Archive for September, 2007

Yee Yang Yang – Tawau’s pride in standing up for the freedom and rights of university students

I am happy to be back in Tawau, particularly as it has produced a youth who had stood up for the freedom and rights of all university students in the country.

I refer to Tawau youth, Yee Yang Yang, 19, first year student at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) who became the cause celebre of campus rights of university students as he was thrown into the limelight when he was victimized by UPM security personnel two weeks ago trying to cow students from asserting their human rights to independent student activism.

On Sept. 15, UPM security officials raided Yee’s hostel room and confiscated his laptop computer, high-end mobile phone, portable music player and several other items.

Being interrogated by the security officials was the least of his problems when the UPM Vice Chancellor Nik Mustapha R. Abdullah publicly defended the action of the security officials and justified the confiscation on the ground that Yee’s laptop contained pornographic materials.

This was a downright lie, which had virtually been admitted by the UPM authorities who have returned all the confiscated items to Yee.

Any lesser soul would have wilted under such unprecedented pressures from the university authorities. But Yee stoutly stood his ground. Read the rest of this entry »


Burma bloody crackdown – ASEAN high-level delegation to find out actual death toll

ASEAN should send a high-level delegation to Myanmar to ascertain the actual death toll from the bloody military crackdown of the monks-led peaceful protests as it is not only Myanmar but all ASEAN member nations which are directly affected by the savage suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations in Myanmar.

The Myanmese military junta has officially admitted to 10 dead three days ago which has no credibility whatsoever.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said that the loss of life in Burma is far greater than is being reported while the Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer claimed that the death toll is “substantially higher” than the official Myanmese figure and could be in multiples of ten higher, i.e. over 100 dead.

Dissident groups estimate close to 200 people have been killed by government forces.

Malaysia and all the other ASEAN nations cannot be impervious to the actual death toll in the carnage in Burma in the past four days.

As the Myanmar military junta had promised to usher in national reconciliation and democratization on its admission into ASEAN ten years ago in 1997, ASEAN and its member nations must be concerned about the actual death toll in Burma as equally at stake are the international reputation, credibility and even legitimacy of ASEAN and its member nations.

As Myanmar had been admitted into ASEAN in the teeth of regional and international opposition, ASEAN member nations cannot sit by the sidelines to wait for the outcome of the visit to Myanmar by the United Nations special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari but must undertake its own initiatives.

The least ASEAN can do is to send a high-level delegation to ascertain the actual death toll from the bloody military crackdown of the monks-led peaceful protests, seek release of all detained monks and protestors (including Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners) and broker a peaceful dialogue with all stakeholders in Burma. Read the rest of this entry »


No Malaysian Chinese as Federal Court judge – first time in 50 years

The 50th Merdeka anniversary should be a celebration of the success of Malaysian nation-building after 50 years. Unfortunately, Malaysians are being given proof of of many things that have gone wrong with the nation — whether national unity, civil service efficiency, independence of the judiciary, the police, crime, anti-corruption, education, economic development and quality of education.

I will just give one instance of Malaysian nation-building which has gone wrong highlighted on the occasion of the 50th Merdeka anniversary.

In the 2008 Budget presentation, the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced that as part of the effort to inculcate corporate social responsibility (CSR), all public-listed companies will be required from the financial year 2008 to disclose their employment composition by race and gender.

But has the government set a good example of responsibility with regard to ensuring a civil service which reflects the multi-racial composition of the country? Read the rest of this entry »


Lingam Tape – Abdullah should chair next Cabinet meeting to disband 3-man panel and set up RCI

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must reconsider and set up urgently a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Tape scandal as the three-man panel chaired by Tan Sri Haidar Mohamed Noor, tainted by his role in the 1988 judicial crisis, is just untenable and unacceptable.

Haidar has still to satisfactorily account for his role in the infamous episode in the 1988 judicial crisis where as Supreme Court Chief Registrar, he locked the doors of the Supreme Court and concealed the Supreme Court seal to frustrate the course of justice and prevent the Supreme Court from issuing an injunction to stop the Judicial Tribunal from continuing with its proceedings to discipline the then Lord President Tun Salleh Abas — which also led to the subsequent expulsion of Datuk George Seah and the late Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh as Supreme Court judges.

This unsavoury episode can be found both in Salleh Abas’ “May Day for Justice” as well as “Freedom under Executive Power in Malaysia” by the Minister for Culture, Arts and Heritage, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim, who was formerly Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of law and justice.

However, an even more important consideration as to why there must be a Royal Commission of Inquiry is that the issue which has shattered public confidence and caused the “March for Justice” of some 2,000 lawyers last Wednesday was not just the Lingam Tape, but the even more important issue of the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary and the rot in the system of justice since 1988.

University of Malaya law lecturer Azmi Sharom put it very well when he wrote in his Star column today “Judiciary must be protected”: Read the rest of this entry »


Burma carnage – call on ASEAN Parliaments to meet in emergency session within 3 days

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was shown on world-wide television expressing Malaysia’s “disapproval, together with other Asean countries, on the use of excessive force by the Myanmar government to put down justifiable civilian protests” in his speech at the 62nd General Assembly yesterday.

I commend Abdullah for speaking up in the United Nations although stronger language would have been more appropriate and fully justified in keeping with the “revulsion” earlier expressed by the foreign ministers of ASEAN at the UN “over reports that the demonstrations in Myanmar are being suppressed by violent force and that there has been a number of fatalities”.

Abdullah must feel a personal responsibility for the carnage taking place in Myanmar because he was the Foreign Minister ten years ago when Malaysia spearheaded the campaign to defy regional and international opinion to admit Myanmar into ASEAN in 1997, promising a constructive engagement policy which will lead to national reconciliation and democratization in Burma.

Ten years down the road, the Myanmar military junta’s promises of reform have turned to ashes and Burma is teetering on the edge of another bloodbath to repeat the massacre of 1988 where over 3,000 pro-democracy activists, students and supporters were mowed down by a brutal and inhuman military — a dark page in the history of mankind.

Compounding the bloody military crackdown of the monks-led peaceful demonstrators in the past three days are the newly-released satellite photos by the American Association for the Advancement of Science providing evidence of ethnic cleansing of the ethnic minority Karens in eastern Myanmar, destroying villages and relocating people in the countryside.

As a result, it is not adequate for ASEAN leaders just to “wash their hands” of responsibility of what is happening in Myanmar with expressions of “revulsion” and “disapproval”, or even admission as by Abdullah in New York yesterday that the Asean’s constructive engagement policy with the Myanmar military government had failed and the need to “ensure that Myanmar adheres and fulfils the regional grouping’s interest” – whatever that means. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia’s Muslim Union? Malaysia Does Not Need Another Sectarian Organisation!

By Farish A. Noor

Sectarianism, be it on the grounds of race, culture, language or religion, can only be divisive in the long run. The sad litany of human history shows that religion can and has been used as a dividing factor that has torn many a society apart, and this is true of all religions and belief systems worldwide. One only needs to look at the process of Balkanisation that took place in Eastern Europe to see how Religion has been instrumentalised and manipulated by sectarian politicians to amplify the centrifugal forces of a
plural society like Bosnia’s, and how that eventually led to all-out civil conflict along religion and cultural lines.

Politicians of course are fully aware of the divisive potential of sectarian politics, so why do they constantly fall back on such parochial and primordial sentiments such as racial, cultural and religious loyalty to serve their own limited ends? Weighing the costs of such moves may point us to the simple conclusion that sectarian politicians seldom care about the unity and well-being of the nation as a whole, particularly when that nation happens to be a complex and plural one in the first place. More often than
not, the demagogues and chauvinists among us would be more inclined to keep to their own narrow corners and seek solace and support from their own respective communities.

These observations should hardly come as news to Malaysia-watchers in particular, for we all know by now that Malaysia’s convoluted 50-year history has been one dominated and almost entirely determined by the logic of racial compartmentalism and communitarianism. Every single leader who has climbed up the greasy pole of power in the country has done so by playing the race — and now increasingly, religion — card close to his chest. It should therefore come as even less of a surprise that there is now talk of forming a Malaysian Muslim Workers’ Union (PPIM) in the country, as if Malaysian society was not divided enough already. Read the rest of this entry »


How did Nazri (Protocol No. 16) become Minister for Ahmad Fairuz, when CJ is No. 11 on protocol list?

Malaysia is still reeling from the many shocks reverberating from the expose of the Lingam Tape — confirming what had been widely talked about concerning the perversion of the course of justice in the fixing of judicial appointments and court judgments but also from the responses from the Executive and Judiciary.

Both the Executive and the Judiciary had come out of the Lingam Tape scandal with their reputation in tatters.

The thunderous ten-day silence of the Chief Justice, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim has completely drowned out the puny denial which the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had made on the Chief Justice’s behalf.

In the 50-year history of the nation, one top judicial officer had been sacked from his office but he retained national and international respect for his honour and integrity. However, two other top judicial officers who completed their term of office did so under a black cloud and nobody would have thought there would be a third top judicial officer who would be exiting from office in ignominy.

The Executive on its part had brought the whole system of democratic governance into a tragic-comedy of errors — not least of which was the decision to set up a so-called “Independent Panel” to investigate into the authenticity of the Lingam Tape and headed by someone who is tainted by his role in the “mother” of all judicial crisis in the past 19 years, the 1988 Judicial Crisis.

Even now, the term of reference of the so-called “Independent Panel” into the Lingam Tape has not been fully made public. What is there so secretive that its actual term of reference is still being kept a secret?

But it is Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of law and justice, who has wrought the greatest harm to the system of governance in Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »


Burma crackdown – Abdullah must speak up in UN to mobilise international opinion against another 1988 massacre

The ASEAN Foreign Ministers have come out with a strong statement in the United Nations demanding the Myanmar military junta stop using violence against demonstrators and voiced “revulsion” at the killings at Yangon.

However, the time for just strong statements is past as it has been overtaken by the brutality of the violent crackdown in Burma in the past two days and concrete ASEAN and international action is urgently needed to ensure that the 40th ASEAN anniversary at the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore in November and the 10th anniversary of Myanmar’s admission into ASEAN are not marred by another dastardly repeat of the 1988 massacre where thousands pro-democracy activisits and supporters were killed by the Myanmese military.

The Myanmar military junta has confirmed that nine people, including a Japanese journalist, had been killed in the brutal crackdown of the peaceful demonstrators led by monks in the past two days, although the true Burma death toll may never be known.

A source from the National League for Democracy inside Burma, citing hospital contacts, said 30 bodies had been brought to the hospital on Wednesday alone.

Having admitted Myanmar as a member of ASEAN with the reciprocal understanding that the Myanmar military junta would seriously embark on national reconciliation and democratization in Burma, ASEAN leaders cannot just wring their hands in impotence and revulsion with another round of violent crackdown of peaceful protestors in Burma.

I urgently call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who is in New York to participate in the annual United Nations General Assembly debate to place Burma as the top priority of his address and, together with other ASEAN leaders, speak up in United Nations to rally international support for a special debate in the General Assembly and emergency meeting of Security Council on the violent crackdown of peaceful protests by Myanmar military junta. Read the rest of this entry »


The Law and Chua Soi Lek

by Jason L

Health Minister, Chua Soi Lek never fails to amuse the general public especially when he makes statements pertaining to the law. I refer to his latest outburst in the media that the Health Ministry is now looking into taking legal action against the DAP if it continues to make false allegations about government hospitals and doctors.

He is further reported to have said that his ministry will “encourage” the Ministry’s hospitals and doctors to sue the DAP if the allegations are baseless. Perhaps he is under the notion that his buddies at the AGs office and the government’s pliable judges will help him fix these pesky complainants once and for all to help boost his rather sagging image of an underperformer in this ministry of many problems. And what will this Minister be remembered for in his contribution to healthcare in Malaysia? Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia should support suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN/UN if there is another 1988 bloodbath in Burma

The Myanmar military crackdown of the monks-led peaceful protests in Burma has started with unconfirmed reports of several deaths and hundreds of arrests.

The Myanmese military junta is also shutting off communication with the outside world, closing Internet and telephone links, which through blogs and cell phone videos of the latest developments, had been the main source of information of what is happening in Burma to the outsides world.

Malaysia and ASEAN leaders must be in the international forefront to condemn the violent crackdown of monks-led peaceful protests in Burma and even to support suspension of Myanmar from ASEAN and United Nations if there is a repeat of the 1988 bloodbath where thousands were massacred.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said in the United Nations yesterday that Malaysia does not believe in imposing economic sanctions against Myanmar as this will not affect the targeted group but will usually hurt ordinary citizens more.

He said any hard or aggressive action would be counter-productive at this stage.

He said: “We think the best way of resolving the issue is to get the constitutional process on track, to get the reconciliation going.”

It is time for Syed Hamid and all ASEAN leaders to stop such platitudes and respond in a responsible and statemanlike manner to the Burmese crisis, with Burma on the cusp of another 1988 bloodbath. Read the rest of this entry »


Lingam Tape – “Unbecoming, irregular, improper” characterise latest developments

“Unbecoming, irregular and improper” are three adjectives which best characterize government and Independent Panel responses in the latest developments on the Lingam Tape scandal.

It was the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz who was doubly “unbecoming” in launching a tirade against the Bar Council and Malaysian lawyers for their historic march for justice yesterday from the Palace of Justice to the Prime Minister’s Department in Putrajaya despite unwarranted police obstructions and in dismissing the Bar Council’s memorandum to the Prime Minister calling for a Judicial Appointment Commission.

Nazri had alleged that the lawyers’ march in Putrajaya yesterday was “unbecoming” while proclaiming: “There is no crisis in our judiciary. No crisis, no problems. I don’t seen any scandal.”

What makes Nazri think it is beneath the station of lawyers to be involved in a march for justice?

The 2,000 lawyers and supporters of the cause of justice have done themselves and the nation and the 50th Merdeka anniversary proud in the March for Justice in Putrajaya yesterday, in the true tradition of the great marches in the struggle of humanity for justice and freedom, like Gandhi’s Salt March in 1930 to help free India from British colonial rule and Martin Luther King’s March on Washington for Freedom in 1963 which culminated in his electrifying speech “I Have A Dream”.

Gandhi and Martin Luther King are now recognized by history and mankind for their great marches while their detractors, the Nazris of their era, have been forgotten!

It is also most unbecoming of Nazri to arrogate to himself the powers of the Prime Minister to dismiss offhand the Bar Council’s memorandum to the Prime Minister calling for a Judicial Appointments Commission or has Nazri been authorized to usurp the powers of the Prime Minister? Read the rest of this entry »


Amendment to Employment Act

by Raymond Lim
Petaling Jaya

I refer to the recent statement by the Minister for Human Resources, Dato’ Dr. Chan Fong Onn that the back-dated wages will be limited to 24 months in cases of wrongful dismissal by employers under the proposed
amendments to the Employment Act.

The Minister justified the proposed amendment by referring to Practice Note No. 1/1987 which was introduced by the Industrial Court on the said 24 months limitation. Practice Note No.1/1987 on 24 months cap on backdated wages created some confusion. Several Industrial Court decisions applied the 24 months limitation. However, many did not do so on the basis that it is merely a practice note but not legally binding and by doing so, they sought to give more protection to employees from unscrupulous employers.

It is instructive for Members of Parliament to note that the Federal Court, in one of its landmark decisions, had ruled that the “right to live” under the Federal Constitution included the “right to livelihood”. For this reason, many decisions in the Industrial Court took judicial notice of this ruling in their decisions and declined to follow Practice Note No. 1/1987 when dealing with wrongful dismissal cases involving breach of natural justice, mala fide, victimization or unfair labour practice. Put in a nutshell, Practice Note No.1/1987 will not achieve the said ruling of the said Federal Court, the highest Court in the land. As a matter of fact, Practice Note No.1/1987 should be withdrawn by the Industrial Court.

In this letter, I will submit that it is extremely unwise for our Government to approve the said amendment to the Employment Act.

By way of introduction, in the case of wrongful dismissal by an employer, the Industrial Court will order a reinstatement of the employee and payment of back-dated wages from the date of wrongful dismissal to the date of judgment. Since the hearing at the Industrial Court may take place 3-5 years later or even longer, the amount of back-dated wages can be a substantial amount. If the employer-employee relationship is such that it is no longer possible to be continued, the Industrial Court will order the employer to pay one month’s salary for every year of service in lieu of reinstatement.

As a lawyer for close to 20 years, I have encountered countless cases wherein employers were extremely high handed when handling the dismissal of employees. Such high-handedness borders on total disregard to the livelihood of employees, especially employees who have been loyal to their organizations and had given the best years of their lives to their employers. Most wronglful dismissals arose because many unconscionable employers simply have no respect for employees as human beings or have scant regard for the due process of natural justice. In many cases, employees were transferred to branches far away merely to make them resign or subjected to other forms of victimization or unfair labour practice. Against this background, it is therefore not surprising that the industrial relations law and the industrial courts are protecting the welfare of employees, much to the chagrin of employers. Read the rest of this entry »


De-politicise campus student elections – UPM VC should publicly apologise for porno lie

Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Vice Chancellor Nik Mustapha should publicly apologise for the baseless charge that student activist Yee Yang Yang had pornographic material in his laptop and ensure free and fair student campus elections so as not to attract for the UPM the epithet of Mat Rempit University.

I commend the UPM for owning up to “flaws” in the Mat Rempit-action by the UPM security unit in its high-handed arrogance in confiscating Yee’s laptop, mobile phone, MP3 player and 10 other items valued at RM6,000 during a spot check of his hostel room but what is unpardonable and inexcusable is the lie that Yee had pornographic material in his laptop.

I do not believe that this lie was concocted by the Vice Chancellor but he would have relied on it based on a report by the security unit, which had no password to access Yee’s notebook.

I do not call for Nik Mustapha’s resignation as UPM Vice Chancellor although this is a grave mistake but he should at least publicly apologise for his error and misjudgment in running an university administration where his departmental heads and officers are not aware of the importance of truth and integrity. In the process, they have brought brought UPM into public shame and disrepute.

Apart from his public apology to Yee for the lie about pornographic material in the notebook, he must take disciplinary action against the security personnel for their Mat Rempit behaviour against UPM students, whether anti or pro-establishment, including expulsion of the security officer who had embarrassed him and UPM publicly in telling the lie against Yee. Read the rest of this entry »


Saffron revolution in Burma – Malaysia and ASEAN must do more to avoid bloodbath

Malaysia and ASEAN must do more to impress on the Myanmese military junta to seek a peaceful solution to the “saffron revolution” and not to turn it into a bloodbath as in 1988.

Malaysia and ASEAN must come into the very forefront in regional and international efforts to support a peaceful resolution of the monk-led mass protest marches in Rangoon and Mandalay especially as ASEAN had given the Myanmar military junta a new legitimacy and fresh lease of life by admitting Myanmar into ASEAN ten years ago.

However, the Myanmar military junta’s promises of national reconciliation and democratization have all come to nought in the past decade, with increasing repression and pauperization of the Burmese people while the constitution-writing and elections appear to have become a century-long project.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been incarcerated about 12 of the past 18 years while the prisons teem with political prisoners.

Every ASEAN leader taking part in the current United Nations General Assembly debate should use the forum to call on the Myanmar military junta to open up a dialogue with the protest movement to work out an acceptable programme of national reconciliation and democratization — starting with the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners.

They should also demand that the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should personally take a more direct charge of the UN initiatives with regard to issues of democracy and human rights in Burma, instead of leaving it to his special adviser Ibrahim Gambari who has nothing to show for his portfolio to date. Read the rest of this entry »


Lingam Tape – Haidar, Shanker and Lam Thye should decline or withdraw from “Independent Panel”

Former Chief Judge of Malaya, Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor, should decline or withdraw as Chairman of the three-man panel on the authenticity of the Lingam Tape in view of his controversial role in the 1988 Judicial Crisis to allow for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to be formed to conduct full and comprehensive inquiries into the erosion and ravages of the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary since 1988.

I also call on the other two members earmarked for the Lingam Tape panel, former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mahadev Shanker and Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye to similarly decline or withdraw from the panel to send a clear and unmistakable message on behalf of all Malaysians and future generations — that the time has come not only for an untrammelled inquiry into the Lingam Tape with all its far-reaching and horrendous implications about perversion of the course of justice but the opportunity must not be missed to right the historic and generational wrongs in the past 19 years which saw Malaysia stumbling from one judicial crisis to another.

The question which Malaysiakini editor-in-chief, Steven Gan, asked in his editorial yesterday, “Will we miss the boat again”, must be asked by all Malaysians, including Shanker and Lam Thye.

Steven cannot be more right when he wrote:

“Almost a generation has suffered because of our ‘tidak apa’ attitude to the judicial crisis. Here’s another chance for us to make amends.

“We have missed the boat – not once but twice. Indeed, for the sake of the country, we cannot afford to blow this one chance.”

The establishment of an “Independent Panel” into the authenticity of the Lingam Tape instead of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the rot in the system of justice in the past two decades and which had been highlighted by the Lingam Tape is the height of irresponsibility in trying to reduce the shocking scandal into a joke and a farce. Read the rest of this entry »


Lingam Tape – 3-man panel into authenticity unsatisfactory, unacceptable and falls far short of what should be done

Disbelief, shock and outrage — these three feelings sum up the general reaction to news of the announcement by Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak of the three-man independent panel set up by the government to investigate the authenticity of the Lingam Tape of a telephone conversation between a senior lawyer V.K. Lingam and Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim in 2002 on fixing of judicial appointments and perversion of the course of justice.

Najib said the panel would be headed by former Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor, with former Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Mahadev Shankar and social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye as members.

The three-man independent panel into the authenticity of the Lingam Tape is unsatisfactory and unacceptable as it falls far short of what should be done — a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Tape and the alleged perversion of the course of justice and the compromising of judicial independence, integrity, impartiality and integrity.

The establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to conduct a full and comprehensive investigation is particularly urgent and imperative to restore public confidence in the system of justice as up to now, Ahmad Fairuz has been conspicuously silent in failing to personally issue a statement on the Lingam Tape — five days after its expose by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The denial which the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had made on Ahmad Fairuz’ behalf is just not good enough, with zero credibility.

In restricting the panel to the question of the authenticity of the Lingam Tape instead of allowing full investigations into all aspects of the allegations of perversion of the course of justice and the compromising of judicial independence, impartiality and integrity raised by the video clip, the government is avoiding the imperative issue of the long-standing rot in the judiciary and the urgent need to restore national and international confidence in the system of justice with a truly independent judiciary and a just rule of law. Read the rest of this entry »


Lingam Tape: Cry for judiciary – from Minister for “tables and chairs” to Minister for Chief Justice

Cry for the judiciary — for the first time in 50 years, there is a Minister for the Chief Justice when seven years ago, the then Chief Justice declared that there was no Minister looking after the judiciary and ridiculed the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the law and justice portfolio as Minister for “tables and chairs” for the courts!

Yesterday, when trying to explain why he had issued a denial on behalf of the Chief Justice, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim in connection with the Lingam Tape, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Nazri Aziz said that this was because “I am his minister”.

He said: “I am his minister. I am the minister in charge of legal affairs. He is clever enough to know that the reporters will ask me for a response.”

In one fell swoop, Nazri had not only reduced the Chief Justice to that of a subordinate junior but also repudiated the cardinal principle of the independence of the Judiciary and destroyed the fundamental doctrine of the separation of powers among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.

In the five decades of nationhood, the Minister delegated the law and justice portfolio by the Prime Minister was never regarded as a Minister for the judges because of the doctrine of separation of powers of the three branches of government and the principle of the independence of the judiciary.

In June 2000, Malaysians were offered a glimpse of judicial goings-on when the contretemps between the then Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Tun Eusoffe Chin and the then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim erupted after the latter chastised the former for his improper judicial behaviour in “socialising” with lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam during a New Zealand holiday in 1994.

Eusoffe said he coincidentally “bumped” into Lingam when holidaying in New Zealand, and relegated Rais to a Minister for “tables and chairs” for the Chief Registrar’s Office and not law.

Eusuff said: “I suppose when we need tables and chairs or a new courtroom, we go to him.” He stressed that the minister “doesn’t look after the judiciary”. (Star 7.6.00). Read the rest of this entry »


ASEAN govts must warn Myanmar military – another bloodbath ala-1988 completely unacceptable

With the Myanmar military junta threatening a crackdown as some 100,000 demonstrators led by barefoot Buddhist monks staged in Yangon yesterday the country’s largest anti-government protest since a failed democratic uprising nearly 20 years ago, ASEAN governments and leaders cannot continue to be on the sidelines and must move quick and fast.

All the nine ASEAN governments must urgently send a clear and unequivocal message to the Myanmar military junta that a crackdown and bloodbath revisiting the 1988 massacre in Burma is totally unacceptable and incompatible with responsible membership of ASEAN and the United Nations.

A repeat of the 1988 bloodbath with some 3,000 people killed by the military would be an unmitigated disaster for Myanmar and ASEAN, casting a pall on the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore on Nov. 20-21 and plunging the regional organization into its worst crisis in 40 years.

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary ASEAN, 2007 should be a year to celebrate another major stride in the development of ASEAN with the adoption of an ASEAN Charter incorporating human rights protection for the people of ASEAN.

A bloodbath in Myanmar will not only smash these high and noble ASEAN hopes into smithereens, but also highlight the fatal mistake ten years ago in admitting Myanmar into ASEAN when the military junta had no intention whatsoever to honour its undertaking to work towards national reconciliation and democratization in the country.

China – and in particular the Beijing Olympic Games 2008 — and India will not be able to escape adverse international repercussions of a bloodbath in Myanmar as they will be blamed for giving support to the Myanmar military junta and turning a blind eye to the bloody crackdown in the country. Read the rest of this entry »


Can there be a discussion of Islam thats not STUPID???

By Farish A Noor

It is interesting to reflect on the asinine times we live in, particularly if like me, you are involved in that nebulous thing called ‘Inter-cultural dialogue’. Over the past four weeks I have been engaged in numerous rounds of dialogues between Western Europeans and Muslim migrant communities in Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin, and in every single one of these encounters I came across stereotypes of Muslims and Islam that were so shallow and puerile that I am almost embarrassed to recount them here. Worst still these pedestrian musings on Islam and Muslims were not the offerings of everyday punters, but those who claimed to be well-known and admired scholars and historians.

In one of these exchanges I was told the following: that ‘Islam is a fascist, woman-hating, Christian-killing, gay-bashing macho male ideology of hatred that was built on fourteen centuries of conquest and bloodshed, murder and rape. That is why there cannot be integration of Muslims into Europe, because the Muslims that we have here are the savages of the Arab world who are barbaric, violent and brutal. They do not believe in reason and the Enlightenment and Islamic civilisation has not produced anything scientific, rational or humane.’ Try substituting the word ‘Muslim’ for ‘blacks’ and one would see how far-fetched and racist such claims really are.

Now why is it that whenever we speak of Islam and Muslims today some of us think they have the licence to drop their IQ level by a hundred points or so? Is talk on Islam a licence to say anything dumb, offensive, provocative, just for the sake of riling up the masses and grabbing a few headlines? A politician in Holland has even stated that there should be a ban on any reading of the Qur’an, on the grounds that it can be compared to Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Others claim that all Muslims are determined primarily by their religion which happens to be irrational, unscientific and anti-Enlightenment. Read the rest of this entry »


Burma Uprising – Abdullah should articulate ASEAN aspirations for Burma in UN speech on Thursday

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should articulate the aspirations of the ASEAN people for national reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Burma in his United Nations speech on Thursday as any omission on the latest developments in Burma would have rendered his speech quite irrelevant to the region and the world.

Today is the seven straight day that monks have marched in the Burmese capital of Yangon, leading protestors reaching 10,000 on Saturday, 20,000 yesterday and 30,000 today against the military junta over the chronic economic crisis resulting in ever-rising prices of commodities and human rights violations including illegal detentions and mistreatment of political detainees.

There are fears of a repeat of 1988, when the last democracy uprising was crushed by the military and some 3,000 people were killed.

This is the time for ASEAN government leaders, together with the support of China and India, to engage and impress on the Myanmar military junta not to resort to violence but to turn it into an opportunity to resolve the present crisis with the support of all stakeholders, including Nobel Prize laureate Aung Sun Suu Kyi, all political prisoners, the pro-democracy activists and ethnic nationalities, to work out a national reconciliation formula to return Burma to democracy and civilian rule.

While in the United Nations, Abdullah should take the initiative for a mini-ASEAN summit and emergency UN General Assembly debate on Burma.
Read the rest of this entry »