Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Taib linked to money-laundering in Canada

 April 30, 2014
BMF said it unusual for a highly-reputed Canadian financial services provider to conduct multi-million-dollar transactions with "unusual" terms.
TaibKUCHING: In the latest twist following the HSBC scandal, Canada’s largest insurance and finance provider Manulife Financial seems to have landed itself in a mess over its ‘unusual’ mortgage transactions with the Taib clan.
Manulife president and CEO Donald A. Guloien will on Thursday have to explain to company shareholders why it  provided six ‘unusual’ mortgages totalling Canadian $146 million (RM438 mil) to Sakto.
Sakto Corporation, a real estate group, was founded in 1983 by Taib Mahmud’s brother, Onn Mahmud. It is currently managed by the former Sarawak Chief Minister’s daughter, Jamilah Taib, and her Canadian husband Sean Murray.
The long-term mortgages were arranged in 2003 and are secured by three office and residential buildings in Ottawa, known as the Preston Square development.
But what is unusual and intriguing is the terms of the mortgage.
According to Swiss-based NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), for every property, two sets of mortgages were arranged.
“One at conventional commercial interest rates and another at a staggering 20% annual interest rate, “payable on demand”.
“The 20% interest mortgages include a $13 million (RM39 mil) mortgage secured on Ottawa’s 333 Preston Street, a $15million (RM45 mil) mortgage secured on 17 Aberdeen St and a  $45 million (RM135 mil) mortgage secured on 343 Preston Street,” said BMF director Lukas Straumann.
Alarmed at the Manulife’s unusual mortgage terms,  Straumann has speculated that there is reasonable grounds to suspect that Sakto Corporation has been used by the Taib family to launder millions of dollars of corruption proceeds from Malaysia.
“ A 20% annual interest rate in the real estate business means high risk and lack of commerciality – typical indicators of money-laundering.
“These transactions point to serious shortcomings with Manulife’s compliance process.
“A number of red flags should have alerted the compliance office to stop these mortgage deals,” said Straumann
He said BMF has sent a letter to Guloien demanding that Manulife explain its Sakto mortgages, including its customer due diligence and anti-money-laundering procedures.
Manulife exposed
He said it is unusual for a highly-reputed Canadian financial services provider to conduct multi-million-dollar transactions with Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs).
Manulife Financial with C$599 billion under its management is  Canada’s largest insurance and financial service provider with operations in Asia and North America.
Guloien is set to face some crippling questions from his shareholders.
BMF has been on Taib’s back over his massive unexplainable wealth which the NGO claimed was derived from widespread logging of Sarawak by family and crony companies.
According to BMF  the Taib clan has known stakes in over 400 companies in 25 countries and worldwide asserts worth US$20 billion (RM60 billion).
On Sunday it was reported that global banking conglomerate HSBC was pulling back from business dealings with the Taib clan.
Seen as being among several measures at  ‘damage control’, the bank had notified all members of Taib  family that they were not  allowed to hold accounts with the bank.
The 31-year old Taib regime had come under heavy attack by international activists for a range of reportedly dictatorial and unlawful activities.
BMF claimed the ‘source’ of Taib and his clan’s wealth came indirectly from logging the state.
HSBC had reportedly bankrolled errant logging companies in Sarawak.
A criminal investigation by UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in 2012 showed that HSBC had violated its sustainability policies and earned around US$130 million (RM390mil) in the process.
The bank reportedly provided financial services to companies widely suspected of systematic bribery and corruption.
UK based NGO Global Witness which exposed HSBC said the institution provided loans and financial services to conglomerates and companies linked to Taib.
~ Free Malaysia Today

Baru says to table Private Member’s Bill in next sitting

Posted on April 30, 2014, Wednesday

KUCHING: Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian said he will table a Private Member’s Bill to amend the state Land Code in the upcoming State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting in May.

Baru, who is state PKR chairman and prominent NCR land lawyer, said one of the contents in his proposal would be to amend Section 2 of the Sarawak Land Code on the definition of NCR land.

“I will propose to include cleared/farmed land (temuda or its equivalent), reserved forest area (pulau galau/pulau or its equivalent), and communal land/territorial domain (pemakai menua or its equivalent) as another definition of NCR land.

“I propose the term ‘equivalent’ because different ethnic groups will have different terminology but the concept is the same,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

Baru said the tabling of the Private Member’s Bill was in accordance with the advice given by Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Satem during the DUN sitting last year.

“When I tabled a motion to amend the definition of NCR under Section 2 of the Land Code, it was shot down. There was a suggestion from Adenan that I should table a Private Member’s Bill so in accordance with that advice, I’m moving the assembly to table this Private Member’s Bill.”

Besides that, Baru’s proposed bill would also include the proposal to among others, allow temuda land to be transferred or acquired by any local natives, similar to the state government’s proposal as announced by Adenan last Thursday.

“In fact, this was suggested in my motion in the last sitting as well. This (proposal) was prepared even before the chief minister had proposed to amend the Land Code in the DUN sitting in November.”

Baru said the amendment of the Land Code would be a general permission to allow sales and purchase of temuda land but if an ethnic group in Sarawak has a custom that goes against the new law, then that custom should prevail.

“Many natives may be worried that if we allow this amendment, we will allow the rich and powerful to buy NCR land but Section 8 of the Land Code disallows non-native to get the right over native land.”

He said the advantage of amending the Land Code to allow temuda land to be transferred or acquired by any local natives was that once it was permissible to sell the NCR land among natives, it would broaden the market.

“If you restrict only to one community, then of course the price will be low but if you allow the natives to sell the NCR land among them, the price of the land will go up. That is why mixed zone land is more expensive than native land.”

Baru said no native would oppose to this proposed amendment and believed that the Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar would allow this bill that was good for the people of Sarawak to be debated.

“I’m just doing what was suggested. I tabled a motion (during last sitting) but it was thrown out. They asked me to pass a private bill and I did it. If they throw the bill out again then I would seek their advice on what the next step is. I’m going to do it.

“I don’t mind if they (state government) take over my bill. They can copy it and pass it in the next round.
No problem. The end result is important. We want to do what is right and affirmed by the courts and we don’t want to run away from what is beneficial to the people.”

Baru estimated that if pemakai menua, pulau galau and temuda were included as NCR land, the total area of NCR land in the state would be about seven million hectares.

“The figures may look very big but it is a recognition that the land belongs to the natives. It is not to say that the natives will take back the land but as a recognition of their rights.”

Read more:

Make excuses, and find scapegoats

One of the oaths that an Umno Baru minister takes is: “Never Apologise. Make excuses. Find scapegoats.” Actually this is not quite true, but from what we see of our ministers, there might be some truth in it.

In Malaysia, ‘real’ news and history will only be made when our Umno Baru leaders take responsibility for their actions and say the sensitive word, “Sorry!” Currently, our leaders are defined by the four Us; Unapologetic. Unaccountable. Unashamed.  U-turns (these frequently appear in Umno Baru policies).

Yesterday, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won resigned over his government’s poor handling of the Sewol ferry recovery operations. The vessel sank on April 16 with the loss of 300 lives. We cannot help but compare Malaysia with South Korea.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared from the skies on March 8 and no wreckage has been found. There are 329 people still missing. Six weeks later, South Korea suffered its own tragedy when the ferrySewol sank. Most of the dead or missing were teenage students on a school outing.

In both cases, there has been mishandling of the rescue operations by the governments, with poor information gathering, a slow response by the rescue teams and conflicting information.

Chung apologised for the many problems and early handling of the disaster. He said, “There are too many irregularities and malpractices in parts of society that have been with us too long and I hope those are corrected so that accidents like this will not happen again.”

In South Korea, the leaders understand the phrase “the buck stops here”. In Malaysia, Hishammuddin brushed criticism aside and said, “History will judge us well” and that “we have done an admirable job”.

Malaysians know that the “irregularities and malpractices” which Chung alluded to, also exist in Malaysian society, but our leaders live in their own make-believe world, or are in denial. Our leaders don’t make apologies. They excel at making excuses and finding scapegoats.

Hishammuddin also told reporters, “Not many countries could get 26 countries to work together” and at the United States-Asean Defence Forum (USDAF) in Hawaii on April 2, he said, “I also appealed to those with the right kind of assets to continue to assist us.”

Ever since the former PM Mahathir Mohamad’s era, Malaysians have been obsessed with the quest to be the country with the biggest, best, longest, heaviest, just to gain a mention in the Guinness Book of Records.

Despite all his good intentions, and despite nations acting for humanitarian reasons, Hishammuddin’s boast of being able to enlist the help of 26 nations, sounded like an attempt on another ‘Malaysia Boleh’ record.

A month after MH370 disappeared, the MAS CEO, Ahmad Jauhari Yahaya, dismissed urgings that he resign. He said, “As far as my personal decision is concerned, I still have work to do here”, but as far as many MAS passengers and crew are concerned, Jauhari and previous MAS chairpersons were given many years to solve the woes of MAS, but did nothing. Jauhari was slow to defend his pilot and co-pilot when their reputations were trashed in the papers.

Recently, when many MAS flights appeared to suffer from mechanical failures, the IGP Khalid Abu Bakar said he was looking into the possibility of sabotage. No mention was made of Malaysia’s poor implementation of preventive maintenance. When quizzed about the stolen passports of passengers on MH370, he said, “Don’t ask me. Ask Interpol. Ask immigration.”

Integrity a key ingredient

Mahathir’s ‘Look East’ policy, introduced in 1981, was initiated so that Malaysia could emulate the economic success of countries like Japan and South Korea. Unfortunately, Mahathir forgot to impress on his party, one important ingredient; the integrity of the leaders.

Malaysian leaders have no self-respect, nor respect for the rakyat. They are devoid of a conscience and also lack dignity. Our leaders are consumed with money, material wealth and power. They have forgotten the meaning of honour.

‘Look East’ has failed miserably. In 1962, Malaysia’s GDP per capita was nearly three times that of South Korea. Its GDP per capita then was US$292, versus that of South Korea which was US$104.

By 1984, Malaysia’s GDP stood at US$2,254 and South Korea was US$2,307. The two countries were almost level.

By 2004, South Korea had outstripped Malaysia and its GDP per capita was USD15,029, which is three times that of Malaysia’s GDP per capita of USD4,918.

MH370 may have exposed the current crop of bad leaders but in the past, other Malaysian politicians have also failed to apologise for their actions.

Former women, family and community development minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil refused to resign over her family’s involvement in the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal. She acted as thought she was the wronged woman. She felt like her family had been betrayed, when it was her family who had betrayed the trust of the rakyat by defrauding them.

Her husband’s response was to intimidate anyone who mentioned the NFC scandal and to sue them. Being arrogant and threatening are the hallmarks of Ketuanan Melayu.

Former Sarawak chief minister Taib Mahmud denied that the poverty of the people of Sarawak was due to his failure to channel funds into the state’s development and education. He said his family was rich and successful because his children were intelligent and were blessed with business acumen, unlike the people of Sarawak.

No pupil can be as good as their master. Mahathir blamed the missing MH370 on Boeing for building a plane with communication and tracking systems which could be disabled too easily. Mahathir has never said sorry for any of his misdeeds. He manages to find scapegoats or make excuses.

Two days after MH370 disappeared, Najib bragged about being able to source a RM1 chicken. He told the rakyat to stop moaning about price hikes and instead, look for bargains. The photo of a smiling Najib holding the trussed-up, one ringgit chicken is a good metaphor for the Malaysian rakyat being shackled by its leaders.

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO).
~ Malaysiakini 

Scientists present alternative to Sarawak’s mega-dams

23 April 2014 – for immediate release

A new study by the University of Berkeley shows how Sarawak’s future lies with small-scale, local energy solutions rather than with risky and expensive large-scale hydropower. The scientists are presenting their findings tomorrow at the ASEAN Renewable Energy Week in Kuala Lumpur.

(BERKELEY, US) Scientists at Berkeley University have come up with an alternative to Sarawak’s power gigantism with its Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) project. Instead of building mega-dams, the government ought to focus on small-scale energy sources for increasing rural electrification and developing rural areas.

Extending rural energy access is key to poverty reduction in Sarawak. According to the new study entitled “Kampung Capacity”, small-scale energy solutions are more likely to translate into electricity access for the affected and nearby communities than large hydropower projects. The Bakun Dam shows that mega-dams mainly bring power to urban areas and feed large industries, while villages in the rural areas – even those next to the Bakun dam – remain without access to electricity. 

The study analyses different energy scenarios based on small-scale energy solutions for three villages in the Baram area and finds "the least-cost options for energy services to come from a mixture of locally managed small-scale hydroelectricity, biogas generators and accompanying batteries instead of a claim of service provision based on large-scale regional electrification".

A whole range of tested “different renewable energy service scenarios are consistently 20 percent, or less, than the cost of diesel energy scenarios, without the social, economic, and environmental disruptions that would come with a large-scale hydropower plan for the river basin.“ Consequently, significant savings could result from using local and sustainable sources compared with today’s dependence on diesel generators in most rural villages.

The Berkeley report is the answer to the problems set out by researchers at Oxford University whose analysis of past dams has revealed that large dams are associated with enormous risks: on average, the actual costs of large dams have been 96 per cent higher than the estimate, and the implementation schedule has overshot by 44 percent. They concluded that large dams were uneconomical and advised countries at a lower level of economic development to implement smaller projects.

With their study, scientists Shirley and Kammen of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of Berkeley have now specified a possible design for such an energy strategy based on small-scale local energy solutions for Sarawak. The result is a viable alternative to “SCORE’s large scale, extraction-based development regime”. The two scientists have prepared the way for new paths of development in Sarawak. The researcher and author of the study, Rebekah Shirley, is presenting her findings tomorrow at the ASEAN Renewable Energy Week in Kuala Lumpur. 

The Bruno Manser Fund asks the government of Sarawak to develop an alternative energy and development plan for Sarawak based on the findings of both the Berkeley and the Oxford studies. The time is ripe to acknowledge the advantages of small-scale energy solutions over large-scale dams. Development should be focused around the people and not indebt the state for generations to come.

Sources for this release:

Shirley, R. and Kammen, D., 2013, “Kampung Capacity: Local Solutions for Sustainable Rural Energy in the Baram River Basin, Sarawak, Malaysia”, University of California, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (REAL).

Ansar, A. et al., 2014, “Should we build more large dams? The actual costs of hydropower megaproject development”, in: Energy Policy, University of Oxford.

~ Bruno Manser Fonds Socinstrasse 37 4051 Basel Switzerland

Mara ‘stupid’ to ask non-Muslims about Islam, says Sarawak minister calling it bigotry

APRIL 30, 2014
A senior Sarawak cabinet minister has taken Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) to task for posing questions on Islam to non-Muslim bumiputera students applying for Mara scholarships, saying it smacked of religious bigotry.
State Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing (pic) also described Mara as “stupid” for quizzing the students on Islam during their interview for the financial assistance, and questioned the relevance of such questions.
“Don't tell me Mara, which runs several educational and technical institutions, after 51 years (of Malaysia) will claim ignorance in failing to understand the racial and religious make-up of the state.
Masing’s attack on Mara was prompted by a complaint he received from a straight “A” Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) student, Nigel Unchat Jeremaiah, who said he was asked questions on hudud, "rukun Solat" (prayers) and "adat menziarah jenazah" (visiting graves), among others, during the interview last Saturday.
“Neither would I want to believe there are religious bigots in Mara who want to deprive non-Muslim bumiputeras of the scholarships with those kind of questions,” Masing said.
Masing said the line of questioning appeared to suggest bigotry on Mara’s part.
Asking non-Muslims questions on Islam is plain wrong. What relevance anyway are these questions when applying for a higher learning scholarship?
Nigel, who was applying for the scholarship to study mechanical engineering at Kolej Mara Seremban in Negeri Sembilan, said he and the other non-Muslim students were also asked to name some Muslim prophets.
Nigel, who attended the interview at Maktab Rendah Sains Mara in Semariang outside Kuching, said out of about 30 students who went for the interview that Saturday afternoon, about 10 were non-Muslims.
He feared his failure to answers the questions could cost him the scholarship.
“I'm surprised Mara failed to understand there are many bumiputeras in Sarawak who are non-Muslims and that Muslims are a minority in the state,” Masing said after meeting Nigel and his mother, Sudan Nyanggau, at his house in Jalan Ong Tiang Swee.
“I don't like to believe they have some hidden agenda,” he said of the council which is responsible for facilitating the economic and social development of the bumiputeras, particularly in rural areas.
The council comes under the purview of the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development.
“They should not have asked non-Muslims such religious questions.
“Asking non-Muslims questions on Islam is plain wrong. What relevance anyway are these questions when applying for a higher learning scholarship?
“That boy was hoping to study mechanical engineering, not become an ustaz.
“If he was applying for a scholarship to become an ustaz, then those questions are appropriate.”
Masing, who has been vocal on the Allah issue, warned Mara not to display such bigotry in Sarawak.
He said just because Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country doesn’t mean the whole nation knows about Islamic teachings.
Nigel was hoping to follow in the footsteps of his two older siblings - one studying at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and the other at University Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).
He would only know if he is successful in obtaining a Mara scholarship when the result is out on May 8.
State Mara director, Yusof Wasli, could not be reached for comment as he was in Bintulu on official matters. His office would not give his handphone number. – April 30, 2014.
~ The Malaysian Insider

Better handling of school funds leads to better results, says education group

APRIL 30, 2014
LATEST UPDATE: APRIL 30, 2014 05:11 PM
CfBT Education Malaysia said the biggest return on investment comes from continuous upskilling of teachers and that existing budgets should be dispersed efficiently towards initiatives which have the biggest impact on students. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 30, 2014.CfBT Education Malaysia said the biggest return on investment comes from continuous upskilling of teachers and that existing budgets should be dispersed efficiently towards initiatives which have the biggest impact on students. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 30, 2014.Instead of allocating more funds for education, the existing budgets should be dispersed efficiently towards initiatives which have the biggest impact on students, said a leading education consultant.
CfBT Education Malaysia said the biggest return on investment comes from continuous upskilling of teachers while calling the other initiatives "fool's gold".
In 2011, Malaysia spent about 3.8% of its gross domestic product on education, making up around 18.9% of total government expenditure.
Last year, in announcing the Budget 2014, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the education sector will be allocated RM54.6 billion or 21%, in an effort to enhance education excellence.
The 3.9% is more than twice the average 1.8% in Asean, it was reported.
CfBT also listed four myths about education, that have come up from policy debates, which were not necessarily accurate, including that "the more you invest in education the better the student outcomes".
"Some commentators, citing Malaysia’s declining performance in international education surveys, have called for increased public expenditure on education.
"The implicit assumption is that more money can 'buy' more education and that the funding will enable the Ministry of Education to hire better teachers, purchase better quality textbooks and employ other tactics that will improve the overall quality of education," CfBT director Dr Arran Hamilton said in a statement today.
He, however, revealed that education economists have come up with findings, based on their research on the relationship between the level of education expenditure and student outcomes, that each additional ringgit spent actually reduces rather than increases the quality of education.
"Often this is because the spending goes on big ticket items like reducing class sizes or improving the physical infrastructure of schools, which have negligible impact on student achievement."
The other myth, Hamilton said, is that reducing class sizes will result in better education outcomes as people believe that if the teacher divides their time between a smaller number of students, each child would get more individualised attention.
However, extensive research – 164 controlled-condition studies on impact of reduced class sizes in more than 40,000 separate classrooms involving more than 940,000 students – showed that the impact of this is actually very meagre.
“These studies have found that reducing class sizes costs billions of dollars in additional teachers and physical infrastructure but showed that smaller class sizes do not have a meaningful impact on student achievement until the ratio gets below 15 students to one teacher, which is an investment few public education systems can afford to make,” he said.
“Instead, focus should be on providing additional training for teachers to change the way they interact with students, which is more cost effective and results in greater student achievement than reducing class sizes.”
Hamilton also said popular belief or myth that improving the physical infrastructure of schools could improve student outcomes was not accurate as well.
“The argument is that if Malaysia’s schools had the same level of facilities as schools in Europe, North America and some of its Asian cousins – air conditioned classrooms, language labs, libraries stacked with books and beanbags and world class science and computer labs – student achievement would skyrocket.
“Granted there are still cases, particularly in rural schools, where the infrastructure would greatly benefit from additional investment including access to electricity, stable internet and running water.”
But beyond this basic investment, Hamilton said the radical overhauling of school infrastructure was not necessary to see better student achievement.
“Recent CfBT Education research found that classrooms that have good lighting, acoustics and reasonable temperature control provide sufficient conditions for good teaching and learning to take place. Anything beyond this is nice to have but not really necessary,” he added.
Hamilton reiterated that what matters is the quality of teachers, noting that it was both cheaper and more effective to invest in upskilling teachers rather than "attempting to turn government schools into physical replicas of top international schools".
He also listed another myth – overhauling initial teacher training will radically increase student achievement – saying that more on-the-job training was more crucial than formal training.
“There have been 53 major controlled condition studies that have compared student outcomes for teachers who have undergone formal training and those that learnt on the job. Almost without exception these studies have shown little or no difference in student outcomes between trained teachers and those that went into the classroom without any initial training.
“Most teachers learn their trade on the job – after they have left training college. Their first three years in the profession are the most crucial, when educators develop their standard repertoires,” he added.
Hamilton said the results showed that it would be possible to reduce the length of initial teacher training to around six weeks, provided that right candidates were selected and the cost savings were re-invested in training these teachers once they enter the classroom.
"This type of in-service training works best when teachers are directly observed and coached in their own classroom by a master teacher, who models best practice and gives teachers feedback on their pedagogy."
The Malaysian education system have come under fire for the wide disparity between Malaysian students and its counterparts in other developing countries in international assessments in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012 and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).
According to the PISA's 2012 results, Malaysian students scored below average and ranked 52 out of the 65 countries. In contrast, Vietnamese students ranked 17 out of 65.
Recently, a World Bank senior economist said that the poor quality of Malaysia's education system was more worrying than the debt level of its households.
Malaysia's continuous dismal performance in international assessments highlights the weaknesses in the country's schooling system, despite the fact that education gets the largest share of funds every year from the national budget.
Critics said that the PISA results had contradicted Putrajaya’s insistence that Malaysia has a world-class education system. – April 30, 2014.
~ The Malaysian Insider

'Organisers of anti-GST rally can't be charged'

The authorities must refrain from arresting and charging organisers of the May 1 anti-Goods and Services tax rally, in light of the landmark Court of Appeal decision on Friday that declared the punishment under Section 9 (5), is unconstitutional.

Bar Council president Christopher Leong said the attorney general should not proffer any charges on the organisers due to the appellate court’s decision, or keep the charge in abeyance.

He said this is because the Court of Appeal’s decision is now considered the law.

“The AG Chambers would have to appeal the Court of Appeal's decision and wait for the outcome before charging anyone,” he emphasised, when asked on the position of the law in light of Friday's appellate court decision and tomorrow's expected rally against the implementation of the GST.

Quizzed on whether the organisers can be charged after the appeal, Leong said the AG can, if it is successful.

Tomorrow is Labour Day, a public holiday, and it is reported that trade unions and opposition parties are ready to rally in Kuala Lumpur in opposition of the government's implementation of the Goods and Services Tax on April 1, next year.

They claimed police have approved the rally, to be held at Jalan Raja.

'AG can be cited for contempt' 

Lawyer Ranjit Singh said the Appeal Court’s decision on Friday was right.

"It is preferable that the organisers inform the authorities for security and safety purposes. However, it is wrong to punish the organiser of a peaceful rally for not giving notice, as the right to freedom of assembly is enshrined in the constitution," he said.

Another lawyer, Razlan Hadri Zulkifli (left), opined that if the AG decides to go ahead and charge any person under the section which has now been deemed unconstitutional, he could be cited for contempt in disrespecting the Court of Appeal judgment.

On Friday it was reported that the three-member panel led by Justice Mohd Ariff Mohd Yusof, declared Section 9 (5), that punishes those who failed to give notice to the authorities with a RM10,000 fine, was unconstitutional and against Article 10 regarding freedom of expression.

Justice Mah Weng Kwai, the second member in the panel, said both Section 9 (1) that requires the 10 days' notice and Section 9 (5), (which is the punishment for notice not given), is unconstitutional.

However, Justice Ariff and Justice Hamid, in their separate judgments, declared that only Section 9(5) was unconstitutional.

“The right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed under Article 10(1) (b) of the Federal Constitution and hence, it cannot be criminalised,” Justice Hamid said in his decision.

“Section 9(5) makes a mockery of the right to freedom of assembly,” added Justice Mah in his judgment.

He said further that freedom of assembly outweighs any inconvenience that might be caused by problems following a protest, such as traffic jams.

Despite Friday's appellate court decision, it was reported on Monday that the Ipoh Sessions Court judge had refused an application to grant a discharge to Perak PKR secretary Mohammad Anuar Zakaria, who faces a charge under Section 9(1) of the PAA.

However the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court had granted a discharge to Solidarity Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) leader Badrul Hisham Shahrin (right) on a similar charge.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers has indicated they are appealing against Friday's Court of Appeal decision at the Federal Court.
~ Malaysiakini

'Timid' Malays, where are you?

COMMENT I ask this question of the Malays—the timid and false Malays. There has been almost total silence from those in the Malay community who are against hudud, with the exception of former Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) executive chairperson Ani Arope and a few lawyers I know.

What has become of the rest? Do they really want their children’s hands and feet to be amputated for theft, for drinking a glass of beer, for illicit sexual intercourse?

I cannot believe the behaviour of this bunch of Malays. They likely committed one or more of these offences at some stage in their lives and yet now they say nothing? Why are they so afraid to speak up?

According to the 1993 Kelantan Bill, stealing anything worth more than RM2,000 would merit hudud punishment. Most bicycles cost more than that nowadays. Do these Malays want to cut off people’s hands for this petty offence?

Does this sound fair and just, when we all know that over the years billions of ringgit have been stolen from the national coffers through other mechanisms that do not amount to “theft”? Are these Malays so bereft of compassion? Have they lost all sense of fairness? It seems particularly odd because they are now suddenly so God-fearing.

Have they not had a few beers or glasses of whisky or brandy at some point in their lives? I know of some powerful Malays who are still alive who were once quite happy to have Campari soda and expensive wine - they were lucky there was no hudud then.

They were also able to afford to drink mostly overseas, but they give no thought to those who have to go to the local coffee shop for their glass of stout or beer. Shouldn’t these people be spared from hudud too?

As for illegal sexual activities, are these Malays trying to say they have not strayed at all, not even once in their lives? They shouldn’t be such hypocrites. Many of them who appear religious in appearance and speech actually have a big appetite for the opposite sex.

I know some of them too. When I was growing up in Kelantan we always crossed the Golok River for some fun, and there were thousands of others over the weekend. We were not looking for mangoes my friend, and PAS was in charge of the state government all that time.

So to these Malays who partake in some or all of the above hudud offences, may I suggest they take another good, long look at themselves. How long are they going to pretend that they live free of sin, and that they want the severest of punishments for others?

They will know the full effect of this “perfect justice” when one of their loved ones loses a limb - then they can come and talk to me about justice.

ZAID IBRAHIM is the former law minister of Malaysia. The above writing appears in his official blog The Zaidgeist today and is published in full by Malaysiakini.
~ Malaysiakini