed and colonial society grew more complex, the honour system also expanded with new rungs added onto the ladder. JP was suddenly the first step in a very long ‘rake’s progress’ of upward mobility.

There was the Order of the British Empire (OBE), given for meritorious service to the British Empire, usually after the person has donated money to some imperial cause.  Then, there was the Commander of the British Empire (CBE), given out more sparingly to those who have served on the various legislative councils representing the interests of one’s race.

Next came the stratosphere, for none of the previous titles and medals actually came with an honorific. The only “distinction” they gave was the right to place the abbreviation behind one’s name (i.e. Koh Seang Tat, JP OBE).

But getting onto the next echelon meant something else. The abbreviations KBE and KCBE stood for Knight of the British Empire and Knight Commander of the British Empire respectively. One can now put the title ‘Sir’ before one’s name. By today’s standards, the first level ‘Sir’ is level with ‘Tan Sri’, whilst the upper-level ‘Sir’ was equal to our ‘Tun’.

However, for the Malay rulers and the various colonial governors and high commissioners, the titles and medals became even more elaborate. KCMG which translates into Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael & St George, has also been taken to mean “Kindly Call Me God”. Then there was GCMG Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael & St George, GCMG being said mean “God Calls Me God”.

The first Chinese to have been made a Knight was Sir Ong Siang Song of Singapore. A staunch Christian and a Queen’s Scholar, he rendered great service to the cause of the Chinese in Singapore.

Naked without titles

In Malaya, there were several common people who were made Knights. In Penang, there was Sir Kamil Ariff, a founder-member of the Penang Malay Association (the precursor to Penang UMNO) and Sir Hussein Abdulcader, a lawyer.

In Johor, there was Sir Onn Jaafar, the founder-president of UMNO, whereas Melaka had Sir Cheng Lock Tan, the founder-president of the MCA. Selangor had millionaire and MCA stalwart Sir HS Lee.

It is human nature to want to be distinguished. Some prefer to be pious or at least outwardly pious to win a seat by God’s side. Others prefer to accumulate wealth so that they can be “respected” by those who are not as rich. Some prefer the politician’s soap-box, so they can champion a cause, which very often is bound-up with self-interest.

There are those who feel naked without some titles and abbreviations after their name, as though medals and titles ‘maketh the man’.

But there is a draw-back to being so distinguished – one can always find oneself on the wrong side in a flick of the eye, like all those OBEs, CBEs and JPs experienced when the Japanese Imperial Army marched into Malaya and expelled the British. They were among the first to be hauled up, slapped in public, and kenneled in enemy camps. Of course, most survived, but never again were they regarded by their fellow men as social “betters”.

For those aspiring for ‘Datukships’, they should take a leaf from history and Chua Jui Meng’s experience: It is much better to be just an ‘Encik’, at least they can’t take that away from you.

NEIL KHOR has recently completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge. He is co-author of ‘Non-Sectarian Politics in Malaysia: The Case of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia’ (2008).

Noam Chomsky is back

December 28, 2009

Noam Chomsky is back with some interesting observations about American Democracy and the so-called Liberal Media. We always think America is a model of democracy. Is it? Of course, it is more democratic compared to Zimbabwe, Myanmar and Malaysia. Listen to what Noam Chomsky has to say on the American system of government.

To me, Professor Chomsky is a refreshing voice about issues of concern to all of us who are seeking to ensure that democracy thrives in our country. One of the key foundations of democracy is a free and independent media. The media  in America is controlled by corporate interests and these interests seek to skew news and  information to serve their political and commercial interests.

In Malaysia, the media is controlled by UMNO-Barisan Nasional  government which has been in power for the last 52 years. The media puts out news and views which are slanted to shape public opinion and put the government of the day in a favorable light and there is no way in which criticisms of government policies and actions can see the light of day in our media. As for our democracy, need I say more?–Din Merican

Noam Chomsky–American Democracy

The Myth of the Liberal Media

‘Level Four Boys’: Damaging bane for PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah?

The ‘Level Four Boys’ have been suspected to be the real and actual ‘decision makers’ of the Government, since the creation of the office in 2003. They are now believed to have an unprecedented overpowering and absolute control of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in the official capacity as the Chief Executive of the country and leader of UMNO, the ruling party.

The primary function of this Private Office of the Prime Minister is to assist the Prime Minister to do his job. It then grew so powerful that it actually undertook a lot of decision making process influences previously provided by agencies like the Economic Planning Unit, Manpower Planning Unit and at times Cabinet itself. Of course, some of top party decisions are also undertaken by this team.

The ‘Level Four Boys’ is a term first introduced by the Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in his speech dedicated to criticize PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah and his administration at a closed-door event. The event was organized by Malaysia-Today at Century Paradise Club, Taman Melawati, Ulu Kelang on 22 June 2006.

It was in reference to the ‘inner circle’, comprising of his son, Dato’ Kamaluddin Abdullah, son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin and close personal aides such as Dato’ Ahmad Zaki Zahid, Dato’ Kamal Khalid, Dato’ Dr. Vincent Lim Kian Tick, Dato’ Wan Farid and a few others.

Many speculate the overwhelming ‘influence’ these thirty-something gentlemen possess. With top British university education and grossly lack of experience and exposure (especially macro-management), they are often coyly referred to as, “Budak tak kerin’ idun” (wet behind the ears) by Tun Dr. Mahathir. Somehow, the real far-reaching effects these young men have on the decisions by PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah, is really both strategically and tactically damaging.

It was Dr. Vincent Lim and Zaki Zahid who influenced PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah on the decision to cancel the “Scenic bridge-replacing the Johor Causeway” in March 2006. Then, these duo, also concocted the blue-print of the mega project South Johor Economic Region (SJER). It has since been renamed twice, as Iskandar Development Region in November 2006, and last week, Iskandar Malaysia. It is deemed that Iskandar Malaysia is a comprehensive development program to benefit Singapore strategically, allowing contraband from nations such as Israel, to be channeled into this region of 240 million Muslims, via Johor Bahru.

Iskandar Malaysia is now being seen as the beginning of the demise of the New Economic Policy as PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah long time mentor, now made IDRA Advisory Panel Chairman former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam made the announcement in Johor Bahru March last year.

Zaki was said to have sat with PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah at the many Khazanah Holdings Bhd. special briefings to the Prime Minister. He is said to be the one who asked the many questions transpired after each briefing. Holding such a strategic position and having a very close ear to PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah, he led to the Proton scandal of disposing highly valuable MV Agusta to highly elusive and mysterious Gevi S.p.A for one Euro and Husqavarna (one of the brands under MV Agusta) was then sold off to BMW Motorcycles last year for a whopping Euro 93 million price tag.

The National Automotive Policy, which is the systematical and structured program to see the slow demise of Proton, was actually put in place by Zaki, with the help of his long time buddy Omar Mustapha Ong of Ethos Consulting. The duo were also instrumental in the giga economic development corridor humongous masterplans of Northern Corridor Economic Region, Eastern Corridor Economic Region, Sabah Development Corridor and Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy. The implementation and deliverance of these giga proportion economic development projects is thought by many to be highly doubtful.

Khairy Jamaluddin is said to have brought Air Asia’s boss, Tony Fernandes, to the Seri Perdana Complex for a private briefing with PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah on the weekend before the Malaysia Airlines Rationalisation Plan was announced. Suspiciously, Malaysia Airlines had to give up its entire domestic route (plus Rural Air Service) except for nineteen to AirAsia. This program saw an immediate redundancy for over 3,500 loyal serving airline professionals. Khairy’s close association with Fernandes was finally revealed when the latter joined ECM Libra as a director and shareholder, after Khairy made the announcement to sell of his stake in the recently obtained a universal stock broking license for the now capitally and resource enlarged firm.

Khairy, who had left the Prime Minister’s Office as the Deputy Chief Secretary in August 2005, was actually brought in to a special briefing on Singapore to the Prime Minister by Foreign Minister Dato’ Seri Syed Hamid Al Bar. The insistance of his stay in the meeting was, “Khairy is an expert on Singapore”. Khairy’s personal affiliation of Singapore is so apparent that since PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah ascended to Premiership, the bi-lateral relationship with Singapore had never been so close. So much so, even Malaysian Government and Khazanah are emulating and adopting ‘The Singapore Way’ of doing things, et al; including their terminology, “Government linked company” (GLC) in exchange to previous used “Government controlled company”.

Conveniently, at the ASEAN Head of Government meeting in November 2005, held at KLCC Convention Centre, Malaysia as the chair and host, led a charge against Myanmar in the pressure for ‘democratization’. This is very much favourable to the West, and was previously, a Singapore’s crusade within ASEAN. Malaysia, as a founding member defied its own policies and breached the fundamental ASEAN principle of “Non-interference in domestic politics” policy. In short, Malaysia saw a shift in foreign policy since Khairy came into the main administration scene.

In December 2005, when asked by The Star, on the proposed merger of ECM Libra and Avenue Capital, which directly involved his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin, PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah conveniently answered “I don’t know, I am not involved”. There is a serious breach of several explicit provisions within Securities and Companies Act, as Khairy, obviously, had vested interests in the high-powered but dodgy deal. Protests by the Minority Stockholders Watchdog Group against several issues in the merger were conveniently ignored by the Securities Commission. Until present, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee had not resolved the findings to his highly talked about scandal, especially within the capital market practitioners.

Recently, the sixteen-page private letter which Wanita UMNO Head, Dato’ Seri Rafidah Aziz had sent to PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah as a post-election reaction. The letter somehow found its way to Khairy’s mother, Datin Rahmah Abdul Hamid, and the former got a surprising earful from the latter, via telephone.

Dato’ Kamaluddin Abdullah, the biggest shareholder of Scomi Bhd., has the most to gain. His company had a meteoric rise in the Malaysia corporate scene since five years ago. Recently, post 12th General Elections (PRU 12), after Tun Dr. Mahathir and Dato’ Mukhriz demanded PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah to resign immediately, and Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh Hamzah asked 18,000 UMNO branches to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), Tun Musa went to meet PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah at Seri Perdana. As a former ‘leader’ to PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah, Tun Musa was giving his two bits personal advice on current political situation in the private meeting, when suddenly, Kamaluddin stormed in and said to his father “What ever you do, do not agree to an EGM!”. The immediate reaction from Tun Musa was, “Who is the Prime Minister, you or him”, pointing towards Kamaluddin.

Kamaluddin was the organiser of the infamous Seri Perdana Merdeka Soiree, the week Malaysia celebrated its 50th birthday at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, Seri Perdana. An esteemed flock of high-powered Malaysians were the only admitted guests, plus some from abroad, to enjoy the R & B renditions of George Benson and Al Jarreau. The fact is that, since occupying Seri Perdana, the first family have not been having the average Malaysians as guests. Not even the traditional first day Hari Raya Aidil Fitri Open House, introduced during his predecessors’ time. The only time average rakyat were allowed access into Seri Perdana since five years ago was during Datin Seri Endon Mahmood’s passing in October 2005.

Of course, the issue of media control, is the real propaganda agenda which has been taken to task by the Prime Minister’s Office Media Coordinator Dato’ Kamal Khalid. Nowadays, the mainstream media editors get calls from this office more frequently than ever. Not only what were allowed to be published were discussed, the angle of the news and the photos to be used were instructed and selected. Surprisingly, these spin effort were never really discussed with the Boss. For example, the weeks preceeding to his wedding with Jeanne Abdullah in June 2005, editors were instructed that the rumours cannot be raised during any media conferences with PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah. Conveniently, the sloppy Malaysian leader ‘let the cat out of the bag’, voluntarily.

The most recent incident took place, just before the PRU 12, PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah did something amazingly unprecedented as UMNO President and BN Chairman. In a meeting with UMNO Management Committee, PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah suddenly took over the prepared BN Manifesto. When asked by Rafidah “Lah, siapa buat BN Manifesto ni? Kita tak pernah tahu pun!“. Coyly, the answer was “Ini Zaki yang buat. He is very good, you know!”.

Time and again, PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah overtly vehement denied that his son-in-law, Khairy, was ever involved in his decision-making, be it in the Government, or the party. Since the famous TV 3 special interview, conducted by Bernama Chairman Annuar Zaini, no one in the streets actually believed him. Not even the folks in the boondocks, who have never in their lifetime had access to internet. When UMNO Pulau Pinang met up with PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah on rumours that certain unfavourable characters were to be pitted by BN as candidates in the state, his response was “Nanti saya balik, bincang dengan Khairy“.

Within this week, one of the Press Secretary Wan Esuriyanti was leaving her post. Khairy took to the task to interview Dato’ Ainon Ahmad, a former NST journalist, for the job. PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah’s trusts for his aides like Kalimullah “Riong Kali” Hassan, had actually propelled him on a self-destruction mode, prematurely.

The most recent controversial is the ’self-righteous populist’ direction PM ‘Flip-Flop’ is going, with regards to the Judiciary issue. Last night, he announced the reinstatement of gratuities and emoluments, ex-gratia, of the sacked Judges since the highly controversial but lawful ejection of Lord President Tun Mohamed Salleh Abas and four other judges in August 1988. It was almost an admission of guilt and will lead to endless further ramblings. It is still a mystery why PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah is willing to depart from the normal convention and thread along these ice-thin line which set a new irrevocable precedent, when it actually served no tangible value for the majority of Malaysians, who are actually non-chalant about this whole issue. The fact that Tun Salleh is the father-in-law of his son’s partner in Scomi, Shah Hakim Zain, is not quashing other speculations by skeptics of this odd move.

It is too apparent that the PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah has been grossly insulated from real information, and an over-reliance to the ‘Level Four Boys’ for the information all way through the decision making process. The decisions made had reached its overbearing level and inviting series of ‘mini rebellions’, within the society and system. An example never before in the 35 year history of illustrious service of Malaysia Airlines, did passengers feel so frustrated with delays and poor service of the once pride of the nation. Of course, the rate of the Police Force efficiency has deteriorated greatly, ever since the “Naked-ear-squat-in-lock-up” case, which also saw Malaysia made a totally unneccessary apology to China.

All these, were actually the most important factors why the rakyat decided to vote against BN. Blaming it on UMNO and BN’s fifth columnists was never the right approach, nor convincing enough. This is further topped by the continuous grossly vomit-level arrogance of, “We won big. We have a big mandate from the rakyat. Just eight short of two-third majority”, which will systematically drive the rakyat’s confidence and support away from UMNO and BN.

In short, the once respectable Cabinet Minister for his “pious and clean” outlook, is now being systematically destroyed and it is damagingly irreversible, by a small group of thirty-something, for his grave over reliance and morbid dependence on information and decision making process.

To Jong, Jude and their Gang in Ipoh

I have decided to ask Diana Krall, jazz pianist and singer, to offer you some advice. But basically, I want to thank you all and others too for reading and expressing your views in this blog. Kamsia lu, lah. If Kinta Valley is too boring, drop by in Kuala Lumpur—Din Merican