Friday, April 14, 2017

BARU BIAN"S EASTER MESSAGE 2017


BARU BIAN’S EASTER MESSAGE 2017

EASTER: GUARDING OUR FREEDOM TO WORSHIP
For the people of the Christian faith worldwide, Easter is the most significant celebration in the calendar, even more so than Christmas. In the BEM church, Easter celebrations were traditionally held in one church in the Lawas district, and the Lun Bawangs would travel for days to attend the Irau Easter, which is celebrated over several days.
Easter marks the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, events on which the Christian faith is rooted. These events give Christians the gift of hope and victory over death, as prophesied in 1 Corinthians 15: 55 ~
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
This verse in the old testament foreshadows the resurrection and victory over sin and death. In the modern day context, Christians are encouraged and reminded to hold on to faith and hope, in facing the challenges in our day-to-day living, and in dealing with our worries and fears over our freedom of religion. Many people today are concerned with the spiritual aspect of life, especially the freedom to practise the religion of their choosing.
The kidnapping of Pastor Raymond Koh and the disappearance of Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife without any satisfactory response by the authorities is seen to be a threat to our freedom of religion. At this time, we must hold on to the assurance that out of darkness, there will come light, and that righteousness will triumph over evil, no matter how long and arduous the night might be.

It is a sign of the desperate times in our country is that religion is being politicised by certain parties to jostle for power, and many people are unwittingly being drawn into the fray. The latest example is the RUU355, which besides being unconstitutional, was used ruthlessly and unashamedly by the government to manipulate PAS for political support.

Religion is a personal matter between a person and his God, and the government must stay out of religion. In this context, it would be prudent for the Sarawak leaders, who have had good understanding and appreciation of the importance of freedom of religion since the beginning of Malaysia and even before then, to continue to lead by example and to stand firm on religious freedom as advocated for us by our forefathers.

Notwithstanding the grim and bleak state of our nation, Good Friday and Easter Sunday celebrations remind me to find solace in the spiritual and in our faith. Perhaps we should all take time this Easter to pray for our country and her leaders that we may continue to live in peace and harmony.

I wish all Christians a blessed Easter.

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

'Not allowing debate on Act 355 is an assault on Parliament'

Charles Santiago     Published     Updated

MP SPEAKS It's been a few days now since the first Parliament sitting ended, but the last two days of the proceedings stick out like pointy edges, nudging me to write down my thoughts.
 
The developments leading to the parliamentary debate on the Syariah Act amendments (Act 355) will go down as the lowest point in the institutional life of the highest law-making body in the country.

The assault on Parliament hints at a cleverly prepared and coordinated exercise between the government and the Parliament Speaker's Office.

Yes, you read that right: between the executive and legislator. This violates the notion of separation of power and brings forth the pivotal question of what more the Prime Minister, Najib Abdul Razak, would do to stay the top man in the country.

Scheming to debate Act 355

The day before Parliament ended, debate on important bills were furiously rushed, with five bills inexplicably postponed for the July sitting.

Lawmakers were forced to debate bills up to 5am the day before, just to accommodate the debate on the syariah law amendment bill, which seeks to give power to state legislation to increase punishment for syariah offences.

The bill was sneakily fast-tracked from item Number 12 of the parliamentary Order Paper to be debated on Thursday last week. In fact, the entire parliamentary sitting on that day was dedicated to the debate on the bill introduced by the Marang MP Abdul Hadi Awang, who is also the president of the Islamic party, PAS.

And we are still waiting for the speaker of the august House to explain why a private member's bill took precedence over government bills.

The mockery of Parliament didn't stop there. The Islamic party was given about two hours to make its case and Parliament was adjourned abruptly, without giving Pakatan Harapan an opportunity to respond, which is normally the case.

It is now public knowledge that events leading to the debate and conduct of the speaker was decided at the Barisan Nasional supreme council meeting. Leaders of the BN parties were told that the PAS president will be allowed to introduce the amendment, and that no debate would be allowed.

The speaker of the Lower House executed the orders of the ruling government.

Cooperation between enemies: Politics and not religion

At the heart of Hadi's controversial bill is the need to stay relevant and to win the next general election for the two Malay-Muslim political parties, which are considered weak at this time.

Prime Minister Najib’s popularity dwindled as a result of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal and the Islamic party's popularity dropped due to poor performance in the state of Kelantan.

PAS has kept eerily silent on allegations of financial embezzlement levelled against Najib. 

So, the bill is a grand reunion of nemesis-turned-allies securing their vested interests. Here, Najib has the advantage, given the resources and state machinery available to him. He broke up the opposition coalition capitalising on the unresolved thorny issues and growing conservatism within PAS with the primary aim of manipulating PAS to secure the Islamic party's rural base.  

Meanwhile, PAS needs to flex its muscles through the bill to stay relevant to its support base and has to work with Umno to push through its agenda. 

How this drama will unfold is anybody's guess. But it promises to be a continuing saga, similar to an Indian drama, especially when the director is quite clueless as to how to conclude a popular serial.

But what is clear is that Najib will use every chapter in his playbook to stay in power.

And this might involve an unwritten - BN plus1- formula to face the opposition in the coming election. And PAS might take up this offer, for it could earn the party a place in government.
 
Alternatively, Najib could cut the Islamic party out if he finds that an Umno-PAS pact is not a winning strategy.
At the end of the day, it is not about Hadi's bill but the survival of Najib. It's unclear as to why Hadi doesn't see through this shadow play. 

But the victims of this unending greed for political power are the Malaysian citizens who feel powerless when institutions designed to protect them are manipulated to protect one man. 

CHARLES SANTIAGO is DAP's Klang MP 
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

We can’t have people disappearing just like that, says Ambiga

Updated 15 hours ago · Published on 10 Apr 2017 8:49PM · 0 comments

We can’t have people disappearing just like that, says Ambiga
Hakam president Ambiga Sreenevasan at the gathering for Pastor Raymond Koh on Saturday. She says the police must do more to reunite the missing with their families. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, April 10, 2017.
HUMAN rights society Hakam today expressed concern over the disappearance of former PJ councillor Peter Chong Fook Meng and four others who have gone missing in the past six months, adding that such incidents should not become part and parcel of our way of life.

“We do not wish to see our country descend into a lawless state where such disappearances become part and parcel of our way of life,” said Hakam president S. Ambiga.

She said although Hakam supports police’s efforts in investigating these disappearances, more must be done and be seen to be done by the authorities.

She hoped police would do what was needed to ensure that the victims were reunited with their families.

Ambiga also urged the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) to address the matter directly with the police and the home minister.

She said the abduction and disappearance of several people lately, including Chong, in certain circumstances indicated the use of extra legal means by highly trained individuals.

Such abductions, she said, in international human rights law were called “forced disappearances” which were supported by the state or organisation which went against international human rights law and undermined the rule of law.

Chong disappeared on April 5, almost two months after Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted. Chong went missing after he went out to meet a friend for a drink on April 5. Prior to the disappearance, the 54-year-old posted on his Facebook page a meeting with a stranger who warned him to be careful.

The stranger said he recognised Chong because he liked to go to protests and candlelight vigils. 
Chong’s disappearance followed that of Koh, social activist Amri Che Mat, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife, Ruth.

On Saturday, Ambiga attended a gathering organised by Suaram at Dataran Merdeka to raise awareness of the missing Koh, Amri, Joshua and Ruth. She told a crowd of about 150 that all four worked for the poor and needy, they did things that other people did not want to do and they should not be treated this way. – April 10, 2017.

~ The Malaysian Insight

Tawfik serves speaker, secretary 2nd legal notice

Updated 16 hours ago · Published on 10 Apr 2017 7:29PM · 

By Looi Sue-Chern · 0 comments

Tawfik serves speaker, secretary 2nd legal notice
The RUU355 bill was not voted on last week despite it being tabled. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, April 10, 2017.
FORMER Umno MP Mohamed Tawfik Ismail, who recently sent a legal notice to the Dewan Rakyat Speaker and secretary to stop the tabling of the RUU355 bill, today sent them a supplementary affidavit for violating the principles of the Rukun Negara after the bill was tabled.

RUU355 refers to PAS president and Marang MP Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 to increase the maximum punishments for jail, fine and whipping.

The bill was tabled last Thursday at the Dewan Rakyat, despite Tawfik filing an earlier suit against Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia and secretary Roosme Hamzah for accepting the bill.

In the first suit, Tawfik said the bill should not have been accepted by the house without the consent of the Rulers’ Conference, as it was a matter of religion.

He also said the bill had failed to follow parliamentary procedures and was flawed.

In the latest affidavit, Tawfik said: “It is incumbent for the court to prevent the violation of the spirit of the constitution when the speaker of the house had shown neglect, failure and/or refusal to abide by the constitutional provisions to refer and consult the matter with the Conference of Rulers, and which violates the standing orders of the Dewan Rakyat in light of media reports that the Hadi’s motion will be tabled on Thursday, April 6”.

Tawfik cited news reports on the government announcing it would take over RUU355, and then deciding against it, before allowing Hadi to table it as a private member’s bill.

“I verily state that the government’s capricious stand in the inconsistent announcement by the deputy prime minister and prime minister shows that RUU355 is merely a political posturing and play by Umno and PAS for political mileage for the 14th general election.

“Therefore, RUU355 is not a genuine promulgation of laws for the good of Malaysia and her citizens,” he said.

He also said the tabling of the bill was an abuse of the process of promulgation of laws using religious sentiment for political purpose, and was in contempt of Parliament as a sacred institution.

Because of this, he said, Parliament was now embroiled in the promulgation of a law that affected national policy, which created discrimination among Malaysians on the basis of race and religion.

The supplementary affidavit was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court last Friday and served to the defendants today. – April 10, 2017.

~ The Malaysian Insight

Thursday, April 6, 2017

GST, two years on, the economy is not getting any better

April 6, 2017

The universal tax has served as a lifeline, but unfortunately the government has failed to institute a cautious and prudent fiscal policy.

COMMENT
gst-1

By Lim Sue Goan

Two years after the government implemented the GST on April 1, 2015, are Malaysians used to it now?

Goods prices have been on the rise and the people’s consumption power is declining since the introduction of the 6% GST.

The consumer price index (CPI) was up 4.5% in February while vehicle sales had dipped by 13% to 580,124 units last year, the lowest in six years. With bank loan rejection rates up to 70%, the percentage of unsold new units by members of the housing developers association (Rehda) soared to a high of 61% during the first half of 2016, compared with 48% a year ago.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) government had anticipated that two years after implementing the GST, the national treasury would be fattened, the rakyat would be suitably adapted to the new policy and negative sentiments would be minimised so that the general election could be held any time.

But things have not worked out that way. The public still have not found themselves used to the GST after two years, especially with prices of goods skyrocketing and salary growth stagnant, making the 6% universal tax an added burden.

To be honest, higher goods prices could not be wholly attributed to the GST alone, other factors have also contributed to uncurbed rising prices, including the abolition of subsidies, depreciation of ringgit as well as higher rents and worker salaries.

Fuel subsidies were completely removed in December 2014 and replaced with a managed float mechanism. If the international oil prices remain sluggish, it wouldn’t be a problem if ceiling prices of fuels are announced weekly.

However, after Opec and other oil producing countries sealed an agreement on production cuts late last year, oil prices have been going up steadily, culminating in the 4.5% inflation rate in February, which is substantially higher than a bank interest rate.

The government lacks an effective strategy to curb inflation and reduce Malaysians’ cost of living. Statistics show that the February food and non-alcoholic beverage index, which makes up 30.2% of the CPI, jumped 4.3%.

If the government had focused on agricultural production, we should have been able to cap the inflationary pressure by cutting down food imports.

Subsidy rationalisation has not only impacted the livelihood of the people, but has also raised the production cost of businesses. For instance, traders are transferring their increased overheads to consumers as a result of dearer industrial gas.

The government bagged in RM41.2 billion from GST collection last year, but this amount has been largely used to plug the massive hole of government expenditures while only a small fraction has been set aside for BR1M and hardly anything to stimulate the national economy.

GST lifeline

By right, with such an impressive GST collection the government should have brought down vehicle taxes, as exorbitant car prices have squeezed the wallets of the medium- to lower-income groups, depriving them of the ability to spend.

Indeed, the GST has served as a lifeline for the federal government, but unfortunately the government has failed to institute a cautious and prudent fiscal policy to allow the GST proceeds to manifest its economic-boosting effects to lift the country’s overall competitiveness.

Even as the government has slashed the expenses of various departments, the finance ministry lately sought parliamentary approval to increase RM3.081 billion in the fiscal budget. Such overruns seem to have evolved into an annual event, showing that the government has never managed its finances seriously.

The government plans to introduce the Employment Insurance Scheme (EIS) this July with the premiums being paid annually by both the employers and employees. The government is not going to shoulder the burden in any way.

No doubt the government has been working very hard to lure foreign investments, including a Digital Free Trade Zone to be jointly established with the Alibaba Group of China, while Saudi oil company Aramco has pledged to invest US$7 billion in the RAPID project in Pengerang.

The effects of these mega investments will nevertheless not materialise within a short period of time. Moreover, to enhance the income of Malaysians, the government must decisively implement structural reforms in a bid to stimulate economic expansion.

Consumption power has yet to return to the levels two years ago because we have not done enough in introducing economic reforms over the period.

Local businesses are still very much labour-intensive and dependent on the foreign workforce, while the government still carries on with its decades-old racial policy instead of meritocracy.

Large sums of money must be invested in order to jumpstart near-term economic development, but unfortunately the government does not have the financial ability to do so. As such, it still has to bear the pains of reform.

Two years on, BN’s plan does not seem to be working and the economy is not getting any better. How do you call an election this way? The truth is not something one can easily change with loads of political propaganda.

Lim Sue Goan writes for Sin Chew Daily.

With a firm belief in freedom of expression and without prejudice, FMT tries its best to share reliable content from third parties. Such articles are strictly the writer’s (or organisation’s) personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.

~ Free Malaysia Today

Unilateral conversion reforms postponed, gov't slammed

Zikri Kamarulzaman     Published     Updated
Law reforms meant to prevent unilateral conversion have been postponed to the next Parliament session.

The Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill was among five government motions in the Dewan Rakyat which was postponed after a marathon session in Parliament ended at 5.05am.

The only motions left in the House order paper are from the opposition, starting with PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang's bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act.

Indira Gandhi, whose legal battle for the custody of her three children who were unilaterally converted by her ex-husband has made headlines for the past eight years, lamented the development.

"I am sad and disappointed, I have been waiting for eight years.

"Assurance after assurance were made and I was happy when it came to Parliament.

"(But now) when can I move on with my life? How many more years do I have to wait?" a distraught Indira said at a press conference in the Parliament media room today.

The bill sought among others, to resolve problems regarding unilateral conversion.

First tabled in November last year, the bill seeks to resolve problems arising from divorce and child custody issues after a spouse has converted to Islam.

The bill seeks to include a new provision that stipulates that the religion of any child of a civil marriage shall maintain the same, even if one spouse converts to Islam, with the exception that both parents agree to the conversion with the child's consent.

The bill was tabled after continued pressure over cases such as Indira's and S Dheepa's, whose ex-husbands converted to Islam and unilaterally converted their children, leading to prolonged custody battles.

Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran, who was also at the press conference, said he was assured by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that the bill would come to pass in this current parliament session.

"I spoke to Zahid, he assured there would be no hindrance and that no one can stop it," Kulasegaran said.

Zahid had made the assurance on Tuesday, saying it was in the country's interest.

Kulasegaran added that he was seeking to meet Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak urgently, so that the bill can be brought to the House today.

Today is the last seating for the last meeting of the Dewan Rakyat.

Swiss AG upbeat on prospects for 1MDB probe

Reuters     Published     Updated
Swiss attorney-general Michael Lauber expressed confidence yesterday that his money-laundering probe into scandal-hit Malaysian fund 1MDB would bear fruit despite Malaysian authorities' refusal to cooperate.

"It's not hopeless, in fact it's the opposite," Lauber told a news conference, saying the probe was making progress based on money-laundering reports, bank documents and work with Singapore and other countries.

"It would have been very desirable from our perspective if Malaysia had cooperated," he said.

But "we're still confident that we can successfully conclude the process in this area, in particular in the open cases against the two banks," he said, referring to Swiss private banks BSI and Falcon.

Malaysia again rebuffed Switzerland's request for legal assistance in probing 1MDB, Lauber's office had said in November.

1MDB, once a pet project of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, is under investigation in at least six countries over billions of dollars of suspected misappropriations.

Presenting his 2016 annual report, Lauber outlined OAG activities including its investigation of bribery linked to Brazil's oil firm Petrobras, investigations into world soccer body Fifa personnel, and tracking terrorist financing.
 
"This place (Switzerland) is not a safe harbour, not for terrorists, not for money launderers, not for international corruption," he said. "We don't tolerate things like 1MDB, we don't tolerate things like Petrobras, we don't tolerate things like the whole Fifa soccer complex."
In the Petrobras case, the OAG said it has confiscated US$1.1 billion in assets linked to the Brazilian oil group, up from US$800 million in 2015. More than 1,000 Swiss accounts have been examined, including from Brazil's former speaker of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, who was jailed last month.

Investigations into Sepp Blatter, ex-president of Fifa, on corruption charges and into Franz Beckenbauer for his role in Germany's bid for the 2006 World Cup were continuing, it said.

Lauber said he was also in touch with Dutch authorities over an international investigation made public today into suspected tax evasion and money laundering via Credit Suisse accounts.
- Reuters

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Suhakam: Beatings may have caused detainee's death, prosecute culprits

Published     Updated
The Malaysian Human Rights Commission's (Suhakam) probe into the death of S Balamurugan at the North Klang district police headquarters on Feb 7 found that he was tortured and detained illegally.

Suhakam said it was informed that the victim, who was arrested with two other suspects on Feb 6, were beaten up by the police between 7.30pm and 9.30pm at Bandar Baru Klang police station before being transferred to the district headquarters.

The commission said Balamurugan, 44, was unable to walk when he was moved from the North Klang district police headquarters to the Shah Alam centralised lock up at around 4.10am the following morning.

Suhakam noted at 10am that day, the Klang Magistrate's Court had noticed Balamurugan's injuries and refused remand, ordering the police to send him to the hospital instead.

However, this was ignored by the police who continued to unlawfully detain Balamurugan beyond the 24-hour period allowed to hold him.

Suhakam had interviewed the magistrate on Feb 23, 2017, and was informed that the latter's face and eyes were swollen.

“He was unable to sit up, stand or hold his head up when his name was called in court,” it added.

Although the police had the opportunity to take the deceased to the hospital, Suhakam said, they failed to do so and took him back to the North Klang district police headquarters at about 1.15pm.

"Suhakam was informed that the deceased was shivering again at this point but he was not given any medical attention.

"By approximately 6.30pm by which time his detention became unlawful, Balamurugan's condition had deteriorated severely to the extent that he had no control over his urine,” it added.

At around 11.30pm, Balamurugan was found unconscious and presumably dead by the investigating officer.

Victim had multiple bruises

Two post-mortem procedures were conducted on the deceased.

Hospital Tuanku Ampuan Rahimah Klang concluded that the cause of death was coronary artery disease while Hospital Kuala Lumpur attributed it to coronary artery disease and blunt force trauma.

Suhakam noted that while both pathologists concluded that the deceased was suffering from a severe heart condition, their medical opinion was that the injuries could have triggered a heart attack or worsened his heart condition, leading to death.

The commission said Balamurugan was allegedly hit on the ears, beaten on his feet and legs as well as punched and kicked in the chest.

"It is Suhakam's view that the allegations of ill-treatment and torture corroborate the statements by both pathologists.

"The deceased had, among others, bruises and swelling on his eyes, a large bruise on his chest below his right nipple, swelling on his right ear, lacerations on his ears, injuries on his right chest muscle, blood clots on his right temple, back injuries and severe muscular injuries to his feet and ankles.

"The second pathologist indicated that he also found that the deceased had obvious bruises on his knees, fingers, back of his left lower leg, lower back and the back of his thighs," it said.

The conclusion released today was a culmination of a Suhakam probe involving 43 witnesses since Feb 10.

Suhakam said it identified numerous systemic failures on the part of the police in the treatment of detainees.

The commission also expressed concern over the manner in which two other suspects were detained with Balamurugan as they were under the age of 18.

"While the police must observe certain legal rights whenever they arrest or detain a child suspect, Suhakam’s investigation revealed that the police may have been in breach of Section 85 of the Child Act 2001 that stipulates appropriate arrangements shall be made to prevent a child while being detained in a police station from associating with an adult who is charged with an offence," it said.
 
Suhakam called on the authorities to investigate and prosecute the police officers responsible for the illegal detention and ill-treatment/torture of the victim.
The commission said that internal disciplinary proceedings and criminal proceedings should also be taken against those who violated the court order.

Suhakam added that the police must ensure that detention is done lawfully and investigations should be extended to similar incidences of abuse.

The commission also reiterated its recommendation to have a medical team on hand at police lock-ups.

BARU BIAN: RUU355 NOT ACCEPTABLE EVEN IF EAST MALAYSIANS EXEMPTED


PRESS STATEMENT
28 MARCH 2017

I refer to the Comment by Sin Chew Daily that is reproduced in Free Malaysia Today as ‘Pivotal role for Sabah, Sarawak MPs over Hadi’s bill’. It has been suggested that the government’s version of RUU355 will only be applicable to Muslims in West Malaysia, in an effort to win over the MPs from Sabah and Sarawak, who had strongly objected to the bill.

If this is the intention of the government, it shows the absurdity of the whole situation and makes it absolutely clear now that their taking over of the bill from PAS and trying to push it through was politically motivated. Even if the government proposes to exempt Sabah and Sarawak from the Bill, do not expect us to breathe a sigh of relief and allow the bill to pass without a fight.

This short-sighted ‘solution’ would prove that the BN/UMNO government places no importance on inclusiveness and equality, and is unconcerned that this move will divide the country into two, each with its own legal system. This will be in violation of Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, which must come into play now, more than ever before.

Article 8(1) states: All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law. Article 8(2) provides: Except as expressly authorized by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent, place of birth, gender in any law…’

How is it possible that the government could even consider a Bill that offends Article 8 in almost every respect? MPs from Sabah and Sarawak must NOT be lured into believing that this is a good way out for them from being responsible and accountable for their actions. There is no escaping their sworn duty to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution from being violated by the BN/UMNO government.

This Bill in its amended form will be unfair and unjust to our fellow citizens in West Malaysia, and our MPs must take cognizance of the fact that their duty to the citizens is not confined to those in their own constituencies, but extends to all Malaysians.

Furthermore, many Sarawakians and Sabahans reside and work in West Malaysia. It is not practical or realistic that they will be exempted from this oppressive law. Our MPs must also bear this in mind.

If we do not assert every citizen’s rights to equality under Article 8 now, and go along with the blinkered and misguided views that we can somehow be shielded from RUU355, once the law is passed, the proponents may pounce on Article 8 and insist that the law which we thought we were exempted from, should apply equally to us.

MPs from Sabah and Sarawak must stand firm and not play into the hands of those that would use us as pawns in their political games. This is a crucial test for our MPs – we have the opportunity to make a difference and to have a say in how we want Malaysia to be. The direction the country is has been heading is certainly not what our forefathers signed up for. Let us show the BN/UMNO government what we are made of.

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan




Tuesday, March 28, 2017

BARU BIAN: DEATH PENALTY SHOULD BE ABOLISHED

PRESS STATEMENT
27 MARCH 2017

I wholeheartedly agree with the call by human rights advocates that capital punishment be removed for all crimes currently punishable by death.

The imposition of the death penalty was believed to act as a deterrent against crime but there is no conclusive evidence that capital punishment is an effective deterrent. Those who are about to commit crimes do not stop and sit down to weigh the consequences if they are caught, especially those who commit murder. I believe most people do not even know what the penalties are for various crimes, except for drug trafficking, as that is well-publicised, but even that does not have any deterrent effect, judging from the unabating illegal drug activities in this country.

Capital punishment does not give the offender the chance to be rehabilitated, but I believe that people can change, and there are many offenders who do change. Whether it is through spiritual input, professional counselling or even the ageing process, many former criminals have changed their attitudes towards crime and emerged as reformed individuals. There is ample evidence of such transformations and I believe that we should not give up on anyone, even hard-core criminals.

There is also the human rights aspect, that executing people runs contrary to the principle of holding high regard for the sanctity of human life. I do not believe that we have the right to end someone else’s life, and executions merely serve to label us as barbaric while having no deterrent effect on crime.

Most horrifying of all, once the death sentence is carried out, it is too late to reverse the decision or to compensate the executed if it is later discovered that there has been a miscarriage of justice. This is not merely a hypothetical situation, as there are documented cases of people being executed for crimes they did not commit.

Researchers in the US in 2014 found that that over 4% of death row inmates were innocent, calling this a conservative estimate. If this is applied to the number of death row inmates in Malaysia, there could be 32 people languishing in prison waiting to be executed for crimes they are innocent of. This is not inconceivable, given the pressures and limitations that our criminal justice system operates under. The idea that the innocent could be executed is so abhorrent that of itself, that would be reason enough to abolish the death penalty.

I agree with Suara Rakyat Malaysia director Sevan Doraisamy that the death penalty is not a solution to crime and should be abolished.

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan

Monday, March 27, 2017

Ahmad Fairuz’s stand on Islamic law misplaced, says retired judge

 | March 26, 2017

Gopal Sri Ram says ex-CJ overlooked a Supreme Court ruling in 1988 that held a law inconsistent with Islamic scriptures to be valid because Malaysia has a secular constitution.
gopal-1

PETALING JAYA: Former chief justice Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Halim has misread the Federal Constitution and ignored a judicial precedent in claiming that Islamic law is above civil legislations, a retired judge said today.

Former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram said Fairuz should not read in isolation a single provision – Article 3(1) which states that Islam is the religion of the Federation – to assert Islamic law’s applicability in Malaysia.

He said Article 4(1) made it clear that any law that came into force after Merdeka Day on Aug 31, 1957 and which was inconsistent with the supreme law of the land (the Constitution) shall be invalid.

He said it was important to note that Article 4(1) says “inconsistent with this constitution” and not “inconsistent with any provision of this constitution”.

“Therefore, Article 3(1) which says that Islam shall be the religion of the Federation is irrelevant when testing the constitutional validity of a post-Merdeka law,” said Sri Ram.

He also said it was most regrettable that Fairuz had conveniently overlooked the five-man bench ruling of the 1988 Supreme Court case of Che Omar versus Che Soh.

The apex court had then held that a law inconsistent with Islamic scriptures was valid because Malaysia has a secular constitution.

Sri Ram said this in response to a lecture by Fairuz titled ‘Islam as the Law of the Land’ where he interpreted the constitution in a manner that makes Islamic law the second most supreme legislation in Malaysia.

Fairuz, who in 2008 was implicated by the Royal Commission of Inquiry in the V K Lingam video scandal in judicial fixings, said civil laws that went against Islamic laws’ main sources – the Al-Quran and Sunnah – would be unconstitutional.

He said Islam was a complete way of life that included all aspects of human activity, including judiciary, politics, and economy.

As such, Articles 3 and 4 must be read together to make Islamic law the second most supreme legislation after the constitution, he had said.

Fairuz had led the majority ruling in the Lina Joy conversion case in the Federal Court in 2007.

Lina, a Malay-Muslim, wanted to embrace Christianity to marry her boyfriend, but the National Registration Department (NRD) insisted she produce a certificate from the shariah court, which she did not possess.

Her lawyers had argued that the NRD only needed to consider the baptism certificate from the church to facilitate the change in religious status. The Federal Court rejected her appeal and ruled that “a person who wanted to renounce his/her religion must do so according to existing laws or practices of the particular religion”.

Sri Ram said Ahmad Fairuz was inconsistent in Lina’s case as he did not apply the legal principle when delivering a judgment as a High Court judge in the case of Haji Ismail bin Suppiah v Ketua Pengarah Pendaftaran Negara .

In that case, he struck down the action of the NRD that required Ismail to obtain the consent of the religious department of Johor for the purpose of processing his application to effect a change of his name from an Islamic to a non-Islamic name.

“However, no written judgment was delivered by Ahmad Fairuz in that case. It is obvious that he has also forgotten the stand he took where he refused to give precedence to Islamic law,” Sri Ram added.

Sri Ram said Lina’s case had nothing to do with constitutional law or the application of Islamic law and the former chief justice’s stand in the case was irrelevant and not binding in a court of law.

~ Free Malaysia Today

DUN Answers November 2016




DUN Answer November 2016


BARU BIAN: EX CJ’S STATEMENTS GROSSLY ERRONEOUS


PRESS STATEMENT
25 MARCH 2017

The statement by the ex CJ that any laws which run contrary to Islamic scriptures are null and void is completely without basis. His statement is not supported by any compelling legal argument but on his feeling – it is reported that he said ‘I feel anything which is in contradiction to Islam is unconstitutional’. His simplistic misinterpretation of Article 3 of the Federal Constitution is a contradiction of Article 4, which he conveniently ignores.

As an ex-CJ, he should know that Malaysia was formed to be a secular country and remains a secular country. Article 3 of the Federal Constitution does not import the meaning that Shariah is the supreme law of Malaysia but on the contrary there is strong legal and academic opinion that Malaysia is in fact a secular country. This is recognized by the Supreme Court in Che Omar bin Che Soh v Public Prosecutor [1988] 2 MLJ 55, and the ex-CJ should be very aware of this case.

Article 4 of the Constitution declares it simply: “This Constitution is the supreme law of the Federation…”. As said by Raja Azlan Shah in 2003: “ This essential feature of the Federal Constitution ensures that the social contract between the various races of our country embodied in the independence Constitution of 1957 is safeguarded and forever enures to the Malaysian people as a whole, for their benefit.” The Federal Constitution - and not the Syariah or Hudud - is the supreme law of the Federation.

Furthermore, the founding father, BAPA MALAYSIA Tuanku Abdul Rahman stated it plainly in Parliament: ‘I would like to make it clear that this country is not an Islamic State as it is generally understood, we merely provided that Islam shall be the official religion of the State’ [Hansard, 1 May 1958].

Does Ahmad Fairuz also claim to speak for Sarawak? For us, the stand is crystal clear. The report of the Cobbold Commission, the Inter-Governmental Committee Report and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement reflect the people’s wishes that there should be no official religion for Sarawak. One of the safeguards in the 18-Point agreement is that ‘While there was no objection to Islam being the national religion of Malaysia there should be no State religion in Sarawak, and the provisions relating to Islam in the present Constitution of Malaya should not apply to Sarawak’.

The importance placed on Sarawak having no official religion and on our freedom of religion is reflected in these points being the first of the 18/20 points in the Malaysia Agreement, and stated clearly in the Cobbold Report. Furthermore, our forefathers had signed the Malaysia Agreement with a secular state, and that must remain so.

According to Constitutional lawyer Tommy Thomas, ‘in addition to enjoying constitutional status, the 20 points also have international law status as being part of treaty obligations between sovereign nations. In consequence, if any provision of the 20 points is breached, the United Kingdom can, in law, take up the matter; whether, as a political fact, its government does so is an altogether different matter. Further, such a breach may be justiciable in the Courts of England and Malaysia.’ [The Social Contract :
Malaysia’s Constitutional Covenant; Paper presented at Malaysian Law Conference, KL, 2007.]

My own people, the 5200 Muruts (as we were called then) in the 1960 census were recorded as saying they were very happy and peaceful as they were, and fearful of the effects of the British leaving Sarawak.  It seems their fears were justified, in view of the push by some groups in Malaya for hudud to be implemented.

Ahmad Fairuz’s further remarks that Muslims do not care about equality and are happy to have hudud implemented in this country is also completely baseless. Does he have any research to back up his statement? How can he claim to speak for all Muslims in the country, including Sarawakian Muslims? The weight of his remark is about the same as that of someone’s insistence that the earth is flat.

It is indeed unfortunate that we have an ex-CJ seemingly learned in the law yet making such a gross error in his interpretation of our Constitution. Having had a much criticized and undistinguished tenure as CJ, and a royal commission of inquiry having concluded in 2008 that he was the judge engaged in conversation with VK Lingam over judicial fixing, Ahmad Fairuz should be the last person to advocate for the implementation of hudud law in Malaysia.

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / N81 Ba’ Kelalan


BARU BIAN: LAWAS ROAD IN APPALLING CONDITION

PRESS STATEMENT
26 MARCH 2017


The people of Lawas are constantly having to put up with dangerous roads – sections of roads keep falling into disrepair at regular intervals.

This time, it is a 7-km stretch of the Long Tuma to Long Ugui road which is not far from Lawas town. Once it took 10 minutes to drive to Lawas town, but the road has deteriorated so much that it now takes 30 minutes. The surface of the road is broken up in places and there are numerous potholes along the stretch. This makes driving on the road hazardous, especially at night when drivers cannot see clearly.

Sarawak is finally seeing some progress on the Pan Borneo Highway, but smaller roads like this must not be neglected. This is part of the Long Sebangan to Long Sukang road, and is therefore a much-used road. I urge the JKR to carry out repairs quickly and to have on-going maintenance of all our roads.

Baru Bian
ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan










Friday, March 24, 2017

Islam for Muslims or Islam for all?

S Thayaparan     Published     Updated
“Be not intimidated... nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.”
- John Adams

I was sincerely trying not to write another article on Islam. Every time I write an article on Islam I get the usual hate mail from folks who accuse me of being anti-Islam and anti-Malay. The people who email me are not bad people. Far from it. If you define “good” as opposing Umno and corruption, then these folks fall into the category of “good” as defined by oppositional forces. Personally, I think this is a crappy definition of good but it takes all kinds, right?

Lawyer Aidil Khalid said something in a debate organised by Bebas recently that demonstrates why this country is ultimately doomed. Forget about the fact that non-Muslims are losing the demographic game but this idea of co-existence and mutual gain is anathema to mainstream Islam. If people wonder why when most people migrate they do not want to go to places where there is a Muslim majority, then you have to look no further than the idea espoused by Aidil Khalid.

"And we do not even want to impose it (syariah law) on the non-Muslims. It is only for Muslims," Aidil said. On the face of it sounds reasonable. However, is it really? What these Islamists are doing, and they do this everywhere, is make a clear distinction between "us" and "them". They are proud of the distinction they attempt to make but get all butt hurt when Western governments attempt to do the same.

Let me be very clear. There is enough empirical evidence that laws solely meant for Muslims in this country have a direct impact on non-Muslims hence this separate but equal canard is just another example of how mainstream Islam in this country always attempts to subvert democratic principles in the name of Muslim solidarity and hegemonic power.

Some folks got extremely upset when Aidil claimed that Muslims have not complained when they have been subjected to civil laws which have a “Christian” influence. While this statement is inaccurate for many reasons, the intent behind the claim points to an anti-Western bias rooted in Saudi Wahhabism and drenched in hypocrisy.

Let us unpack this statement, adding a couple of other points that this young lawyer made. Here are the three points he made:
1) Muslims have not complained about the Christian-influenced civil laws.
2) That interpretation of the Federal Constitution should be based on our traditions.
3) The right of states to “debate, enact and pass matters on Islam".

The first statement is utter bunkum because we have a dual track system when it comes to certain civil laws. Over the years, and with the Arabisation process, state religious departments have encroached in the legal and social domains of Malaysians and have used anti-Western rhetoric to bolster claims of Malay/Muslim nationalism and to maintain political hegemony.

This brings us to the second point. What exactly are “our” traditions? Who defines these traditions? I doubt Aidil when he talks about traditions he means a Malaysian culture that should be inclusive and accepting of diversity as guaranteed under our Federal Constitution.

What he most probably means is the traditions of the dominant Malay majority. Fair enough. However the problem here is that Malay culture has evolved over time. The Malays of today are different from the pre- and post-colonial Malays.

Social engineering, the influx of foreigners and decades of the Arabisation process has made it clear that mainstream Malay culture and traditions is in fact a replica of Saudi culture or at least that is the eventual goal. “Malay” tradition and cultural norms have over the years been replaced with Wahhabi imperatives that seek to extinguish the various cultural influences that made Malay culture and traditions such a melting pot of Southeast Asian influences.

Hence if we know that Wahhabism is the dominant Malay culture, then what this young lawyer is advocating is that those so-called traditions of those interpreting the Federal Constitution should rely on is in fact a foreign Islamic ideology that the Saudis themselves are claiming to curtail.

Deviant thinking

However, let us for one minute think it is okay to rely on such interpretations. Let us assume that Islamic jurisprudence is an acceptable source of law for all of us. Let us go back to the so-called golden age of Islam, that era where most rational Muslims use as a touchstone to promulgate the idea that theirs is in fact a forward-thinking religion.

Do you know of any Muslim Malaysian scholars who advocate such a position? I do. I could name many but these folks are sanctioned by the state for deviant thinking. Deviant from what, you may ask? From standard, Wahhabi thinking.

People like Aidil always reminds us that “interpretations of Islam and the Quran should be left to scholars who have spent entire lives dedicated to understanding the religion”, but when confronted by voices other than the ones approved by the state, these scholars suddenly lose their Islamic credentials.

Here is an opinion of someone who has had a formal education when it comes to the intricacies of Islam, Wan Ji Wan Hussin - “I don’t agree that only Islam can be propagated. The Federal Constitution states that, but I don't agree with it from the viewpoint of religion. Let the law practitioners debate if it’s from the law’s point of view. But as someone who studied religion, that statement is wrong. Non-Muslims should be given the right to give their views, as opposed to only the Muslims who can do so. Maybe that's why people have accused me of being ‘liberal’.”

Does this sound like something Aidil can get behind or is this one of those situations where this Islamic scholar suddenly loses his Islamic credentials? I have often argued that the only way we can stop the process of sliding into a failed Islamic state is when we have diversity of thought when it comes to Islam. The main reason why the state wishes to silence dissenting voices is that they are a threat to religious, but more importantly, political hegemony.

However, the last point is where the action really takes place. I am a firm believer in constraining federal power. So my question to this young lawyer is, what if a state decides that it is unIslamic to discriminate based on race and religion? What if Islamic authorities in a particular state decide that there should be a separation between mosque and state? What if the state’s Islamic authority decides that there no need for a local Islamic authority?

Would this young lawyer be still gung-ho on state rights or would this just be another case, where the state loses its Islamic legitimacy because it goes against the federal-approved form of Islam?

That Malaysian original Haris Ibrahim at the Bebas debate said that he would not have the Islam he believes in taken away from him. The tragedy is that his version of Islam is anathema to mainstream Malaysian Islam.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.