Archive for category Constitution

Abide by the Federal Constitution; Focus on achieving harmony and unity — Bar Council Malaysia

Christopher Leong
Malaysian Bar
The Malay Mail Online
January 3, 2014

Jan 3 — The Malaysian Bar is concerned by reports that Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (“JAIS”, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department) had on 2 January 2014 conducted a raid on the office of the Bible Society of Malaysia (“BSM”), confiscated more than 300 copies of the Alkitab (Bahasa Malaysia bible) and Bup Kudus (Iban bible), and arrested the President and the Office Manager of BSM. It is also reported that the President and the Office Manager have been required to present themselves to JAIS officers on 10 January 2014.

It is alarming that the religious body or enforcement agency of one religion would purport to have jurisdiction or purview over other religions. This is not what is envisaged under the Federal Constitution. The actions of JAIS are purported to have been carried out pursuant to the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment No 1 of 1988 of Selangor (“said Selangor Enactment”), in particular sections 9 to 13 thereof.

The said Selangor Enactment is stated in its preamble to have been enacted pursuant to Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution, which provides that State law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam. The purpose of the said Selangor Enactment is therefore an enactment against the propagation of other religions to Muslims or the proselytisation of Muslims. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib must act immediately to guarantee a stop to any further illegal and unconstitutional raids by Islamic authorities on other religions or his assurances whether in Christmas or New Year messages mean nothing and lose all credibility

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, must act immediately to guarantee a stop to any further illegal and unconstitutional raids by Islamic authorities on other religions or his assurances, whether in Christmas or New Year messages, mean nothing and lose all credibility.

Less than ten days after Najib’s two Christmas Speeches, one at the Federation of Malaysia’s Christmas Hi-Tea in Kuala Lumpur and the other at the national-level Christmas Open House in Penang, his message of moderation, harmony and co-existence have been thrown to the winds in the unprecedented and unconstitutional raid by the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) and the police at the premises of the Bible Society of Malaysia and the seizure of about 350 copies of Malay and Iban Bibles.

Najib had said that rather than choosing the path of fighting over their differences, it is better for Muslims and Christians to find a common ground “to preserve the peace, harmony and stability of the country”, urging both groups to understand the sensitivities of each other’s religions so as not to offend another.

Najib said: “Muslims should not hurt the feelings of Christians and likewise, Christians should not hurt the feelings of Muslims.”

But this was the sentiment that was trampled upon in the illegal and unconstitutional raid by Jais at the Bible Society of Malaysia yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »

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For 2014, church leaders seek respect, equality before Constitution

by Boo Su-Lyn
The Malay Mail Online
January 2, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 — As religious tensions from the five-year-old “Allah” controversy spilled over into the new year, senior Christian clergymen here have appealed for mutual respect from Malaysian Muslims with a reminder that they too have the right to practice their faith according to the precepts of their own religion.

Asked for their wishes for the year ahead, several church leaders here said they want the constitutional rights of Christians recognised and an end to the hate-mongering fueled by the tussle over on word – “Allah” – which has divided Malaysians along geographical and racial lines.

“We are not expecting Malaysia to be a Christian country. The main thing is respect.

“Respect and recognise that each individual has the right to choose whatever they believe,” said Rev Datuk Jerry Dusing, president of the evangelical Sabah Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB).

“That’s the central tenet of human rights,” the head of Sabah’s second-largest church told The Malay Mail Online in an interview on his hopes for 2014. Read the rest of this entry »

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Will ‘The Heat’ wilt from Government heat?

– Kee Thuan Chye
The Malaysian Insider
December 17, 2013

The relatively outspoken weekly newspaper The Heat has been given a show-cause letter by the Home Ministry and reportedly told to tone down its fervour. And this has come about only three months since the paper sparked to life in early September.

This shows how tightly the Government still controls the media, and how difficult it is for any print publication to be critical of the ruling party. It also blows to bits the promise that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak made in September 2011 that he wanted to establish in Malaysia “the best democracy”. Unless, of course, he has a radically different understanding of “democracy”.

The online news website The Malaysian Insider had reported that the action taken by the ministry was believed to have been prompted by The Heat’s front-page article on Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor’s “spendthrift” use of public funds – on overseas trips, utilities in their official residence, the hiring of consultants, the use of the Government’s private jets, allocations for the Prime Minister’s Department. Read the rest of this entry »

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Strategi 12 Mata sebagai Pelan Induk untuk Pakatan Rakyat menawan Putrajaya dalam PRU14

Kelmarin, saya telah mengemukakan soalan sama ada Pakatan Rakyat sanggup bangkit untuk menyahut cabaran bagi menentukan masa depan bukan saja Sabah dan Sarawak, malah Malaysia secara keseluruhan dalam PRU14.

Dalam kenyataan media saya sejak empat hari lalu, saya telah menjelaskan menerusi fakta dan angka bahawa ketiga-tiga parti Pakatan Rakyat DAP, PKR, dan PAS telah mencapai keputusan terbaik di peringkat parlimen dan negeri di Semenanjung, Sabah, dan Sarawak – dan untuk suatu tempoh berjaya menguasai lima negeri, iaitu Kelantan, Pulau Pinang, Selangor, Kedah dan Perak – menerusi kerjasama ketiga-tiga parti itu dalam Pilihanraya Umum tahun 1999, 2008 dan 2013.

Hari ini, saya ingin membentangkan strategi 12 mata berikut untuk Pakatan Rakyat sebagai pelan induk untuk membentuk kerajaan persekutuan dan menawan Putrajaya dalam Pilihanraya Umum ke-14. Read the rest of this entry »

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Islamist conservatism in Malaysia

By Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid
New Mandala
7 December 2013

The transmission of Islam in the Malay-Indonesian world remains entrenched in history as one of the foremost examples of peaceful proselytisation of religion on a trans-continental scale. So successful was the continuous process from around the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, that the Islamic faith (agama) became comfortably embedded as a definitive criterion, apart from the Malay language (bahasa Melayu) and rulership (kerajaan), of Malayness – in reference to the broad category of Southeast Asia’s indigenous population who were previously adherents of animism and variants of Hindu-Buddhist religious traditions prevalent in the archipelago. The sources, modalities, timing and other details of the genesis of Islam among the Malays had always been diverse – there were sufis or Muslim mystics and shias; Arabs, Chinese, Indians and Bengalis; sayyids, sheikhs and itinerant missionaries; merchants, traders and political escapees from the flux engulfing their lands of origin or transit.

With its kaleidoscopic provenance as the backdrop, Islam as understood and practised by Malay-Muslims prior to the era of the nation state never bore monolithic traits. On the contrary, accommodation of mores from a variety of civilisational traditions prevailed, as strongly reflected in the assortment of religious practices deriving from various ethno-cultural traditions that eventually assumed the label of being part of Malay-Muslim heritage. Hence we find for instance, in Penang, the boria musical tradition which traces its ancestry to Shiah festivities. Religio-cultural marhaban and berzanji troupes who commonly perform during Malay wedding receptions, in turn, owe their origins to rhythmic salutations of the Prophet Muhammad popularised by sufi congregations. Islam in Malaya, up till independence on 31 August 1957, had remained steadfast to the spirit of wide interpretation, as personified by its perennial willingness to accommodate the intricacies of local customs known as adat, and to tolerate the arrival of new cultural strands such as the Kaum Muda and even the West. The celebrated public debate in Kelantan on whether a dog’s saliva could be considered impure or not in 1937 was indicative of the spirit of tolerance of diversity of views that prevailed in pre-independent Malaya. The differences of views between the traditional and reformist ulama notwithstanding, the terrain of Islam in Malaya was invariably pluralist from the pre-colonial through the colonial epochs. Read the rest of this entry »

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The “non-fulfillment” of the Malaysian agreement: Who is to blame?

– Arnold Puyok
The Malaysian Insider
December 04, 2013

In 1963, Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaya formed what is now called Malaysia. But the forming of Malaysia was not without challenges. In terms of population demography, Sabah and Sarawak were more culturally heterogeneous than Peninsular Malaya.

Sabah and Sarawak were also economically under-developed. Due to Sabah and Sarawak’s distinctive characters, they were allowed to make specific demands as part of a deal before their incorporation into Malaysia.

These demands were known as the 20-point memorandum for Sabah and 18-point memorandum for Sarawak. Both memorandums were later used as a guide by the Cobbold Commission to ascertain the views of Sabahans and Sarawakians about Malaysia.

The demands were later discussed in the Inter-Governmental Committee before their incorporation into the Federal Constitution. At the London talks in July 1963, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo (Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore agreed to sign the Malaysia Agreement.

The signing of the agreement was significant because it paved the way for the enactment of the Malaysia Act (Act No. 26 of 1963) which sealed the formation of Malaysia. With the enactment of the Malaysia Act, the Federal Constitution took over from the Malayan Constitution as a new “document of destiny” for Malaysia. The rights and privileges for Sabah and Sarawak are clearly stated in the Federal Constitution (Articles 161, 161A, 161B, 161E). Read the rest of this entry »

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Illegitimacy of elections since 1984

by Ravinder Singh
The Malaysian Insider
December 2, 2013

DEC 2 — In his speech at the 26th convocation of Universiti Utara Malaysia His Royal Highness the Yang Di Pertuan Agung expressed his concern about people challenging the laws of the country, including the Federal Constitution. He is reported to have said “The people should always respect and uphold the law.”

In the light of the Agung’s advise, where does the admission or confession of the former Election Commission chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman, that the three redelineation exercises he did were done in such a way to ensure Malays retained political power and that he did so “in a proper way, not illegally”, stand?

I don’t think the Agung means that anyone is above the law or exempted from the law. Abdul Rashid’s claim that he did the redelineation in a proper way is a lie. What he did was illegal as it breached the 13th schedule of the Constitution.

The three delineation exercises were carried out in 1984, 1994 and 2003. As these were carried out in violation of the direction of law as contained in schedule 13 of the Constitution, it follows that all the seven (7) General Elections since 1984, i.e. in 1986, 1990, 1995, 1999, 2004, 2008 and 2013 which were conducted based on the three unconstitutional delineation exercises, are also unlawful and as such void.

In other words, although the BN won all those elections, they were not won with clean hands and the governments were formed unconstitutionally. But do any of those who won by playing foul games, as the referee (the EC) had put obstacles, even great obstacles in the path of the opposing teams, feel shame? The obstacles were the huge disparities in the number of voters in the different constituencies where the value of a vote in an opposition supporting area was reduced to a mere 10 per cent or even less compared to a vote in a BN supporting area. A numbers game according to Abdul Rashid. Read the rest of this entry »

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12-Point Strategy as Blueprint for Pakatan Rakyat to capture federal power in Putrajaya in 14GE

Yesterday, I posed the question whether Pakatan Rakyat could rise to the challenge to decide the political future not only of Sabah and Sarawak but the whole of Malaysia in the 14GE.

In my media statements in the past four days, I had illustrated with facts and figures that the three Pakatan Rakyat parties of DAP, PKR and PAS had achieved their best parliamentary and state assembly election results not only in peninsular Malaysia but also in Sabah and Sarawak – at one time helming five State Governments in Kelantan, Penang, Selangor, Kedah and Perak – during their tripartite co-operation in the 1999, 2008 and 2013 General Elections.

Today, in the last of a five-part series, I wish to present the following 12-point strategy for Pakatan Rakyat as a blueprint for capturing federal power in Putrajaya in the 14th General Elections.

1. Full and immediate commitment by all three Pakatan Rakyat parties of DAP, PKR and PAS, whether at national, state or local level, to enhance public support in next four years for Pakatan Rakyat’s quest for federal power in Putrajaya in 14GE. Read the rest of this entry »

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DAP MP: Gerrymandering protected Umno, not Malays

By Zurairi AR
The Malay Mail Online
November 28, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — After an admission of gerrymandering by a former Election Commission (EC) chief, a DAP MP today claimed that past re-delineation exercises were only aimed at protecting the interests of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) rather than the Malay community.

According to Serdang MP Dr Ong Kian Ming, the EC would have added more seats in Malay-majority states Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu if it really was protecting the Malay interest as claimed by Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman earlier this week.

“If Tan Sri Abdul Rashid wanted to maintain Malay political dominance, why was it that no parliamentary seats were added to the Malay majority states of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu in the 2003 delineation exercise?,” Ong said in a statement here.

“The reason for the non-addition of parliament seats in these three states is simple …The BN was fearful that if more seats were added in these states, it would benefit the opposition, specifically PAS.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Ex-EC chief’s arrogance in violating the Constitution

– Ravinder Singh
The Malaysian Insider
November 28, 2013

Former Election Commission chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman’s bold admission that the three redelineation exercises he did were done in such a way to ensure Malays retained political power and that he did so “in a proper way, not illegally”, is not a surprise at all. He is very proud of what he did, despite the fact that he had breached Schedule 13 of the Federal Constitution which states that the number of voters in state and parliamentary seats must be approximately equal.

He questions how Barisan Nasional could have lost in Kelantan, Penang and Selangor if the redelineation was done to favour the BN.

This is a cheap question. Either he must be a fool not to realise why the BN lost these states, or he is trying to make a fool of those who question gerrymandering.

Why BN lost these states is because the EC did not dream that such a huge percentage of voters in these states would go against the tide. From previous elections, it must have drawn graphs showing a certain percentage of voters voting against the ruling party at each election. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sworn statement on Gani’s alleged misdeeds out due to Putrajaya inaction, says former top cop

by Lionel Morais
The Malaysian Insider
November 12, 2013

Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim has revealed the alleged wrongdoings of Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail after Putrajaya failed to act on the retired senior police officer’s statutory declaration which contained a litany of complaints against the Attorney General.

Mat Zain’s initial revelation about the meeting with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Umno lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah on Gani’s failings only amounted to two pages of his 31-page sworn statement.

He promised more disclosures soon and said he was also mulling the possibility of having the statutory declaration (SD) tendered in court.

“Since my SD was made in accordance with the Statutory Declaration Act 1960 it can be used in any judicial proceeding, civil or criminal. In that manner the SD will be considered a public document,” the former Kuala Lumpur CID chief told The Malaysian Insider. Read the rest of this entry »

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Absence of appeal in Liong Sik acquittal suspicious, say lawyer, MP

By Ida Lim
The Malaysian Insider
November 9, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 — The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) decision to not challenge Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik’s acquittal over the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal was dubious when it appeals even redundant cases, according to two critics today.

When contacted today, civil rights lawyer Syahredzan Johan described the decision as “baffling, to say the least”, contrasting it to what he categorised as the AGC’s swiftness in appealing against court rulings that were in favour of human rights.

“The AGC has always been quick to appeal against the decisions that promote human rights and constitutionalism and also decisions in favour of opposition politicians, but when it is a decision that concerns allegations of corruption against a former Cabinet member, the AGC has decided not to pursue the appeal,” he told The Malay Mail Online in an email reply.

“As an example; in the UKM4 case the AGC decided to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal in favour of the 4 former students, even when the matter has become academic as the law has been amended and the 4 are no longer students,” he added.

Syahredzan was referring to the case of four Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) students who were charged under now-amended Section 15 (5)(a) of the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) for their alleged presence during the 2010 Hulu Selangor by-election campaign.

The High Court found that the clause barring university students’ participation in politics was unconstitutional, but the matter was brought by the AGC to the Court of Appeal and Federal Court, where the apex court struck out the case on November 22, 2012 as it was by then “academic”.

Today, Syahredzan also questioned the rationale behind the AGC’s decision. Read the rest of this entry »

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The constitution is supreme, not religion (Part 2)

by Tommy Thomas
Oct 24, 2013

COMMENT A simple way to illustrate the point that the measure of protection given in the federal constitution may be absolute or limited is to compare the language employed in Articles 10 and 11.

Article 10 protects freedom of speech, assembly and association. But Parliament may, by law, restrict the rights under Article 10, whereas Parliament cannot enact any law to restrict or curtail the freedom of religion under Article 11(1) and (3).

This difference in text between Articles 10 and 11 means that persons who belong to, say, a chess club or a sports association, would come within the purview of Article 10, while members of a religious group would come within the scope of Article 11.

Because Article 11 is drafted in much broader terms than Article 10, members of religious groups enjoy a far greater measure of constitutional protection than members of a chess club or a sports association.

Conversely, state action can control, direct and regulate a chess club and a sports association much more than it can over a religious group. Additionally, only citizens enjoy Article 10 rights, whereas no such limitation occurs under Article 11.

In stating this position, Article 11(5) is not to be overlooked. But Article 11(5) does not permit Parliament to enact laws to restrict freedom. It merely provides that in the enjoyment of religious freedom, whether individually under Article 11(1) or collectively under 11(3), a person or a religious group should not carry out any act which could contravene any general law relating to “public order, public health or morality”. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Allah’ decision a blot on our legal landscape (Part 1)

by Tommy Thomas
Oct 23, 2013

COMMENT The sustained public attack on last week’s decision of the Court of Appeal in prohibiting the Catholic Church from using the word ‘Allah’ in its internal publication, The Herald, is absolutely unprecedented, even in a nation used to bad court decisions.

From a constitutional perspective, the judgments of the three judges on the bench are poorly reasoned, the law misread and conclusions reached which will baffle any right-thinking student anywhere in the common law.

The decision is not just wrong, it is horribly wrong, and represents a terrible blot on our legal landscape, unless overturned quickly by the apex court, the Federal Court. Regrettably, what follows may seem unduly legalistic, but it cannot be avoided in a critique of a court decision. Read the rest of this entry »

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Asri, the voice of reason, urges politicians to steer clear of religion

by Elizabeth Zachariah
The Malaysian Insider
October 24, 2013

Malaysia will be a better place if politicians “stop politicising religion and academic matters” and leave both issues to the relevant parties to decide, says ex-Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin.

“People are confused. If they (politicians) had, from the beginning, followed this principle, then Malaysia will not be in this position,” he told The Malaysian Insider, referring to the chorus of criticism the country has been receiving following the Allah decision.

Last week, a three-man Court of Appeal bench unanimously overturned the 2009 Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling that allowed the Catholic Church to use the word “Allah” in its weekly publication, Herald.

Muslim scholars and clerics worldwide have criticised the ban, pointing out that the word predates Islam and was a word that meant God in Arabic.

Asri, a 42-year-old Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) associate professor and known to supporters as the “voice of reason” and to critics as a “promoter of liberalism”, is one of those who had condemned the ban on Allah for non-Muslims.

He had previously said that as long as the word Allah was used to refer to “the Most Supreme Being”, the non-Muslims could use the word.

“So actually it is a non-issue. Muslims believe in one God. So how can we say your God is different from mine?” he had said before.

In an interview with The Malaysian Insider recently, Asri said it is ridiculous if they say the word is exclusive to Muslims.

“Civilisations that practised tolerance prospered and stayed as a society much longer than those that did not.” Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Allah’ curbs hurting M’sia’s moderate Muslim image

Stuart Grudgings
Oct 23, 2013

Malaysia’s self-styled image as a global leader of moderate Islam has been undermined by a court ruling that only Muslims can use the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God, with a growing number of Muslim scholars and commentators condemning the decision.

A Malaysian court ruled last week that the word was “not an integral part of the faith in Christianity”, overturning a previous ruling that allowed a Malay-language Roman Catholic newspaper to use the word.

Since then, confusion has reigned over the interpretation of the ruling, with government ministers, lawyers and Muslim authorities giving widely diverging views on its scope.

Critics of the decision have said it casts a chill on religious rights in Muslim-majority Malaysia, which has substantial minorities of ethnic Chinese and Indians.

Commentators in some countries that practice Islam more strictly than Malaysia have condemned the ruling, arguing that the word ‘Allah’ has been used by different faiths for centuries. Read the rest of this entry »

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Muslim MPs, education groups say animal slaughter in school compound is wrong

by Elizabeth Zachariah and Yiswaree Palansamy
The Malaysian Insider
October 22, 2013

Muslim MPs from PAS and PKR as well as educational organisations have spoken out against the practice of carrying out ritual slaughter in schools during the recent Hari Raya Aidiladha celebrations.

PAS Kuala Krai MP Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli said any school should be off limits for the slaughter of animals.

“Be it religious schools, ethnic-based schools or national schools,” said Dr Hatta.

“In the truest nature of observing the holy Qurban, there is no need to openly slaughter animals in the presence of others, especially in an area where people of other faith reside, work or carry out activities,” he added, referring to the Arabic word for sacrificial slaughter. Read the rest of this entry »

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Putrajaya desperately back-pedalling over Allah issue, say constitutional lawyers

by V. Anbalagan
The Malaysian Insider
October 21, 2013

There appears to be a conscious effort by Putrajaya to dilute the Court of Appeal ruling on the Allah issue, an approach driven by fear of losing further support among East Malaysians, say constitutional lawyers.

Speaking to The Malaysian Insider, the lawyers said Putrajaya was in “damage control” mode as the Court of Appeal ruling had far-reaching implications, having caused an uproar among non-Muslims.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak told an audience in Sabah that East Malaysian Christians are free to use the word Allah in their worship and publications, including the Al-Kitab, which is the Bahasa Malaysia bible. Read the rest of this entry »

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Standing up for the right things, not the stable ones

October 21, 2013

Time for some honesty. Twenty-five years ago when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad dismantled one of the most respected judicial institutions in the Commonwealth and destroyed the concept of separation of powers in Malaysia, how many Malaysians were truly upset with his interference?

Not disappointed or perturbed, but truly upset.

Think back to the sacking of Tun Salleh Abas in 1988 and the suspension of Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader, Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohamed Salleh, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawan Teh and Datuk George Seah.

Think back to the constitutional amendments pummelled through Parliament by Dr Mahathir, changes which essentially divested the judiciary of some of its powers.

No shame in admitting that the incident called the judicial crisis of 1988 barely registered a blip on the radar of most Malaysians. Read the rest of this entry »

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