Archive for category Constitution

Pastoral letter in reference to Herald case

– Julian Leow
The Malaysian Insider
27 January 2015

My Dear People of God,

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

We have come to the end of a long journey which began in 2008 when we were told that we cannot call God in the way the majority of our Catholics in Malaysia have been used to for centuries.

We mounted a challenge in the court to exercise our constitutional right to manage our own religious affairs. The Church took the position that the minister’s restriction went against the spirit as well as the letter of our Federal Constitution. Read the rest of this entry »

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Supremacy of the Federal Constitution

Azrul Mohd Khalib
The Malay Mail Online
January 21, 2015

JANUARY 21 ― The indignant tone that recently came out of Jakim’s Director General Datuk Othman Mustapha, who denounced the questioning of religious authorities as being part of a liberalism movement, is representative of the larger problem we have with the government religious institutions in this country.

They feel that they are above criticism. That they can do no wrong and are infallible. That to criticise them is to question Islam.

Yet, the attitude and actions of the religious authorities over the past decade have shown all too clearly why the Shariah system in Malaysia is where it is in our Federal Constitution.

There is an actual risk of abuse and misuse of power. It is not abstract or theoretical. It is very real. Ask Nik Raina of Borders. Read the rest of this entry »

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Decentralisation is about effective governance

ZAIRIL KHIR JOHARI
Published: 20 January 2015
The Malaysian Insider

A recent article I wrote proposing greater decentralisation of powers in Malaysia has managed to attract criticism and attacks by Umno apparatchiks, such as Kepala Batas MP Datuk Seri Reezal Merican and Umno-owned national daily Utusan Malaysia. They said my suggestions were nothing short of an attack on the Federal Constitution and, unsurprisingly, seditious (what isn’t, these days?).

I quickly responded by pointing out the obvious – that there is in fact an explicit provision in the Federal Constitution (Article 76A) that effectively allows the delegation of federal power to state authorities. In other words, decentralisation of powers from the federal to the state is not merely allowed but in fact envisioned by our country’s highest law.

Also, I ridiculed Umno’s hypocrisy on the matter. If it is considered seditious or unconstitutional to devolve powers from the centre to the periphery, then why isn’t it the other way around?
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A wretched, horrendous year, with little cheer

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
31 December 2014

2014 has been a wretched and horrendous year for Malaysia, with very little spots of sunny cheer for Malaysians. All 52 weeks have seen us angry and sad – not quite the happy Malaysia Truly Asia that we portray in tourism advertisements.

Grief has been Malaysia’s main point of unity – from the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 8 to flight MH17 that was shot out of the sky on July 17 to the tragic crash of AirAsia Bhd Indonesian affiliate’s flight QZ8501 on December 28, in the last days of the year.

Three commercial plane crashes linked to Malaysia in just a year – what are the chances of that?

And while that dominated the headlines, there has been other events that added to Malaysia’s grief. Statistics showed that 189 people died of dengue so far this year, up from 95 in 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

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Court ruling affirms religious authorities are limited by law

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
30 December 2014

There is the law and no one, including religious authorities, can overstep the limits of the law even if they invoke religion as a right.

For too long now, some state religious authorities in Malaysia have issued fatwas (opinions) and treated them as immutable regulations that can be imposed at will and without recourse.

Today, the Court of Appeal affirmed that these state religious authorities have no such power when it upheld a lower court’s ruling that the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) was wrong in raiding and seizing copies of a controversial book from a Borders bookstore in Kuala Lumpur.

The book, “Allah, Liberty and Love” by Irshad Manji, was seized before a fatwa banning it was issued and, as such, Jawi’s actions were deemed illegal and unconstitutional. Read the rest of this entry »

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No point in my attending any future PR Presidential Council meetings if PAS pushes for implementation of hudud in December 29 Kelantan State Assembly special meeting

I fully endorse what the Selangor Mentri Besar and PKR Deputy President Azmin Ali said yesterday, that hudud is not a common policy of Pakatan Rakyat, hence PAS should bring the issue to the Pakatan Rakyat presidential council for discussion.

Azmin referred to the September 28, 2011 meeting of Pakatan Rakyat Presidential Council at the PAS Headquarters attended by over 30 top leaders of DAP, PKR and PAS, which was also attended the then DAP National Chairman, Karpal Singh, and Kelantan exco members, and the consensus was that hudud was not part of PR joint common policy framework until all parties agreed to it.

As Azmin said: “If there is any new opinion or suggestion, it has to be brought back to the original consensus which was agreed among Pakatan, meaning that it has to go back to Pakatan’s presidential council.”

But PAS has never brought this matter to Pakatan’s presidential council.

In fact, the headline of The Malaysian Insider report on the Sept. 28, 2011 PR Presidential Council meeting was: “Pakatan: Hudud only if all parties agree.” Read the rest of this entry »

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December 29 Kelantan State Assembly special sitting to implement hudud will be a point of no return for both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat

The December 29 Kelantan State Assembly special sitting to implement hudud will be a point of no return for both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat.

The stand of the first three Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn were crystal clear, that hudud laws are at variance with Malaysia’s Constitution that Malaysia is a secular state.

This was also the position of the other MCA and MIC founding fathers of the nation, Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Tun Tan Siew Sin and Tun V.T. Sambanthan – as well as Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu who was the second MCA President in 1958 and subsequently left MCA and became the second President of Gerakan from 1969 – 1980.

Indisputably, this was also the position of all the founding fathers of Malaysia from Sabah and Sarawak.

If the Kelantan UMNO Assemblymen are allowed to vote in support of the proposal to implement hudud at the Kelantan State Assembly special sitting on Dec. 29, the whole character and basis of Barisan Nasional would have undergone its most radical transformation in the history of the ruling government coalition in the country.
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Champion open debate and discourse on Islamic law — 25 prominent Malays

Open Letter
December 8, 2014 06:54 AM

DECEMBER 8 — We, a group of concerned citizens of Malaysia, would like to express how disturbed and deeply dismayed we are over the continuing unresolved disputes on the position and application of Islamic laws in this country. The on-going debate over these matters display a lack of clarity and understanding on the place of Islam within our constitutional democracy. Moreover, they reflect a serious breakdown of federal-state division of powers, both in the areas of civil and criminal jurisdictions.

We refer specifically to the current situation where religious bodies seem to be asserting authority beyond their jurisdiction; where issuance of various fatwa violate the Federal Constitution and breach the democratic and consultative process of shura; where the rise of supremacist NGOs accusing dissenting voices of being anti-Islam, anti-monarchy and anti-Malay has made attempts at rational discussion and conflict resolution difficult; and most importantly, where the use of the Sedition Act hangs as a constant threat to silence anyone with a contrary opinion.

These developments undermine Malaysia’s commitment to democratic principles and rule of law, breed intolerance and bigotry, and have heightened anxieties over national peace and stability.
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Passed over for promotions, Sarawak Dayaks seethe at civil service discrimination

by Desmond Davidson
The Malaysian Insider
30 November 2014

A list of promotions, purportedly in the Sarawak Road Transport Department, has sparked outrage among Dayak professionals and civil servants in the state over what they see as proof of discrimination against non-Malay Bumiputera in the federal civil service.

The list, which has been posted on a blog and on Facebook, names eight Malay enforcement officers as “berjaya” (successful) in securing promotions from the N27 scale to N32, while three Dayak officers were listed as “simpanan”, or reserve.

To Dayaks – as Sarawak’s indigenous people are called – the list confirms what they have felt all along and what has also been noted in the just-released Malaysia Human Development Report 2013 – that discrimination exists within the Bumiputera working in the civil service, with Malays given preference over natives.

The list was posted on November 25 on www.pengerindu.com, a blog on Dayak interests which has a wide following among Ibans, a branch of the Dayak people.

“Dayaks are only qualified to become ‘reserves’ until when? I fear the ‘tsunami of young Dayaks’ could undermine the Sarawak government if nothing is done to help the Dayaks,” wrote the author of the post, Mr J. Read the rest of this entry »

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MCA and Gerakan Ministers should explain why they have not raised any objection at Friday’s Cabinet meeting to the unconstitutional proposal to set up a Syariah Federal Court with the same powers as the civil Federal Court

MCA and Gerakan Ministers should explain why they have not raised any objection at Friday’s Cabinet meeting to the unconstitutional proposal to set up a Syariah Federal Court with the same powers as the civil Federal Court.

This unconstitutional move by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom to have a parallel court system at the federal level
was reported on Thursday’s Berita Harian, and MCA and Gerakan Ministers – as well as other Cabinet members – were remiss in their constitutional oath and political responsibilities in failing to object to such a proposal at Friday’s Cabinet meeting and to demand that all Federal Government involvement in such an unconstitutional development be halted immediately.

Instead, the MCA and Gerakan Ministers have chosen to ask their lowly representatives who are neither in Parliament or any State Assembly to raise objections, knowing that such voices would be ignored completely – when the right and proper place for such objections to be raised is the Cabinet on Friday.

The establishment of a Syariah Federal Court with equivalent powers of the civil Federal Court goes against the very structure and foundation of the Merdeka Constitution of 1957 and Malaysia Constitution of 1963, stipulating that the Constitution is supreme and that any law, whether federal or state, primary or secondary, enacted before or after Merdeka, which infringes the Constitution is void. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malays and Islam are not under attack in Malaysia. It is multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia which is under siege by intolerant and extremist forces which are trying to turn moderation into a dirty word in Malaysia

It is the supreme irony of ironies.

While the government continues to propagate the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s initiative of a Global Movement of Moderates, this time at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Summit currently being held in Beijing, Najib had never been so weak and impotent at home to check the forces of hatred, intolerance and extremism rearing their ugly heads.

On the day that Bernama reported that the Prime Minister’s Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) proposal had received praise from the APEC foreign ministers meeting in Beijing before the 22nd APEC Summit, an ex-UMNO Minister had opened fire on Najib’s GMM initiative, claiming that Christian fanatics in Malaysia had seized on Najib’s concept of moderation and exploited it for their own interests.

Former Information Minister Tan Sri Zainuddin Maiddin claimed that the Malays and Islam were under pressure due to the concept of moderation, asserting that there were signs the concept was on the wrong track.

He cited with approval a recent statement by Johor Umno youth vice-chief Khairul Anwar Rahmat, who said that moderation was unsuitable for certain issues, claiming that it reflected the thoughts and opinions of the Umno grassroots.
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BN SC meeting last night a great disappointment as the non-Umno parties dare not demand an end to AG’s double standards in prosecution, puny anti-corruption efforts even losing out to Indonesia and postponement of GST implementation

The Barisan Nasional Supreme Council held one of its rare meetings last night, but it was a great disappointment as the non-Umno parties, whether MCA, Gerakan, MIC or from Sabah and Sarawak, dare not demand that the Barisan Nasional government should take a clear stand on various controversial issues which have disturbed rational and patriotic Malaysians, including an end to the Attorney-General’s double standard in prosecution, puny anti-corruption efforts with Malaysia even losing out to Indonesia and the postponement of GST implementation in April next year.

It is clear that there is no institutional or operational change in the character of the BN Supreme Council after the 13th General Election, with the BN Supreme Council continuing to be a platform for the exposition of UMNO political hegemony in BN, with the role of all the leaders of the other 13 BN component parties restricted merely to hear and obey what the UMNO “Big Brother” has decided instead of being a meaningful forum where common Barisan Nasional government policies are thrashed out from the input and consensus of all the BN component parties. Read the rest of this entry »

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Again, Putrajaya shows its bark is worse than its bite

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
31 October 2014

In most countries, civil servants who do not obey cabinet directives are disciplined. But in Malaysia, cabinet ministers have to appeal or cajole civil servants to follow government directives or the law.

The latest is the Royal Malaysian Customs Department’s move to seize some 300 Christian CDs and books containing the word Allah from Sabahan pastor Maklin Masiau in klia2 last week.

Masiau’s case is not the first, and is most likely not the last despite assurances from Putrajaya that it respects the religious rights of all Malaysians under the Federal Constitution. Read the rest of this entry »

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Gani Patail – what has happened to your Sept 9 promise to review the spate of sedition charges?

The Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail’s recent explanations have only reinforced public opinion that he has abused his discretionary powers and guilty of double standards in not prosecuting Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali for his threat to burn the Bible while going on a spree with blitzkrieg of sedition prosecutions against Pakatan Rakyat leaders, activists and intellectuals.

Datuk Stanley Isaac, who was formerly head of prosecution in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, said Gani’s reasoning that Ibrahim’s threat had no seditious tendency and that Ibrahim had “no intention to offend or provoke” are “flawed in law” and had not allayed public discontent over the AG’s decisions.

Isaac said it “boggled” “his mind how the AG could excuse Ibrahim on grounds of his good intention when the law says otherwise and that it also “boggled” his mind how burning the bible would defend the sanctity of Islam.
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Speaking about context, what about other sedition cases?

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
27 October 2014

Context, the Attorney-General Chambers said today, was the important ingredient to consider when deciding whether Datuk Ibrahim Ali committed sedition when he threatened to burn bibles that contained the word “Allah” last year.

“As decided by the court, before a statement is said to have seditious tendencies, the statement must be viewed in the context it was made …

“When studied in its entire context, Datuk Ibrahim’s statement is not categorised as having seditious tendencies.

“It was clear Datuk Ibrahim Ali had no intention to create religious tensions, but was only defending the purity of Islam‎,” the AGC said, noting the Perkasa chief also said: “This is not a sentiment or (an attempt) to provoke religious tensions, but to defend the purity of Islam which is clearly (stated) in the laws.”

“He also did not commit any offence under Section 298 or 298A of the Penal Code as he was clearly defending the purity of Islam.”

Right. So the context is this, Ibrahim was not charged because he said he was not attempting to provoke religious tensions but was defending the purity of Islam.

Well, to put it in context, that is a half-baked explanation by the AGC, a comment after the fact.

In any court, this type of mitigation would have been laughed at. Read the rest of this entry »

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Gani Patail fuelling worst crisis of confidence in nation’s history over the role and powers of Attorney-General

The Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail is fuelling the worst crisis of confidence in the nation’s history over the role and powers of the Attorney-General (AG) as a result of his silence over the escalating controversy over non-prosecution of Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible on the one hand and the sedition blitzkrieg against scores of Malaysians who did not make incendiary statements to create a climate of fear on the other.

This is because the continued absence of satisfactory accountability and acceptable explanation that there have been no arbitrary abuse of the AG’s prosecutorial discretion as highlighted by the decision not to prosecute Ibrahim Ali despite the threat to burn the Malay-language Bible and the mass sedition blitzkrieg have raised serious questions whether the Attorney-General is committed to uphold the Rule of Law and to act as guardian of the public interest.

Gani’s predecessors as Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib from 1980 to 1993 and Tan Sri Mokhtar Abdullah (1994 – 2000) had their controversies when they served under the country’s most controversial Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir but Gani Patail had put both Talib and Mokhtar in the shade both in the volume and gravity of controversies since becoming AG in 2002.

Gani has gained another distinction of having been criticized by his predecessor, as last month Talib excoriated Gani Patail for undertaking to review the sedition cases against Pakatan Rakyat leaders, academicians and social activists like Prof Dr. Azmi Sharom after the charges were framed, as the barrage of sedition charges came across as “persecution” and not “prosecution”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Has Malaysia got the most powerful Attorney-General in the Commonwealth who is more powerful than the Prime Minister and Cabinet and is not bound by any principle of accountability to Parliament and the nation for the exercise of his discretionary powers

I refer to yesterday’s Malay Mail Online (MMO) report with the headline: “DAP vows to hound Nancy Shukri over Ibrahim Ali’s Bible-burning threat”.

The MMO headline is wrong and misleading as I had never made any vow, threat or statement to justify the headline “DAP vows to hound Nancy Shukri over Ibrahim Ali’s Bible-burning threat”.

For the record, this was what I said in my statement yesterday:

“It may seem unfair that Nancy had been hounded for over two weeks for her parliamentary answer that Ibrahim Ali was not prosecuted for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible, but this national outrage will not cease simply because right-thinking Malaysians cannot accept the two reasons which had been given for the Attorney-General’s decision not to prosecute – that Ibrahim was protecting the sanctity of Islam and Ibrahim’s action was protected by Article 11(4) of the Constitution.

“Ibrahim Ali’s threat to burn the Malay-language Bible and his ability to get away scot-free enjoying immunity from any sanctions of the law will continue to dog Nancy wherever she goes in the country until the Najib government can give a satisfactory and acceptable accounting on the matter.”

It is not that DAP would “hound” Nancy over the issue, but that she would be dogged by the issue wherever she goes in any part of the country, as this would be the question uppermost in the minds of Malaysians, including the media when they meet her, as the gross miscarriage of justice of the non-prosecution of Ibrahim Ali over such provocative and incendiary threat is so palpable that it stands out in direct contrast to the “white terror” regime of sedition blitz launched recently by the government, resulting in the investigation or prosecution of some 40 Pakatan Rakyat leaders, social activists, academicians and members of the press under the Sedition Act and other laws for the most legitimate and inoffensive expression of views. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nancy is forgetful and confused

– Ravinder Singh
The Malaysian Insider
21 October 2014

In one breath Nancy said that her parliamentary reply “would have been similar, if the threat was to burn the Quran”.

In the very next breath she said “But I had to answer based on what was done, what was carried out. Based on their analysis, there wasn’t enough evidence (to charge), that is their answer,”

So, can Nancy clarify: if the answer she gave was “their answer”, how could she assure the public that “if the threat was to burn the Quran”, “their answer” would be the same, for she would only be reading “their answer” again. No?

She is all confused. While saying that the answer she gave was “their reply”, she is at the same time asserting that it was her reply. For only if it were her own reply, could she give an assurance that she would give the same reply if the threat was to burn the Quran.

If somebody takes her courageous words to heart and threatens to burn the Quran, can she guarantee that her reply would be the same? How would that be since the reply would be prepared by the A-G Chambers, or would she do a ‘copy and paste’ job and would the A-G let her do so? He might charge her for plagiarism. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nancy is right that Cabinet cannot decide prosecutions for AG but wrong when she implied Cabinet is impotent or must accept an AG guilty of selective or malicious prosecution

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nancy Shukri is right when she said today that the Cabinet could not make decisions on charges against Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali as this would be tantamount to meddling in the prosecutorial discretion of the Attorney-General stipulated in the Constitution.

But Nancy is wrong when she implied that the Cabinet is impotent or must accept an Attorney-General who is guilty of selective or malicious prosecution, like the failure to prosecute Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali despite his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible or the “white terror” regime of sedition blitzkrieg since the beginning of this year to investigate or prosecute some 40 Pakatan Rakyat leaders, social activists, academicians and members of the press under the Sedition Act and other laws for the most legitimate and inoffensive expression of views.

While the Cabinet cannot interfere with the Attorney-General’s prosecutorial discretion under Article 145(3) of the Constitution, Cabinet Ministers, in particular the Prime Minister and the Minister vested with the powers of de facto Law Minister, cannot be indifferent to prevalent public opinion that the Attorney General was responsible for grave miscarriage of justice, whether in the failure to prosecute Ibrahim Ali for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible threatening the very fabric of Malaysia’s multi-racial and multi-religious society or had violated the larger policy objective of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to make Malaysia “the best democracy of the world” with the mass dragnet of sedition investigations and prosecutions.

Or is the Cabinet now claiming that the pledge to make Malaysia the world’s best democracy is the personal and individual promise of the Prime Minister, and that he had no mandate to make it on behalf of the Cabinet or Malaysian Government? Read the rest of this entry »

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Cabinet must take collective Ministerial stand to endorse or dissociate from Nancy Shukri’s parliamentary answer that Ibrahim Ali is not prosecuted for his threat to burn Malay-language Bible as he was defending sanctity of Islam and protected by Article 11(4) of the Constitution

The Cabinet at its meeting today must take collective Ministerial stand to endorse or dissociate from the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nancy Shukri’s parliamentary answer to the Penang Chief Minister and Bagan Member of Parliament Lim Guan Eng that Perkasa President, Datuk Ibrahim Ali is not prosecuted for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible as Ibrahim was defending the sanctity of Islam and his action was protected by Article 11(4) of the Malaysian Constitution.

Borneo Post, in a report yesterday headlined “Nancy says she does not support Ibrahim Ali or his religious views”, quoted Nancy as making the following statement through her political secretary Kamaluddin Effendie:

“Neither the police nor AG (Attorney-General) can give any reply in Parliament. I, as the de-facto Law Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, had to do it on their behalf. Whatever were the findings of the police or the decision of the AG, I read it out in Parliament because they could not do it there.

“It must be made known that it was the AG’s decision not to charge Dato Ibrahim under the Sedition Act, and the decision was made based on the police investigation.

“As a minister or one of the leaders of the nation, I have to support the rule of the law, but it does not mean I agree with Dato Ibrahim’s extreme views.”

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