Archive for category Human Rights

In Malaysia, Humor Is No Laughing Matter

By Sarah Hucal
US News
Aug. 16, 2016

A political cartoonist’s court case raises questions about this Asian nation’s limits on expression.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – His office has been raided, his employees arrested and his books banned. His last publisher worked at night, unwilling to take a sample of his previous work, lest it be discovered. Yet political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, known to most as Zunar, refuses to put down his pens, providing cartoon commentary on the Malaysian government.

Zunar has been charged with nine counts of Malaysia’s Sedition Act for social media posts criticizing the Federal Court’s decision to uphold the sodomy conviction of Anwar Ibrahim, the ruling party’s main political rival. Yet, despite facing a possible 43 years of jail time, the award-winning cartoonist continues to encourage what he says is the safest and most-powerful form of protest: laughter. “There’s no law to stop you from laughing,” points out the cartoonist during an interview in his office in the Malaysian capital.

The cover of his latest book portrays Prime Minister Najib Razak as a swashbuckling pirate. The prime minister is shown wielding a bag of 2.6 billion Malaysian ringgit, representing the $731 million the U.S. Justice Department alleges he received illicitly from the public investment fund he oversees.

Najib has denied wrongdoing and maintains the money was a gift from an unnamed Saudi donor. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on Najib to give undertaking that National Security Council Act will not be enforced until concerns of Conference of Rulers addressed by way of amendments to be presented in forthcoming Parliament

Tuesday, 7th June 2016 is a black-lettered day in the history of Malaysia, because on this day the National Security Council Act was gazetted and became the first law in the country which was NOT given the Royal Assent.

Under Clause 4(a) of Article 66 of the Federal Constitution, a bill becomes law 30 days after it is presented to the Yang di Pertua Agong, even if the Agong does not give the Royal Assent.

The Conference of Rulers on Feb. 17 had returned the National Security Council (NSC) Bill to the Attorney-General’s Chambers asking for refinement.

The Attorney-General Tan Sri Apandi Ali then said he would review some sections of the bill while Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said he took note of the rulers suggestion. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on Najib to personally stop the government harassment and persecution of cartoonist Fahmi Reza over his clown-faced Najib drawings or institute civil suit against him

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, cannot pretend continued ignorance about the police and government harassment and persecution of cartoonist Fahmi Reza over his clown-faced Najib drawings.

Fahmi was released this morning after being detained yesterday at Publika in Kuala Lumpur for selling T-shirts featuring a clown-faced Prime Minister Najib Razak.

What should concern Najib and his coterie of advisers is why there is a market for Fahmi’s clown-faced Najib drawings, whether T-shirts or other products, instead of harassing and persecuting Fahmi – which is no different from shooting the messenger instead of addressing the message.

Would there be a market for clown-faced Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, clown-faced Tun Razak, clown-faced Tun Hussein Onn, clown-faced Tun Mahathir or clown-faced Tun Abdullah.

It would be more beneficial for Najib and his coterie of political advisers to ponder these questions than be so trigger-happy as to invoke the law to abuse and misuse powers to harass and persecute Fahmi. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysians should speak up to oppose Najib’s plan to turn Malaysia into a national prison where critics and opponents of the Prime Minister and Government are prohibited from travelling freely overseas

Yesterday, I had asked whether there will be any Minister who will resign on a matter of principle if the Cabinet today is not prepared to countermand the arbitrary and undemocratic ban on Bersih Chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah and DAP National Publicity Secretary and MP for PJ Utara, Tony Pua from free travel overseas.

I have not heard of any news that any Minister or Deputy Minister is resigning his or her post in protest against such lurch towards undemocratic and arbitrary practices which have so far been the hallmark of communist and closed societies, representing a major and fundamental difference with democratic and open societies.

Is Malaysia an open and democratic society or has it regressed to become an autocratic and closed society like the North Korean communist regime?

This is a policy question which should involve every Minister and Deputy Minister in view of the “hair-raising” undemocratic and arbitrary decisions to bar critics and opponents of the Najib government like Maria Chin and Tony Pua from free travel overseas.

The Malaysian Parliament itself has become a farce if MPs like Tony Pua and civil society leaders like Maria Chin could be denied their fundamental and democratic right to travel freely overseas. Read the rest of this entry »

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Will any Minister resign tomorrow on a matter of principle if Cabinet is not prepared to take a policy decision not to emulate communist countries and closed societies by countermanding undemocratic ban on Maria Chin and Tony Pua from free travel overseas?

The Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said that the issuance of a passport is a privilege and not a right.

Nur Jazlan’s argument is flawed, for the right to free travel (which includes the right to a passport and to travel abroad) is a fundamental human right recognized by universal human rights declarations, whether Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or Article 10 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Nobody claims that such a human right is absolute, as it is limited like all other human rights under certain circumstances, but the government must act bona fide, fairly, honestly and honorably and not guilty of arbitrary abuses or excesses of power.

The ban on Bersih Chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah from travelling to South Korea to receive the Gwangju Prize on Human Rights Award and on DAP National Publicity Secretary, MP for PJ Utara and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) member, Tony Pua from travelling overseas are clear examples of such abuses of power and egregious violation of human rights in Malaysia.

This a major regression of human rights in Malaysia, as it marks a lowering of human rights standards which had never been contemplated or practiced by the five previous Prime Ministers of Malaysia – Tunku Abdul Rahman, Razak, Hussein Onn, Mahathir and Abdullah. Read the rest of this entry »

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Zahid Hamidi should tender apology to Maria Chin and Tony Pua and take immediate action to restore their fundamental democratic right to travel freely overseas

The ban on Bersih Chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah from travel overseas confirms the age-old maxim “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and the need for constant vigilance as well as effective checks-and-balance against abuses and excesses of power.

But what has come as a surprise is that the former PAC Chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed should be afflicted by this human failing so quick and fast less than a year after his appointment as Deputy Home Minister when he said yesterday that the government need not have to give reasons for barring Maria Chin from leaving Malaysia.

The ban on Maria Chin from travelling overseas is wrong on three grounds. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia on the wrong track

Opinion
THE AUSTRALIAN
APRIL 14, 2016

Malaysia’s use of its colonial-era Sedition Act to frame possible charges against former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad following his interview with The Weekend Australian is a worrying sign of the extent to which democracy, civil rights and stability are under threat in one of the most important countries in our region. Dr Mahathir, 90, was Malaysian prime minister for 22 years from 1981 to 2003. But that has not saved him from the ire of the incumbent Prime Minister, Najib Razak. Mr Najib is fighting for political survival amid the $1 billion 1MDB sovereign wealth fund corruption scandal. Although he was widely regarded as Mr Najib’s mentor, Dr Mahathir is now fiercely critical of Mr Najib, demanding his removal from office.

In his recorded interview with our Southeast Asia correspondent Amanda Hodge, Dr Mahathir argued “foreign interference” was needed to oust Mr Najib, saying: “Normally I don’t like foreign interference in Malaysia’s affairs but our avenues for redress have been closed completely. So now we have to allow interference in our domestic affairs.” Under pressure, Dr Mahathir has since sought to qualify those remarks, saying he did not ask for foreign governments to interfere. But that has not pacified Mr Najib. Read the rest of this entry »

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Child marriage is another form of modern day slavery

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
April 7, 2016

Pasir Putih MP Nik Mazian Nik Mohamad made a mockery of our institution today, by opposing the ban of child marriages by justifying that “If we restrict them from getting married, (their) lust will remain, and they will be exposed to premarital casual sex”. Not only is this justification sexist, it is a huge blow to social justice and human rights in our country.

Child marriage is catastrophic. Common sense dictates that it is immoral and the response given by Nik Mazian, indicate the distressing deterioration of reason and logic in our present day society. According to UNICEF, approximately over ‘700 million women alive today were married as children’ and similar reports by the UN, estimate that between 2011 and 2020, over 140 million children – mostly, girls, will become child brides.

Although in Malaysia, the legal minimum age for marriage under civil law for both genders is 18, girls can marry at 16 under Islamic law – and sometimes even younger with the consent of the Syariah court. In 2014, the Malaysian Syariah Judiciary Department received roughly 600 marriage applications for couples below the age of consent and approximately 446 of these applications have been approved by the department. Read the rest of this entry »

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Thanks to 1987 Operation Lalang, half a dozen ISA detainees incarcerated for 14 -16 years got released or they might have become the world’s longest-held detainees because they were forgotten by the authorities

We gather tonight for “Tribute to ISA detainees”. The Internal Security Act (ISA) which had detained without trial over 10,000 people in its 51-year iniquitous history, including political leaders and literary giants like Ahmad Boestamam, Abu Bakar Al Bakir, Burhanudin Al-Helmy, Ishak Muhammad (Pak Sako), Aziz Ishak, Syed Husin Ali, Kassim Ahmad, Samad Ismail, Anwar Ibrahim, Karpal Singh, P. Patto, Mohamad Sabu, Lim Guan Eng, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, Khalid Samad, Kamaruzaman Ismail, Nashir Hashim, Hishammudin Rais, Saari Sungib, Goh Kean Seng, and Lee Hai Chew.
I was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) twice, first time for 17 months in 1969 after my first election as Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka and the May 13, 1969 riots in Kuala Lumpur and second time, under Operation Lalang for 18 months.

Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng and I were among the first to be detained when the Operation Lalang dragnet was launched on Oct. 27, 1987, resulting in the arrest of 106 detainees from a whole spectrum of national life. Although the 49 persons formally detained under the ISA after the custodial detention and interrogation of 60 days were released in batches, Guan Eng and I were the last two to be released after 18 months of detention in April 1989.

I still remember that when I was transferred to Kamunting Detention Centre after being held for 60 days at the ISA Remand Centre in Batu, Kuala Lumpur, I was welcomed by half a dozen ISA detainees in another compound and who had obviously been incarcerated for quite some time.

I asked them how long they had been detained in Kamunting Detention Centre and I was shocked when I was told that they had been detained from 14 to 16 years. They had been languishing in the Kamunting Detention as they seemed to have been forgotten by the authorities. Read the rest of this entry »

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Breaking our silence

Lyana Khairuddin
The Malaysian Insider
2 March 2016

It has been quite a week for all of us affiliated with The Malaysian Insider.

The outpouring of support from the public only amplified the debate on our freedom of expression and access to information. It appears that Malaysians collectively need to stand up for our rights, to be empowered by information and be allowed critical thought process rather than continue to be infantilised by the powers that be.

Further, the decision to block a whole website over one article seems an over exaggeration. The impact is an oppressive silencing of many diverse Malaysian voices that is allowed a platform through this portal.

We are now forced to be outsiders, yet our concerns and voices remain Malaysian. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is Malaysia Sliding Toward Dictatorship?

By Prashanth Parameswaran
The Diplomat
March 01, 2016

A look at how the rhetoric compares to reality.

Last week, Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad grabbed headlines when he suggested that the country was heading towards becoming a dictatorship like North Korea under its current premier Najib Razak.

And as I reported over the weekend, Najib’s former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin also warned that the country was witnessing “the collapse of democratic institutions and the emergence of a new dictatorship.” Muhyiddin was sacked last year after criticizing Najib amid the 1MDB scandal, a high-profile corruption saga where the premier has been accused of mismanaging funds linked to debt-ridden state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The aforementioned statements are no doubt heavily politicized and hyperbolic. But just how close are they to reality? Read the rest of this entry »

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Sliding towards an authoritarian state

Ooi Kok Hin
The Malaysian Insider
27 February 2016

A government that uses state agencies to silent its critics. A government that demands loyalty from mainstream media.

A government that abuses state resources for its political advantage and distributes propaganda books in the universities. A government that bans a newspaper and threatens its critics with sedition.

Is this Malaysia, Egypt, Thailand or North Korea?

On its eighth birthday, The Malaysian Insider is banned by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in the name of “national security”.

The country is becoming more and more unrecognisable. When I read the news these days, I feel a tinge of shame and anger because these are the kind of news that are reported from and about despotic regimes around the world. Is this really Malaysia and not North Korea, Egypt or Thailand? Read the rest of this entry »

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Good governance, the end of rampant corruption and widespread socio-economic injustices like Najib’s twin mega scandals are the best antidotes to fight extremism and terrorism, including Islamic State (IS)

At the International Conference on Deradicalisation and Countering Violent Extremism (IDC) yesterday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said he made no apology for stopping at nothing to ensure the security and safety of Malaysians, referring in particular to the slew of draconian laws in the arsenal of the Malaysian government.

Najib’s statement to the IDC, aimed at discussing and boosting co-operation between security agencies from ASEAN and nine strategic partners including Australia, France, Italy, Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Britain and the United States, as well as discussing policies of the respective countries on deradicalisation and countering extremism, had failed to grasp the full spectrum of the threats, brutality and barbarity posed by movements like Islamic State (IS).

While far-reaching security laws are necessary, Najib and all world leaders must never lose sight of the fact that good governance, the end of rampant corruption and widespread socio-economic injustices like Najib’s twin mega scandals are the best antidotes to fight extremism and terrorism, including Islamic State (IS).

It is unfortunate that Najib had named the National Security Council (NSC) Bill as one of the necessary draconian laws to fight terrorism, as the threat of terrorism and in particular the Islamic State (IS) was never mentioned in Parliament, whether in Dewan Rakyat or Dewan Negara, as the raison d’etre why the NSC Bill was necessary. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ibrahim Ali must wrestle with his conscience, when he finds it, whether he had frantically phoned me in the seventies seeking my help when he was afraid of being detained under ISA

After the launching of Perkasa in March 2010, where Ibrahim Ali made his usual inflammatory speech, the press contacted me for my reactions and this was my response im my media statement dated 27th March 2010:

“As the press have contacted me for my reactions to the Perkasa launch and its inflammatory speeches, this is my preliminary response until I have full access to the speeches concerned.

“From the incendiary speech of the Perkasa President, Datuk Ibrahim Ali, it is clear that Perkasa is built on stilts of lies.

“It is a lie that DAP and the Malaysian Malaysia slogan were among the main factors that caused the May 13 riots.

“Has Ibrahim Ali taken 41 years after the 1969 tragedy to make this ‘discovery’.

“If DAP and Malaysian Malaysia were the causes of May 13 in 1969, DAP would have been banned long ago and DAP leaders would have languished in jail and unable to participate in Malaysian electoral politics in the past nine general elections.

“Or is Ibrahim suggesting that the Special Branch and the past five Prime Ministers had been remiss in their national duties in failing to take action against DAP, which he alleged as a threat to national security and perpetrator of May 13 riots?

“It is a lie that the DAP is against the Malays, Islam and wants to do away with the Malay Rulers.

“In the seventies, Ibrahim frantically sought my help as Parliamentary Opposition Leader when he was trying to escape detention under the Internal Security Act for his activities as a student leader.

“Why sought my help if DAP leaders were so anti-national and disloyal as he now wants to depict?”

I mentioned my statement of March 27, 2010, to illustrate that I have not suddenly invented the story of Ibrahim Ali “frantically” seeking my help in the 1970s to escape detention under the ISA. Read the rest of this entry »

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Don’t have to invent the wheel, just have the political will to do what is right and just to implement the Cabinet decision of April 22, 2009 or resign as Ministers

All eyes are on the Cabinet meeting today – will the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his 36 Ministers in the jumbo Cabinet end one of the greatest injustices of the seven-year Najib premiership – the Indira Gandhi injustice where a mother had been forcibly separated from her 11-month old baby daughter not for one or two years but for seven long years!

For seven long years, the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Parliament and the Judiciary have all failed Indira Gandhi and her daughter, and the Constitution, the laws, the courts and the system of governance have been manipulated to deny Indira and her daughter their fundamental rights as a mother and a child to be to see, hold and touch each other!

There is no need for the Cabinet today to invent the wheel. Just have the political will to do what is right and just to implement the Cabinet decision of April 22, 2009 that there should be no unilateral conversion of children and that the children of parents where one parent chooses to convert to Islam must continue to be raised in the common religion at the time of the marriage. Or resign as Ministers!

Furthermore, the Minister should demonstrate that it is not only a Cabinet of compassion and humanity, but of justice and competence by directing the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and all relevant agencies to ensure that within 48 hours, Indira Gandhi should be able to re-unite with her daughter whom she had not seen for seven long years. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can Prime Minister and Cabinet end the greatest injustice in the Najib premiership – ensure Indira Gandhi’s re-union with her daughter within 48 hours after the Prime Minister, Cabinet, Parliament and Judiciary have failed her for seven years?

Tomorrow is the Cabinet’s weekly Wednesday meeting.

One of the issues the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the 36 Ministers in the Cabinet must wrestle with is what they could to end one of the greatest injustices in the Najib premiership of six year nine months – where a mother had been forcibly separated from her 11-month old baby daughter not for one or two years but for seven years!

The Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Parliament and the Judiciary have all failed Indira Gandhi and the Constitution, the laws, the courts and the system of governance have been manipulated to deny Indira her fundamental rights as a mother to see, hold and touch her daughter!

The same week that Najib became the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia in April 2009, Indira found that her three children had without her knowledge or consent been unilaterally converted to Islam by her ex husband, who had converted to Islam a month earlier.

That started Indira’s long and still unending legal battle for control and custody of her three children. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dissipating Malaysia’s ‘big risks’

by Gurdial Singh Nijar
The Malaysian Insider
7 January 2016

As we usher in the New Year, it is time to reflect on the state of the nation – our hopes and our disappointments. We have much to be thankful for. After all, our nation is certainly not a seething cauldron of instability.

But at the same time there are disturbing trends, which if left to run their course makes for deep concern.

In this context I was reflecting on a piece by the conservative UK-based Economist magazine (“Stick-in-the-mud”, December 5, 2015). Read the rest of this entry »

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The presentation of National Security Council (NSC) Bill to Senate should be deferred until all the 13 State Governments have been consulted and agreement given for the creation of a parallel NSC government vesting the Prime Minister with executive powers to interfere with the running of the 13 state governments

Today is Human Rights Day 2015 and we should be joining with peoples all over the world to celebrate another milestone in the promotion and protection of human rights in Malaysia – but the reverse is taking place.

On the Human Rights Day this year, Malaysians are facing with the greatest threat to democratic and human rights for over a decade since the retirement of Tun Mahathir as Prime Minister with the human rights horrors committed during his 22-year premiership, like the Operation Lalang mass arrests and closure of newspapers in 1987 and the assault on the independence of the judiciary beginning in 1988.

This is what has brought us to this forum “National Security Act: To Protect or to Oppress” tonight.

I had called the National Security Council (NSC) monstrous and pernicious because it was nothing less than a quadruple power grab, usurping the constitutional powers of the Yang di Pertuan Agong and the Cabinet on the proclamation of Emergency as well as the autonomy rights of the Sarawak and Sabah State governments, and it was rushed through the Dewan Rakyat “like a thief in the night” with a vote of 107 vs 74, in a late-night session on the last day of the 25-day Parliamentary meeting without any prior notice to the major stakeholders in the land.

On closer look, the NSC Bill is even more monstrous and pernicious for it would create a parallel government with an infrastructure of bureaucracy of its own, vesting the Prime Minister with executive powers to interfere with the running of the 13 State Governments without the consent or even consultation with the State Governments concerned. Read the rest of this entry »

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DAP will mark the universal 2015 Human Rights Day by challenging the undemocratic and unconstitutional National Security Council Bill every step of the way – from Dewan Rakyat to Dewan Negara, Royal Assent, the courts and the bar of public opinion

Tomorrow, Dec. 10, is the universal Human Rights Day observed every year the commemorate the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This year’s Human Rights Day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights, which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16th December 1966.

The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings.

The theme of this year’s Human Rights Day – “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” – aims to promote and raise awareness of the two Covenants on their 50th anniversary.
The year-long campaign revolves around the theme of rights and freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear — which underpin the International Bill of Human Rights and are as relevant today as they were when the Covenants were adopted 50 years ago.
Thirty-eight years ago, in October 1977, I moved a motion in Parliament for Malaysia’s ratification of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights 1966.

I asked in Parliament during the two-day debate on my motion why the Malaysian Government was prepared to vote for its adoption in the UN General Assembly but not prepared after eleven years, to ratify the Covenant after it was opened for signature since Dec. 19, 1966. Read the rest of this entry »

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A strict and no-nonsense Prime Minister would have sacked Abdul Rahman as Minister for his shockingly insensitive tweet about bomb explosion in Kuala Lumpur in an attempt to justify the monstrous and pernicious National Security Council Bill

A strict and no-nonsense Prime Minister would have sacked Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan as a Minister for his shockingly insensitive tweet about bomb explosion in Kuala Lumpur in an attempt to justify the monstrous and pernicious National Security Council (NSC) Bill.

Responding to tweets criticizing the NSC bill, which was passed “like a thief at night” at the late-night session last Thursday on Dec 3, the final day of the 25-day budget parliamentary meeting, and which conferred on the Prime Minister such absolute executive powers as to usurp the constitutional prerogative of the Yang di Pertuan Agong to declare an emergency under Article 150 of the Malaysian Constitution, as well as to oust the powers of the Cabinet and to undermine the autonomy powers of Sarawak and Sabah, Rahman had tweeted:

“If a bomb exploded in KL then perhaps you guys would have a different view. But sadly that would be too late.”

Rahman’s tweet is not only frighteningly insensitive but also outrageously illogical. Read the rest of this entry »

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