Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Can judiciary be a check against sedition onslaught?

YOURSAY ‘But the independence of judiciary has already been compromised...’

Ambiga: Judiciary can stop abuse of Sedition Act

Swipenter: Only a judiciary that can dispense justice without fear and favour can guarantee the people their basic rights.

Our forefathers had fought and won us freedom from colonialism despite the Sedition Act 1948. Our grandparents and parents have strived as well to give us freedom from ignorance and freedom from hunger, as we do our children.

But everything would be in vain if we do not have the freedom from fear and freedom of expression.

ACR: Anyone who has read the Sedition Act 1948 would know how wide the definition of seditious tendency is.

This gives room for selective prosecution and evidently the government has lost public perception in this regard. The Act is a colonial legacy and Britain itself has done away with it.

Nevertheless, the Act provides for legitimate criticism against the government and the courts should take cognisance of these matters in deciding the cases before them. Former Bersih co-coordinator S Ambiga is spot on with her call.

Telestai!: Ambiga, I like you optimism but I think the independence of judiciary has been compromised beyond recognition. I won't be sitting on the edge of my chair waiting for the judiciary to stop this onslaught.
CQ Muar: What had happened to our judicial system? Is there no honour and dignity left in this country we called Malaysia? What has become of the law institutions where they teach and train people to stand up for justice and to defend it?

Though I don't hail from the legal fraternity, these judges do not seem to me to adhere to the principles of ethics from the institutions where they professed to have learnt from.

Going by the way judges passed judgments, they're anything but impartial legal administrators. Except for a few honourable ones, the rest appear to have resigned to fate to determine their future; worst still, abide by the authorities who are their providers.

Progressive: The political reality requires us to mobilise enough support from a wide cross section of Malaysians of all race and religion so as to act as a counter weight to the forces that are promoting this (the use of the Sedition Act) - former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad being the chief culprit.

Politically PM Najib Razak needs this backing for him to stall this move.

Ourvotesdecide: Najib is the PM and leader of the ruling party. Therefore as a leader and the country’s PM, Najib should not simply surrender his leadership role to those around him who disagreed with the abolition of the evil Sedition Act.

If Najib is serious and sincere in wanting to repeal this Act as he had promised, he should just proceed and repeal it. Otherwise, how can we believe his promises in future?

Zam wants Idris censured for backing UM lecturer

Vijay47: Unwittingly no doubt, former information minister Zainuddin Maidin (it'll be a cold day in hell before I "popularly" refer to him as Zam) reveals himself, over and over again, as the type of person worthy to be an Umno minister, rub shoulders with former leaders losing their grip on reality, and perhaps most importantly, to be editor of Utusan Malaysia.

Creatures with slightly more intelligence would cringe at displaying to the general public their lack of even minimal acceptable mental faculties, yet a pastime Zainuddin seems to revel in.

Even a child would be able to rip apart almost every point this cretin makes here but I will focus on just one - that Minister in the PM’s Department Idris Jala be censured.

This one remark by Zainuddin is evidence of his disconnect with the expectations upon a leader and especially that of a government.

In his simplistic mind, however offensive a practice is and however honest a person can be, the two concepts can never cross swords. It is fitting that he is a comrade-in-arms of Mahathir in his dotage.

EmEmKay: Idris Jala's move to criticise the use of the Sedition Act against academic Azmi Shahrom deserves appreciation.

We need more ministers like him, who believe in the power of the people. In my opinion, Idris Jala is one of the politicians in the country who have a firm stance.

Anonymous #20513663: Idris Jala did a good job in speaking up. He knows that they cannot get rid of him because he is very much needed to run the country.

And if they do get rid of him, he'll be offered another high-flying job in no time at all. He has absolutely nothing to lose. Let's hope he inspires other civil servants to overcome their fear.

Sedition Act hovers over talk on nation's future

Oh Ya?: How do you carve the nation's future under duress of the Sedition Act and in total secrecy without massive debates and consultations?

This is not the ruling elite's negotiated contracts which can't see the sunlight. Whatever the outcome, once adopted by the ruling elite, it will be exploited by future generations of politicians, and therefore it certainly cannot be decided behind closed doors by the ruling elite who garnered only 48 percent of the popular votes in GE13.

Abasir: Just about five years before the much-vaunted Vision 2020 and Malaysians remain fearful of their government and its tools of repression. Mahathir, the 'lazy Malay' detector, must be proud.

Lim Chong Leong: Humans talk, rats hide. We should not be afraid of what we say as long as it is the truth and we should not be cowed by the oppressive laws of an evil regime. -Mkini

A true Malaysian – Joshua Wu

It saddens me to know that our beloved Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed (henceforth Dr M) is of the opinion that there will never be a true Malaysian. After 51 years of being an independent nation, is it cockamamie to think that true Malaysians exist? Is it really something unachievable?
Dr M's opines as such because the people (you and I) continue to hang on to our own identity, culture and language. Our former prime minister further said that such obstacles would not only hinder unity but also block the government's efforts to create a new Malaysian race.
He added that unless Malaysians of different races, languages and cultures embrace ONE identity for the sake of our future and nation (like in the Philippines and Thailand), there will never be a true Malaysian.
Malaysia has always played that fact to our advantage (eg on websites, brochures, etc). We often promote ourselves to the world as a unique country in which citizens of different races and religions live in harmony with one another.
Furthermore, the Visit Malaysia 2014 website states that the “Malays, Chinese, Indians and many other ethnic groups have lived together in Malaysia for generations. All these cultures have influenced each other, creating a truly Malaysian culture”.
By virtue of “hanging on to our own culture”, we have developed a Malaysian culture. Should we all now abandon our own cultures and embrace a common identity? No! If we did so, what would make us any different compared to our neighbouring countries?
The truth of the matter is that we don’t all need to have one identity in order to be a true Malaysian. A true Malaysian is one who:
1. Knows the cultures of different races
- During Chinese New Year, red packets (angpows) are given out by those married to their younger relatives
- Malay children are brought up to shake and kiss the hands of their parents/elders
- Henna body art is an essential part of the Indian culture
- Kadazandusuns in Sabah celebrate the Kaamatan (harvest) festival while the Dayaks in Sarawak celebrate Gawai Dayak
2. Speaks a little of every language
- Tamil: Dei/Deyh, Thambi, Anne, Tani/Thani
- Cantonese: Tabao, Leng Lui, Leng Zai
- Mandarin: Wo Ai Ni, Lao Shi, Ni Hao Ma
- Hokkien: Wa, Lu, Toh Long,
- BM saints: Kantoi, Lepak, Awek, Cun
3. Supports national athletes and national teams
- Datuk Lee Chong Wei (badminton)
- Harimau Malaya (football)
- Pandalela Rinong (diving)
- Azizulhasni Awang (cycling)
- Datuk Nicol Ann David (squash)
- Sazali Samad (bodybuilding)
4. Refuses to racially abuse his/her fellow brothers and sisters
- The quote "We may have different religions, different languages, different coloured skin, but we all belong to one human race" by Kofi Atta Annan has become somewhat of a platitude
- However, there is so much truth in it!
5. Knows key historical events
- August 31, 1957 marks the independence of Malaya
- Sarawak achieved independence on the July 22, 1963 while August 31, 1963 was when Sabah became a sovereign state
- Malaysia was formed in 1963, on September 16, comprising of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, and Sarawak
6. Knows the national anthem (NegaraKu) by heart
- Though those of us out of public school no longer sing it every Monday, we live out the words every day!
- On top of that, we temporarily have the honour and privilege (no, I'm not being sarcastic) of collectively singing it in the cinema prior to any movie.
The list is not exhaustive. Take some time to think what else should be a touchstone of being a true Malaysian. Embracing a common identity is definitely not one of them!
The 40th President of the United States Ronald Reagan once said, "If we love our country, we should also love our countrymen." It clearly makes no sense to say that you love your country but don't love your countrymen!
Simply put, a true Malaysian is one who places his fellow brothers and sisters first. By loving our fellow Malaysians, we can forge an indestructible unity! It all begins with love! 
* Joshua Wu reads The Malaysian Insider.

MAS offers travel agents Rolex watches, free trips in bid to boost ticket sales

National carrier Malaysia Airlines is offering travel agents Rolex watches and free trips in a bid to boost ticket sales. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, September 18, 2014.National carrier Malaysia Airlines is offering travel agents Rolex watches and free trips in a bid to boost ticket sales. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, September 18, 2014.
In a bid to boost ticket sales, loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is offering travel agents incentives such as Rolex watches and return airfares to Europe and Asia, an Australian daily reported.
The Australian said the struggling airline is giving away five Rolex watches worth US$5,000 (RM16,087) as well as 20 return airfares to Europe and Asia in a deal with travel agency Consolidated Travel Group.
The paper quoted Haydn Long, an executive with Flight Centre, who said that the MAS deal was “not unusual because suppliers often rewarded top-selling agents”.
MAS has been under huge financial pressure following the twin disasters of flight MH370, which disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, and flight MH17 which was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17.
A total of 298 people died on board MH17 while the 239 who were on board MH370 remain unaccounted for.
Analysts said earlier this month that MAS’s airfares were expected to drop as the national carrier would need to undercut pricing to get its passenger load factor back to above 70%.
Meanwhile, on August 29, MAS’s main shareholder Khazanah Nasional Bhd announced that 6,000 jobs or 30% of its workforce would be cut while headquarters and principal operations would be moved to KLIA under a restructuring exercise expected to cost RM6 billion.
In a report by Reuters, the state fund also said the airline will be de-listed from the Kuala Lumpur exchange by the end of 2014.
MAS has posted three straight years of losses in the face of competition from rising budget airlines like AirAsia Bhd.
“We are very grateful for their (travel agents’) unrelenting support of Malaysia Airlines as a premium full-service carrier,” it said in a statement issued to The Australian.
“The prizes are being funded jointly by Consolidated Travel Group and Malaysia Airlines.”
The airline is offering the deal until October 5. According to The Australian, the winning agent is required to sell a minimum of US$20,000 worth of international air tickets.

PAS must know this: Malaysia is not a theocracy

PAS Youth members collecting donations for fallen Malaysian jihadist in Syria, Mohd Lotfi Ariffin, during the PAS Youth wing muktamar in Kota Tinggi, Johor today. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, September 17, 2014.PAS Youth members collecting donations for fallen Malaysian jihadist in Syria, Mohd Lotfi Ariffin, during the PAS Youth wing muktamar in Kota Tinggi, Johor today. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, September 17, 2014.Malaysia is not a theocracy and never will be one. And the sooner the PAS hardliners understand that reality, the better for all.
The problem is, of course, they don't seem to get it.
The PAS Dewan Ulama believes that its vision of an Islamic state will be acceptable to all. It wasn't acceptable in 1951 when the clerics left Umno before Malaya achieved Merdeka and it still isn't acceptable in 2014 when Malaya together with Sabah and Sarawak now make up Malaysia.
And by the looks of its actions in the Selangor menteri besar impasse, the Islamist party might even lose more seats in the country's wealthiest state where the multiracial and multifaith electorate choose their lawmakers on policy, not faith.
Also, the most dangerous theme running through the party is that the cleric class cannot be criticised. This is akin to putting some really flawed individuals on a pedestal reserved for the Almighty.
They can't be criticised by their own members nor can they be criticised by their allies. When did it come to this, that thin-skinned clerics run a party without question? Is this a political party or one of scholars who think they have a heavenly mandate?
We have been making too many excuses for PAS for too long. Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat was an aberration. The likes of Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Datuk Harun Din are the norm and till today none of the PAS leadership have condemned the barbaric beheadings by Isis.
Instead, they collected money for one Malaysian fighter who died in the Middle East despite him having been sacked from PAS. And they now dub him a martyr.
The PAS clerics must know that most, if not all, Malaysians want a country that is for all, not for the select few. Malaysia is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy and has been since 1963, and before that Malaya since 1957.
Malaysia isn't a theocratic state and will never be a theocracy. Any attempt or effort to push that will only shrink PAS's influence and support in Malaysia.
It happened in Terengganu where PAS was a one-term government between 1999 and 2004, and it happened in Kedah between 2008 and 2013. The PAS hardliners must learn from history that their vision for Malaysia will not ever happen.

Fear and loathing rise over Putrajaya’s sedition blitz

Putrajaya's recent sedition blitz against dissidents is a black mark against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's administration. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, September 18, 2014.Putrajaya's recent sedition blitz against dissidents is a black mark against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's administration. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, September 18, 2014.
Putrajaya's recent sedition blitz against dissidents has succeeded in cowing Malaysians from speaking out, especially on issues deemed sensitive, say observers following Tuesday’s public forum whose organisers asked for no media coverage.
They said this climate of fear was precisely why the 1948 Sedition Act had to go and be replaced with legislation that was fair to all.
Political analyst Wan Saiful Wan Jan, saying that he was not surprised by the forum organisers’ request, was nevertheless disappointed that it had come to a stage where people were now worried about speaking up and discussing important issues openly.
"Even I am careful now when I write statements or answer questions, and try to find the best ways of saying something without actually saying it," said the head of think tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS).
However, the silver lining to this cloud is that the current clime of fear would strengthen public's resolve to see the abolishment of the colonial-era Sedition Act, said Wan Saiful (pic).
"The more people fear speaking up, the more they want the act to be removed," he added.
At Tuesday’s forum, former Umno minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, who chaired it, said the current climate in the country was unfortunate and had left many in a difficult position.
"We still have the Sedition Act, and sometimes people tend to misinterpret. I know reporters will report based on what you hear and what you see, but readers may not understand it,
and then suddenly some people get into trouble for what he or she said with good intention,” he said on the decision to ask the media not to report the proceedings.
Putrajaya has been on a sedition blitz against opposition leaders, a journalist, an academic, activists and two ulama, charging critics in an attempt to silent dissent.
Critics have questioned why certain right-wing groups and politicians, who had made more seditious remarks in the past, have been spared the sedition dragnet.
Political analyst Dr Lim Teck Ghee felt that Malaysia was approaching a situation where vocal racists and religious bigots could get away with saying or writing with impunity – often to the extent of inciting racial violence while moderates were charged for relatively innocuous statements or speeches.
"This is a travesty of justice, which is unprecedented in our political history. It's also a black mark which will permanently blot Najib's administration," said the director of the Centre for Policy Initiatives.
Lim said most Malaysians tried to be politically correct and restrained in public when touching on sensitive issues and while social media had resulted in some crude and emotional ranting that should not be a pretext for clamping down on those who were from the opposition or were not deemed as pro-establishment.
In referring to the forum organiser's request for no media coverage on its proceedings, Lim said it is a dismal reflection of the state of public discourse in the country.
"This type of censorship indicates the degree of political repression, especially of those whose views are opposed to those of the government.
“Even then we can see double standard at play as religious and racial bigots aligned to the establishment are allowed free rein and expression in various vernacular papers without fear of being pulled up under the Sedition Act."
Civil society movement Negara-ku chairman Zaid Kamaruddin, while saying he understood the request of the organiser who was perhaps worried that the participants might self-censor or get into trouble with the law, noted that such a move would entrench the climate of fear.
"I think we the rakyat should not be cowed and should continue to exercise our right to point out mistakes and weaknesses of our government and the system," he said.
"We cannot build a better Malaysia with our mouths shut."
Since Putrajaya was still waffling on the move to repeal the sedition law, Zaid said Malaysians needed to look into the law closely in order to understand what should and should not be deemed seditious.
"Every good law can be misused, there is no easy solution. I suggest that it is time to consider making the Attorney-General answerable and accountable to Parliament," he said.
Currently, the A-G is a civil servant and is only accountable to the prime minister and the Cabinet.

BE HONEST PAS: Can Malaysia succeed as Islamic finance hub if an 'ulama' replaced women bankers like Zeti?

BE HONEST PAS: Can M'sia succeed as Islamic finance hub if an 'ulama' replaced women bankers like Zeti?
Kuala Lumpur - In her native Malaysia, Hong Leong Islamic Bank Bhd. Chief Executive Officer Raja Teh Maimunah Raja Abdul Aziz says she has never felt discriminated against on the basis of her gender. Overseas, it’s a different matter.
“I was speaking at a conference in Europe when somebody got up and said how can you be speaking about Islamic finance when you’re a woman?,” the 46-year-old who took over as head of the unit of the country’s fourth-largest bank in 2011, said in a September 9 interview in Kuala Lumpur.
“In Malaysia, there is a conscious effort by the government on gender diversity.”
Two of the nation’s 16 Islamic lenders now have female CEOs and three of the 11-member central bank Shariah Advisory Board are women, becoming role models for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s push to raise the female labour participation rate to 55 per cent by 2015, from 52.4 per cent now. The push, which mirrors similar efforts in Japan and South Korea, aims to widen the pool of available talent and help Malaysia maintain its position as the world’s preeminent centre for Islamic finance. Only one Shariah bank in the Middle East has a female CEO.
“Because Malaysian banks don’t discriminate between genders when recruiting, that means they can tap a larger pool of talent,” Abas A. Jalil, chief executive at Kuala Lumpur— based consulting company Amanah Capital Group Ltd, said in an interview yesterday. “The size of Malaysia’s Islamic finance industry speaks for itself. Having women in executive positions allows the banks to have a more diverse point of view.”
Global hub
Southeast Asia’s third-biggest economy has carved out a position as the major global hub in an industry that Ernst & Young LLP estimates will see assets doubling to US$3.4 trillion (RM10.9 trillion) by 2018. Malaysia accounts for 59 per cent of outstanding sukuk worldwide, compared with 31 per cent for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
Annual sales of ringgit-denominated Islamic bonds have more than tripled in the last 10 years as Malaysia attracted overseas issuers including Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd and sovereign wealth fund Bahrain Mumtalakat Holdings Co Issuance climbed 82 per cent to RM 43.9 billion this year from the same point in 2013, compared with a 39 per cent increase to US$32.6 billion worldwide.
Unlike Saudi Arabia, where women are forbidden from driving, Malaysian women face few restrictions and are able to compete freely with men for jobs and places at institutions of higher learning. Women accounted for 68 per cent of public university enrolment in the 2013/2014 academic year, according to official figures.
Female scholars
Fozia Amanulla, the female chief executive officer of Alliance Islamic Bank Bhd. recalls being at a meeting at a Saudi Arabian lender where they didn’t even have a women’s toilet.
“The whole building comprised of men,” said the 46-year— old in a September 11 interview in Kuala Lumpur. “Even the tea person was a man. In that kind of situation you feel a little awkward.”
Being open to female talent has allowed Malaysia to access a wider pool of Shariah scholars, an area where there is a shortage of experts. Bank Negara Malaysia’s Shariah Advisory Council include university lecturers Engku Rabiah Adawiah Engku Ali and Rusni Hassan and researcher Shamsiah Mohamad, according to the central bank’s website. That contrasts with the Middle East, where female scholars are extremely rare.
“It’s a number of reasons, demographics and cultural” that have contributed to the lack of female Shariah scholars in the GCC, Sheikh Bilal Khan, co-chairman of Dome Advisory Ltd, said in a phone interview from London yesterday. “But I don’t think there is a lack of female talent in the Middle East.”
Participation rates
Bank Negara, led by a woman since the Asian financial crisis in 1998, has been at the forefront of efforts to build the nation’s sukuk market and open up the Islamic finance industry to overseas investors.
“You have to demonstrate capability, knowledge and background and a track record to demonstrate your capability,” central bank Governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz said in a September 3 interview in Kuala Lumpur. “So regardless of gender, that is how positions should be accorded.”
Some 44 per cent of Malaysian women aged 15 and above were employed in 2012, according to figures from the World Bank. That compares with 47 per cent in the United Arab Emirates, 39 per cent in Bahrain and 18 per cent in Saudi Arabia.
‘True spirit’
Prime Minister Najib has taken a number of steps to encourage women into the workforce since he took office in 2009. Tax incentives are offered to companies that establish nurseries and allow flexible work arrangements and the government allocated RM2.2 billion last October to a fund that includes a programme to train women to become entrepreneurs and company directors.
“Malaysia has embraced the true spirit of the philosophies of Islamic jurisprudence,” Hong Leong Islamic’s Raja Teh said. “If you look at Islam and the philosophy and teachings, women are really regarded as equals.” — Bloomberg


Amid strained ties over the Selangor crisis and intense speculation that Pakatan Rakyat is on the brink of collapse, top leaders of PKR and DAP are expected to skip the PAS muktamar in Johor tomorrow.
Sources from PKR and DAP told Malaysiakini that the two parties would be represented by either the lower echelons or state leaders instead.
According to PKR sources, party vice-presidents Tian Chua and Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin are likely to represent the party while DAP insiders said only leaders from Johor would be there.
In previous years, the muktamar witnessed the presence of top leaders from PKR such as Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and DAP's Lim Kit Siang.
Their absence tomorrow is bound to fuel speculation that the fissure between PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang and Pakatan leaders has widened to an unbridgeable point.
After simmering for several months, the tension boiled over when Hadi openly rejected Wan Azizah to be the next menteri besar, casting aspersion on her capability of spearheading the state.
Hadi had also been reprimanded by Lim for failing to work within the spirit of the coalition in the MB saga.
The PAS president’s stand, endorsed by the syura council, has also caused an internal rift, with some quarters calling on Hadi to resign.
Last month, a PAS-linked NGO Persatuan Ummah Sejahtera (PasMa) was formed and is being touted as the possible replacement to PAS in Pakatan.
On Monday, PAS deputy president Mohammad Sabu, who is on the same page with PKR and DAP, ruffled feathers when he told the party clerics to reform themselves.
At the PAS Youth muktamar this morning, a delegate also lambasted Anwar, claiming that he failed to seek consensus from Pakatan partners for his plans.
Erdogan faction won't boycott Hadi's speech
Meanwhile, the speculation that the Erdogan faction would boycott the president's speech tomorrow has been dismissed by the faction’s leaders.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a PAS central committee member, aligned to the Erdogan faction, said they would not do the "deplorable act" of walking out during Hadi's speech as was done by members aligned to the ulamas during Mohammad Sabu's speech yesterday.
"It would not be done by us. Furthermore, the speech would be seen by the central committee members tonight before it is presented by Hadi.
"From what we know, the speech draft does not seem to have anything controversial to it, it has more to do with 'Teruskan Beristiqamah' (be steadfast) as is the tagline for this muktamar," he told Malaysiakini. -M'kini