Tuesday, January 30, 2018


29 JANUARY 2018

I welcome the decision of the Federal Court in the Indira Gandhi case as a long-awaited judicious and rational judgment backed by sound reasoning. It is a breath of fresh air after a long and arduous struggle for Indira Gandhi. In fact, reading the summary of the judgment, one’s response at every point is ‘yes, but of course’ and we wonder why Indira Gandhi and her family had to be put through the agony of the long court proceedings in the first place.

On the first question, the decision of the Court that the judicial power vested exclusively in the civil High Courts under Article 121(1) of the Federal Constitution may not be removed from the High Courts and that features in the basic structure of the Constitution cannot be abrogated by Parliament by way of constitutional amendment is a most crucial point as it addresses the dilemma of many in those states where there is no express provision in the Syariah Ordinance to decide on certain matters and the High Courts have shown reluctance to make those decisions, citing jurisdictional concerns.  With this authoritative statement, there should be no more doubt that judicial power lies firmly in the civil courts. The Court here has made it clear that where one party is a non-Muslim, the Syariah Court cannot extend its own jurisdiction over that person and the proper forum is the Civil Courts. That is the rational and correct stand.

Although the Court in this case was deciding on the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004, the principles elucidated in this case apply to all State Syariah enactments.

The Sarawak legislature must take note of the statement that ‘the State must claim ownership over the matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the syariah courts by providing for it expressly in its legislation’ otherwise the syariah courts are excluded from deciding on matters which fall within Item 1 of the State List in the Federal Constitution. There must be express and clear provisions in the State enactment.

The Federal Court’s declaration that inserting clause (1A) in Article 121 [that the High Courts shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts] DOES NOT oust the jurisdiction of the civil courts NOR DOES IT confer judicial power on the Syariah Courts is significant beyond the confines of conversion cases (Emphasis mine). The Court is in fact declaring that the Civil Courts have supremacy over Syariah courts, and their judicial power cannot be constrained by Parliament.  The Federal Constitution is supreme, the power of the Civil Courts is unshakable, and that supports our stand that Malaysia is a secular country.

On the issue of conversion of a minor, the judges have taken the reasonable approach, ie the purposive interpretation of Article 12(4) and the requirement to safeguard the welfare of the child. The Court has declared that the fact of conversion does not deprive the child of the protection of the Guardianship of Infants Act, ie it ‘does not alter the antecedent legal position’. The correct position has been stated, ie that the consent of both parents is required for a minor to be converted to Islam.

This unanimous decision by the 5-member Federal Court is indeed a landmark case in Malaysia. It is a clear and cogent judgment that will hopefully put an end to cases of unilateral conversions of minors. It is also a badly needed definitive statement on the limits of the powers and the jurisdiction of the Syariah Courts.

I add my voice to that of Indira Gandhi’s lawyer M Kulasegaran that the Federal Court had the courage and moral conviction to do what Parliament lacked the testicular fortitude to carry out. It gives us new hope that the minority communities still have recourse to the courts even when their government fails them. However it remains to be seen whether the IGP will now be as equally courageous as the Federal Court judges to finally arrest the ex-husband of Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi deserves more than a victory on paper.

Baru Bian

Monday, January 29, 2018

Apex court rules in favour of Indira Gandhi in unilateral conversion case

Published:      Modified: 

The Federal Court today ruled that the definition of "parent" should be plural, in its verdict in the unilateral conversion case involving the children of M Indira Gandhi and her ex-husband Ridhuan Abdullah. 
This is a departure from the 2007 verdict in the case of R Subashini vs T Saravanan, which saw the Hindu wife instructed to seek recourse through the Syariah Appeals Court with regards to her Muslim convert husband converting their children to Islam without her consent.
Court of Appeal president Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, who led the bench, said the decision was unanimous, and stressed that although unilateral conversion is a contentious issue, today's decision was not swayed by religious convictions.
Federal Court judge Justice Zainun Ali, who read the 99-page unanimous decision, ruled that the civil court has jurisdiction to review the actions of the Registrar of Muallafs, which is one of the respondents, if there is illegality.
Three questions of law were posed to the court:
1) Whether the High Court has exclusive jurisdiction, pursuant to Sections 23, 24 and 25 and the Schedule of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (read together with Order 53 of the Rules of Court 2012) and/or its inherent jurisdiction to review the actions of the Registrar of Muallaf or his delegate acting as the public authority in exercising statutory powers vested by the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004;
image: https://i.malaysiakini.com/654/022363628179af67a52015c9d01b16f6.gif
2) Whether a child of a marriage registered under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, who has not attained the age of 18 years, must comply with both Sections 96 (1) and 106 (b) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004 (or similar provisions to state laws throughout the country), before the Registrar of Muallaf or his delegate may register the conversion to Islam of that child; and,
3) Whether the mother and father (if both are still surviving) of a child of a civil marriage must consent before a certificate of conversion to Islam can be issued in respect of the child.
The court answered all three questions in the affirmative, and ruled that the Registrar of Muallafs has no right to register a child if he or she does not recite the Islamic affirmation of faith, the kalimah syahadah.
Thus, the court ruled that the permission of both parents is needed in changing the faith of the child, and in doing so, set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal. 
[More to follow]

Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/410360#x0TZ2M4tfDQFHCRd.99

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Policy on schooling for stateless children worries Suhakam

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Putrajaya's decision to allow only stateless children with pending citizenship applications to enrol in public schools will deprive many, said the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam).

Suhakam chairperson Razali Ismail said this meant that stateless, undocumented and refugee children would have no access to public education and be on equal footing with other children.

"Suhakam has received and continues to receive many complaints from families of children who have been denied public education.

"Suhakam is of the view that it is unacceptable that a distinction of their right be made on the basis of their citizenship status," Razali (photo) said in a statement today.

Pointing to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Razali said all children, regardless of their citizenship status, have a right to access free and compulsory primary education.

This was also in line with Putrajaya's commitment to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to not leave anyone behind.

In view of this, Suhakam urged Parliament to enact laws to ensure that all children have a right to receive public education.

Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/409855#W1GxZ2Urru4ty63r.99

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

How the EC infected our electoral system

Published:     Modified:

COMMENT | Article 114 of the Federal Constitution requires the appointment of an Election Commission (EC) which enjoys public confidence. After all, the EC is the constitutional body tasked with managing the all-important electoral system in Malaysia.

However, if the actions of the EC in 2017 are anything to go by, the EC has inspired zero public confidence and has failed in its duty to administer elections in Malaysia.

One would think that as a public entity set up and empowered by the highest law of the nation, the EC would act in the public interest with the highest standard of integrity, competence, and impartiality.

On the contrary, the EC has taken various actions and decisions in 2017 which made the electoral system worse. This article summarises eight of such regressive actions.

Bulldozing the redelineation process

The EC started the redelineation process for Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia in September 2016. Instead of correcting the severe malapportionment and gerrymandering in the existing electoral boundaries, the EC took steps to make it worse by creating more super-sized constituencies.

In March 2017, the EC forcefully proceeded with the second display of their proposed redelineation, despite the Selangor government obtaining a stay order against it from the courts, pending the disposal of their judicial review challenge. For the first time in history, Selangor was excluded from the second redelineation display.

In December 2017, the Selangor case was unfortunately dismissed. The EC wasted no time and rushed out the notice of local enquiry within two days. The local enquiries were held during the festive period when many objectors were away.

It is clear that the EC is hellbent on bulldozing through the redelineation before the upcoming general elections. This is highly improper as the EC has up till September 2018 to complete the exercise.

Various analysis by researchers have shown that the redelineation would swing 15-20 seats in favour of the ruling coalition.

Seven other court cases were also filed in other states in 2017 to challenge the unconstitutional redelineation.

Instead of being accountable for the allegations of malapportionment and gerrymandering, the EC and Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) skirted around the issue and relied on weak legal arguments – that the proposed recommendations are not legally binding and therefore should not be reviewed by the courts.

Destruction of voter records

In a shocking revelation during the course of the Selangor’s redelineation legal case, the EC admitted that they have no records of the 136,272 voters without addresses in Selangor because the documents have been destroyed.

Similarly, there are 44,190 voters without addresses in Melaka and 56,323 in Perak.

A voter’s address is a crucial record because it is the basis on which he or she is assigned to voting constituencies. The EC also needs the address to communicate with voters or to conduct corrections on the electoral roll.

These again raise age-old questions on the integrity of the electoral roll. Voters without addresses could very well be phantom voters who are illegally registered in large numbers in order to sway election results.

Abetting registration and transferring of phantom voters

In 2017, civil society and political parties continued to expose numerous cases of phantom voters being transferred and registered. Among others, these took place in Bukit Katil (Melaka), Kluang (Johor), Sekinchan (Selangor), Hutan Melintang (Perak), Wangsa Maju (Kuala Lumpur), Lembah Pantai (Kuala Lumpur) and Nibong Tebal (Penang).

All of these cases have one thing in common: they are done in marginal constituencies in a deliberate and coordinated manner in an attempt to sway electoral results.

In the case of Sekinchan for example, Umno’s Sungai Besar division chief Jamal Yunos openly claimed that he had 'discovered' 7,000 new voters in the Sekinchan state seat and will 'move the voters using all methods possible even though it will cost us millions'.

What has the EC done to prevent and resolve the issue? Nothing. It has allowed it to take place unhindered although they are empowered by the law to inspect, stop and clean up the electoral roll.

Refusal to provide a soft copy of the draft supplementary electoral roll

In previous years, the quarterly draft supplementary roll was provided to political parties. This allowed for analysis and detection of phantom voters and irregularities in new voter registration or transfers. Objections can then be filed if necessary.

In 2017, the EC arbitrarily decided to stop providing a soft copy of the supplementary electoral roll. Without it, no meaningful monitoring can be done.

It is physically impossible to inspect the draft rolls effectively for phantom voters because they are voluminous and only displayed physically in different areas.

Is the EC intentionally limiting information in order to hide and prevent further discoveries of phantom voters? Or is it just plain incompetent and uncooperative?

The EC did not give any reason for their decision to regress, except that they have no legal obligation to do so. This is embarrassing to say the least, coming from a constitutional body who is supposed to act in the public interest.

Expanding postal voter categories

Postal voting remains a key problem because of its lack of transparency and vulnerability for manipulation. For many years, civil society and political parties have demanded for postal voting to be abolished, but the EC did the total opposite last year.

In October and December 2017, the EC silently gazetted new categories of postal voters. Among others, the new categories are: civil service in the Prisons Department, Fire and Rescue Department, Police Volunteer Reserve, Immigration Department, and National Registration Department.

With such extensive expansion of categories, postal votes might very well be fraudulently used to tip the scales in many marginal constituencies.

On the other hand, the EC has denied the demands from Sabah and Sarawak voters residing in Peninsular Malaysia to vote as advanced voters without having to travel back.

Covert registration and transferring of military voters

There were also two abnormal incidences involving military voters last year.

Firstly, in the first quarter supplementary electoral roll for 2017, the EC and Ministry of Defence (Mindef) irregularly added 28,416 military voters and their spouses using Regulation 14 of the Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations.

Regulation 14 is a provision allowing voters who have applied to be registered to submit a correction claim to the EC if their names have been omitted from the supplementary electoral roll.

It is highly unlikely that the 28,416 military voters fall under this category.

Secondly, in the third quarter supplementary electoral roll for 2017, the EC allowed the transfer of 3,724 or army voters using three army camps that are still under construction and do not exist.

This is a clear violation of the Federal Constitution, which requires voters to be registered in constituencies which they are residing in.

These camps are 'coincidentally' located in three marginal constituencies (Segamat, Bera, and Bagan Datok) currently held by cabinet ministers – S Subramaniam, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and Zahid Hamidi.

Voter registration

By the EC’s own admission, there were 4.2 million unregistered voters at the start of 2017, constituting more than 20 percent of the total eligible voters in Malaysia.

The EC has done nothing to make it more convenient for voters to register. Instead, things are made worse by withdrawing the appointment of Assistant Registrar Officers (ARO) from political parties.

Various NGOs and political parties have had to shoulder the ineffectiveness of the EC by organising their own voter registration campaigns. And yet, the EC made things more difficult by limiting access to voter registration forms to their own AROs.

The EC should save everyone the trouble by instituting automatic voter registration. This can easily be done by synchronising the electoral roll with the National Registration Department’s database, which the EC is already doing with regards to removing deceased voters and those who are no longer citizens from the electoral roll.

Zero engagement with stakeholders

Perhaps, the biggest failure and arrogance of the EC is their reluctance to engage meaningfully with any stakeholders.

Political parties and NGOs have submitted countless letters, memorandums, and even made numerous visits to the EC office, but the EC does not even have the courtesy to reply.

It seems that the only way for stakeholders to get a response from the EC is through their occasional media statements, or to sue them in court.

In September 2017, Kofi Annan Foundation and Suhakam organised a regional conference on democracy and elections.

While this high-level conference was attended by esteemed guests such as the former president of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the EC chose to be an embarrassment by not attending the conference or even sending a representative.

The EC, as a constitutional body, must have some sense of public duty and accountability. The minimum duty is to provide clarification and adequate information with regards to pertinent electoral issues, and yet they display arrogance by ignoring all stakeholders.

Electoral fraud is, therefore, happening even before elections.

So it is not surprising that Malaysia scored a 'very low' ranking of 144 out of 161 countries in the Electoral Integrity Project, a reputable independent academic study on electoral integrity worldwide based at the Harvard University and the University of Sydney.

What we seen in 2017 is the worsening of our electoral system, using old and new techniques alike. Electoral fraud and manipulation are already happening well before elections are held, and the EC is at the center of it all.

Despite the odds, the integrity of our electoral system is not something that Malaysians should give up on, especially when it has been a decade long struggle since the first Bersih rallypolling and counting agents in 2007.

What then can Malaysians do to protect and defend the integrity of our electoral system?

Firstly, Malaysians can reduce the effect of electoral fraud and manipulation by ensuring a high voter turnout. Malaysians must stand up against electoral fraud by voting and ensuring that their family members and friends do the same.

Secondly, Malaysians can volunteer as polling and counting agents (Pacas) in their constituencies. Adequate Pacas are needed at all polling stations to prevent outright fraud during polling day.

Beyond that, Malaysians should also volunteer with Pemantau, an election observation campaign launched by Bersih 2.0.

Many electoral fraud and offences such as bribery and political violence happen before polling day. Pemantau (election observers) are therefore also needed to ensure a clean and fair environment during the campaigning period. Registration as a Pemantau can be done here.

At the end of the day, if we cannot rely on the EC to run elections in a clean and fair manner, citizens must take it upon themselves to defend the integrity of our elections and democracy.

The writer is outreach officer, Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0).
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/409710#JfFAzJQgEoImSu9Q.99

Monday, January 22, 2018



PAKATAN HARAPAN, together with the People of Sarawak, needs to overturn the damages brought by the neglect, corruption, and bad governance of the past 55 years by the ruling Barisan Nasional Government.

Sarawak must reshape the direction of its future in accordance with the wishes of the Rakyat, for the Rakyat and built on the basis of our immutable rights enshrined within the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 (MA63) and the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

Our first duty is the removal of the current ruling Barisan Nasional Government and the formation of a new Federal Government by Pakatan Harapan.

This NEW DEAL FOR SARAWAK outlines the path towards the transformation of Sarawak. Our policies signal a new era of equality, opportunity, and possibilities drawing on the Agreement made in 1963 between us and the Federated States of Malaya, Sabah, and Singapore when together, we formed our nation MALAYSIA.

Our agenda, first and foremost, is to address and dismantle the TWO fundamental pillars that Barisan Nasional continues to employ to deceive Sarawakians and sustain its grip over Sarawak:



In this regard, we propose TWO restorative pillars to heal the festering wounds of 55 years in Malaysia, as follows:





1.1.1 Pakatan Harapan is committed to the Federation of Malaysia.
1.1.2 Sarawak was one of four territories with the Federated States of Malaya, Singapore, and North Borneo, which together formed Malaysia in 1963.
1.1.3 In 1976, the Barisan Nasional Government amended the Constitution and made Sabah and Sarawak the 12th and the 13th states.
1.1.4 Pakatan Harapan is committed to restoring Sarawak to its ORIGINAL STATUS within the context of the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 which we will revisit and review.

1.2.1 We will form a ROYAL COMMISSION to review various legislations that affect Sarawak’s IMMUTABLE RIGHTS to its natural resources, including but not limited to:


The trade control and licensing system of the Barisan Nasional Government encourages monopolies, cronyism, and rent-seeking. Controlled import permits on cars, rice, sugar, cement, and other commodities have artificially inflated the prices of these goods.

Pakatan Harapan is committed to devolving the power of trade and commerce to Sarawak, thereby ensuring fairer opportunities and more EQUITABLE TRADE POLICIES that will benefit consumers and create a better and more conducive business environment.

Under the Barisan Nasional Government, the Federal Government controls most revenues related to budgetary allocations for development and funds for the implementation of projects.

We are committed to fiscal decentralisation and shall devolve the power of taxation such that Sarawak shall retain 50% OF ALL TAX REVENUES COLLECTED IN SARAWAK.

In addition, Sarawak will receive 20% OIL AND GAS ROYALTIES OR VALUE EQUIVALENT from the Federal Government.

The Government of Sarawak shall use these funds to shoulder the fiscal responsibility of the Federal Government in EDUCATION and HEALTH. This shouldering of fiscal responsibility is to be accompanied and guided by good governance practices: a high quality of service delivery; competency; accountability; and transparency.


We shall ensure that TOP PRIORITY is given to competent and eligible Sarawakians for their employment and promotion in Federal Government departments and agencies in Sarawak.

We shall also promote MERITOCRATIC, EQUAL OPPORTUNITY POLICIES based on competency and eligibility in Sarawak, nonetheless aware that inequalities between ethnic groups are real and will need to be addressed equitably to ensure no group is left behind.


Under the Barisan Nasional Government, Sarawakian athletes are compelled to leave Sarawak to obtain further development to develop their abilities and potential for them to compete on an international scale.

We shall provide world-class coaching facilities in a SPORTS INSTITUTE in Sarawak to fully equip and harness the vast potential of young Sarawakians so that we can compete on the NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL STAGE.


Pakatan Harapan upholds the National Education Policy.

To improve service delivery of education for the benefit of the children and youth of Sarawak, we shall return DECISION RIGHTS in EDUCATION to Sarawak.

Based on the needs and demographics of Sarawakians, rural and urban students alike, we shall implement the following:

2.5.1 Parents shall be given the FREE CHOICE to have their children educated in BAHASA MELAYU, ENGLISH, OR MANDARIN in schools offering these language options as the medium of instruction. We shall allocate official budgetary support from public funds for this purpose.
2.5.2 LOCALISE SYLLABI reflecting local languages, local history, local politics, and local geography.
2.5.3 REVIEW STAFFING AND ADMINISTRATIVE POLICIES, allowing teachers to focus on teaching in the classroom and not overly burdened by administrative requirements.
2.5.4 Set up faculties in universities for the study and development of all NATIVE LANGUAGES OF SARAWAK, INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE OF SARAWAK, SARAWAK HISTORY, AND ANTHROPOLOGY.
2.5.5 Make available state EDUCATION GRANTS based on merit for financially challenged students and youths who wish to pursue tertiary education both locally and overseas.


The over-centralised healthcare system has not catered to the different health needs and demographics of Sarawakians. The centralised procurement system in the form of the middle-man has also significantly increased the cost of healthcare and medicines. Therefore, we shall execute the following:

2.6.1 Return DECISION RIGHTS in HEALTH to Sarawak.
2.6.2 Encourage OPEN COMPETITION in the procurement process of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, as well as the supply of services.
2.6.3 Improve and upgrade the quality of all general hospitals in Sarawak and equip them with CANCER AND HEART CENTRES.
2.6.4 Ensure adequate resident doctors in all rural and district hospitals and improve rural clinics with UPGRADED FACILITIES, PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL SERVICES, AND MEDICINES.


With fiscal decentralisation, we will use additional revenues to bolster social welfare to expedite welfare benefits and enhance the social security network for all Sarawakians in times of need. The aim is to make EVERY SARAWAKIAN FEEL SECURE under the NEW DEAL FOR SARAWAK.


Under the Barisan Nasional Government regime, corruption at Federal level and at the current State level has been the main reason why so many Sarawakians are still deprived of basic development infrastructure like bridges, roads, electricity, and treated water supply. Substantial amounts of development allocations have been diverted to enrich Barisan Nasional cronies.
Pakatan Harapan is therefore committed to:

2.8.1 Speed up the supply of TREATED WATER and ELECTRICITY TO ALL HOMES, both sub-urban and rural.
2.8.2 Construct inland highways and ROADS CONNECTING RURAL NATIVE HEARTLANDS to enhance native land value and CATALYSE ECONOMIC GROWTH in the interior.
2.8.3 Commission a study on a TRANS-BORNEO RAILWAY SYSTEM connecting all major towns and cities in Sabah and Sarawak.
2.8.4 Set up an INDEPENDENT SUPERVISORY BODY (SARACAT – Sarawak’s Select Committee on Competency, Accountability and Transparency) to ensure that every Ringgit of allocation is genuinely utilised for development purposes that will benefit the Rakyat.


The present company PETROS set up by the Barisan Nasional State Government is merely a sub-contractor of PETRONAS, hopeful to receive some distribution and sub-contract works from PETRONAS.

2.9.1 We shall set up an EQUIVALENT OF PETRONAS in Sarawak called SARAWAK PETROGAS to be wholly owned by the Government of Sarawak.
2.9.3 SARAWAK PETROGAS shall be directly answerable to the SARAWAK LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY.
2.9.4 We shall set up a SARAWAK WEALTH FUND funded by all revenues from SARAWAK PETROGAS for the well-being of all Sarawakians. The Sarawak Wealth Fund shall also be directly answerable to the SARAWAK LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY.


There is a need to fully develop the tourism potential of Sarawak’s culture, heritage, and natural products.

We will ENGAGE ALL STAKEHOLDERS in the local tourism industry to further DEVELOP CURRENT TOURISM PRODUCTS such as tourist attractions, heritage sites, national parks, and CREATE NEW PRODUCTS, especially in the hospitality and food & beverage industry.

We shall also prioritise a robust development of civil infrastructure to create tourist-friendly ACCESS TO THESE TOURISM PRODUCTS, especially in the rural regions where our diverse cultures, cuisines and natural beauty are found and thrive.


The Pakatan Harapan NEW DEAL PART THREE will be launched at the appropriate time.

PH Sarawak manifesto promises many benefits to Sarawakians

January 22, 2018, Monday

SIBU: Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak has released its ‘Manifesto Part II’. The eight-page document, themed ‘A New Deal for Sarawak’, promises lots of benefits to Sarawakians should the PH win in the 14th general election (GE14).

In reading out the manifesto yesterday, PH Sarawak secretary Alan Ling Sie Kiong said the ‘New Deal for Sarawak’ outlined the path towards the transformation of Sarawak.

He said the PH agenda, first and foremost, would be to address and dismantle the two fundamental pillars that BN had continued to employ in deceiving Sarawakians and sustaining its grip over Sarawak – the stripping of territorial integrity and the abrogation of powers.

“In this regard, we propose two restorative pillars to heal the festering wounds of 55 years in Malaysia; that is, the restoration of territorial integrity and the devolution of powers,” he said at the inaugural PH Convention here yesterday.

The devolution of powers would cover areas including trade and commerce, fiscal decentralisation (taxation and public revenues), ‘Borneonisation’ of the civil service and a competent Sarawak, sports, education, health, social security, civil infrastructure development, natural resources (oil and gas) and tourism.

On education, Ling said PH would uphold the National Education Policy.

“To improve service delivery of education for the benefit of the children and youths in Sarawak, we shall return the decision rights in education to Sarawak.”

He said based on the needs and demographics of Sarawakians, the new policies would be implemented to benefit both rural and urban students alike.

In the health system, Ling said PH would encourage open competition on the procurement process of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, as well as the supply services.

“We will also improve and upgrade all hospitals in Sarawak and equip them with cancer and heart centres.” Ling said PH would also ensure adequate resident doctors in all rural and district hospitals and also improve clinics with upgraded facilities, professional medical services and medicines.

~ Borneo Post

Vote against bribery and corruption

KJ John

ONE clear but obvious concern for most Malaysian Christians is the “agenda of backdoor Islamisation by PAS”.

Malaysia, from its inception, has been a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-cultural society defined by a Federal Constitution which amplifies and clarifies our rules of law and due processes.

Therefore, and thereby, we were, and must only always be understood as a secular country. No particular or specific religious values can consequently be used to define public space morality.

Premised upon the secular interpretation of our foundation points within the Constitution, it is untenable that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s RUU34 can even be tabled in Parliament. Therefore, a good friend of mine and son of a former Deputy Prime Minister, Tawfik Ismail, has gone to Court over this wrong-doing.

From the word go, it contradicts the Federal Constitution on many counts. Most importantly, and rather unfortunately, the current draft will only muddy the clarity even further, raising the topic into a federal jurisdictional matter. Our constitution clearly states that Islam is only a 9-States matter, under Schedule II of Federal Constitution.

RUU355 would then become license for extreme PAS-UMNO alliance of conservative-types to push for what becomes new federal Islamic rules or guidelines for enforcement into the public and common spaces.

Actually, when I worked at Mimos Berhad some Muslim fanatics complained about one of the stalls at the canteen where a banana leaf food variety was served was ‘haram’ because “tangan yang masaknya bukan halal!”. To his credit the CEO and then President put a stop to all such nonsense.

Personal versus public spaces

If, any individual mufti or ulamak, can unilaterally declare a simple but innocent public space procedure or method, whether it is right or wrong theologically; are we not becoming a framework for much cultural and interpretive conflict?

Are there not already simple but clear rules within all Local Councils for how “common food” can be served in public places; within previously defined limitations?

Do we really need JAKIM-appointed Ulamak or Muftis to weigh in on all matters of Local Council Administrations without due regard to specific public space concerns already being regulated by all 145 Local Authorities; to become a federal matter?

Is this not exactly where our public administration has gone sadly wrong? For example, why would any Malay-Muslim Community object to any other Congregation Hall being established in any locality, when there is no issue of noise or external disturbance generated by such groups, or if no specific bylaws are being violated? Does that view not smell of Wahhabism?

Therefore, I am calling parties in the 14th General Election to pause and decide what is really good, true, and right for all Malaysians in all matters of life without cherry picking. The concept of secular space in all Public Administration simply remains that; no sectarian or particular values will be imposed on non-believing others. That is one current cardinal rule of our Local Governance.

Universal Islamic values in Malaysia

PAS, to be fair, has always stood for their interpretation of Islamic values and would argue that their  values are still universal but never limited to personal spaces. No one can really publicly contend that. It is their right of belief but I would call it their particular and one interpretive worldview.

But it did become problematic in Malaysia, after Anwar Ibrahim joined Umno and began on such a specific Islamic Agenda within his then-Umno government days in the early 80s. For that matter, even former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is equally guilty of declaring Malaysia an Islamic Country; even if he did not use their concept of an Islamic State.

But the not so well known fact is that Dr Mahathir knowingly brought Anwar into Umno to grow and nurture the explicit agenda of good and right Islamic Values into the Administration of our Governance in Malaysia.

Such history cannot be denied but needs to also be correctly understood and recorded. In fact, I was at INTAN then, and I clearly remember my Director asking me to join the Islamic Values Committee chaired by a PAS-friendly colleague; to ensure only common and agreeable ethics and values be included into our common spaces.

Neither will I deny that Malaysia is a country based with a majority of Muslims and therefore we need to give and make concessions. For example, the “Call to Prayer” can be made publicly, unlike in the recent Supreme Court decision of India. Nevertheless, the level of noise incurred is always a matter of local governance jurisprudence.

Notwithstanding all of the above, to my mind and heart, I cannot accept a kind of Islam which ignores “other religious communities” and unilaterally decides to “preach their sermons over the loud speaker at every early morning prayer time.” That in fact is offensive and must be stopped.

Corrupt culture and values

Bribery and corruption happens when self-interest trumps interests of others.

When any individual, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, or Malaysian or American, prioritises personal interest over public interests, a culture of corruption will emerge. No religion promotes such corruption of human values of right and wrong, but when it happens, even in Muslim and non-Muslim societies; it is categorically wrong.

Therefore, let us not pretend that any one of us has a sermon to deliver on how to avoid corruption.
But we can be sure that to tackle it, we all need to have a similar understanding about facts, shapes and colours of corruption. Unless, we take this bull by the horns, and include both Dr Mahathir and Anwar into every calculus, we cannot rid our country of current culture of bribery and corruption.

To my mind and heart, it is better for us to claim to be a corruption-free nation than to claim to be an Islamic Society, but one rife with corruption. Let us learn from Singapore. You see, at the end of the day, in all societies and cultures, the true test of any religion is measured by human action and not just spoken words.

The task before all Malaysians in the GE 14 therefore is to speak our truth in love to all our neighbours and to argue that we must give Pakatan Harapan one chance to govern, and then demand that they bring in the kind and quality of changes which are imperative.

Surely we cannot claim we were not part of the problem, while quietly colluding with the system in the past. Change we can; and change we must, but, we must become the change we want to be, as Gandhi put is so well! May God bless Malaysia in GE14. – January 22, 2017.

* KJ John worked in public service for 32 years, retired, and started an NGO for which he is Chairman of the Board. He writes to inform and educate, arguing for integration with integrity in Malaysia. He believes such a transformation has to start with the mind before it sinks into the heart!
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.

~ The Malaysian Insight

Vote Dr Mahathir if you want change, says law don

Low Han Shaun Vote Dr Mahathir if you want change, says law don Universiti Malaya law lecturer Dr Azmi Sharom says he does not like Dr Mahathir Mohamad but will still vote for him. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Kamal Ariffin, January 21, 2018.

VOTE for Dr Mahathir Mohamad not because you like him, but because you want a change, said Azmi Sharom.

The associate law professor from Universiti Malaya told a forum today he understood why Malaysians were cynical when it came to putting a former Umno man back in power.

“I am not saying not to vote for the opposition, I am not saying they made a mistake in choosing Dr Mahathir, but I am still going to vote for them, because if you want change, you cannot have the current government,” he said after the “Post 1MDB and Malaysia: what future can we have”, forum in Kuala Lumpur today.

Azmi was invited with former Bersih chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan and Dr Wong Chin Huat from the Penang Institute to voice their thoughts on the future.

“If you want to vote for the government then of course it is your right, but if you want change then you have no choice, no matter what you (or I) might think of Dr Mahathir,” Azmi said.

Recalling the Indonesian elections of the late 1990s, Azmi said the Indonesians had voted for same party of the man (Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie) which they had kicked out.

“But now Indonesia is the only viable democracy in Southeast Asia. Their democracy survived … to make a first step to choose a government of their choice.

“We have never made that first step because we have never changed anything.

“So yes it is like swallowing glass, but what alternative do we have if we don’t swallow this? We are going to be stuck with the same old, same old.

“There is no reform at Barisan Nasional at all,” he said.

He added there needs to be a change in the educational system to not oppress future generations into submission.

“This is a key thing to move forward as a country, to have a population that is truly educated. To have universities that have complete academic freedom.

“Politicians are politicians and the only thing that keeps them in check are us,” he said.

The Forum was organised by Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM) as part of its 8th anniversary fund raising event. There were 200 guests.

GBM raised about RM266,000 which will be used to fund its programmes and operation for the next two years. – January 21, 2018.

~ The Malaysian Insight

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Research: Harapan can take Putrajaya in straight fight with BN

Published:     Modified:

With just a five-point swing in support, Pakatan Harapan can form the next federal government with just the winnings in Peninsular Malaysia alone, according to social media research firm Politweet.Org.

However, the firm said a slim margin of three seats - 112 seats are the minimum required - would not be enough to establish a stable government.

Due to this, a stronger swing of support and victories in Sabah and Sarawak would be crucial for the coalition.

Harapan, Politweet said, would need to target an additional 10 or more seats in East Malaysia but this could be a tall order.

“Given the performance of the opposition in the Sarawak state elections in 2016 and the current state of the opposition in Sabah, we can expect Harapan to face difficulty in winning 10 seats,” it added.

Meanwhile, Politweet said three-cornered fights involving PAS would benefit BN and for Harapan to overcome this hurdle, its parties - particularly Bersatu - must win over the ruling coalition's supporters.

“If Harapan is able to do this in three-corner fights, then the results of Scenario Three (a five-point swing to Harapan) can be achieved. This will lead to record victories for Harapan in Kedah and Johor, as well as control of the federal government,” it said.

Another hurdle that Harapan faces is the ongoing redelineation exercise, which is not modelled in Politweet’s simulation.

It said that if the redelineation is completed by the time the election takes place, BN’s odds in winning 10 more seats would improve.

The situation is even bleaker for Harapan if voter sentiments remain as they were in the 13th general election.

In this scenario, Harapan would only win between 76 to 83 seats in Peninsular Malaysia, compared to BN’s winnings of between 82 to 89 seats.

For comparison, the Pakatan Rakyat opposition had won 80 seats in Peninsular Malaysia during the 13th general election, while BN won 86 seats.

In Sabah and Sarawak, Pakatan Rakyat had won only nine seats during the election, compared to BN’s 47 seats.

Politweet said its simulations are based on data on voter demographics and results of the 12th and 13th general election at the polling stream level. This allows it to estimate each voter’s level of support for BN and opposition parties based on factors such as age, race, gender, the constituency involved, and whether it is an urban, semi-urban, or rural constituency, among other factors.

Each voter’s probability of turning up to vote is also estimated with this method.

The firm then ran 300 simulations for each of three different scenarios: If voter sentiment remains the same as the 13th general election, if each voter has a two-percentage-point swing in the probability of voting for the opposition, and if each voter has a five-percentage-point swing in probability in voting for the opposition.

The odds of BN or Harapan winning each constituency is then tallied based on how many times each coalition won the seat out of the 300 simulations.

However, the simulations are based on several assumptions that may not be true for the 14th general election.

It assumes straight fights between BN and a united opposition, and that there is no redelineation.

It also assumes that voter sentiment is unchanged and the 14th general election would see the same turnout rates as the 13th general election’s national average, which is 84.84 percent.
~ Malaysiakini

Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/408824#jqcM3AR5oplltMDw.99

Pastor Koh's family shocked by suspension of inquiry

image: https://i.malaysiakini.com/1205/99fc4d5d1e6f9d1977101b4fc358eea7.jpeg

Published:     Modified:

SUHAKAM INQUIRY | Pastor Raymond Koh's family is shocked by the abrupt suspension of an ongoing Suhakam inquiry into his disappearance.

"It is shocking to us as the family, for we had no idea this was going to happen.

"Our hope when we came to Suhakam was to find some answers to the many questions we had about his abduction," his wife Susana Liew (left in photo) told reporters after the decision was announced by Suhakam inquiry panel chairperson Mah Weng Kwai at the commission's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

The inquiry was suspended this afternoon, after it was revealed that a man was charged yesterday in connection with the pastor's abduction.

Liew, who was accompanied by her children and lawyers, described the suspension as a denial of their right to seek the truth.

"We hoped that there would be justice... but I am afraid that today this hope has been crushed," she added.

The inquiry had commenced on Oct 19 last year.

Koh's family lawyer, Gurdial Singh Nijhar, meanwhile, questioned the move by the police to charge someone whom they previously stated was not involved in the kidnapping.

In particular, Gurdial referred to comments made by Selangor Criminal Investigation Department chief Fadzil Ahmat, that Uber driver Lam Chang Nam, who was charged under Section 365 of the Penal Code for alleged kidnapping, 'had nothing to do with the case'.

"Fadzil, who was the eleventh witness in the inquiry, had publicly declared that Lam had nothing to do with kidnapping Pastor Koh.

"Fadzil, who also heads the task force looking into the abduction of Koh, had said in March last year that their investigations showed that Lam was not involved in the abduction," he said.

Gurdial (photo) quoted Fadzil's comments reported on March 14 last year, one day before Lam claimed trial to the charge of allegedly extorting RM30,000 from Jonathan Koh Szu Hao, 33 - who is Koh's son – over information related to Koh's disappearance.

"So the public might ask what is the game plan of the police at this late hour.

"It can be construed by the public that this is a deliberate attempt to derail the conclusion of this inquiry," Gurdial said.

Koh was abducted in Petaling Jaya on Feb 13. A video recording of the incident showed him being taken away by masked men, in broad daylight.

The inquiry is seeking to establish whether the disappearances of Koh, Amri Che Mat, Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Hilmy are tantamount to enforced disappearances as defined under the International Convention for Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICPPED).

Following Lam's second charge, Suhakam inquiry panel chairperson Mah Weng Kwai earlier today announced the suspension of its inquiry into the disappearance of pastor Koh until further notice.

"Given the circumstances and developments since yesterday, we have decided that we will immediately cease to do the inquiry until further notice," Mah said after holding a discussion with lawyers representing Koh's family and the Bar Council.

~ Malaysiakini

Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/408846#csHluuy8Jg8Sko5W.99

Friday, January 12, 2018

Judiciary muzzling Malaysian Bar, says president

Published:     Modified:
Malaysian Bar president George Varughese has described the change in format to only allow Chief Justice Md Raus Sharif to deliver his speech at the opening of the legal year tomorrow, as tantamount to muzzling the Bar.

Varughese, in his speech at the Bar Council dinner tonight in conjunction with the opening of the legal year, said the opening of the event to be held at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, has always involved three parties – the court, the Attorney- General’s Chambers and the Malaysian Bar.

“Since its inception in 2010, the legal year has always, in addition to the speech from the CJ, also included a speech from the attorney-general or his representative, and a speech from the president of the Malaysian Bar, as equal partners in the administration of justice.

“The president of the Malaysian Bar has traditionally used the occasion to reflect on significant events in relation to the rule of law and the administration of justice that have taken place over the preceding year and to speak about the visions and aspirations of the Bar for the new legal year,” he said...

Varughese said this year, however, the Bar was informed that at the legal year opening tomorrow, only Justice Raus (photo) will be giving a speech.

“This change in format - from three speeches to one speech - diminishes the involvement and role of the Bar in the legal year. Had we taken part, we would be little more than invited guests. This amounts to a muzzling of the Bar and raises the question of whether this change in format is a result of some concern about what the Bar would say,” he added.

“The Malaysian Bar has always acted and spoken without fear or favour, and as such, when asked to speak, we will endeavour to say what needs to be said.”

“In view of this change in format, the Bar Council after much deliberation decided to decline the invitation from the court to participate in the legal year 2018. We have notified the court of our decision and conveyed our hope that the format of next year's legal year, will once again include speeches by the AG or his or her representative, and the president of the Malaysian Bar,” said Varughese.

Malaysiakini reported on Wednesday on the change in format for the event which has raised concern and reported that office bearers of the Bar Council will decline invitation tomorrow.
Raus: Bar insists on questioning CJ extension

Justice Raus, in an exclusive interview with Utusan Malaysia today, explained the reason for the change in format arising from the Bar questioning his appointment and extension as CJ which they wanted to raise in tomorrow's speech.

“I think this is unwise for the Bar Council to raise the issue in such an event as they had brought (the issue of my extension) to court. I implore them (meminta jasa baik mereka) not to bring up the issue.

“They declined and I decided to change the format of this year's legal year,” he was quoted by Utusan, adding that the Bar's non-attendence would not affect the launch as traditions can change.

Questionable appointments
Varughese, in his speech, further questioned the appointments of Justice Raus and Court of Appeal president Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin beyond the constitutional retirement age of 66 years and six months.

He said the Bar took the unprecedented course of action to file the challenge to the office of the CJ and the president of the CoA as they are leaders of the judicial branch of the government, entrusted with the supreme duty of determining the constitutionality of laws passed by the legislature and the legality of decisions made by the executive.

“The unconstitutionality of the appointments calls into question any orders or judgments that may be made by panels consisting of both the CJ and the President of the CoA and this is the antithesis of their solemn oaths of office and allegiance in pledging to “bear true faith and allegiance to Malaysia, and […] preserve, protect and defend its Constitution”.

“The said unconstitutional appointments have resulted in a severe erosion of confidence of a large section of the public in the judiciary, and invite an adverse perception as to its independence and integrity.

“The vital nature of the roles and duties of the CJ and the president of the CoA under the Federal Constitution requires the circumstances of their appointments to be beyond any controversy,” he stated.

Varughese further listed out why Justice Raus and Justice Zulkefli's appointments are unconstitutional:
  • First, the former CJ is said to have advised, on March 30, 2017, on the eve of his retirement, that the current CJ and the current president of the CoA be appointed, purportedly as additional judges under Article 122(1A) of the Federal Constitution, when the latter two judges were still serving as judges;
  • Secondly, nothing in Article 122(1A) permits an outgoing CJ to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in respect to any appointment of additional judges that is to take effect after he has ceased to be the CJ. Otherwise, an outgoing CJ may, before his retirement, advise on the appointment of additional judges that would take effect when he is no longer the CJ, and furthermore, nothing in Article 122(1A) permits any advice of an outgoing CJ to be acted upon after his retirement;
  • Thirdly, that any such advice given by an outgoing CJ would also unconstitutionally encroach upon and usurp the duties and powers of the serving CJ, as the provision in Article 122(1A) should only be exercised by the serving CJ;
  • Fourthly, the current CJ and president of the CoA continue to hold the positions of CJ and president of the CoA, for a further three and two years respectively, beyond the constitutionally prescribed age limit; and,
  • Finally, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak acted unconstitutionally, in relying on an erroneous interpretation of the Constitution in advising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong that the current CJ and the current president of the CoA appointed purportedly as additional judges in the Federal Court, may continue to hold their positions beyond the constitutionally prescribed age limit.

Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/408374#yv7FePFjtuU4eKeu.99

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Baru hails former CM as ‘open, courteous leader’

Baru Bian

FOR Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian, he remembers Pehin Sri Adenan Satem as a leader who had always been courteous and open to the state elected representatives (ADUNs) from the opposition, even before he became chief minister.

“Shortly after he took office, the opposition ADUNs were welcomed by him when we made a courtesy call on him at his office — something that was unheard of during his predecessor’s time. I remember that Adenan was very receptive to our suggestions and ideas when we discussed issues of concern that were affecting the lives of Sarawakians.

“It was also a point of gratification for us that he was ready to recognise and acknowledge the sentiments of Sarawakians — the unhappiness we felt about lagging behind Peninsular Malaysia in terms of development and the failure of the Federal Government to honour the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), resulting in his initiation of the movement to pressure the federal government to devolve powers to the state in certain areas of concern,” Baru, who is Parti Keadilan Sarawak (PKR) chairman, said when asked to share his memories of Adenan.

Baru acknowledged that Adenan dared to ride on the opposition’s issues and to take them on as the state government’s issues, such as the call for an increase of the state’s petroleum royalty from five per cent to 20 per cent, and the affirmation of English as a second official language of Sarawak.

“He was not afraid to give his frank opinions and in many instances, he voiced out what we all thought about statements and proposals from the federal leaders. His liberal use of the word ‘stupid’ was groundbreaking — legendary in this respect.”

In the State Legislative Assembly (DUN), Baru said Adenan allowed the Barisan Nasional (BN) Backbenchers to speak their minds and as a result, many started to speak openly about the lack of development in their constituencies — indeed, they continue to do so.

“It’s a positive and progressive step towards a more mature and meaningful form of government, and the ‘liberation’ of the BN Backbenchers was further enhanced by Adenan’s frowning upon the attempted continuation of the fawning and obsequious tendencies carried over from the past administration.”

Baru said the passing of Adenan was a huge blow to Sarawakians because he had such high hopes for Sarawak, and he had many ideas which he was unable to see to fruition.

“For me, the biggest disappointment and regret was he did not manage to settle the NCR (native customary rights) land issue while he was in office.

“What a legacy he would have left for us had he done so. Our native communities are now facing even more difficulties and challenges in their struggle to defend their NCR land, and I am sure he would not have been happy about that.

“However, it is a comfort to note that in his final days, he showed his concern for the people by instructing and entrusting (Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi) Abang Johari (Tun Openg) to settle the matter. We hope that Abang Johari and his ministers would grant his (Adenan’s) last wish sooner rather than later.”

~ Borneo Post Online

Learn from Tok Nan — See

January 11, 2018, Thursday
In his three-year reign, he boldly inspired and set out to lead all of us to attain those goals. That is the legacy of the late ‘Tok Nan’. See Chee How, Batu Lintang assemblyman and PKR Sarawak vice-chairman

IT has been exactly one year since the  untimely passing of our beloved late-chief minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem and in his memory, let us reminisce on his meaningful govern over our State so that we may remind ourselves of the vision he had for our State and how that vision had moved all of our hearts deeply.

In a statement to The Borneo Post, Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How expressed his desire to remind the public of the goals and rights of Sarawak that Adenan had so fiercely fought for in his three-year tenure.

“Imagine… Sarawak enjoying full autonomy and sovereignty over her full territorial realm and bountiful resources as it was pledged by the founding fathers of Malaysia;

“Imagine… Sarawakians of all races living in peace and harmony, working and caring for one another;

“Imagine… Sarawakians being free to practice their faith, while respecting the religions of those around them;

“Imagine… Sarawakians free to determine the best education for their children so they may help inspire and beget a competitive, progressive and advanced future for Sarawak.

“Just imagine…” he mused.

In the statement, See – the state Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-chairman – detailed that as Sarawakians, we have always dreamt and aspired for these goals and promises to come to fruition, but for the most part, it has always just been a dream.

This, however, eventually changed as it took the person in the late Adenan to give us Sarawakians hope that Sarawak as the ‘promised land’ is not just a dream.

“In his three-year reign, he boldly inspired and set out to lead all of us to attain those goals. That is the legacy of the late ‘Tok Nan’.

“So on the anniversary for his unfortunate passing, it is appropriate for us to remember this fatherly statesman, to renew our commitment to continue the works and to achieve the goals because we love Sarawak as much as the late Tok Nan did,” See said.

But besides just reminding ourselves of the goals set forth by Adenan, See added that all of us regardless of what walks of life we come from should look towards Adenan as a role model.

“While his realm was short, he had set a benchmark for all Sarawakian political leaders to emulate, that all Sarawakians must stand together for the betterment of Sarawak.

“Because of his love for Sarawak, true and sincere to his belief of ‘Sarawak First’ and ‘Sarawakian First’, his leadership had led to the historical milestones of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly unanimously asserting petroleum justice, restoration of territorial integrity, autonomous rights and devolution of power.

“So, in memory of him, let us learn from the late former chief minister to treat all Sarawakians, allies and foes, with respect and candour, to earn the respect of others in our aspiration and pursuit to transform Sarawak into a competitive, progressive and advanced nation state.”

~ Borneo Post Online

Gas explosion triggers panic

Gas pipeline blast sends nearby residents scrambling for safety, several affected by gas leakage
Lawas District Officer Hussaini Hakim (fourth left) is briefed by representatives of Petronas, Fire and Rescue Department and local residents at the site of the gas leak. The blackened earth on the right indicates where the explosion occurred.

MIRI: A gas leak followed by an explosion at KP181 of the Sabah-Sarawak Gas Pipeline (SSGP) sent locals in Long Luping, Lawas scurrying to safety early yesterday.

The leak in the pipeline also triggered an immediate evacuation of some 80 pupils from nearby SK Long Luping.

Sixty-one-year-old Martin Singa and his wife, who live just 500 metres from the site, were left with breathing difficulties as well as eye and throat irritation caused by the leaked gas from the pipeline.

Martin, who was taking his wife to a clinic in Long Semadoh for treatment when contacted by The Borneo Post, said he was the first to know about the leakage.

“I smelled the gas around 1.30am before hearing a loud explosion. The sound was so loud – like a plane had crashed.

“I immediately knew something was not right and my wife and I drove our car to the main road to safety,” he said, adding his wife’s condition was more serious than his as she had breathing difficulties and blurred vision.

“We were in a state of panic, but managed to drive to the school (SK Long Luping) about three kilometres away to inform them about the gas leak, prompting the school to evacuate its pupils.”

Martin said as there was no telephone reception in the area, he used amateur radio to make an emergency communication around 1.45am.

“I called them via the (amateur) radio and thankfully, someone from Ba Kelalan responded to the call. 
He forwarded my message to the police station in Lawas to get the valves shut down,” he said.

Another local, Peter Dison, 36, who works at a logging camp in Merarap (about 10 kilometres from the site) said he also heard the explosion.

“The sound was so loud that we could hear it from as far as Merarap. It was about 2am and I was going to start the generator set. Some of the mechanics working at the camp rushed to the school (SK Long Luping) to check on their children.

“We all panicked,” he said.
Petronas representatives (right and extreme left) talk to Martin Singa during their visit to the site yesterday following the incident. With them is Gituen Labung, who is a representative of Ba Kelalan assemblyman.

The leakage at KP181 – the second to hit the pipeline caused the gas supply from Kimanis in Sabah to be immediately shut off.

On June 10, 2014, an explosion at KP135 of the SSGP ripped apart a portion of the RM3-billion interstate gas pipeline project along a stretch between Lawas town and Long Sukang in the northern-most district of Sarawak.

In a brief statement issued by the media relations unit of its Sabah and Labuan Regional Office yesterday, Petronas confirmed the gas leak incident at Long Luping.

It said that its emergency response team was mobilised and brought the situation under control, and that all relevant authorities had been informed.

“There is no impact to the surrounding communities and the environment. Investigation (is) still being carried out,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian said he was informed of the leakage by his Lawas office staffers.

“I understand that Petronas security personnel had been sent to the area around Long Meringau, near to Long Luping,” he said when contacted.

“As this is the second time a leakage has occurred, I am very concerned and so are the people in the area.

“A thorough investigation must be done. I hope to get a briefing from Petronas on the incident soon,” he said.

The 512-km SSGP pipes gas from Kimanis for processing into liquefied natural gas (LNG) at the Petronas LNG Complex in Bintulu for export.
Aftermath of the explosion at point of the leakage at KP181 of the Sabah-Sarawak Gas Pipeline at Long Luping .

~ Borneo Post Online