Snatch The Match From That Monkey Najib Before He Burns Down The Village


April 19, 2018

Snatch The Match From That Monkey Najib Before He Burns Down The Village

M. Bakri Musa
www.bakrimusa.com
It would take more than just a monkey with a match to burn down a village, despite the dwellings being made of wood and having flammable thatched roofs. Those homes have withstood generations of indoor wood-burning stoves and nightly mosquito-repelling ambers underneath their floors. There would have to be more, as with a long spell of dry hot weather and mountains of ignitable garbage strewn around.
      Yet when the kampung does get burned down, everyone would be shocked. The immediate reaction would be to blame the idiot with the match, and the fury heaped upon that poor soul would then be merciless.
      Consumed with vengeance and with little inclination or intelligence for reflection, the necessary probing questions would never get raised. As with who gave the idiot the match or why was he not supervised. Few would notice much less ponder why the strewn garbage was allowed to accumulate and thus pose a fire as well as health and other hazards.
      The kampung that is Malaysia has not burnt down, at least not yet. Malaysians are still smug and remain blissfully unaware of the long dry spell and the tinder dried debris that has been stacking up. Nor do they realize the danger posed by the idiot running around with a match in his hand and threatening more mischief. God knows he has wrecked enough damage already.
Being in the tropics, Malaysians are used to hot weather but the current hot political climate is very recent. The 1969 “incident” excepted, political riots and turmoils are not yet the norm. Malaysia has been thankfully spared such scourges as the assassinations of leaders and politicians, the staple of Third World politics.
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The BERUKs of Malusia
If Najib and his Barisan coalition were to prevail in the upcoming general election on May 9, 2018, however slim their victory, that would be akin to giving the village idiot a match, and then encouraging him to continue playing with it amidst the flammable debris and the high-voltage political atmosphere.
     The flammable debris are our failing institutions. Malaysias are also now deeply polarized, lending to the current highly-charged political climate. The last time Malaysians were stridently divided was during the 1969 election. Then the ruling coalition’s defeat in a few states and its loss of a supra majority at the federal level triggered a horrific race riot that killed thousands and maimed many more. Parliament had to be suspended and the nation ruled by decree. The scar of that national tragedy has now thankfully been sealed with a thick scab. It is unlikely that it would be rubbed open again despite the mischievous attempts by many.
     The polarization then was interracial, between Malays and Chinese to be specific, and the outbreak of violence was localized only to Kuala Lumpur. Today the schisms and polarizations are widespread but not interracial despite crude attempts by many to make it so, rather intra-racial, among Malays. Only East Malaysia is spared. As such Malaysians, in particular Malays, do not or refuse to recognize or even acknowledge this new threat to the nation. Therein lies the danger.
     Yet the evidence is glaring. I have never seen more ugly or blatant displays of vicious and visceral hatred directed at Najib and Mahathir. The two leaders themselves have set the pace and tone. Others too like their HRHS The Sultans and ulamas have taken sides. Their revulsion, as well as that of their followers, is so open. Such gross and uncouth displays are so un-Malay. I fear that should something untoward were to happen to Najib or Mahathir, that would trigger a vicious civil war among their fanatic followers, meaning, Malays.
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     Throughout history the most savage conflicts are intra rather than interracial. Witness the ongoing carnage in the Middle East. I am referring not to the Arab-Israeli dispute but the continuing savageries among the Arabs. The Korean Peninsula is still a tinderbox, ready to explode and taking the world with it. Then there was the earlier Chinese civil war. It would be a futile exercise to venture whether the Chinese suffered more under the Japanese or during their own civil war. It would not be an exaggeration to assert that the Japanese Occupation at least interrupted the brutalities the Chinese inflicted upon each other.
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They are partial to UMNO Malays, thanks to Najib’s “cash is king” lure.
What is so volatile about the current threat facing Malaysia is the absence of any restraining element to buffer or dampen this intra-Malay schism. Our institutions–from the sultans and the Election Commission to the Armed Services and the police–have failed us. The Sultans and Agung are not the “protectors” of Islam and Malay customs as they claim, or as tradition and the constitution would have it. They are partial to UMNO Malays, thanks to Najib’s “cash is king” lure.
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     The Chief of the Armed Forces had to retract his earlier statement proclaiming his troops’ and officers’ loyalty to Najib. That General forgot his oath of office, to serve King and country. Likewise the Registrar of Societies; she did her “job” in a single blow (pardon the pornographic pun) by denying the registration of Mahathir’s new party, a powerful opposition force. Meanwhile that clown Prince and Sultan wannabe in the southern tip of the Peninsula thinks he can titah (command) his fantasized “Bangsa Johor” as to which party to vote for! His father the sultan had gone even further.I would have expected Malaysian minorities to buffer or dampen this dangerous intra-Malay rift if nothing else for their (non-Malay) own self-interest. Instead they are sucked in by their own miscalculations into this perilous undertow.
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A sliver of hope is Sabah and Sarawak. Perhaps because everyone there is a minority, Malaysians there are inclusive and tolerant. They have gone beyond; they have not let their ethnic and cultural identities define or limit them. It is sad that their exemplary collective stance is lost on their fellow Malaysians in the peninsula.
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 Sarawakians must honour Tan Adenan Satem
The fact that UMNO, a national party otherwise, does not have a beachhead in Sarawak, explains why the particularly virulent racist virus that has infected UMNO’s body and mind in the Peninsula has not spread east across the South China Sea. I hope East Malaysians will keep it that way.

Malaysians have a crucial task in this upcoming May 9 General Election. They must snatch that dangerous match away from that idiot Najib and his band of mischievous UMNO monkeys. He and they have done enough damage to Malaysia. Stop them before they burn the whole country down.

 

All the news that’s fit to fake


April 11, 2018

All the news that’s fit to fake

As Malaysia rushes to its 9 May polling day, the new anti-fake news law may be wielded against the state’s critics, emboldening speech vigilantism by outsourced censors.

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The Malaysian Parliament passed the Anti-Fake News Law a week ago on 2 April 2018, just in time for the 14th general elections (GE14) on 9 May. It wasn’t the most controversial law to have gone through the Barisan Nasional (BN)-dominated legislature, as the National Security Council Act passed in 2016 gives wide powers to the government to declare a state of emergency. But surely the Anti-Fake News Law is one of the many designed with clear targets in mind—dissenters and critics, and just about anyone who dares to verbalise any thoughts or opinions that challenge the establishment.

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The law has yet to be gazetted, which is needed for it to be enforced. But its introduction is enough to raise fears among journalists, bloggers, politicians and netizens who speak out on social media. A maximum six-year jail term replaced the 10 years initially penned in, while the term “knowingly” in creating and spreading false news now reads “maliciously”. The change was presented as a compromise from the government following strong criticism, but it did little to placate concerns that the law is essentially problematic as it violates fundamental principles of freedom of expression. Besides, one cannot help but wonder if the “compromise” was a deliberate strategy to demonstrate a responsive government that should be voted back in.

The road to this haphazard but possibly shrewdly crafted law has been paved with a series of cosmetic reforms under Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak since he took office in 2009. While some laws like the Internal Security Act (ISA) were repealed, others introduced still contain draconian provisions. This latest law promises to fill in the gaps of what the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) couldn’t do in reining in free speech online. Since the 2008 general elections (GE12), the CMA has been a useful tool for the state to use in clamping down online critics.

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In most cases, those hauled up for investigations were individuals sharing their thoughts and opinions over Twitter, Facebook and even WhatsApp. Activists and artists have also been charged under the law for satire and criticisms levelled against the government. It was a reminder to ordinary citizens that they had to toe the line, and what better way of instilling fear than to arrest and threaten them with jail sentences. According to human rights organisation SUARAM, there were 146 known documented cases under the CMA in 2017 alone. It observed that it was much easier to prosecute for speech under the law. However, most who were charged under the law would plead guilty, and only a few mounted constitutional challenges.

In 2017, plans were afoot to amend the CMA as the authorities sought more powers to investigate and prosecute online offenders and increase the penalties. The changes were not tabled but it can be assumed that the initial idea behind that proposal had found its way into the Anti-Fake News Law.

For most observers, the obvious reason behind this rushed law is to keep the scandalous 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) wealth fund and other financial misappropriations out of the electorate’s focus. This is a punitive law that fails to provide any clarity on the meaning or parameters of “fake news”, but criminalises a wide array of speech online and offline. It is thus obvious that “fake news”, as defined by the Najib government, is a catch-all phrase to allow politicians to delegitimise any forms of criticism; businesses to slam dunk their complainants using state resources; and turn members of society against each other on potentially frivolous allegations of spreading allegedly false content.

The latter is the most worrying as the state has outsourced censorship to a range of private individuals and groups to act on its behalf, to defend, among others, narrow interpretations of Islam and Malay rights. The state is then presented as having a hands-off approach even though it gives tacit approval for many of these acts of political and social vigilantism. Which is why, even if Najib’s UMNO-led coalition wins a two-thirds majority in Parliament at GE14, Malaysians can expect the law to be applied actively after the elections.

That the law does not specify the context in which “fake news” can occur—for example, during elections, as proposed in France—means that its application will be wide, arbitrary, and disproportionate to the alleged offences. Citing the other jurisdictions in Europe as justification is irrelevant as Malaysia’s law was passed amidst an already restricted environment for free speech and the media. Besides, it’s not falsehoods that the government is worried about, or that it could harm ordinary citizens; it is the expose of abuse of power that it fears. Malaysian leaders are much like the authoritarian leaders across Asia who have found US President Donald J. Trump’s language of “fake news”—an accusation he directs to the media he doesn’t like—useful to justify their controls at home.

Independent media outlets and journalists in Malaysia, as well as social media users, can expect to be on the target list. They are already cornered at almost every turn with the CMA, the Sedition Act, the Official Secrets Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, and the Defamation Act, just to name a few. Scenarios in which the media could be affected by the law include publishing developing stories (corruption, crisis, emergencies, political events) that rely on sources or witness accounts, and reportage based on information and data collected by think-tanks, academics or non-governmental organisations.

The mainstream, pro-government media, on the other hand, may be exempt from this as they continue to function as mouthpieces of the ruling party and have a stake in legal obstacles for smaller and less-resourced competitors. Since the 2008 elections, online platforms and social media in particular, have overtaken the mainstream licensed media as the primary sources of information. Many of the legacy media companies have acknowledged challenges posed by digital technologies on their business models, and have experienced serious financial losses and falling circulation over the years.

Of course, the media landscape is not defined in binaries, the good vs the bad, independent and otherwise. But to a large extent, the mainstream media has propped the government and has done little to remedy the loss of credibility it has suffered in the process. Even the BN set up its own news platform, The Rakyat, for the elections and its leaders have increased their presence on social media significantly since the 2008 defeat online, in order to reach out to younger Malaysians. It might just be that the BN has lost confidence in the mainstream media, which it controls, to deliver the votes it needs.

Even if the Anti-Fake News Law has yet to be operationalised, it is certain that “fake news” will be a feature of the elections. Leaders from all sides of the political divide are sure to frame their narratives in this language. Citizens and voters will have to navigate through the vast and complex web of information sources to find what is useful for them. And now that “fake news” has become a clear and present danger to society, BN’s online machinery and its cybertroopers will tap into that goldmine of public “confusion” to discredit its opponents.

Instead of legislating against so-called fake news, it would have been far better to promote public discussions about politics and governance, and encourage digital media literacy at various levels. With GE14, it is important that voters take the time to be more discerning of the information they receive. As most people are expected to share news and updates on social media including chat applications, it will be challenging to verify the sources of authenticity of the information. This can be a tall order as most people are likely to trust messages from friends or family members, especially if these affirm one’s pre-existing political positions.

This GE14 will not only be a social media “war”, it will also witness how far Malaysia’s politics will be able to cope with new forms of propaganda and misinformation.

Fake News Bill will gravely impair what remains of free speech and the right to dissent in Malaysia


April 1, 2018

Former Malaysian Ambassador: Fake News Bill will  gravely impair what remains of free speech and the right to dissent in Malaysia

by Dennis Ignatius@www.malaysiakini.com

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COMMENT | Despite mounting domestic opposition, the administration of Prime Minister Najib Razak appears determined to ram through Parliament an odious bill ostensibly intended to curb fake news.

Though the government insists that the law is not intended to stop people from exercising their right to freedom of speech as provided for in the Federal Constitution, there is every reason to be seriously concerned. Under the guise of curbing fake news, the bill will gravely impair what remains of free speech and the right to dissent. The consequences will be devastating.

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Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) Chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail says “”The ( Malaysian) government’s track record in utilising laws for reasons other than its intended purpose is arguably questionable,”

An array of civil society and human rights groups, journalists, lawyers, politicians and prominent national leaders are in unanimous agreement that the pending bill represents a fatal assault on our democracy. If it is passed by Parliament, and the indications are that it will (thanks to the shameful dereliction of duty of so many of our MPs), it will mean the end of the road for democracy in Malaysia.

The draft bill defines “fake news” as “any news, information, data and reports, which is or are wholly or partly false, whether in the form of features, visuals or audio recordings or in any other form capable of suggesting words or ideas”. It is a definition so vague and wide that it enables the government to go after anyone anywhere for any report, view or opinion. Nothing and no one will be safe from its reach.

As well, the scope of the bill is so expansive that it can be applied to anything from dubious deals with China to the scandalous conduct of officials. It gives the government the power to black out anything it doesn’t like or wants to hide.

And those found guilty of maliciously creating, offering, publishing, printing, distributing, circulating or disseminating fake news can be punished with a fine of up to RM500,000 or up to six years imprisonment (reduced from the original 10 after protests). Even someone who provides financing to a publication or blog that is charged with disseminating fake news can be liable.

As well, the scope of the bill is so expansive that it can be applied to anything from dubious deals with China to the scandalous conduct of officials. It gives the government the power to black out anything it doesn’t like or wants to hide.

And those found guilty of maliciously creating, offering, publishing, printing, distributing, circulating or disseminating fake news can be punished with a fine of up to RM500,000 or up to six years imprisonment (reduced from the original 10 after protests). Even someone who provides financing to a publication or blog that is charged with disseminating fake news can be liable.

In comparison to penalties provided for under other statutes, these punishments are excessive and harsh and appear designed to terrorise citizens into submission and conformity.

It is often said that he who controls the news shapes the way people think; shape the way people think and you have power to manipulate an entire nation. And that is what this is really about and why it is so insidious.

Protecting UMNO-BN

In making the government (read UMNO) the final arbitrator of truth and falsehood, the bill will also empower UMNO to ensure that only its narrative of events prevails. There’ll be no room for criticism, dissenting views and opposing opinions. Investigative journalism and reporting on corruption and scandals in high places will cease.

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In a foretaste of what is to come, the Communications and Multimedia Ministry warned only a few days ago of “stern actions” against those “propagating and spreading fake news” in relation to the 1MDB scandal, with officials insisting that information from sources other than the Malaysian government will be considered fake news.

In other words, it might soon be impossible to discuss the 1MDB issue objectively or to disagree with the government’s take on the issue.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this bill is not about protecting the nation’s security and stability but about protecting an increasingly unpopular political party from the people, shielding their misdeeds and failures from public scrutiny and accountability. It is not fake news that’s the target but the truth itself. It’s a new low even for Umno-BN.

And the haste with which they are pushing through this bill – in the dying days of the current Parliament – suggests that they intend to use this bill to prevent the opposition from making corruption and malfeasance an election issue. Unable to defend their disgraceful record in office, they have opted to muzzle their critics instead.

The dark shadow of tyranny grows long over our nation. The lights are going out on our democracy. This may well be the last time that any of us will be able to freely express our views.

One small sliver of hope remains to us before the lights go out completely – GE14. We must act now to safeguard what’s left of our democracy by denying this government another term in office. Make no mistake: a vote for Umno-BN is a vote for the final end of our democracy.


DENNIS IGNATIUS is a former Malaysian Ambassador. He blogs here.

Women, Politics and Online Abuse


March 13, 2018

Women, Politics and Online Abuse

by S. Thayaparan@www.malaysiakini.com

“What needs to be addressed is how government-sanctioned platforms that could have been used to preach tolerance, love and respect are instead being used to spread evil gospels that preach hatred and overzealous bigotry.”
– Syerleena Abdul Rashid

COMMENT | The online abuse against DAP’s Syerleena Abdul Rashid is typical of the mob mentality of those who attack someone like Maryam Lee or anyone else that goes against the groupthink that certain quarters feel the need of defending.

When Gerakan’s Raja Sara Petra got into a skirmish with DAP’s Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud of DAP a couple of years back, the online abuse she faced was horrific, considering the issue in contention was claims made by Dyana of how Umno had “cheated the Malays.”

While the mob mentality of the opposition revolves around specific narratives, that of establishment partisans usually centres on the role of race and religion and how opposition operatives, either political or social, are eschewing their traditional roles.

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If you read some of the comments whenever someone like UMNO’s Azalina Othman Said, for instance, says anything, and contrast this with the comments received by opposition operatives like Syerleena, both display a level of misogyny that ironically opposition supporters do not see or seem to understand.

Women who participate in politics from both sides of the political divide tell me that the level of abuse they receive online is far worse than the men, who more or less say the same thing. We are talking about a specific type of hate here.

When opposition women receive abuse from certain quarters of the online community, there are outpourings of sympathy, but when it comes to pro-establishment women, they are reminded that not to expect any sympathy when they put themselves in the position of being “criticised.”

Rational discourse impossible

And if you are a Muslim woman, it is very much worse. Last year the BBC ran an article titled “The online abuse hurled at Malaysia’s Muslim women,” which included quotes from not only Dyana (photo), but also Maryam.

It begins with this, and just gets more depressing: “‘We are seeing a trend where Muslim women (particularly Malay-Muslims) are targeted in a different way, especially when it comes to how they present themselves,’ says Juana Jaafar, a women’s rights advocate who followed the case of the 15-year-old girl. Juana says the attacks became so brutal for the girl, she was forced to delete her account and seek help offline.”

The problem with all this online abuse, either from establishment or opposition partisans, is that it makes rational discourse impossible. Especially when it comes to reforming a religion or challenging the status quo, women, more often than not – especially those who are Muslim – are at the forefront.

Either conservative or liberal, Muslim women are targets for what they say by anonymous cretins, who have no problem spewing racial or religious filth and smugly thinking that are on the “right” side.

When someone like Syerleena criticises the religious institutions which have a profound impact on the lives of Muslims in this country, it is a broader criticism on religious institutions who are do not have the ability to sanction adherents, but which operate on a different level.

For example, I know of many women who self-identify as Hindu or Christian who have been on the receiving end of online and real-life abuse from their communities, because their activism challenges the status quo when it comes to the respective religion and cultures.

As more women participate in the political and religious process of this country, the more opportunities for online and real life abuse they face. Many political operatives in the opposition, for instance, have found themselves on the receiving end of state-sponsored online abuse.

I say state-sponsored because inevitably the fight against the patriarchy here in Malaysia revolves around the state-sponsored religion, which is used as a tool to enforce compliance and obedience in the Malay polity, with the state security apparatus having very little interest in carrying out their obligations towards women they deem are bringing shame to their culture and religion.

Lure of power

It is a good thing that Hindu, Christian and Buddhist religious institutions do not have the same power of the state when it comes to enforcing dogma, or it would be even worse. Can you imagine if the other religions enjoyed the privileges of the state as Islam does?

Seriously, can you imagine being under the watchful gaze of religious departments or religious police and having to be wary of your fellow countrymen who watch your every move and see nothing wrong in telling you that you are going against religion and culture. Can you imagine living like that every single day of your life?

If you have this power, especially of men over women, would you want to give it up? The state and its religious bureaucrats, certainly do not want to. The simmering tensions of what I refer to as the deep Islamic state certainly despises women and men who choose to go against the patriarchy.

I am encouraged that the opposition at least makes an attempt to tackle these issues. The opposition should have a clear strategy when it comes to women’s issues in this country. After all, if I am not mistaken, Muslim women are a big demographic when it comes to the education in this country, meaning there are more women in educational establishments, and thus are fertile ground to mine for votes and change mindsets, while the men in their community don their red shirts and fight the yellow peril.

Indeed, the women’s vote could be a major voting block for opposition operatives already operating under the restrictions and electoral legerdemain of the state.

To be honest, I am sick and tired of hearing how Muslim political operatives either defend the status quo or waffle on about how we need to respect religious differences.

I end this piece with an excerpt from an article by DAP’s Yeo Bee Yin last year about the patriarchy and the rape culture in Malaysia – “Deep down, at the core of UMNO’s Shabudin Yahaya’s ‘marrying the rapist’ and ‘nine-year-old can wed’ notions, are not only his personal perversion but also the manifestation of the deep-rooted patriarchy in Malaysian society.”

 

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

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


March 8, 2018

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

 by FMT Reporters
 www.freemalaysiatoday.com

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Strange Bedfellows in a Pact to ruin Malaysia for Political Gain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standing up for Justice–Activist Bilqis Hijjas


January 28, 2018

Standing up for Justice–Activist Bilqis Hijjas

by Thor Kah Hoong

http://www.malaysiakini.com

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COMMENT | Justice, as an icon, is represented as a blindfolded woman holding up a scale, symbolising the meting out of judgment solely based on the law and the facts of the case, the societal standing of accuser and accused having no part in the consideration.

Big, small, justice must be, will be served in an even-handed fashion. There is also the clichéd truism of the wheels of justice grinding slowly but surely.

An ongoing legal case illustrates this.

The alleged offence was committed on August 31, 2015.

Until the alleged offender was charged in court on September 24, the ensuing three weeks must have involved the police interviewing witnesses and the offender, preparing a report for Bukit Aman that then makes it to the Attorney-General’s Chambers. He appoints a deputy public prosecutor who starts preparing a case.

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People who have had to appear in court soon discover what their lawyers never warn them about – the tedium of waiting four or five hours for their case to be mentioned, which usually leads to a lot of motions (pun intended) being passed from both sides, that lead to new court dates while one party or all think over things.

Days over months and years, getting up early in the morning to drive through heavy traffic in hope of finding a miraculous illegal parking spot outside the Duta court complex.

 

The symbol of a dysfunctional Malaysian Judiciary where Judges no longer administer the Law. In stead, they form the core of a kleptocracy led by Malaysia’s most corrupt Prime Minister Najib Razak

After who knows how many man/woman/hours spent in court – (as a writer, I miss the time before the repressive climate of political correctness banned “sexist” words like “mankind” and “chairman”) – how many thousands of words spewed, how many trees died to supply the paper for thousands of pages of documents, a magistrate granted an acquittal last year, July 1.

Now the High Court says, on appeal, that the magistrate erred, that the prosecution has a case, so it’s back to square one.

Back to the government asserting that over two years ago, Bilqis Hijjas threatened public order and offended by dropping yellow balloons with inflammatory words like “Justice,” “Democracy,” “Free Media” in the vicinity of the prime minister.

I am sure the learned judge has a legal basis for the calling for a retrial.But shouldn’t the High Court be involved in weightier cases, like assault with a deadly weapon rather than assault with deadly balloons?

Don’t judges and magistrates have an intractable backlog of cases to clear? Isn’t the A-G’s department so overworked, outside counsel have had to be recruited to helm cases for them?

I can understand why the phrase “free media” can be considered appalling, abhorrent, a dangerous idea that must not be allowed to take root. We can’t have scurrilous journalists, manipulated by foreign enemies, purveying fake news that besmirch our elevated, squeaky clean international standing.

But justice being asked to adjudicate on an insult implied in the word “Justice”? That’s a laugh of an irony. Compound that by suggesting that the yellow colour of the balloons is an effrontery, and we are well into twisted black humour ala-Monty Python.

You bloody fool’

Reminds me of a play of mine in 1987. As was the practice, the script had to be vetted by Special Branch. The producer, Ivy Josiah (photo), informed me Special Branch was banning the production because there were close to 30 objectionable words and scenes from which the public had to be spared.

 

I had to see an inspector, late 20s, to plead my case. He told me there were over 20 four-letter words in the script.

The script was a comedy about Malaysians going through a day from dawn to night, the cast largely speaking English, but also Malay, Chinese dialects, Tamil, and I didn’t remember writing a single “eff”.

When he told me the offensive four-letter (actually six-letter) word was “bloody,” what could I say but immediately reply: “You bloody fool.”

The inspector was stunned. Ivy, sitting behind me, audibly gasped. She thought the appeal was dead at that moment.

After I got his attention, I explained that from my childhood, friends in jest and teachers and parents in assessment had used the term freely. I pointed out that theatre audiences were largely educated middle-class people and hardly likely to rush out after a play to storm the barricades and start an uprising. Reason won the day and I got my permit.

Yes, during the run of the play, there was one night KL was on edge because a soldier was roaming around nearby Chow Kit with a rifle, but I swear he did not come to see the play and was pushed over the edge by my comedy.

The charge made against Bilqis comes under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955. 1955! A British law so antediluvian and forgotten no lawmaker had felt a need to revise it in six decades. The deputy public prosecutor must have had to do extensive archaeological digging to dust off a law he could apply.

 

 

To cap this legal mountain out of a molehill, if Bilqis is convicted, she will be slapped with a RM100 fine. The government wants its pound of flesh – RM100. Hasn’t it learned anything from the many recent revelations of its agencies expending way too much money acquiring assets worth much, much less?


THOR KAH HOONG is a veteran journalist.