Archive for April 26th, 2014

Obama should rap Putrajaya’s human rights record, says lawyer in Wall Street Journal

by Eileen Ng
The Malaysian Insider
April 26, 2014

With Kuala Lumpur keen to present its best image as a moderate country during Barack Obama’s visit this weekend, a prominent lawyer has called on the US president not to be hoodwinked and instead, to rap Putrajaya’s human rights record and be aware of rising extremism.

In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Bar Council Human Rights Committee co-chair Andrew Khoo said Obama should not buy into the fiction that Putrajaya is trying to showcase; that Malaysia is a moderate Muslim-majority democracy, a model of interracial and interreligious diversity heading for developed nation status by 2020.

The Barisan Nasional-led federal government will also try to present itself as an ally in combating arms proliferation and transnational crime, and friend of the United States in Asia, Khoo wrote.

“President Obama should not accept this fiction or defer to the Malaysian government because of regional security concerns. Instead, he would do well to note the sorry state of its human rights and call for greater respect for civil liberties.

“President Obama needs to deftly use his public appearances and statements to demonstrate concern about what is happening in Malaysia – and to say what many Malaysians fearfully cannot.

“The usual mantra of moderation can no longer conceal the escalation of extremism and repression,” Khoo wrote in the international news and business daily. Read the rest of this entry »


Royal Navy submarine abandons search for MH370

By Ben Farmer, Defence Correspondent
The Telegraph
25 Apr 2014

A Royal Navy submarine has ended its search for the missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet as a senior US defence official conceded the hunt for MH370 may now take years.

The Ministry of Defence in London said HMS Tireless had stood down after combing the southern Indian Ocean with its advanced sonar scanners, looking for the airliner’s black box.

The decision to stand down the Trafalgar Class hunter killer submarine was made after Australian commanders coordinating the international search said there was no chance of hearing more ‘pings’ from the lost black box.

A statement said: “With the Australian command assessing that there is no prospect of further acoustic detections associated with the aircraft black boxes, HMS Tireless has been stood down.”

A senior US defence official told the Reuters news agency that a fortnight of scouring the Indian Ocean floor with a US Navy submersible drone had turned up no wreckage.

Searchers would now have to increase the scope of their hunt.

“We went all in on this small area and didn’t find anything. Now you’ve got to go back to the big area,” he said.

“And now you’re talking years.” Read the rest of this entry »


Comparative international data do not support the argument that the implementation of hudud have led to reduction of crime

The arguments in support of implementing hudud have used evidence from other Islamic majority countries to say that hudud can be implemented and also to say that the implementation of hudud will be effective in reducing crime.

But when the evidence is examined closely, comparative international data do not support the argument that the implementation of hudud have led to reduction of crime.

Just four days ago, it was announced that there would an indefinite delay in the implementation of hudud in Brunei. Some have used the Brunei example as ‘evidence’ that Malaysia too can implement hudud.

But Malaysia is not Brunei. In a recent talk held in February 2014 at the Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies in Kuala Lumpur entitled “The Implementation of Hudud in Brunei: Differences between Brunei and Malaysia”, the speaker, former Chief Justice of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Hamid emphasized the many differences between Malaysia and Brunei.

Brunei is an absolute constitutional monarchy with no popularly elected representatives or no provision in the constitution which says that it is the supreme law of the country. It is a unitary country with no distribution of legislative powers between the states and the Federation. There are no constitutional limitations on the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts or the Shariah Courts. The Shariah Court’s jurisdiction, for example, are not limited to persons professing the religion of Islam and there are no restrictions on the types of offences that can be placed under its jurisdiction. There is no law or body which can prevent the Sultan of Brunei to make a law and to implement it.
Read the rest of this entry »


Assemble peacefully without fear, Malaysians told

The Malaysian Insider
April 26, 2014

The public can now assemble without fear following a Court of Appeal ruling yesterday that a breach of a provision in the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) does not amount to an offence, human rights lawyers and lawmakers said.

They said the unanimous decision of the three-man bench led by judge Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof upheld a fundamental right under the Federal Constitution, which is the right to assemble peacefully.

This means the upcoming May Day anti-GST (goods and services tax) rally will no longer be deemed “illegal” and the public need not worry about the any action being taken against them unless they destroyed properties or committed criminal offences.

The lawyers also saluted the judges who were prepared to uphold the supreme law of the land instead of allowing a basic right that should be enjoyed by citizens to be a mere illusion.

The judgment also said those who went against public order could only be charged under the Penal Code, the Road Transport Act or local government by-laws.

In declaring the punishment provided under the PAA as unconstitutional because it violated the right to assemble peacefully, the appellate court also struck out the charge against Selangor legislative assembly deputy speaker Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad for failing to give 10 days notice under the Act before organising the May 5 Blackout Rally last year. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama’s Malaysia Test

Bridget Welsh
Project Syndicate

APR 25, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR – When Barack Obama lands in Malaysia this weekend, his two-day stopover will be the first visit by a US president since 1966. Unfortunately, human rights will probably not be on the agenda. Even as Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s government pursues yet another politically motivated case against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, the United States, by refusing to schedule a meeting with Anwar, has signaled that it will not stand up for justice in Malaysia.

In fact, the Obama administration has refused to treat Malaysia like a normal country and engage leaders from all sides – a stance that has emboldened Najib to move against Anwar, whose coalition received a higher proportion of the popular vote in the May 2013 election than Obama did in the 2012 US election. And the many serious challenges to human rights and governance in Malaysia do not end with politicized convictions of opposition leaders. Just days after Obama declared last October that Malaysia was a model of “diversity and tolerance,” Malaysian authorities denied non-Muslims the right to use the word “Allah” in the practice of their own faiths – a decision condemned throughout the Muslim world for its negative portrayal of Islam.

Moreover, members of Najib’s government endorse hudud, a class of penalties within sharia law that could imply strict limitations on Muslims’ right to choose how they practice their faith. According to the US State Department’s own human-rights reports, curbs on religious freedoms have included demolition of Hindu temples, bombings of Christian churches, and a ban on the practice of Shia Islam, to which some 15% of the world’s Muslims adhere. Likewise, according to the Pew Research Center, Najib’s government has “very high” restrictions on religious freedom. Read the rest of this entry »