Friday, June 30, 2017

Bar Council denounces prosecution of Siti Kasim for doing her duty as lawyer

Bar Council denounces prosecution of Siti Kasim for doing her duty as lawyer
THE Bar Council today denounced the prosecution of lawyer Siti Zabedah Kasim for obstructing a civil servant from doing his duty, saying that Siti Kasim was doing her duty as a lawyer in asking the civil servant the basis for a raid.

Bar president George Varughese said today in a press release that Siti Kasim was present at the event in question in the role of advocate and solicitor for the organisers and participants. 

“She had identified herself as a lawyer, and enquired about the basis for the raid. 

"As such, she was discharging her professional duties as a lawyer at the time the alleged offence was said to be committed," he said. 

On June 23, Siti Kasim was charged under Section 186 of the Penal Code with obstructing an officer of the Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) conducting a raid on a fundraising dinner for transwomen on April 3 last year.

She is accused of obstructing Siti Nor Jihan Saleh from doing her duty at the event held at Renaissance Kuala Lumpur.

Siti Kasim pleaded not guilty to the offence, which is punishable by a two-year prison sentence, a RM10,000 fine, or both. 

Varughese said it was fundamental for an advocate and solicitor to act for a client without fear of prosecution.

“A lawyer must at all times be allowed to advance a client’s rights without obstruction or impediment, or fear of prosecution for carrying out his or her duties as an officer of the court. 

“Any unwarranted interference with the discharge of such duties is a serious violation of the independence of the legal profession, and an affront to the administration of justice."

He urged the authorities to respect the rule of law which grants a person right of access to legal counsel without harassment or intimidation.

“The charge against Siti Kasim is in clear contravention of Principle 16 of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which provides that 'Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognised professional duties, standards and ethics'," he said. – June 29, 2017.

~ The Malaysian Insight

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Najib has the power not to hold elections, says Mahathir

Published     Updated

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak might not even hold the next general elections, according to Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“It is within his power to do so. Laws would not bother him,” he said in a blog posting today.
Mahathir claimed that Najib could declare a security situation or state of emergency even if there was none and could suspend the constitution.

“In this, he would have the full support of Umno and BN leaders. They all know that their leader is abusing his power.

“They all know about the investigations and accusations levelled at Najib by investigators in foreign countries. They all know of the reports by the US Department of Justice, the arrests, and closure of banks in Singapore in the 1MDB scandals...” he added.

Mahathir claimed that cabinet ministers, as well as MCA and MIC leaders, do not care what happens to the country, the people or the reputation of good governance built by the founding fathers.

“All they care about is their position, their perks and possibly the bran they get.

“Let the country go to hell. Let it be called a kleptocracy. Let it be listed among the 10 most corrupt countries in the world. They don't care. Cannot be that they don't know. But they don’t care.

“The people can suffer. That is not the problem of the ministers... As long as they do well for themselves, nothing else matters,” he added.

Previously, Mahathir, who is now chairperson of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), claimed that an emergency might be declared if the opposition scored a marginal win in the next polls.
“The opposition may have to face the possibility of the election being declared null and void should the BN lose by a small margin.
“Or, the government would refuse to admit defeat. The opposition would be accused of cheating. No evidence would be needed for the government to declare this. The bullies of the BN would be ready to create instability.

“On this basis, there could be a declaration of a state of emergency and Parliament would be suspended,” he said.

The former prime minister said a national operations council or Mageran (Majlis Gerakan Negara) would be installed and the country would be ruled by decree similar to when the 1969 race riots happened.

In disservice to religion

S Thayaparan     Published     Updated
“We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instils morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.”
- Christopher Hitchens

COMMENT | Before I begin, I throw a great Garrison Keillor quote out there whenever people ask me what I think about religion. “Anyone who thinks sitting in church can make you a Christian must also think that sitting in a garage can make you a car”; replace the words “church” and “Christian” with your preferred place of worship and religion, and you get exactly what I think about religion.

This brings me to two interesting Malaysiakini comment pieces by two authors, which neatly illustrates the disconnect in the religious discourse in this country. In a piece highlighting the complete failure of the MIC to dispel the perception that a canteen operator was told to cease operation was a racial issue, Stephen Ng turns the issue into a religious issue. This, of course, is understandable.

(Just to be clear, apparently the three other operators were Malay, hence the MIC operative's claims that this was not a racial issue and the administration's claim that syariah compliance was not the reason why this Malaysian of Indian descent was asked to cease operating.)

Race and religion are not mutually exclusive in this country; hence Ng is making a perfectly sensible argument when he asks, “Is there a need for the Indian operator, who may be a Hindu, to also be syariah compliant, since the stall has its own clients?”

The problem with this question is that the answer may not be what Ng hopes for. The answer is yes, this Indian operator has to be syariah compliant (if that was indeed the reason he was asked to cease operating), even though he had his own clients because he is operating in an educational establishment that been infused with religious dogma.

The real issue that the MIC cannot face is the issue that the opposition cannot face either. The real issue here is that there can never be (in Ng’s words) “mutual respect between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities” as long as political parties embrace the notion that religion will always be a factor in garnering Malay votes.

Has there ever been any Malaysian political coalition that promises to take religion out from education? Is there any political alliance that has not funded religious institutions even if it meant sacrificing “Malay” votes? Has there been any political alliance whose platform is to maintain a strict separation between mosque and state?

In another piece, I wrote of my disdain for the word “tolerate” - “Mind you, the word ‘tolerance’ is in itself a loathsome word. It is a word lacking empathy, simpatico, goodwill or camaraderie. The word implies, ‘enduring’ instead of ‘accepting’ and ‘understanding’ - all those sentiments that denote a sense of belonging.”

There is no point blaming the MIC for anything to do with Islam in this country because the reality is that when it comes to Islam and the Umno state, there is very little anyone can do about it because nobody wants to offer an alternative.

Finding the common ground

I keep asking oppositional political operatives and their supporters if there has been any change in the way how state-level Islam is promulgated, now that the opposition is in power in certain states, and I get variations of two political talking points.

1) The opposition can only do “something” about the intrusion of Islam if they get federal power. When I ask them for specifics, they mumble something about 1MDB being the greater problem and not Islamic extremism, as is the supposed agenda of my articles.

2) That the Malay vote is important and they cannot do anything to overtly support “secularism” because this would play into the hands of those religionists who are in control of the Islamic narrative in this country. In other words, nobody is interested in changing the narrative and those who are, are called "idealists" or worse.

And therein lies the rub. There will always be contentious issues because there are no clear-cut lines when it comes to the state and religion. The opposition uses religion just as much as the establishment. We are not dealing with competing ideas but an attempt to distract from the real issues by convincing ourselves that the magic bullet that would destroy a kleptocracy means we will not turn into a theocratic state.

When I ask which is worse, as in which would be preferable to live under - a kleptocracy or an Islamic state as envisioned by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang and co - all I get are mumblings about how, if Islam is practiced with empathy and consideration, it is a religion that can exist within the democratic process.

Honestly, is there a difference between “syariah compliance” and any other state-sanctioned Islamic dictates that restrict commerce, intrudes into our public spaces or oppresses the majority of this country? Lawyer Siti Kassim said that Muslims are the most oppressed people in this country and if you believe her narrative, then why is it that there are no alternatives that cater to her beliefs.

In her latest piece columnist Mariam Mokhtar wrote, “What happened to Siti is not just about a society which is intolerant. It is about control of the rakyat by a handful of people, who use religion to manipulate our behaviour. The constitution is our guide, but these officials have no respect for it.”

And that’s the key. The constitution, which for all intents is secular-leaning, has been co-opted by the state and Islamists to present a monolithic view of the Muslim community. If the constitution is manipulated by a handful of people then why isn’t another handful of people - and by people I mean Muslims working in tandem with other secular-minded people - who defend the constitution and not engage in the kind of political behaviour which many claim is detrimental to the Malay community?

The real question is not about syariah compliance but the way how people use “religion” as either a tool of oppression or a tool of victimisation. There is a common ground but until we have people committed to claiming that ground, we will always have this toxic discourse where non-Muslims devour their own because nobody wants to deal with real issues.

Where is this common ground?

I spelt it out clearly in another piece - “We find this common ground in a secular state. Anyone who does not support the idea of a secular state has no intention of finding common ground and would rather find ‘peace’ and ‘stability’ in a theocratic state. If you believe that you can co-exist peacefully in a theocratic state, then you are truly ignorant.”

Tomorrow: Hadi is not the problem

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.

AG’s response to Bar Council makes no sense

    Published     Updated
YOURSAY | ‘This statement coming from Apandi is not surprising and is to be expected.’

AG brushes off Bar call to reopen 1MDB probe as senseless
Gerard Lourdesamy: What is nonsensical is attorney-general (AG) Mohamed Apandi Ali’s response to the Bar Council statement.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) filings in the US may be a civil suit. But the DOJ has obtained a wealth of information and evidence from its investigations, not just within the US but also from foreign countries such as Switzerland, Luxembourg, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and others.

The civil suits raise grave allegations of possible criminal acts, including conspiracy, cheating and breach of trust by many Malaysian players, purportedly including Jho Low, Reza Aziz, the 1MDB senior management, Malaysian Official 1 (MO1) and MO1's wife.

Isn't it incumbent on the AG, as the public prosecutor, to assuage public concerns by at least giving an assurance that he would investigate the allegations and if necessary, seek information from the DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to assist in his probe?

Shouldn't the auditor-general's report on 1MDB be declassified and debated in Parliament as a first step towards restoring confidence in our government and regulatory bodies?

Kimquek: DOJ’s 251 pages of description of the alleged US$4.5 billion grand theft of Malaysian public funds through 1MDB caused a global sensation, but the Malaysian AG has only one word to describe the Malaysian Bar’s urging to probe the matter: “Senseless”.

With that, Apandi closed his conversation. So, to the AG, DOJ’s 251 pages of revelation is nonsense, something not worth his attention. In any democracy, the AG would be sacked instantly, or subject to impeachment proceedings, or hounded out of office by furious public opinion.

But how would Malaysia react? How it reacts may reflect on the state of the Malaysian democracy and the soundness of its rule of law.

CQ Muar: Why is Apandi so protective of MO1? If he were a responsible person, he should at least suggest calling for further investigation, instead of rubbishing Malaysian Bar president George Varughese.

This clearly indicates the AG has something to hide, or an agenda behind his unwarranted reaction, or even his aggressiveness. Can Apandi kindly explain if he is responsible for the nation's interest or that of PM?

Sans Prejudice: Somewhere in a distant place called Bukit Aman, the Twitter Cop has just announced that he has been ordered by AG to “dig deeper” in the sordid 1MBD affair since the latest DOJ expose.

We do sure have a credibility issue at hand. Both individuals, who are supposedly guardians of the law, have been uttering contradictory and irreconcilable statements on the same issue.

FlabberPro: The irony of all ironies, the ones who are under oath to uphold righteousness and justice, are the very ones who violated them.

While they are in deep denial, their actions have spoken louder than their words. Malaysians, and the world at large, are not listening anymore to what is spoken, but rather to what is seen.

Throughout history, no one could escape the wrath of the people, no matter how powerful they could be when they are in power. It is just a matter of time before they have to face their just punishment.

There shall be no pity, no compassion and no leniency when the day comes. Aren't they afraid?

Pemerhati: This statement coming from Apandi is not surprising and is to be expected. Previously, even in light of overwhelming evidence that showed PM Najib Razak had allegedly stolen billions of ringgit, the AG completely cleared Najib of any wrongdoing.

That clearly showed that the AG had absolutely no principles and is Najib’s protector and lap dog.

Clever Voter: Yes, I’m hardly surprised at the response of AG. The position has been redesigned to support the stability and continuity of the establishment. Clearly, a domino effect will happen if otherwise.

The DOJ investigation will continue and the subsequent outcome will not impact on the well-entrenched patronage system. This has been expected. Noises, yes, but actions unlikely.

Anonymous 2474441496569636: AG already made a decision on this case early last year and had confirmed that there is no foul play in regard of the financial dealings in 1MDB.

So, the Bar Council's continuous pressure to reopen the probe on 1MDB is in utter contempt against the AG’s Chambers and our legal system.

AG is firm on his decision and simply refusing to make a U-turn. That’s all. We should respect his findings.

Anonymous 539281478077880: Definitely the AG would brush off the suggestions put forward by the Malaysian Bar president.

The president must understand that the AG had cleared Najib of any wrongdoing in the 1MDB "fiasco". It won't make any sense if the AG were to direct investigators to conduct another probe into the 1MDB affair.

The Bar president should advise the DOJ to contact the AG's office directly and make the AG commit to answer all allegations levelled against MO1 and 1MDB.

This would put things in the proper perspective as whoever is implicated would have to answer, and the wrongdoings cannot be "swept under the carpet".

Hang Babeuf: The AG: senseless? Surely not. Some attitudes are driven not by an absence of sense but by bad sense. That seems all too characteristic of "official thinking" these days.
Wira: I guess the Arab donor story still makes more sense to the AG than the money trail supplied by DOJ.
Perhaps Apandi can just name the donor, provide his money trail with solid evidence and tell Uncle Sam once and for all not to mess with Malaysia.

Read also: 1MDB probe - dig deeper or bury deeper?

The above is a selection of comments posted by Malaysiakini subscribers. Only paying subscribers can post comments. Over the past one year, Malaysiakinians have posted over 100,000 comments. Join the Malaysiakini community and help set the news agenda. Subscribe now.
These comments are compiled to reflect the views of Malaysiakini subscribers on matters of public interest. Malaysiakini does not intend to represent these views as fact.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Zeti: Bank Negara could only impose the highest fine on 1MDB

Published     Updated

Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz said there was not much the central bank could do about 1MDB other than issuing "the highest administrative fine" in Malaysian history.

She said Bank Negara does not have the power to prosecute, though they are always ready to provide assistance to any institutions who can do so.

"(People) had higher expectations from us but Bank Negara does not have the power to prosecute.

"We do not have the power to fulfill the expectations on us, but we support the agencies which have those powers," she said, as reported by Sin Chew Daily yesterday.

"Bank Negara has already fined relevant agencies and financial institutions which acted against the law (in 1MDB's case). I would say, this is probably the highest fine in this country's history.

"This is what Bank Negara can do," she added.

On April 28, 2016, Bank Negara issued an administrative fine to 1MDB for failing to adhere to the Financial Services Act 2013. The state fund was given until May 30, 2016, to pay the fine.

However, Bank Negara has yet to reveal the actual amount of the fine imposed on 1MDB up till today as it is against Bank Negara protocol to reveal specific details in individual cases.

About two weeks after the fine was issued, the current Bank Negara governor Muhammad Ibrahim said they have ended their investigations into 1MDB's affairs as 1MDB has stated its commitment to pay the fine before the deadline.

In this first local interview since her contract as Bank Negara governor ended last April, Zeti also admitted that the 1MDB case was one of the most challenging things she had to handle in her stint as the governor.

Bank Negara's main responsibility in dealing with the 1MDB case was to ensure that the country's financial system was not damaged.

"Bank Negara has well-written laws, such as the Central Bank of Malaysia Act 2009, Financial Services Act 2013 and so on, to protect the financial system and ensure it is managed in a stable, transparent and healthy way," she said.

When asked if she was disappointed in how the 1MDB investigations turned out, she said, that as a Bank Negara officer, she has to set personal feelings aside to prevent it from affecting her duties.
"Bank Negara staff are not like other people. We have to learn to focus on the job.
"This is because our duty is to the rakyat and the corporate world, and not to our own personal feelings.

"When faced with disappointment, the support shared among members of the central bank is very important.

"We realise Bank Negara is very important to the country. We do not want it to be damaged. This is what I always prioritised," she said.

~ Malaysiakini

Monday, June 26, 2017


25 JUN 2017


Sebagaimana saudara-saudari Muslim kita bersiap untuk menyambut Hari Raya Aidilfitri setelah sebulan berpuasa, tiba masanya untuk bersyukur atas keunikan masyarakat kita dimana penerimaan dan saling menghormati memainkan peranan utama di dalam kewujudan kita secara harmoni.

Agama adalah peribadi bagi seseorang individu itu dan ia harus menjadi satu perkara diantara seseorang dan Tuhan dia. Sebagai contoh Puasa. Puasa adalah untuk kita menguji kesungguhan batin kita,untuk melawan dan menahan diri daripada godaan. Bagi umat Islam, ‘nafsu’ mereka yang diuji.

Saya masih ingat satu kejadian beberapa tahun yang lepas ketika saya sebagai seorang pelajar di UiTM di KL. Semasa bulan puasa, saya bersama seorang pelajar dari Sarawak yang sedang makan sepotong kuih, dan seorang lelaki muda berjalan menuju ke arah kawan saya, dan menolak kek dari tangan dia dan meninggalkan tempat itu. Tanpa berkata apa-apa, kami terkejut dengan kejadian ini kerana kami tidak pernah mengalami tingkah laku seperti ini selama kami di Sarawak.  Dalam fikiran kami, nilai sebenar puasa datang apabila seseorang itu mampu berpuasa tanpa perlu persekitaran di sekelilingnya diubah demi menghapuskan unsur-unsur yang mungkin menjadi ujian kepadanya.

Selain daripada penglibatan segelintir pemimpin negara dalam rasuah, perkara yang paling merosakkan yang berlaku di negara ini adalah politikasi agama. Parti-parti politik tertentu telah berjaya memacu kejatuhan antara umat Islam dan bukan Islam dalam beberapa dekad yang lalu dengan menggunakan agama sebagai alat, memainkan satu agama terhadap yang lain dan mencetus ancaman yang tidak pernah wujud. Pembentangan Rang Undang-Undang Hudud secara berterusan dan sokongan secara rahsia Rang Undang-Undang dari kerajaan adalah satu perkara yang menimbulkan kebimbangan yang besar kepada orang bukan Islam.

Perkembangan terbaru mempersoalkan kepercayaan ahli-ahli politik tertentu adalah salah satu sebab untuk dikhuatiri. Sesetengah umat Islam cuba menegaskan bahawa orang yang mempunyai kepercayaan tertentu tidak boleh menjadi ahli politik di negara ini, atau jika mereka adalah ahli politik, mereka tidak boleh bercakap tentang iman mereka, ataupun bertindak mengikut kepercayaan mereka.

Begitu juga dengan seruan untuk mengharamkan  perayaan dan aktiviti Kristian adalah suatu ancaman yang sangat provokatif kepada keharmonian kita, apatah lagi ia merupakan suatu pelanggaran Perlembagaan Persekutuan, yang menjaminkan kebebasan rakyat untuk mengaku dan mengamalkan agama pilihan mereka.

Sedih sekali serangan terhadap agama Kristian ini berlaku pada bulan Ramadan, yang menunjukkan peningkatan dalam sikap tidak bertoleransi dan ketaksuban. Malah lebih membimbangkan adalah bahagian dari Timbalan Perdana Menteri dalam memerangi tuntutan ultra islamis ini. Kerajaan telah mengecewakan negara ini dengan membenarkan ekstremisme seperti ini berkembang, sebagaimana dapat dibuktikan dari kekurangan tindakan mereka terhadap pelaku. Sekali lagi, menggunakan agama untuk tujuan politik.

Kepercayaan agama dan komitmen ke arah agama masing-masing adalah baik kerana ia membimbing seseorang menjadi warganegara yang bertangunggjawab. Setiap orang, sama ada ahli politik, hakim, ahli perniagaan atau anggota polis, jika benar kepada agamanya dia akan menjadi seorang ahli politik, hakim, ahli perniagaan atau anggota polis yang baik. Dia tidak akan merosakkan, atau mencuri harta benda orang lain atau menipu.

Oleh itu, ia menjadi suatu kesegaran apabila terdapat beberapa orang yang terkenal yang cukup berani untuk bercakap terhadap kumpulan pelampau ini. Seperti yang dikatakan oleh salah seorang daripada mereka, kepekaan terhadap orang-orang yang mempunyai kepercayaan yang berbeza adalah seperti jalan dua arah dan kita harus saling menghormati hak masing-masing dalam mengamalkan agama kita. Pemimpin kita - dari masyarakat, pelbagai agama dan parti politik - juga harus bersuara untuk majoriti senyap yang juga tidak bersetuju dengan ketaksuban kaum dan agama dari beberapa kumpulan ekstremis.

Saya sentiasa bersyukur juga bahawa Sarawak masih bebas daripada pengaruh para perusuh agama ini. Betapa indahnya jika kita dapat kembali ke zaman dahulu ketika Malaysia pernah menjadi model sebenar keharmonian kaum dan agama.

Semasa saya sebagai seorang pelajar di SMK Limbang, saya serta kawan-kawan akan berkunjung ke setiap rumah di sepanjang jalan semasa sambutan Hari Raya atau Tahun Baru Cina, walaupun kami tidak kenal penduduknya. Pada Tahun Baru Cina, kami akan mengucapkan 'Gong Xi Fa Cai!' dan semasa Hari Raya kami mengucapkan 'Assalamualaikum!'. Kami sentiasa dialu-alukan dan dihidang dengan makanan dan minuman. Pengalaman masa itu membawa saya percaya kepada dasar kebaikan dan kemurahan hati semua orang, tanpa mengira kaum dan agama, dan kenangan dan kepercayaan itu tetap kuat di dalam saya.

Seperti yang saya katakan, Sarawak masih menjadi bumi yang harmoni dan penerimaan bersama. Malah di arena politik, kami melawat rumah-rumah pihak lawan politik kami semasa Hari Raya, dan pada masa ini, kami mengetepikan perbezaan politik kami untuk meraikan perayaan ini bersama-sama. Marilah kita semua bekerjasama untuk memastikan suasana istimewa seperti saling menghormati dan penerimaan antara pelbagai kaum dan kumpulan etnik akan bertambah erat, supaya Sarawak akan menjadi tempat yang dapat kita panggil sebagai rumah kita dengan bangganya.

Saya ingin mengucapkan ‘Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri; Maaf Zahir dan Batin’ kepada semua umat Islam.

Baru Bian
Pengerusi, KEADILAN Sarawak/ ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan.


25 JUNE 2017


As our Muslim brothers and sisters prepare to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri after a month of fasting, it is timely to give thanks for our unique society where mutual acceptance and respect play a key role in our harmonious co-existence.

Religion is personal to an individual and it should be a matter between a person and his or her God. Take fasting as an example. Fasting is for us to test our inner resolve, to fight and restrain ourselves against temptation. For Muslims, it is their ‘nafsu’ being tested.

I remember an incident when I was a student at UiTM many years ago in KL. During the fasting month, I was with a fellow student from Sarawak who was eating a slice of cake when a young man walked up to my friend, knocked the cake from his hand and walked away. Needless to say, we were shocked by this incident as we had never encountered this sort of behaviour before in Sarawak. To our minds, the true value of fasting comes when a person is able to fast without needing the environment around him to be altered to remove any elements that may be a test to him.

The most damaging thing that has happened to this country besides the corruption of the country’s leaders is the politicisation of religion. Certain political parties have successfully driven a wedge between the Muslims and the non-Muslims over the past few decades by using religion as a tool, playing one religion against another and inventing threats where none exist. The persistent tabling of the Hudud Bill and the covert support of the Bill by the government is one such matter that raises great concern for the non-Muslims.

The latest development of questioning certain politicians’ faiths is another cause for concern. Some Muslims are trying to insist that persons of a particular belief cannot be politicians in this country, or that if they are politicians, they cannot talk about their faith, or act in accordance with their faith.

Similarly the call for the banning of Christian celebrations and activities is an extremely provocative threat to our harmony, not to mention a violation of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees the people’s freedom to profess and practice their religion of choice.

Sadly these attacks on Christianity happened in the month of the Ramadan, pointing to a rise in intolerance and bigotry. Even more worrying was the Deputy Prime Minister’s part in pandering to the demands of these ultra Islamists. The government has let the country down by allowing this sort of extremism to flourish, as evidenced by their lack of action against the perpetrators. This is again, using religion for political purposes.

Religious belief and a commitment towards one’s religion is good as it guides one to be a responsible citizen. Every person, whether a politician, judge, businessman or policeman, if true to his religion will be a good politician, judge, businessman or policeman. He will not be corrupt, or steal other people’s property, or lie.

It is therefore refreshing that there are a few prominent individuals who are bold enough to speak up against these extremist groups. As one of them said, sensitivity to people of different faiths is a two-way street and we must respect each other’s right to practice our faiths. Our leaders – from the community, various religions and political parties - must also speak up for the silent majority who do not agree with the racial and religious bigotry of the few extremist groups.

I am always thankful also that Sarawak is still free from the influences of these religious mobs. How wonderful it would be if we could go back to the old days when Malaysia was the true model of racial and religious harmony.

When I was a student in SMK Limbang, my friends and I would visit every festive house along the road during the Hari Raya or Chinese New Year celebrations, even though we did not know the residents. On Chinese New Year, we would call out ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai!’ and during Hari Raya we called out ‘Assalamualaikum!’ We were always welcomed and served with food and drinks. The experiences of those days led me to believe in the basic goodness and generosity of all people, regardless of race and religion, and those memories and the belief remain strongly with me.

As I have said, Sarawak is still a land of harmony and mutual acceptance. Even in the political arena, we visit the homes of our political opponents during the Hari Raya, and during these times, we put aside our political differences to celebrate together. Let us all work together to ensure that this special atmosphere of mutual respect and acceptance among the various races and ethnic groups will grow stronger with time, so that Sarawak will always be a place we can be proud to call our home.

I wish my Muslim brothers and sisters  ‘Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri; Maaf Zahir dan Batin’

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Baru baffled by on-and-off decision on GST

Baru Bian

KUCHING: The fiasco with the on-and-off Goods and Services Tax (GST) on 60 items is just another sign of a nation that is sinking into the abyss of ruin, said state PKR chairman Baru Bian.

The Ba Kelalan assemblyman noted that the Customs Department had announced the tax and after heated condemnation on social media, the decision was reversed by the Finance Ministry on the same day on Monday.

“The Second Finance Minister (Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani) claimed that the approval of the Cabinet had not been sought. Now it appears that the decision was mooted at the last Dewan Rakyat session.

“Do the ministers know what is actually going on in this country? Do they care what is happening to the rakyat (people) and the burdens they bear?” Baru said to The Borneo Post yesterday.

He was commenting on Customs Department’s reversal of its decision to impose tax on some 60 food items which, if implemented, would be effective on July 1.

The decision to impose GST on these food items was gazetted on June 6, this year.

The Goods and Services Tax (zero-rated supply) (Amendment) (No 2) Order 2017 Section 17 has allowed the Customs Department and the Finance Ministry to remove more than 60 food items from the zero-rated list.

The list of food items included seafood such as eel and swordfish; frozen vegetables such as corn; imported fruits such as grapes, avocados, peaches and plums; beverages such as tea, coffee and other foodstuff like spices, coconut oil and ‘laksa’ as well as ‘kueh tiaw’.

Baru said imposing more taxes on the already burdened people is not a decision to be taken lightly, but Monday’s events gave the people the impression that “those who sit in Putrajaya care not one jolt about ordinary people”.

“Who can forget that the prime minister declared GST to be the saviour of Malaysia? Who doesn’t know that the only reason Malaysia needs saving is because of the gross and obscene corruption in the BN government that has rendered us as good as bankrupt and in need of saving?”

In stating that the citizens of Malaysia must make their disgust known at the ballot box, Baru said the Titanic was proudly proclaimed to be unsinkable but sank it did.

~ Borneo Post

The answer to whether Malaysia is a kleptocracy lies abroad, says WSJ

The answer to whether Malaysia is a kleptocracy lies abroad, says WSJ   Is Malaysia a kleptocracy, asks the Wall Street Journal today, on the heels of the US Department of Justice filing to seize another US$540 million in assets it alleges were bought with money stolen from state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd. – AFP pic, June 20, 2017.

MALAYSIANS’ best hope to knowing if their country is a kleptocracy lies in the findings of civil and criminal courts elsewhere due to Putrajaya's inaction over the 1MDB scandal, says the Wall Street Journal today.

On Sunday, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, which the WSJ editorial noted was Prime Minister Najib Razak’s cousin, urged the US to press criminal charges so that the accused "can clear their name".

Hishamuddin’s presumption that Malaysian leaders are innocent echoes the statements issued by Malaysian ministers and government officials in the wake of revelations provided by the US Department of Justice on Thursday as it filed suit to seize US$540 million (RM2.3 billion) in assets said to have been bought with money stolen from the debt-ridden state investor.

WSJ, which broke the 1MDB story in July 2015, said it had reported that US investigators were preparing to charge at least one of Najib’s associates.

On Thursday, the DoJ filed a civil assets forfeiture suit to seize more assets belonging to relatives and associates of Najib, including a US$165 million yacht owned by financier Jho Low, and a US$27.3 million necklace worth featuring a 22-carat pink diamond allegedly bought with stolen funds for the wife of Malaysian Official No. 1.

US officials have told WSJ that "Malaysian Official No. 1" is Najib, said the editorial.

The suit follows a similar suit filed by the DoJ last July, where it sought to seize US$1 billion in financial assets, real estate, artwork, film rights and a private jet in a record-setting Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.

"The 1MDB fund denies that money is missing, Mr. Najib denies any wrongdoing, and Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared Mr. Najib in January 2016.

"Mr. Apandi Ali said in a statement Friday, 'We also note that there has been no evidence from any investigation conducted by any law enforcement agencies in various jurisdictions that shows that money has been misappropriated from 1MDB'.

"Yet the US Justice Department has provided considerable evidence that US$3.5 billion went missing, while the Swiss Attorney General puts the figure at US$4 billion. Singapore and Switzerland have already punished financial institutions for breaking money-laundering rules in moving 1MDB funds," said WSJ.

WSJ said the DoJ last week provided new information allegedly showing that about US$850 million that Deutsche Bank loaned to 1MDB was diverted to accounts controlled by Najib and his associates. One lawsuit alleges that proceeds from a US$3 billion 1MDB bond offering in 2013 were diverted to help purchase Coastal Energy, a Houston-based oil firm, it said.

Abu Dhabi sovereign-wealth fund International Petroleum Investment Co says that 1MDB owes it about US$6.5 billion for defaulted debt that IPIC guaranteed, said WSJ.

"Since Malaysian authorities have concluded that there’s nothing worth investigating in the 1MDB matter, civil and criminal cases in other jurisdictions are the best hope Malaysians have of finding out whether their country has become a kleptocracy," said WSJ. – June 20, 2017.

~ The Malaysian Insight

Human Rights Foundation urges Agong to free Anwar

Published     Updated
International advocacy group Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has written a letter to Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V, asking him to free jailed former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

The New York-based NGO claimed there had been political meddling in Anwar's Sodomy II court case, citing allegations that lead prosecutor Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had been paid RM9.5 million by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

"We respectfully urge Your Majesty to recognise the undeniable political meddling in Anwar's case, order him to be released from prison, and clear him of his conviction.

"These seriously questionable payments to Shafee from Najib, compounded with the fundamental lack of evidence in support of Anwar's conviction, show that Anwar's political opposition aimed to strip him of his political standing and damage his reputation permanently," HRF wrote in the letter dated yesterday.

They noted that Shafee has yet to deny the allegations against him.

The letter was signed by HRF president Thor Halvorssen, and chairperson Garry Kasparov.
Putrajaya, in a surprise move on July 22, 2013, recruited Shafee to lead the prosecution team against Anwar at the Court of Appeal instead of relying on public prosecutors as per conventional practice.

The Court of Appeal on March 7, 2014, overturned the High Court of Kuala Lumpur's decision to acquit Anwar, sentencing him to five years in prison.

The Federal Court on Feb 10, 2015 upheld Anwar’s conviction for sodomising his former aid Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

Whistleblower site Sarawak Report had previously alleged that Shafee received RM9.5 million from Najib in two tranches on Sept 11, 2013 and on Feb 17, 2014.

Shafee on June 9 said he would make a statement on the matter but has since remained silent.

The government had told Parliament that Shafee was paid a fee of RM1,000 to act as the lead prosecutor in the Anwar case.

DOJ: We're in the business of facts, not insinuations

Published     Updated
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) said its civil lawsuit to seize 1MDB-related assets includes all relevant details so that reasonable belief can be proven during a trial.

It is responding to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan who said that the DOJ is insinuating criminal misconduct by prime minister's wife Rosmah Mansor by linking her to diamonds allegedly bought using cash misappropriated from 1MDB, even though it has no intention to seize the jewellery.

"The law requires we allege sufficiently detailed facts to establish a reasonable belief that we will prevail at trial,” the DOJ told Malaysiakini through email.

"This means we have to allege enough facts to show a reasonable belief that United States money laundering and other criminal laws were violated and that the subject assets were involved in or traceable to these illegal transactions.

"In addition, the complaint provides a sufficient detail to specifically identify the property subject to forfeiture and to clarify the basis of the government's case should anyone with a valid claim wish to challenge our case. Identifying persons and entities aids that function.

"No conclusions should be drawn, one way or another, about the status of individuals or entities simply because they are named in the documents."

The DOJ in a new filing last week said that US$4.5 billion (about RM19 billion) has been allegedly stolen from 1MDB.

It is seeking to seize US$1.7 billion (RM7.3 billion) worth of assets, which it says were bought with stolen money in the US and elsewhere, under the country’s money laundering laws.

DOJ not seeking diamonds

The DOJ's 251-page lawsuit filed Thursday did not name Rosmah, but mentioned that the wife of an unnamed "Malaysian Official 1" (MO1) was gifted about US$30 million worth of jewellery by 1MDB-linked individual Jho Low.
DOJ told Malaysiakini it is not seeking to seize the jewels gifted to the wife of "MO1".
Abdul Rahman yesterday named Rosmah in relations to the DOJ's claims. He had last year also identified MO1 as Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, but stressed that Najib is not named as a defendant in the case.

Najib has denied all wrongdoing related to 1MDB, while attorney-general Mohamad Apandi Ali has exonerated Najib and condemned the DOJ for implying the PM is connected to criminal misconduct.

Low, whom the DOJ named, is nevertheless a Najib family friend while another defendant, Riza Aziz is Rosmah's son.

In response, Low said the DOJ's claims are baseless.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Court wants new expert witness on why 'Allah' only for Muslims

Published     Updated
The Kuala Lumpur High Court today asked the Home Ministry to file an expert report on why it contends that the word "Allah" is exclusively for Muslims.

This is over the long-drawn case of Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, who had her Malay-language Christian CDs seized by the authorities in 2008.

Senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan said they have to file the expert report to the court by July 14 as instructed by Justice Nor Bee Ariffin.

He noted that they had earlier submitted a report to the court, but said they now have to find another expert.

“I will have to get back to the Home Ministry on this,” he said.

Shamsul told reporters that Jill Ireland is applying to expunge certain portions of an affidavit filed by the ministry referring to the expert witness.

It was previously reported that the Home Ministry had included a report from the Islamic Institute of Understanding Malaysia as part of an expert report on why Christians cannot use the word "Allah" to refer to God in the Malay-language version of Christian texts.

Jill Ireland's lawyer Annou Xavier affirmed the court's request for a new expert report.

Appearing with Annou was lead counsel Lim Heng Seng.

9-year case

On May 11, 2008, the CDs titled "Cara Hidup Dalam Kerajaan Allah', 'Hidup Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah' and 'Ibadah Yang Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah", were seized from her, upon arrival at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Sepang.
The High Court had on July 21, 2014, ordered the return of the CDs to Jill Ireland but it did not make an order on the declaration she applied for, that she had the right to keep, use and import published materials containing the word "Allah".
On June 23, 2015, the Court of Appeal endorsed the High Court's decision which ordered the Home Ministry to return the eight CDs after dismissing the appeal by the ministry and the government against the High Court's decision.

The Court of Appeal ordered the Home Ministry to return all the CDs within a month from the date of the decision, and also ordered that the declaration sought by Jill Ireland be heard in the High Court.

Eventually, the CDs were returned last year, but she is proceeding with the judicial review application by seeking the declaratory relief to use materials containing the word "Allah" for religious and educational purposes.

What's in DOJ's third and latest bombshell?

Published     Updated

KINIGUIDE | With the latest batch of court filings, the US Department of Justice has raised the amount it seeks to recover from 1MDB-related misconduct to nearly US$1.7 billion (RM7.3 billion).

It claimed that the sum represents a portion of the over US$4.5 billion (RM19.3 billion) that were allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB, and then routed through the US financial system.

While Malaysians are still reeling from the shock of the DOJ bombshell, this instalment of KiniGuide will take a step back and see what the US law enforcement agency has in store in its third batch of 1MDB-related civil forfeiture suits.

Third batch of lawsuits? What did I miss?

The first batch of lawsuits was filed at the California Central District Court on July 20 last year.
There were 17 separate filings in total, with each seeking the civil forfeiture of a different asset. Each document - about 136 pages long - is nearly identical to one another, but is aimed at seizing a different asset.

In total, the aim was to seize about 20 assets including funds held in banks, shares, intellectual property, and a private jet, with a combined value of over US$1 billion.

At the time, the DOJ claimed that the amount embezzled from 1MDB was about US$3.5 billion, siphoned from the state investment fund in three phases from 2009 to 2013.

The second batch was a single complaint seeking to seize about US$100 million worth of real estate in London’s upmarket Mayfair district. It was filed on June 7 at the California Central District Court.
This time, the document is 144 pages long, but little had changed compared to the documents filed last year.

The document has an additional section describing how the properties were supposedly purchased using funds that were traceable to a misappropriation from 1MDB.

In addition, it dropped all mentions of the unnamed Saudi prince who supposedly remitted funds to a certain “Malaysian Official 1”, and all mentions of the prince was replaced with “Saudi Associate 1” and “Saudi Associate 2” (or collectively, the “Saudi Account”).

In an apparent move to correct a mix-up that led DOJ to identify the wrong painting for seizure, the new filing also named a different painting by the artist Claude Monet for seizure, and only the proceeds of the painting’s sale rather than the painting itself.

Alright, so what’s new this time?

The latest filing was lodged at the California Central District Court on June 15, comprising a total of 12 lawsuits seeking the forfeiture of an additional US$540 million in money and assets. They were about 251 pages long.

This time, the DOJ claimed that US$4.5 billion had been misappropriated from 1MDB, and detailed how about US$850 million was siphoned out of a loan meant for 1MDB in a so-called “Option Buyback” phase between July and November 2014.

This is in addition to the three phases that DOJ has already described in previous filings.

Among others, the DOJ claimed that the money from the “Option Buyback” was used to buy high-end jewellery for various people, and to partially pay for the tycoon Low Taek Jho’s superyacht Equanimity.

It also claimed that the donations that Malaysian Official 1 supposedly returned to a Saudi prince (now “Saudi Account”) had been used to purchase jewellery for Malaysian Official 1’s wife, including a necklace featuring a 22-carat pink diamond pendant.

Why is the US doing this?

The civil forfeiture suits are part of the DOJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative (Kari), and the sheer size of the 1MDB-related lawsuits represent the largest action under the initiative.

Through various public statements, the DOJ claimed that the initiative seeks to combat foreign official corruption by seizing the alleged proceeds of such misconduct and return it to its supposed victim.

It also seeks to deter the use of the US financial system for money laundering activities by seizing the suspected proceeds of foreign corruption.

You can read more about Kari and the July 20 lawsuits in the previous KiniGuide: “A spicy 'Kari' and a US$1 billion suit”.

As the investigation is on-going, expect the DOJ to release further information as and when it has found additional evidence of wrongdoing.

What has been the response to the latest suit?

Low, better known by his moniker Jho Low, reportedly dismissed DOJ’s actions as "a further example of global overreach in pursuit of a deeply flawed case".

“The US Department of Justice's latest move continues its inappropriate efforts to seize assets despite not having proven that any improprieties have occurred,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

1MDB pointed out (correctly) that DOJ’s lawsuits did not contain any documentary proof or witness statements to support its allegations.

Attorney-general Mohd Apandi Ali maintained that Malaysian authorities found no wrongdoing related to 1MDB as alleged by the DOJ.

"We also note that there has been no evidence from any investigation conducted by any law enforcement agency in various jurisdictions that show that money has been misappropriated from 1MDB; and that there have been no criminal charges against any individual for misappropriation of funds from 1MDB,” he added.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s aide Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad rued DOJ’s “unnecessary and gratuitous naming of certain matters and individuals”, which he said is only relevant for “domestic political manipulation and interference”.

“This suggests a motivation that goes beyond the objective of seizing assets,” he said, adding that the US did not seek any cooperation from the Malaysian government or 1MDB for investigation.

Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor urged Malaysians not to believe in slander that was deliberately spread to engineer “the downfall of a leader, organisation, or a country”.

Her lawyers said they had been instructed to “closely monitoring all postings appearing on any social media platforms and other forms of publications in relation to false and malicious attacks” against Rosmah, and warned that those who had done so would face legal action.
This is in response to insinuations that Najib is the Malaysian Official 1 mentioned in the DOJ documents. Najib and Rosmah had consistently denied wrongdoing.
Despite the outcry, the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur said it has yet to receive any correspondence from Putrajaya on the matter. Malaysiakini understands that the Foreign Ministry has no immediate plans to lodge a formal protest over DOJ’s actions.

Meanwhile, DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang called for the findings of the disbanded task force on 1MDB to be made public.

The electoral reform group Bersih called for Najib’s resignation.

Yesterday, Najib said there will be no more statements in relation to the DOJ's latest filing.

This instalment of KiniGuide is compiled by Koh Jun Lin.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Time for our learned brethren to get a grip on things

June 18, 2017

It is an unfair, erroneous and insulting assumption that Muslims in this country must forever feel insecure and suspicious of those of other faiths.
Hannah-YeohBy Azrul Mohd Khalib

The views of the Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (Centhra) CEO Azril Mohd Amin in his Utusan Malaysia essay and those of Institut Kajian Strategi Islam Malaysia (IKSIM) Fellow, Dr Kamarul Zaman in his recent remarks regarding Hannah Yeoh’s book are unfortunately not new or alien to us here in Malaysia, especially if you are from the Malay Muslim community.

We have heard all these assertions before, some of us, from primary school to adulthood.

These views highlight and again bring to the forefront two main problems: their ignorance and lack of knowledge of Christianity and the Christian community in Malaysia in general, and the need for organisations such as Centhra and IKSIM to continuously find bogeymen to feed into the irrational fear and paranoia which they keep alive among those of the Islamic faith.

It must be hard going to sleep at night for these self-anointed champions. They see bogeymen and enemies everywhere. There are just so many things for them to be afraid of.

It is an unfair, erroneous and frankly, insulting assumption by this lot that Muslims in this country (who are the majority) have faith which is somehow forever vulnerable, timid and fragile. That the Muslim community must forever feel insecure, afraid and suspicious of those of other faiths in the belief that the latter are out to get you.

Such arguments often hinge on fear, bigotry and compulsion instead of reason, understanding and discussion. One such example is Azril’s essay.

Suggesting the introduction and use of anti-evangelicalism laws, and looking at Russia’s Yarovaya Act as a role model, is hateful and fuels suspicion, mistrust and hostility towards the Christian community, and to evangelical Christians in particular.

Every citizen has the right to profess and practise his or her religion, without being restricted or denied by the State. What guarantees this right? Last I checked, it was the Federal Constitution.

Deputy Home Minister  Nur Jazlan Muhammed is correct in saying that such a move would also be counterproductive, even harmful. His recommendation for dialogue between Muslims and Christians as the way forward to end interfaith suspicions should be taken seriously by all parties.

Nur Jazlan’s suggestion of the establishment of a faith protocol based on individual choice would also be ground-breaking and would go a long way towards healing relations and restoring inter-religious harmony.

Malaysians have had enough of wild and unsubstantiated accusations and paranoia which have, in the past, resulted in mobs, threats, physical violence, cancelled worship events, raids by religious authorities and banning of holy books.

Speaking of wild accusations and paranoia, Azril has urged the government “to take action before disaster strikes”. What does he mean by that? What is he implying and hoping to achieve with such fear-mongering?

Over the past ten years we have seen and heard again and again the hysterical and irrational accusations of proselytization to and conversions of Muslims from individuals and organisations who are self-anointed and self-appointed champions and defenders of the faith. Now, we hear them again.

They appear to be increasingly unrestrained and unconcerned in their zealousness to be seen to protect the faithful from all threats, real, perceived or imagined. What has become particularly strident is the call to protect their faith from another faith. Listen to what Dr Kamarul had to say about Hannah Yeohs book.

Muslims in other countries are busy making Islam accessible, friendly and inclusive. In Malaysia, those holding learned positions of knowledge and authority who should know better are sounding arrogant, irrational, suspicious and disdainful of other religions. They are sowing suspicion, fear and even hatred which have manifested themselves in recent ugly incidences. They increasingly demand exclusivity over practices, concepts and even words (e.g. the word puasa can only be used by Muslims).

Exclusivity results in misunderstanding, ignorance, conflict, bigotry and irrational fear. It breeds contempt for others and arrogance.

Something has gone wrong with the practice and teaching of Islam in this country.

I would argue that these individuals and organisations are actually the ones who are actively threatening Malaysia’s peace and harmony.

To Centhra and IKSIM, I recommend that you go and learn a bit more about Christianity from our Christian sisters and brothers. Find the humility and courage to visit a few churches and congregations, talk to their clergy and community leaders, and serve in their soup kitchens and outreach programmes.

After all, Islam encourages its faithful to seek knowledge as it is one of the great acts of worship which leads to the path of righteousness and paradise.

We often hear the stern rebuke to shut up, especially when a person is neither of the religion or if they are, presumed to be insufficiently learned and knowledgeable.

Perhaps if Centhra and IKSIM are not willing to learn then they too should stop shooting their mouths off, since they are not from that faith or knowledgeable. As it is, they are embarrassing themselves and fellow Malaysians.

Azrul Mohd Khalib is a spokesperson for Bebas.

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 personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.

~ Free Malaysia Today