Archive for category IT

The story that is dividing Malaysia’s media

Listening Post | 19 Apr 2016
Al Jazeera

For much of the past year, the biggest news story in Malaysia has been the so-called ‘1MDB’ corruption scandal – a story of millions of dollars of public money allegedly funnelled into the bank accounts of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The online investigative magazine Sarawak Report broke the story last June and many in the mainstream media, who have links to the government, were slow to follow up.

Only a small number of online outlets, such as Malaysiakini, followed the corruption investigation closely. But the government is keen to keep this story out of the public eye. The Listening Post spoke to Malaysiakini editor Steven Gan about the 1MDB scandal, the limitations of Malaysia’s mainstream media and the growing threat to online freedom of the press.

Steven Gan, editor-in-chief of the Malaysiakini website, speaks about the 1MDB scandal, and the growing threat to online freedom press [Will Yong/ Al Jazeera]

The Listening Post: The corruption scandal swirling around the prime minister has been a huge news story in Malaysia. What is the significance of this story? How much has it dominated the news and what impact is it having?
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The Panama Papers’ Sprawling Web of Corruption

by The Editorial Board
New York Times
APRIL 5, 2016

The first reaction to the leaked documents dubbed the Panama Papers is simply awe at the scope of the trove and the ingenuity of the anonymous source who provided the press with 11.5 million documents — 2.6 terabytes of data — revealing in extraordinary detail how offshore bank accounts and tax havens are used by the world’s rich and powerful to conceal their wealth or avoid taxes.

Then comes the disgust. With more than 14,000 clients around the world and more than 214,000 offshore entities involved, Mossack Fonseca, the Panama-based law firm whose internal documents were exposed, piously insists it violated no laws or ethics. But the questions remain: How did all these politicians, dictators, criminals, billionaires and celebrities amass vast wealth and then benefit from elaborate webs of shell companies to disguise their identities and their assets? Would there have been no reckoning had the leak not occurred?

And then the core question: After these revelations, will anything change? Many formal denials and pledges of official investigations have been made. But to what degree do the law and public shaming still have dominion over this global elite? A public scarred by repeated revelations of corruption in government, sports and finance will demand to know. Read the rest of this entry »

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Inside Cyberjaya, Malaysia’s failed Silicon Valley

by NICOLE KOBIE
Wired
05 APRIL 16

It’s past three in the morning, and our cab driver is lost – not only had he never heard of the city of Cyberjaya, but he also couldn’t find our hotel at its centre, the wonderfully named Cyberview Lodge Resort, built twenty years ago when ground was first struck at this would-be Malaysian Silicon Valley.

As we swung around yet another empty roundabout in the middle of the jungle, naked of any buildings or road signs, it was hard to fault the driver.

Ask government officials and developers, and Cyberjaya is a success, the heart of its knowledge-based economy: 85,000 people live there, they say, and dozens of multinationals have offices – and in a few years the train lines will reach out here, too. But ask a taxi driver in capital city Kuala Lumpur, only thirty minutes’ drive away, and they haven’t a clue what you’re on about.

Even those embedded in the tech industry might not be aware of Malaysia’s early attempt to jump on the digital bandwagon; I first heard of it via a now obscure story by Canadian journalist Chris Turner, who visited Cyberjaya in 2000, three years after its press launch. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Panama Papers: Here’s What We Know

by Liam Stack
New York Times
APRIL 4, 2016

A group of global news organizations published articles this week based on a trove of leaked confidential documents from a law firm in Panama. They exposed how some of the world’s most powerful people were said to have used offshore bank accounts to conceal their wealth or avoid taxes.

The documents, known as the “Panama Papers,” named international politicians, business leaders and celebrities in a web of unseemly financial transactions, according to the articles, and raised questions about corruption in the global financial system. Many of the figures named in the leak have denied in the strongest terms that they had broken any laws.

This explainer has been tracking significant developments resulting from the disclosures. Among them:

• The prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, resigned Tuesday.

• Gonzalo Delaveau Swett, the president of Transparency Chile, a branch of a global anti-corruption group, stepped down on Monday. Read the rest of this entry »

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How a Cryptic Message, ‘Interested in Data?,’ Led to the Panama Papers

by Nicola Clark
New York Times
APRIL 5, 2016

PARIS — The leak of millions of private financial documents linking scores of the world’s rich and powerful to a secretive Panamanian law firm peddling in shell companies and offshore bank accounts began more than a year ago with a cryptic message to a German newspaper from an anonymous whistle-blower.

“Hello, this is John Doe,” the source wrote to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a Munich-based newspaper that had worked on several investigations into tax evasion and money-laundering scandals. “Interested in data?”

“We’re very interested,” replied Bastian Obermayer, a veteran of several investigations into financial scandals. Read the rest of this entry »

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Silencing the media in Malaysia

by Sonia Randhawa
New Mandala
16 MARCH 2016

Malaysia has a long history of cracking down on freedom of expression, writes Sonia Randhawa. But that won’t stop Malaysians from fighting back.

Over the past few weeks, the number of websites blocked in Malaysia has more than doubled, from 149 to 339, leaving the promises made about the country’s Multimedia Super Corridor lying in tatters.

Banned websites include The Malaysian Insider and the blogging platform Medium.com — apparently because of one article published on the 1MDB scandal. It’s akin to blocking YouTube because of one video.

It’s a long way from the attempts to foster a knowledge-based economy and modern state by 2020. If technology was meant to send Malaysians sprinting down the information superhighway, these recent moves represent dangerous obstacles to oncoming traffic. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib making fatal mistake of underestimating the intelligence of Internet users in Malaysia to be able to differentiate truth from falsehoods in 14GE just as Pak Lah made the fatal mistake in 12GE in 2008 in underestimating the impact of Internet

Let me preface my speech with some observations about what the distinguished panelists have said this evening.

Firstly, the special appearance of the founder of Sarawak Report, Claire Brown from United Kingdom on Skype including a question-and-answer session with the audience in this hall highlights the futility of those in power to censor or control the flow of information in the Internet era.

Secondly, thanks to the government ban on The Malaysian Insider, more Malaysians have acquired the very simple skills of circumventing the Internet walls erected by Putrajaya to block access to The Malaysian Insider and other websites, with The Malaysian Insider becoming The Malaysian Outsider, getting acquainted with Unblocking sites and the “wide wide wide” world of Internet devoted to fighting all forms of Internet censorship. This is because all the secrets of overcoming Internet censorship can be mastered in a few minutes by searching the solutions on the Internet.

The CEO of Malaysiakini, Premesh Chandran had rightly cited the “tsunami” loss of UMNO/Barisan Nasional in the 12th General Election in 2008 to the Internet as the Prime Minister at the time, Tun Abdullah had subsequently admitted his “serious misjudgment” in underestimating the power of the Internet, losing the cyberwar to the Opposition. Read the rest of this entry »

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DAP’s most important and challenging tests are not in the past 50 years but in next 20, 30 years

It was exactly 30 years ago that I moved from Kota Melaka parliamentary seat to Penang to contest in Tanjong constituency – the Battle of Tanjong of 1986 – against the incumbent Dr. Koh Tsu Koon who was to become the Penang Chief Minister for four terms spanning 18 years from 1990 to 2008.

DAP comrades in Penang had in fact suggested in early seventies that I move to Penang to lead the DAP charge to make Penang the “engine head” for political change in Malaysia, and although this suggestion was made at every subsequent general election, I had not agreed to the move from “south to north” until the 1986 general election.

Although the subsequent “Battles of Tanjong 2 and Tanjong 3” in 1990 and 1995 did not succeed in DAP capturing the Penang State Government, this objective was finally achieved in the 2008 and 2013 General Elections, and it is my hope that Penang will not only continue to be the seat of DAP-led Penang State Government, but the base for the achievement of federal change of government in Putrajaya in the next 14th General Election.

Although the DAP is now celebrating our 50th anniversary, I believe that the DAP’s most important and challenging tests are not in the past 50 years, but in the next 20 to 30 years.
We want the DAP message of justice, freedom, good governance and national unity not just to ring loud and clear in Penang but throughout Malaysia, in Peninsula Malaysia as well as in Sarawak and Sabah.
DAP is in the throes of an important transition, and we must be guided by two challenging objectives and principles. Read the rest of this entry »

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Has Guan Eng rocketed from a jailbird to become Malaysia’s 22nd richest person worth RM2.87 billion – in the league of Robert Kuok and Ananda Krishnan?

What a coincidence!

The same day that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak lumped news portals with “keyboard warriors and cybertroopers” for “unhealthy practice of journalism” in an attempt to justify the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) blockade of the news portal The Malaysian Insider, there was another blast of lies against the DAP.

This was in the form of an alleged list of the “richest” persons in Malaysia (below) circulated on the Internet, with the DAP Secretary-General and Penang Chief Minister listed as the No. 22 “richest” person in Malaysia, worth RM2.87 billion – preceded by 21 “richest” in Malaysia, ranging from Robert Kuok (RM42.2b), Ananda Krishnan (RM31.2b), Quek Leng Chan (22.3b) Teh Hong Piow (19.6b), Lee Shin Cheng (RM19.4), Lim Kok Thay (19.2b), Yeoh Tiong Lay (RM9.5b), Lao Cho Kun (RM6.5b), Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary (RM6.1b), Surin Upatkoon (RM4.8b), Kuan Kam Hon (RM4.6b), Tiong Hiew King (RM4.2b), Danny Tan Chee Sing (RM4.1b), G. Gnanalingam (RM4.06b), Lee Oi Hian & Lee Hau Hian (RM3.86b), Desmond Lim Siew Choon (RM3.82b), Vincent Tan (RM3.8b), Jeffrey Cheah (RM3.65b), Yaw Teck Seng & Yaw Chee Ming (RM3.16b), Goh Peng Ooi (RM3.06b), Tan Heng Chew, Eng Soon & Eng Hwa (RM2.9b) – and richer than others like Chen Lip Keong (RM2.61b), Ahmadyuddin Ahmad (RM2.42b),Lim Kuang Sia (RM2.4b), Lim Kang Hoo (RM2.32b), Shahril & Shahriman Shamsuddin (RM2.04b), Mokhzani Mahathir (RM2.02b), Ngau Boon Keat (RM2b), Ninian Mogan Lourdenadin RM1.98b),Azman Hashim (RM1.96b), Lim Teck Meng (RM1.48b), Chong Chook Yew (RM1.43b), Kong Hon Kong (RM1.37b), Leong Hoy Kum (RM1.24b), etc.

Has Guan Eng rocketed from a jailbird to become Malaysia’s 22nd richest person worth RM2.87 billion – in the league of Robert Kuok and Ananda Krishnan?

I did a quick search and found that it was Forbe’s 2016 Ranking of Malaysia’s 50 Richest, and the list was as correct except for Guan Eng’s listing as No. 22’s Richest, when it should be Lim Wee Chai. Read the rest of this entry »

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Banning The Malaysian Insider is like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly – what is the Najib government trying to hide?

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, seems to be fulfilling his vow made during the recent commemoration of his 40 years of involvement of politics – with reams and reams of congratulatory advertorials finally paid for by the taxpayers – that he would strive to take Malaysia to “greater heights”.

Malaysia had never achieved “greater heights” in corruption than under the Najib premiership – being named third in the world’s “worst corruption scandals in 2015” and dropping four places in Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2015.

Now, Najib has brought Malaysia to a new “greater height” of being the first Prime Minister in Malaysia to violate the 20-year Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Bill of Guarantees of “No Censorship of the Internet”, a guarantee made by Tun Dr. Mahathir when he was Prime Minister “as a gift to the world”, with the ban yesterday on the news portal, The Malaysian Insider.

Described world-wide as the latest in a series of clampdowns on media organisations that have published reports critical of the government and the Prime Minister, particularly over Najib’s RM55 billion 1MDB and RM2.6 billion “donation” twin mega scandals, Malaysians and international opinion can only ask Najib what is he trying to hide and suppress when he has to use a sledgehammer to try to kill a fly and cannot rely anymore on the plain truth and nothing but the truth to win in the world of ideas? Read the rest of this entry »

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Islamic State Eludes Southeast Asian Authorities With Telegram App

By NEWLEY PURNELL and RESTY WORO YUNIAR
Wall Street Journal
Jan. 19, 2016

Terrorist group using encrypted messaging app to recruit members in Malaysia, Indonesia

Communications app Telegram Messenger is in the spotlight after the deadly terrorist attacks in Jakarta last week, with experts in Indonesia and Malaysia saying Islamic State radicals in Syria have used the platform to recruit members from Southeast Asia.

The revelations underscore both the apparent popularity of the Berlin-based app among members of the terror organization and the challenges it poses to authorities in tracking its private, encrypted chats.

Malaysian police on Saturday said its counterterrorism unit last week arrested four suspects, three of whom were recruited to join Islamic State in Syria by a Malaysian national via Telegram and Facebook Inc.’s social-networking platform.

Telegram, which in November said it blocked 78 of its public channels across 12 languages related to Islamic State, was one of the first apps to explicitly cater to privacy enthusiasts after reports in 2013 alleging widespread surveillance by U.S. intelligence.

Islamic State has used Telegram, a free platform that can be accessed via mobile devices and desktop computers, to disseminate public statements, such as its claim of responsibility for the November attacks in Paris. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Twitter really means for Islamic State supporters

Amanath Amarasingam
War on the Rocks
December 30, 2015

Abu Ahmad, one of Islamic State’s most active supporters online says he has had over 90 Twitter accounts suspended, but is not planning to slow down. He is a trusted member of what has come to be called the Baqiya family, a loose network of Islamic State supporters from around the world who share news, develop close friendships, and help each other when members get arrested or come under law enforcement surveillance. Abu Ahmad, as with all Baqiya members, agreed to talk to me on the condition that his real name and location not be published.

While Islamic State social media accounts used to flourish, Twitter has now been suspending the accounts of fighters and supporters alike. Scholars and analysts continue to debate whether this is effective and worthwhile.

For over two years now, I have co-directed a study of Western foreign fighters based at the University of Waterloo and have been interviewing — on Skype and various text messaging platforms — several dozen fighters and members of this Baqiya family. A few things are clear: First, while Twitter suspensions certainly disrupt their ability to seamlessly spread information, they have developed innovative and effective ways of coming back online. Second, these youth receive an enormous amount of emotional and social benefits from participating in their online “family.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Reality check on Malaysia’s lofty S&T achievement, goals

Natalie Heng
SciDev.Net
23/10/15

If one were to take the press release issued by the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) on 28 September at face value, one could be forgiven for assuming its lead announcement about Malaysia’s GDP per capita exceeding for the first time the average of all nations was somehow connected to developments in the country’s science, technology and innovation scene.

The press release notes down the role of the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC), run jointly by MIGHT and the New York Academy of Sciences, in advising how science and innovation should be incorporated into Malaysia’s ambitious goal of upping its GDP per capita to reach the threshold of developed country status by 2020.

The press release alludes to a variety of collaborations and initiatives to reach this goal, featuring selective quotations from the Global Innovation Index (GII) report crediting Malaysia as an innovation achiever in the last four years.

Despite all this talk, there are long-standing challenges that form a bottleneck to Malaysia’s success when it comes to fulfilling our S&T potential. Read the rest of this entry »

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Salleh should not be a spineless Minister who dare not own up and apologise for his mistakes but want his innocent subordinates to eat “dead cat”

The Communications and Multimedia Minister, Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak should not be a spineless Minister who dare not own up and apologise for his mistakes but want his innocent subordinates to eat “dead cat”!

Salleh yesterday started the blame-game in Kuching and claimed that it was the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) which provided him with the information that 71 per cent of Malaysian Internet users preferred the slower Streamyx, even as slow as 384 kilobyte per second (kpbs), instead of the faster broadband of multi-megabyte per second.

Let me tell Salleh to stop talking rubbish, and I want to reiterate that there is no country in the world which would prefer slower Internet unless it is peopled by cretins and idiots.

I do not believe anyone in MCMC would be so dense and unprofessional as to tell Salleh that 71 per cent of Malaysian Internet users preferred the slower Streamyx to faster multi-megabyte broadband.

Can he produce black-and-white to establish that he had been advised by MCMC that 71 per cent of Malaysian Internet users preferred the slower Steamyx to faster broadband, and I would agree that such a MCMC officer should be disciplined.

But if Salleh could not produce black-and-white to prove that he had been so advised by the MCMC, would he tender a double apology, one for making a most stupid and senile statement and secondly, for the cowardice and spinelessness of trying to pass the buck of his mistake to MCMC? Read the rest of this entry »

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Twitter Plans to Go Beyond Its 140-Character Limit

By Kurt Wagner and Jason Del Rey
ReCode
September 29, 2015

Twitter is building a new product that will allow users to share tweets that are longer than the company’s 140-character limit, according to multiple people familiar with the company’s plans.

It’s unclear what the product will look like, but sources say it would enable Twitter users to publish long-form content to the service. Users can already tweet out blocks of text with products like OneShot, but those are simply images, not actual text published on Twitter. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.

The 140-character limit has been one of Twitter’s trademark features since day one. It has long been scrutinized by those outside the company, and many have argued over the years that Twitter should expand it. It has also been a topic of discussion internally at Twitter for years, according to multiple sources, and has resurfaced in recent months under interim CEO Jack Dorsey as the company has been exploring new ways to grow its user base. Read the rest of this entry »

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Salleh should ask himself: What he can do for ICT in Malaysia and not what ICT can do for him!

Former Cabinet Minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz hit the nail on the head when she advised the new Minister for Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak to improve Internet services instead of shooting himself in the foot by saying Malaysians prefer slower Internet.

She said: “That is embarrassing if the world has the perception that most Malaysians prefer the slower option, and that the government is happy with that!”

Let us see whether Salleh could make amends for his howler that 71 percent of Malaysian Internet users preferred the slower Streamyx broadband package that offered speeds of between 384 kilobyte per second (Kbps) to 1 megabyte per second (Mbps) because Malaysians could not afford faster Internet plans that were more expensive.

There are no countries in the world which would prefer slower Internet unless it is peopled by cretins and idiots. Read the rest of this entry »

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Salleh has beaten all Ministers to make the most stupid Ministerial statement, not only poorly researched but highlights total ignorance of his Ministerial responsibility apart from being Najib’s Chief Blogger

Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak has beaten all Ministers to make the most stupid Ministerial statement, not only poorly researched but highlighted total ignorance of his Ministerial responsibility apart from being the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Chief Blogger.

When Salleh opened his blog statement insinuating that I may not be aware of the wide range of Internet speeds that Malaysian can choose from when I complained about the slow Internet speed in the country while his only concern since becoming the Communications and Multimedia Minister two months ago was to do propaganda work for the Prime Minister, he was actually highlighting his own ignorance.

This is because only a person who was not aware that Malaysians, and internet users in all countries, have a wide range of internet speeds to choose from depending on the cost they are prepared to pay, would have chosen to belabor this point when it was completely a non-issue!

This is not the point, as the issue is that high Internet speeds in Malaysia are too costly and unaffordable when compared to other countries when the Minister’s task is to make them affordable and popular. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia needs a Communications and Multimedia Minister who has the love and passion to overcome the poor state of Internet infrastructure in the country rather than to be the chief propagandist for Najib to fight the Prime Minister’s political survival battle

Malaysia needs a Communications and Multimedia Minister who is more concerned about the poor state of Internet infrastructure in the country than to be the chief propagandist for Datuk Seri Najib Razak to fight the Prime Minister’s political survival battle.

It has been four days since the release of the Second Quarter, 2015 State of the Internet (SOTI) Report by Akamal Technologies Inc, the global leader in content delivery network (CDN) services, showing that Malaysia is ranked poorly at 70th place worldwide and lags behind Sri Lanka and Thailand in average internet speed.

Malaysia registers an average Internet speed of 5.0 megabits per second (Mbps), which is a 17 per cent year-on-year improvement to broadband speed, but is still five ranks below Sri Lanka which registered a 50 per cent year-on-year improvement to bump up its average speed to 5.3 Mbps.

Thailand ranked 42nd overall with average connection speeds of 8.6 Mbps.
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Salleh should not only ensure no jamming of phone signals but ensure that the telcos expand their capacity by at least 20-fold in anticipation of at least half-a-million people with cell phones for the Bersih 4 rally

The Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Datuk Seri Said Keruak has said Putrajaya will not jam telecommunication towers during the Bersih 4 rally in order to block communication amongst the participants.

The Malaysian public will hold him to his promise as in the previous Bersih 3 rally, the public have found their cellphone signals jammed which could only happen as a result of the directives from the powers-that-be to the telecommunication providers (telcos).

In an Internet and information era, Malaysians expect Salleh not only to ensure that cellphone signals during the Bersih 4 rally are not jammed and rendered unserviceable, but for the telecos to greatly increase their capacities many fold to cope with the increased traffic caused by hundreds of thousands Malaysians pouring into the Federal capital, likely to be larger crowds than Bersih 1, 2 and 3.

In this connection, it is most regrettable that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is already violating his public pledge that there will no interference or interruption of the free flow of information in connection with the 34-hour long Bersih 4 overnight rally. Read the rest of this entry »

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Police arrests and investigations under Section 124B in the current crackdown against the Ministerial assurances when the law was passed in Parliament that this section will only be used against those who used “violent and unconstitutional means”

Until a month ago, nobody has heard of Section 124B but in the past few weeks, Section 124B of the Penal Code has forced itself into public consciousness as the new monstrous weapon which the Najib administration is using to launch a major crackdown and usher a new Dark Age in Malaysia.

How many people have been arrested or investigated under Section 124B of the Penal Code.

I do not know, but it is safe to say that never have so many people been arrested or investigated under Section 124B of the Penal Code on “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy” which can send a person to jail for a maximum of 20 years – and all these police arrests and investigations are against the ministerial assurances given to Parliament in 2012 when the new law was enacted that it would only be used against those who carry out “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy” by “violent and unconstitutional means”.

When pressed in Parliament on why Section 124B had not spelt out clearly that Section 124B only referred to “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy” by “violent and unconstitutional means”, the then de facto Law Minister, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz claimed that this is understood and even referred to Oxford Dictionary that “activities detrimental to Parliamentary Democracy” means “by violent and unconstitutional means”.

When Nazri presented the Penal Code amendment of the new Section 124B, Parliament was in fact given to understand that it was meant to tackle terrorism previously covered by the already repealed Internal Security Act. Read the rest of this entry »

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