Testy times call for soul searching of the Fourth Estate

Terence Fernandez
The Malaysian Insider
10 September 2014

It has been a testy time for the media with the powers that be. In just two weeks, we have had a reporter from an online portal detained for sedition in Penang, Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi demanding an English daily retract and apologise for a news report which depicted him as being a chauvinist (which the paper duly did and apologised) and attempts by a lawyer representing a well-connected firm to compel yours truly and a colleague to reveal sources who were quoted in a front page report last month.

On a separate note, there is also the ongoing repartee between the Malaysian Press Photographers Association (MPPA) and the family of a MH17 victim following a fracas at the Nirvana Memorial Park on September 2 when a grieving family member punched a photographer and broke his camera for allegedly invading their privacy.

Meanwhile, colleague Azril Annuar has been preoccupied entertaining the continuous requests from Kajang Police for statements on an article quoting Rafizi Ramli on the reason for the “Kajang Move” that saw PKR leader Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail contest a vacated Kajang state seat to enable her to throw her hat into the menteri besar ring.

As we now know, Rafizi was charged for sedition on August 28. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why broadband is slower and costlier in Malaysia

G Sharmila
Sept 8, 2014

Malaysia has ambitions of becoming a developed nation in six years’ time, yet broadband speed and affordability remains a critical, unresolved issue. In fact, research shows that even Thailand is ahead of us in terms of broadband speed and affordability. Where did we go wrong?

Although Malaysia is targeting developed nation status by 2020, our broadband speeds are still lagging behind our closest neighbour Singapore, and even that of Vietnam and Thailand, as shown by a study in April this year by Asean DNA.

The study was highlighted in an article by Asean Briefing, which said that within Asean, Singapore and Thailand have the fastest average Internet speeds at 61 megabits per second (mbps) and 17.7 mbps. Vietnam has an average speed of 13.1 mbps while Cambodia has 5.7 mbps. Malaysia on the other hand, has an average speed of 5.5 mbps. The average Asean Internet speed is 12.4 mbps, which puts our broadband speed well below average.

What’s more disturbing is that while Malaysia lags behind in Internet speeds, it’s service comes at a much higher price – more than triple that of services in countries such as Singapore and Thailand on a comparable basis .

A Comparison of Broadband Speeds and Charges 090914 02For instance, Telekom Malaysia Bhd’s UniFi charges RM199 (US$62.40) a month for its 10mbps fibred Internet service, while as the article by Asean Briefing points out Singapore’s largest telco offers 15 mbps Internet for US$30 a month and Thailand charges around US$25 a month for 12 mbps speeds. Read the rest of this entry »

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How far back do we go before being seditious becomes ridiculous?

10 September 2014

Today, a Malaysian preacher was charged with sedition for something he wrote in his Facebook account in November 2012. That is about 22 months ago.

How far will the authorities go back to decide what is seditious and what is not?

Would what Tunku Abdul Rahman say about seeking independence or what Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said in the constitutional crisis of 1983 and 1993 be considered seditious under the Sedition Act 1948? Read the rest of this entry »

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Teoh Beng Hock appeal verdict a turning point?

– Koon Yew Yin
The Malaysian Insider
10 September 2014

In the last few years, the reputation of Malaysia’s judiciary for fairness and adherence to do justice strictly according to the law has taken a severe beating.

Notorious cases such as the Linda Joy, Anwar Ibrahim, Nizar vs Zambry, and other less politically visible cases have raised public doubts as to whether our judges, especially in cases with politically sensitive outcomes, are able to arrive at fair and just decisions.

Or whether in fact the opposite has taken place with judges more concerned with career advancement and playing ball with the powers that be. Read the rest of this entry »

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Datuk Seri, please do the right thing

By Azrul Mohd Khalib | MMO
September 9, 2014

Datuk Seri Najib Razak, I, like many Malaysians around the country, support your call to repeal the Sedition Act of 1948.

There are periods in history when we are at the right place, at the right time and are called upon to act. To do what our conscience tells us as necessary because only we can. Times like these are few and far in between, when we are called to action to make right that which is wrong, heal that which has been hurt and practise that which we speak of. This is one such opportunity.

The 1948 Sedition Act is a piece of colonial era legislation which was born during a time when our penjajah, the English, intended to suppress dissent, maintain power and continue the oppression and subjugation of the people of Malaya.

It was intended to extinguish the flame of democracy which burned brightly amongst those who yearned for freedom and a better future for everyone in this country. It is an instrument born of fear, insecurity, is against democratic principles and aimed to tyrannise the ruled and to see and treat the rakyat as the enemy. It was used on the people who fought for this country’s independence. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib desperate to be relevant

By M Bakri Musa | TMI
9 September 2014

Last Saturday, September 6, 2014, marked a milestone of sorts for Prime Minister Najib Razak. On that day he exceeded the tenure of his predecessor, Abdullah Badawi. Abdullah served for five years, five months, and three days, the extra day thrown in with the 2008 leap year. Najib had his too in 2012. The traditional time lines for a new leader are the first hundred and first thousand days. For Najib that was July 12, 2009 and December 18, 2011.

The “First 100 Days” is President Roosevelt’s (FDR) phrase. To him that was the best or most opportune period for a new leader to reshape the course of a nation. Did he ever? The “First One Thousand Days” also referred to FDR, the title of a book by his senior aide. The expression now is associated more with Kennedy’s Camelot days in the White House. In my profession, thousand days refer to the period before a child’s second birthday when good health and nutrition, as well as parental involvement and a stimulating home environment, are critical.

Najib had little to show by all three time lines. Today he struggles and is in fact desperate to be relevant. He is less criticised, more ignored – a much worse fate for a leader. Read the rest of this entry »

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RM5,900 a month income is simply not true

By Steven Sim | TMI
9 September 2014

People say politicians often tell lies. But really, more often than not, they actually give us statistics. What is the difference? I’ll let Mark Twain tell you: “There are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies and statistics”.

The latest statistics our government proudly brandish at us is the report that household income in Malaysia has surpassed RM5,900 a month. This was presented by Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, the former Maybank boss roped into the Cabinet as “economy minister”.

Intuitively, most Malaysians know it’s a farce. Why?

Because many families we know, maybe including our own, earn much lesser than RM5,900 a month.

Because even the government itself proudly claimed that its cash transfer programme BR1M has benefited 80% of Malaysian households. The only condition for BR1M is that a recipient household must earn less than RM3,000 a month. Read the rest of this entry »

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Most Selangor voters believe water shortage due to politics, survey shows

8 September 2014

The number one issue that Selangor voters want resolved soon is the state’s water shortage, with the majority of them believing that politics is behind the constant disruption in water supply, according to a recent survey.

The joint survey by The Malaysian Insider and Merdeka Center found that water supply topped Selangor voters’ list of concerns at 43%, followed closely by crime (40%), cost of living (20%), affordable housing (19%) and traffic congestion (11%).

Asked whether they believed the water crisis was due to politics, 63% of the 808 respondents said “yes”. They were polled from August 11 to August 17.

However, voters were split over who was responsible, with 24% blaming the state government, 22% blaming Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas), and 22% blaming the weather.

Voters were also almost equally divided on whether or not the state’s water resources were well-managed, with 40% saying yes and another 48% saying no. Read the rest of this entry »

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Discomfiting glare falls on journalists after sedition rap

BY Joseph Sipalan | MMO
September 8, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 8 — Journalists in Malaysia have been thrust under the unaccustomed glare of the spotlight, grappling with the startling arrest of one of their number in a sedition blitz that has snagged politicians and an academic over the past couple of weeks.

The detention of Malaysiakini journalist Susan Loone drew silent indignation among many in the industry, who saw no call for punitive action against a reporter simply doing her job.

Malaysia, already low on a key gauge of press freedom, could sink further. The World Press Freedom Index 2014 , released by global media watchdog, Reporters Sans Frontières, ranked Malaysia at 147th out of a total of 180 nations., tumbling 23 places from 2013.

Loone was detained on September 4 and reportedly questioned for nine hours in connection to police reports lodged against her and Malaysiakini over an article she wrote related to the police’s recent crackdown on the Penang Volunteer Patrol Unit (PPS). Read the rest of this entry »

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Define sedition for us simple folk

By Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS and Datin Dr Lim Swee Im | MMO
7 September 2014

SEPTEMBER 7 — The recent spate of illogical arrests for alleged sedition has confused many of us. It seems that any simple statement can be viewed as sedition and seems to depend on personal interpretation. In view of this can we suggest that the authorities circulate guidelines as to what constitutes sedition from their point of view.

To aid us some examples are listed below. Which of these would be considered seditious? Please enlighten us so we can be careful not to upset the sensitivities of the government. Please note that we are just quoting what has been said by others or reported in media and in no way are uttering these potentially seditious comments.

Example 1: Describing our national football team as duds?

Many Malaysians have attested to this and it is supported by the extremely poor performance of the team. Most of us just want a good football team we can be proud of, and feel that speaking out would be constructive. But it can be construed that criticising the team is an affront to our national pride of “Malaysia Boleh” and may “raise discontent or disaffection amongst the … inhabitants of Malaysia” as stated under the Sedition Act 1948.

Example 2: Calling non-Malays “pendatang”? Read the rest of this entry »

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What next?

By Christine Lai | TMI
September 6, 2014

“Even the Chinese like it; they buy a lot”. I looked more closely at the piece of lingerie in my hand. Yes, that’s right, lingerie or in plain English — underwear of the female kind. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. What, now even underwear has gone racist, is it?

I wanted to ask the enthusiastic salesgirl, “So how about the Indians, they don’t like?” But I kept my peace. Who knows, if I open my big mouth and get overheard by some zealous patriot who feels insulted about their ‘rights’ to inner fashion, I might get a slew of police reports lodged against me. Which pity our men-in-blue, they may then have to waste their precious time hauling puny little me in for investigation under the Sedition or whatever Act for promoting ill-will and inciting hatred in society. Look, they already have their hands full with honourable MPs, ADUNs, oh, and don’t forget university lecturers. I should just keep my mouth shut and pray like a good Malaysian.

Which I do. Pray, I mean; though I am not too sure about the “good” Malaysian bit. Nowadays if I listen or read too much, sometimes I wonder. After all, sometime back my ‘kind’ has been called ‘pendatang’ and recently anti-Malay, anti-Islam, anti-bumiputra and arrogant. And if I voted opposition, for sure I am classified anti-government. That’s a lot of A’s but all not ‘good’. Despite that, I am still Malaysian, right — at least I think so. Last I checked my Kad Pengenalan, it’s still blue and the words imprinted on it.

If I were made of lesser stuff (not that I am great stuff, but just a matter of speech), I would really be very doubtful of my status as a Malaysian. I am supposed to feel good about being Malaysian, especially with all that ra ra ra parade, videos and speeches made just about a week ago, on August 31st. I anticipate being treated to a second round in about two weeks’ time come Sept 16th. More of that “How far we have come as a nation united in diversity” line, blah blah blah. Which apparently for some means that I can only be Malaysian if I do, say or think certain things a certain way, like ‘them.’ Read the rest of this entry »

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DAP lodges 2nd police report on Beng Hock’s death

7 September 2014

DAP lodged a police report in Puchong today as part of its nationwide move to pressure the authorities to find the culprit responsible for Teoh Beng Hock’s death following a Court of Appeal verdict on Friday.

The Court of Appeal set aside the open verdict by a coroner on Beng Hock’s death five years ago, ruling that “a person or persons were responsible for his death”.

Kinrara assemblyman Ng Sze Han said someone should be responsible for the political aide’s death as stated in the verdict by the Court of Appeal and that action should be taken against the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officers involved in Teoh’s case in 2009.

“They should be suspended from duty immediately as they are not fit to work,” said Ng after lodging a report at the Serdang police headquarters in Puchong today.
“After five years of fight, the family finally see some hope. We applaud the court decision.”

He said this was the second police report lodged by DAP. The first was in Ipoh yesterday. More reports are expected to be lodged nationwide by DAP to put pressure against the investigators. Read the rest of this entry »

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Special police team to reopen investigation into Teoh Beng Hock’s death

6 September 2014

Bukit Aman has formed a special team to reopen the investigations into the death of Teoh Beng Hock (pic), who died under mysterious circumstances in 2009.

Federal Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Seri Mohmad Salleh told The Malaysian Insider that police would relook Teoh’s case to decide if it should be reclassified as murder.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal set aside the open verdict by a coroner into Teoh’s death in 2009, ruling that “a person or persons were responsible” for his death.

The police’s initial findings ruled Teoh’s death as sudden death but Mohmad said more witnesses would be called if such a need arose.

“We will investigate to ascertain if there is a possibility that Teoh’s death was a result of or was accelerated by unknown individuals,” Mohmad said. Read the rest of this entry »

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112 NGOs band together to fight Sedition Act

5 September 2014

A movement dubbed “Abolish the Sedition Act” (GHAH) was launched today in response to the use of the draconian law as a means of political repression and terror.

A total of 112 civil society organisations are part of this movement, which said it wants to bury the colonial-era law if Malaysia is to be a truly independent nation.

“The Sedition Act is clearly being misused to protect the government and its interests, clamp down on the opposition and dissidents, make certain issues off limits, stifle civil liberties and create a climate of fear reminiscent of the worst days under the iron-fisted Mahathir regime,” said Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen at a press conference today.

He said the movement was concerned with the selective prosecution under the act, adding that the Attorney-General was targeting government critics.
“Over the past month, the act has been indiscriminately used in a new wave of political repression and terror and whose targets have included elected representatives and lawyers who have a public duty to speak on matters of public interest,” Paulsen said.

The movement’s demands include the repeal of the act and for existing sedition charges to be dropped. Read the rest of this entry »

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DAP leader: Drop sedition probe on Kit Siang for Beng Hock ‘murdered’ claim


PUTRAJAYA, Sept 5 — The police should immediately drop its sedition probe of DAP veteran leader Lim Kit Siang for claiming that political aide Teoh Beng Hock was “murdered” in 2009, party leader Teo Nie Ching said today.

Teo said the Court of Appeal’s ruling today that Teoh’s death was caused by the actions of unknown persons including the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers has “proven” that Lim was correct in making his claim.

“Beng Hock did not commit suicide and it was not an accidental death, someone caused his death and therefore it is correct for Lim Kit Siang to say that Teoh Beng Hock was murdered and the investigation against him should immediately stop,” the DAP assistant publicity secretary told reporters here in an immediate response after the judgement was delivered.

On August 4, police recorded a statement from Lim over his allegedly seditious remark in a July 16 article, which was published on party portal The Rocket, regarding the unexplained death of Teoh five years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

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Court of Appeal reverses open verdict ruling in Teoh Beng Hock’s death

5 September 2014

The Court of Appeal has set aside the open verdict by a coroner on the death of Teoh Beng Hock five years ago, ruling that “a person or persons were responsible for his death”.

Judges Datuk Mohamad Arif Md Yusof, Datuk Mah Weng Kwai and Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer delivered separate judgments.

Mah said the coroner and the High Court erred in law in applying the wrong standard of proof.

He said‎ it should be on the balance of probability and not beyond reasonable doubt, adding that a person or persons were responsible for his death.
This unprecedented verdict may force the police to reopen investigations into Teoh’s death.

Coroner Azmil Muntapha on January 5, 2011 returned a verdict that Teoh’s death was neither a suicide nor homicide.

The High Court on December 1, 2011 upheld that decision. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, politics, age or gender to unite to save Malaysia from the New Despotism

Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, politics, age or gender must unite to save Malaysia from the New Despotism which showed its ugly face on the 57th Merdeka anniversary.

Who would have imagined that the 57th Merdeka anniversary would see a quintuplet assault on Malaysian nation building, democracy, the rule of law, press freedom and academic freedom as illustrated by the following instances:

1. Escalation of the rhetorics and politics of racist and religious extremism with UMNO Ministers, leaders and cybertroopers enjoying immunity and impunity for making the most racist, incendiary and intolerant utterances;

2. A slew of malicious and selective prosecution of Pakatan Rakyat Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen on sedition and other criminal charges which could lead to the most number of parliamentary and state assembly by-elections in Malaysian history, resulting from disqualification of MPs and SAs convicted of criminal offences.

3. The most number of selective and malicious prosecutions on sedition and other criminal charges aimed stifling dissent in the country.

4. Malaysiakini reporter, Susan Loone, being investigated for sedition for carrying out her journalistic duties.

5. The first academician, Prof Azmi Sharom, charged for sedition for giving his legal opinions on legal and constitutional developments in the country – which is the most serious attack on academic freedom in recent times.

Patriotic Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, politics, age or gender must unite to save Malaysia from this New Despotism which the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, has initiated on the occasion of his sixth Merdeka Anniversary.

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The bloodlust behind the Islamic State’s beheading of Steven Sotloff

By Terrence McCoy
Washington Post
September 3 2014

It began with a knife, an orange tunic and a name. “I am Steven Joel Sotloff,” the bedraggled journalist said. “I’m sure you know exactly who I am by now. And why I’m appearing before you.” Sotloff paused for a long moment, kneeling on the desert floor, and looked directly into the Islamic State’s camera. He neither wept nor begged. There was only resignation. “And now,” he said, “it is time for my message.”

After it was done and Sotloff was dead, the knife-wielding man who has come to be known as “Jihadi John” grabbed another Western hostage. Promising to “strike the necks” of more Americans if the United States continues airstrikes against the Islamic State, he warned, “We take this opportunity to warn those governments that enter this evil alliance of American against the Islamic State to back off and leave our people alone.”

The beheading of Sotloff, two weeks after journalist James Foley’s decapitation, is an Islamic State calling card. In the last week alone, militants decapitated a Kurdish man and then days later beheaded a Lebanese soldier in an additional video. The decapitations are brutal and terrifying. But are they politically motivated? Or do they instead betray an unhinged brand of violence that is ultimately self-defeating? Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib premiership has not gone bonkers – there is logic in the madness as ISA is not the only route to authoritarianism

Many Malaysians are asking whether the Najib administration has gone bonkers with the political dysfunction of his five-year premiership most conspicuous on the occasion of the 57th Merdeka Day celebrations, viz:

• Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s break with the tradition of pre-recording and broadcast of Merdeka Day message to have “eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart” connection with all Malaysians in a “live” speech with the triple theme and thrust of unity, confidence and prosperity totally ignored by Umno Ministers and leaders who before and after Merdeka Day on August 31 continued to fan the flames of national disunity and racial discord by propagating the reckless and baseless myth that the Malay race and Islam are under attack.

• Najib’s pledge to repeal the Sedition Act and to make Malaysia “the best democracy in the world” torn into shreds with him presiding over the most number of sedition prosecutions against Opposition leaders and dissent under any Malaysian Prime Minister, while UMNO Ministers, leaders, UMNO cybertroopers and their front organisations allowed unchecked to spout incendiary and seditious utterances with immunity and impunity. Read the rest of this entry »

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After ‘attack’ on academic freedom, UM students to rally forth

The Malay Mail Online
By Ida Lim
September 3, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — Angered by the sedition prosecution of their vocal law lecturer Dr Azmi Sharom, a group of University of Malaya (UM) scholars will lead a rally here next Wednesday to reclaim fully their academic freedom.

Student leader Vince Tan said the charge against Azmi over the latter’s comments on the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis, is an “attack” on institutions of higher learning, and voiced concern at the growing repression of intellectual thinking.

“We feel there is an attack on academic freedom. We have come to a level that is beyond acceptable, because academic freedom in UM and Malaysia has gone so low. (An) academic can be charged for just stating an opinion in the field of his study.

“So we are coming out with a protest together with academics in UM, September 10, 1pm to 2pm,” the secretary-general of student rights group Progressive University of Malaya told Malay Mail Online when met at the court complex here yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »

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