Wednesday, February 28, 2018

BARU BIAN: APOSTASY CASES: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT


PRESS STATEMENT

28 FEBRUARY 2018



The kneejerk reaction of some members of the Muslim community in hurling insults and abuse at me, and even calling for my death, after the Federal Court decision yesterday clearly shows that they do not know the background of the cases and how the legal trials and tribulations of the 4 individuals has come to this.



I was out of town attending another case when the decision was delivered, and upon my return last night, I was saddened and shocked to see the videos and postings, and the statement by a PAS Central Committee member* against me.



Firstly, I categorically refute the allegations that I am ‘Christianising’ Muslims or making Muslims ‘murtad’. These 4 persons only came to see me when they had run out of options in negotiating their release from Islam, and by the time I met them, they had long ceased to be practising Muslims. So to accuse me of making them ‘murtad’ is a vicious slander, and I am disappointed that those who profess to practise their religious faith should make these false accusations against me. Nevertheless, my own religious conviction compels me to forgive and love them, for they do not know what they are doing.



It is the system that has failed these individuals. They had done everything that they were asked to do, and yet, the release they wanted was never given. Their letters to JAIS were ignored. In one case, letters to the JPN and the CM’s office also met with no response. The details of each case differ (see attachment for case chronologies) but I only took up these cases after the applicants had hit the proverbial brick wall.



After taking on the cases, my legal firm had been informed that the Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara (JPN) required a letter of release from the Syariah Court in order for them to amend the applicants’ identity cards and particulars in their system. However, when we inquired from and/or applied for such letters from the Syariah Court, we received a letter from the court to say that they had no power to issue such letters of release under the Syariah Court Ordinance Sarawak 2001. Hence the legal proceedings had to be filed in the civil High Court for its opinion. Contrary to the Syariah Court’s letter, lawyers for Jabatan Agama Islam Sarawak (JAIS), Majlis Agama Islam Sarawak (MAIS) and the JPN argued that the Syariah Court has the implied power to deal with apostasy. As the law is not clear on the matter the issue had to be brought all the way to the Federal Court which finally made its decision yesterday morning that the Syariah Court has the jurisdiction to hear apostasy cases. The legal issue is now settled. Because I believe, and many believe, in the Rule of Law and that the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of this country (Article 4 of the Federal Constitution) on which our Courts had been established, we accept the final verdict of the Federal Court.



On reflection of this matter, I see a parallel with my advocacy for the native customary rights of the indigenous people. In the early days of NCR cases, very few lawyers were willing to take on land cases for fear of being called ‘anti-government’ or because of vested interests. In the same way, few lawyers were willing to take on conversion cases for fear of being branded as ‘menghina Islam’ or ‘anti-government’, or simply because they did not want to have to come up against all the red-tape and obstacles facing these applicants.



In NCR cases, we do not discriminate against people of any races or religions. We do not pick and choose, but we represent those who seek justice from the state. Will these accusers acknowledge that I have acted for Muslims in many cases in claiming their native lands and in particular the cases of Hj Rambli Bin Kawi, Abu Bakar Pangis representing 150 families and Karim Bin Enur representing more than 90 families and won?



In the NCR cases, the issue of the recognition of Pemakai Menoa and Pulau Galau has been decided by the Federal Court in TR Sandah. Whether I agree with the decision or not is irrelevant – the decision allows us to move forward, and even the Government acknowledges that it may be necessary to amend the law to protect the rights of the people.



It is the same in these conversion cases. The problem arose because the Syariah Ordinance is silent on its jurisdiction to decide on apostasy matters, and the Syariah Court had declined jurisdiction. This lacuna in the law and the long-drawn process had caused the applicants much anguish, anxiety and frustration. The decision of the Federal Court allows us to move forward and the legislature should consider whether the Ordinance should be amended to make the law clear. People who genuinely wish to convert should not be ignored and left in limbo by the institutions of the state.



Those who accuse me of having a Christian agenda by representing these 4 individuals free-of-charge are blatant liars. I have been representing them in my professional capacity as a lawyer and they have paid my professional fees and court fees. Those who make up lies about me clearly have political motives or have deep-seated insecurity about their own religious convictions. If I had any Christian agenda, then the authorities should have taken action against me. And if these converts were wrong to convert out of Islam, then JAIS or MAIS or the Syariah Court should have charged them when they informed them of their intention to leave Islam or when they were called for counselling.



In representing these 4 individuals, I am merely carrying out my responsibilities as an advocate who believes in access to justice for all. The “Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers” adopted by the 8th United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offences (‘the UN Principles’) in 1990 and intended to assist member states says this:



14. Lawyers, in protecting the rights of their clients and in promoting the cause of justice, shall seek to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized by national and international law and shall at all times act freely and diligently in accordance with the law and recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession.



The Federal Constitution guarantees these 4 persons their freedom of religion. Who are the State and her institutions to deny them these rights? Why are my accusers so twisted that they do not realize that in speaking up for these 4 individuals, I am upholding the right of every Malaysian to practise the religion of his or her choosing? It is indeed tragic that some segments of Malaysian society have regressed so much that they do not exercise independent thought and are so blinded by racial and religious bigotry that they do not see the wood for the trees.



In Sarawak, freedom of religion and the absence of an official religion were fiercely defended by our forefathers. This has allowed us to live in religious and racial harmony for many years. I will continue to defend these rights as long as I am able to, without fear or favour, both as an advocate and as a representative of the people, mindful always of the responsibilities imposed on me in both roles to preserve, protect and defend the Sarawak Constitution and the Federal Constitution.



It has been heartening that many people from both religions have closed ranks to stand up to the threats and abuse hurled against Christians and me. I wish to thank them for the very rational and reasonable stands made by them, including my colleagues in PKR Sarawak. I believe it is time for many others to join in this chorus calling for acceptance and peace. When true leaders speak, their followers will obey and listen. Such is the time for all leaders from the religious divide to speak and stand together in order to protect and preserve our multi-racial and multi-religious Sarawak, and be vigilant to repel negative influences from beyond our shores.



Baru Bian

Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak


* the earlier reference to PAS Youth was incorrect. ~ admin.


























 




Wednesday, February 14, 2018

BARU BIAN’S CHINESE NEW YEAR MESSAGE 2018

 
I count this Year of Dog to be a special year because I was born during the year of this animal sign in the Chinese horoscope. No prizes for guessing my age – I’m no longer the frisky young pup but not quite an old hound dog yet!

The Dog personality is said to be loyal and responsible, and they are known to have natural and practical instincts. The dog is truly a man’s best friend. Dogs are loyal and protective of their owners and there are many stories of dogs’ incredible devotion to their masters, even after their masters have passed away. In the villages, especially the Penan villages, the hunting dogs are treated very well, as there is a relationship of interdependence between dog and master. The dogs help the owners to hunt for food, and in turn, they are well taken care of.

As we enter into the Year of the Dog, our country is faced with ever more pressing social and economic problems. In Sarawak one of the major topics of current discussion is the MA63 and how far it has been honoured, or not. The MA63 was entered into based on an understanding of trust and loyalty and it would have been beneficial for both parties had the terms of the agreement been fulfilled. Unfortunately, although we have been loyal to the Federation, having put them in power for the last 55 years, the Federal Government has not been true to the promises made.

The BN parties lost the popular votes in GE13 but held on to power by gerrymandering and devious means – talk about the tail wagging the dog. This year, we will be given the chance to make a change for the better. We must put an end to this government of unbridled kleptocracy and rampant corruption. People are tired of the current government that has lost touch with the common people. The rumblings of discontent are growing louder and louder. The scandal of 1MDB and the many corrupt dealings internationally, such as the FELDA property purchases at grossly inflated prices, have brought shame to us in the international arena. The BN government and the subservient institutions have been trying to put investigators off the scent but nobody is fooled anymore.

The Pakatan Harapan’s new deal offers hope for a new beginning. There is nothing to lose by voting for a PH government, but everything to gain. The governments of Selangor and Penang have shown that the opposition are more than able to govern. With dogged determination, the opposition front has been making steady advances in changing the mindset of the people and the majority of Malaysians now support us. People are ready for a change.

There is a saying that every dog has its day. I believe that the day for Pakatan Harapan will arrive soon. True to the spirit of faithfulness, a PH government will serve the people loyally. Malaysians, and especially Sarawakians deserve better treatment from the people who serve them. This year of the Dog, let us work together to show the world that we can be the Top Dog!

I wish all my Chinese friends a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

Xin Nian Kuai Le, Wan Shi Ru Yi!

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak
ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan



巴鲁比安2018年农历新年献词



我把个狗年当着是很特的一年,因我是在人生肖中这动物年诞生的。猜中我的年龄没送奖品我不再是活的小狗,但也不至于是一只老犬。

狗儿的特征是忠和富有任感,它们拥有天生和实际本能 。狗儿确是人最好朋友。狗儿是忠的并懂得保主人,并有多关于狗儿主人牲奉献的感人心忠故事,即使是主人离世也不离不弃。在多村子里,尤其是本南人村庄,得良好待,狗儿和主人之存在相依命关系。狗儿助主人狩食物,反来,它们获得良好照

当我们进入生肖狗年,我的国家却面迫的社会和经济问题。在砂拉越,其中之一个目前正讨论的重要主1963来西亚协约MA63),以及这协约已被兑现了多少,又或者兑现1963来西亚协约入基于信任和忠的理解,而若兑现该协约的条款双方都有益。然而不幸的是,然我们对联邦表,并55年,可是邦政府却未真正兑现

政党于去的第13届全国大选输掉选票数,不过却靠不公正选区划分和迂回手段赢得执政权谈论摇摆尾巴的狗儿。今年,我们再次获得机会来寻求改变得更加好。我们必须终结这个肆无忌惮的窃贼和猖獗贪腐的当权政府。人民对失去民心的现有政府感到厌倦,怨声载道心声越来越响亮。一马公司(1MDB)丑以及多国际贪腐交易,例如邦土地展局(FELDA)以超高价购买产业案,已在国上蒙羞。国政府及其从属机构却一直试图预调查,不,不会有人再被愚弄。

希望来的新政大家提供一个新开始的希望。投希望盟政府不会有失,反而可得一切。雪莪和城两州政府已大家看在野党更有能力治理国家。凭着顽强决心,在野党阵线在改念方面一直在步前,而大多数来西人民正予我支持。

有句话说每只狗儿都有自己的一天。我相信希望盟的那一天即将到来。发挥精神真,希望盟政府将诚恳为民服 马来西亚人民,尤其是砂拉越人民应该得到服务他们的人更好的待遇。今年是生肖狗年,让我们齐心合力,向世界证明我们可以是最优秀的狗儿

我衷心祝全体裔同胞农历新春喜悦安康,吉丰收。

新年快,万事如意!

 Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak               
ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan
砂拉越人民公正党主席兼N81巴卡拉区州立法议员比安敬

LAUNCH OF ‘BEBAS ANWAR’ COUNTDOWN TO FREEDOM



PRESS STATEMENT
9 FEBRUARY 2018

10 February 2018 marks three years that Anwar Ibrahim has spent in jail for the second time. Throughout the country, KEADILAN is simultaneously launching the Bebas Anwar Countdown this evening to commence mark the remaining days for which Anwar Ibrahim will be deprived of his freedom by an unjust system and institutions that are tainted by unprincipled individuals.

As declared by the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Anwar Ibrahim is a prisoner of conscience. His imprisonment was purely for the political purposes of the desperate and shameless UMNO/BN government. Rather than taking up offers of asylum in foreign countries, Anwar Ibrahim was prepared to sacrifice 5 years of his life to stand by his principles and for democracy.

The term in prison has not only robbed his family of the presence of a husband, father and grandfather, but it has also cost Anwar Ibrahim much in terms of his health. Yet through it all, he has remained calm and positive, and not allowed himself to become bitter and unforgiving. Exhibiting the traits of a true leader, he has welcomed his former adversaries from UMNO into the opposition coalition to forge a stronger force against corruption and kleptocracy in Malaysia.

We look forward to the day of Anwar Ibrahim’s release, and call upon all Malaysians to support Pakatan Harapan in GE14 so that injustices done to prisoners of conscience such as Anwar will never be repeated in this country. We must make all effort to bring forth a new chapter in Malaysian history and start the rebuilding process so that our country may one day be a beacon of truth and justice that we can be proud to call our home again.

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak


Thursday, February 1, 2018

BARU BIAN: REFLECTIONS ON THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEWAN UNDANGAN NEGERI


30 JANUARY 2018

Today the Sarawak Dewan Undangan Negeri, or the General Council or the Council Negeri as it was known in the early days celebrated its 150th anniversary. I believe that it is recognised as the oldest DUN in Malaysia, and this adds even more meaning to this celebration.

One of the unique features of our DUN, and one that I am most proud of, is the fact that any of the ethnic languages in Sarawak is allowed to be spoken during the proceedings. This is a reflection of the Sarawak of our forefathers, in which the diverse ethnicity and background of the various communities were widely accepted and respected. No one community was considered to be superior to the rest, and all were treated as equals.

I am aware that some quarters hold the view that the White Rajahs and the British administration were oppressive exploiters of Sarawak and her people. However, it cannot be denied that they put in place a highly efficient and respected civil service and a superior educational system that again did not emphasise the superiority of or the preference for, any particular race or ethnic group. Also, the documents left behind point to an administration that was committed to good governance, justice and fairness. The guiding principles of the Brookes were set out in the nine ‘Cardinal Principles Of The Rule Of The English Rajahs’, and were eventually to become the preamble to the Sarawak Constitution. These principles are timeless and applicable even in this day and age. It is my hope that the members of this August House will continue to be guided by the ideals carried in these 9 principles.

Today, our celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly is clouded by a prominent and pressing issue, that is the status of the native customary rights of the people over their customary land It is therefore timely to revisit our history in the context of the rights of the people and how these rights were viewed by the government of the time.

In the book ‘Rajahs and Rebels’ by Robert Pringle written in 1970, he discusses the great weight given to the customary law of the people by the government:

‘The customary law (adat) of the various ethnic groups was the third foundation of the Sarawak legal system, the first two being common sense and a vague adherence to English legal principle. Like everything about the Government of Charles Brooke, acceptance of local adat grew quietly and naturally from his early outstation experience, reinforced by the theories of his uncle.’

It was also noted that there was a ‘Native Mohammedan Probate and Divorce Court’ and that although there was no equivalent court for either Chinese or Ibans, the customary law of both was recognized, as interpreted by Native Officers and community headmen, subject to the Resident’s discretion.

In the old days, the customary law was not codified in any written form. It was recognised by a respected author AJN Richards that ‘the customary law is alive and always changing; it lives by the spirit, and not by the letter. If it is put into the straitjacket of statutory form it will perish or, if it lives, it does so by disregarding the statute.’

In this context, the recent Federal Court’s decision in TR Sandah, which ruled that a custom or adat of the people must be codified for it “to have the force of law”, was shocking and unacceptable to the native communities in Sarawak.

True to the prediction of AJN Richards, the NCR of the people are perishing, left in the hands of administrators, legal draftsmen, civil servants and judges who do not understand the customary laws of the people. Even some elected representatives from within and outside this august house have failed our own communities by not defending these rights when the need arose, whether for reasons of personal vested interests and/or political expediency or pure ignorance of these fundamental issues.

In our quest for greater development for the state of Sarawak, such customary rights over land had been trampled upon or ignored by the powers that be, creating unnecessary conflicts and tensions, which have resulted in many injuries and even death. A case in point is the death of Bill Kayong. He died because he dared to speak up for the people. Even in death, he has not been accorded any justice.

In 1915, Charles Brooke at the sitting of the State Assembly warned our forefathers that after his time as the Rajah of Sarawak,

“...others may appear with soft and smiling countenances, to deprive you of what is solemnly your right – and that is, the very land on which you live, the source of your income, the food even of your mouths? If this is lost to you, no amount of money could recover it.

He continued,

“Unless you follow this advice you will lose your birthright, which will be taken from you by strangers and speculators who will in their turn become masters and owners, whilst you yourselves, you people of the soil, will be thrown aside, and become nothing but coolies and outcasts of the island.”

And today the Rajah’s greatest fears are realized. The prophecy of the betrayal of the trusting people has come to pass. While the people slept, the thieves came softly in the night and took our lands, casting us aside.

This DUN may have many ‘achievements’ attained over the years; today ministers and elected representatives are congratulating one another while we sit in this vastly overpaid building. However, we must not conveniently forget that we are still far behind our Federation partner Malaya in development. For example, over 80% of our schools are classified as dilapidated while over 30% are critically dilapidated.

There is a lack of proper infrastructure, especially road infrastructure. More than 50 years after we formed the federation of Malaysia, the road connectivity in the smaller divisions and rural areas still leaves much to be desired. In Ba’ Kelalan for example, the roads are so badly built that they hardly last a year and turn into soggy mud tracks when it rains. Last week, to attend a Native Court hearing in Kapit, I had to catch a boat from Sibu because the road has not yet been built.

There are not enough hospitals and clinics, especially in the rural areas. At the General hospitals, you will see families of patients from the rural areas camped out in the corridors because they have no place to stay. Many of the rural clinics do not have qualified medical personnel to staff them. Even at the hospitals in towns and cities, there is a lack of medical specialists.

Many villages in the rural areas still depend on generators for electricity. This is especially ironic because we have dams that produce more energy than we need, yet many of our people are not connected to the grid for power. As at the end of 2016, 30% of rural villages still had no access to 24-hour electricity supply. This figure translates to 40,000 homes of 250,000 people, according to a report by Sarawak Energy.

As at March last year only 61% of rural Sarawak had access to treated water, while the remaining 39% representing 114,000 households have to depend on other sources for water.

Every time I touch on the lack of physical development for Sarawak, I am reminded of the statement of the so-called founding father of Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman when he said “that one of the principal objectives in the formation of Malaysia was to further the economic development of the Borneo Territories so that their standards of living and technical skills might be raised, and a firm basis provided for accelerated economic growth, … so that the gap between a relatively backward state and the advanced would be narrowed and not widened.”

Sadly, we are not much different from when we first began.

The members of this DUN have the moral responsibility to right a wrong done to the people of Sarawak. Let us mark this 150th anniversary by reflecting on the past, because as someone said, “life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards”. I want to believe that all of us who are sitting in this august house want the best for our beloved State of Sarawak and her people although we come from diverse political backgrounds. On such an auspicious occasion I wish to say on behalf of my other colleagues from the Opposition to pledge to do our best as per our oath of office to speak for and defend the rights of all Malaysians under the Federal and State Constitutions notwithstanding their colour or creed.

On a personal note, I look forward to the amendment of the Sarawak Land Code to recognise and respect the rights of the indigenous people of Sarawak to their customary rights land, which is their life and their livelihood. This will be an achievement, which the Dewan Undangan Negeri can truly be proud of. This will be an act, which will honour our forefathers and what they stood for.

Lastly it is a great disappointment that the present state Government did not consider it appropriate to allocate time for the opposition members to speak on such an auspicious occasion, which is a celebration of all Members and the people of Sarawak. It is an irony when we say that we are celebrating our 150th anniversary of the DUN and as the oldest in the country, yet the BN Government is too immature to allow 'free speech' for members of this August House. I look forward to the day when we can truly say that we are a government of the people, for the people and by the people.

Baru Bian
N81 Ba’ Kelalan