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Sunday, November 9, 2008

RAJA AZIZ ADDRUSE AND DING JO-ANN: Accountability and the A-G

THE recent challenge by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's defence team against the validity of the Attorney-General's certificate to transfer his sodomy case from the Sessions Court to the High Court has again highlighted the need to seriously examine the role of the Attorney-General.

The Attorney-General, it was argued, was not competent to issue the certificate as a report, which had been made against him for alleged tampering with evidence in Anwar's first sodomy case in 1988, was still being investigated.

The Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court ruled last Friday that the certificate was invalid.

The scope of the Attorney-General's powers in Malaysia has long been a subject of debate and controversy. He is the chief legal adviser to the government and is responsible for advising ministers involved in legal proceedings in their official capacity.

But as public prosecutor, he is also entrusted with power, which he uses at his discretion, to start, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a Syariah court, a native court or a court-martial.

His dual role has posed a real problem. A conflict of interest is bound to arise if he has to institute criminal proceedings against members of the government.

The ongoing Altantuya Shaariibuu prosecution, surrounded by rumours involving important political figures, is a case in point.

Some countries in the Commonwealth, such as Australia and Canada, do not have such a problem. There the job of reviewing evidence, and beginning and conducting prosecution of offences, is entrusted to a Director of Public Prosecutions.

Since he is unencumbered by the sort of duties and functions the Attorney-General has, he is kept away from direct government influence and is able to act with impartiality in assessing whether or not to prosecute a case.

His decision is based on whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction on the evidence available and whether it is in the public interest for the prosecution to begin.

The Attorney-General in such a system would be a government minister. This would remove the structural defect in the present Malaysian system which constantly invites accusations that the Attorney-General is motivated by bias or is being selective in instituting criminal proceedings.

If he were made a part of the political party in power, the Attorney-General would not need to pretend to be neutral.

Though not directly involved in deciding whether to institute criminal prosecutions, he should be responsible for overseeing and superintending the prosecution services of the country and should answer to Parliament for the conduct of the Director of Public Prosecutions and of his department.

There is currently no formal mechanism requiring the Attorney-General to account for his conduct in relation to prosecutions of criminal proceedings. In spite of the wide powers he wields, he has no duty to report to the prime minister, cabinet or Parliament.

There has been no call for him to account for the failure of a number of high-profile prosecutions, which commenced with much fanfare but ended up being a waste of public funds.

Last year, Tan Sri Eric Chia, the former managing director of Perwaja Steel, was acquitted after 43 days of trial without his defence being called.

In acquitting the accused, the presiding High Court judge heavily criticised the conduct of the prosecution, especially their failure to call several key witnesses who had obvious knowledge of the material elements of the case.

With reference to particular key witnesses from Japan, the judge questioned whether it was the Japanese witnesses who were "reluctant" to come or "the prosecution was the one reluctant to bring them here".

The prosecution of Koh Kim Teck, a businessman, and his two bodyguards, who were charged with murdering 14-year-old Chinese national Xu Jian Huang, and who were acquitted in 2005, is another case in point.

After a trial lasting 36 days and with 39 prosecution witnesses having given evidence, the presiding judge found that the prosecution had not brought forward any evidence which could implicate the accused in the murder and that there had been no "prima facie" case made out to warrant the defence being called to answer the charge.

The prosecution had apparently omitted to call material witnesses, including the investigating officer for the case and Koh's driver who had reportedly given a cautioned statement that he had seen both bodyguards throw Xu into the swimming pool where he was eventually found. Two other material witnesses who were present in the house were also not called.

Yet another was the prosecution for the murder of Noritta Samsudin, where the accused was acquitted after 29 days of trial. The prosecution appealed against the acquittal right up to the Federal Court.

In dismissing the appeal, the Federal Court noted that there was a gaping hole in the prosecution's case, where it failed to sufficiently account for the likelihood of there being another person present at Noritta Samsudin's condominium unit who could also have committed the crime. No one else has been charged for the murder.

Any discussion on expensive and long-running criminal trials would not be complete without reference to the Irene Fernandez trial which spanned seven years and took over 300 days to complete.

It is still not over for the Tenaganita director, who was convicted in 2003 of publishing false news about the ill-treatment of detainees in camps for illegal immigrants. Her appeal against this conviction to the High Court has been the subject of numerous delays and has yet to be heard.

The Altantuya Shaariibuu murder trial will also go on record as one of the longest trials in Malaysian history.

After more than 150 days, Abdul Razak Baginda was acquitted of abetting the murder and discharged on Oct 31, while the two police officers charged with her murder have been called to enter their defence.

As it is the taxpayers' funds that ultimately pay for all criminal prosecutions, they have a vested interest in knowing how such cases, which appear to be ill-prepared, can be brought to trial.

It is imperative that the Attorney General's wide powers be subject to close scrutiny and not be permitted to be exercised arbitrarily.

If the government is truly serious in wanting to improve and restore public confidence in the administration of justice in this country, it must be prepared to review the presently unfettered powers of the Attorney-General.


Raja Aziz Addruse is a former Bar Council president and former president of the National Human Rights Society (Hakam). Ding Jo-Ann is a Kuala Lumpur-based lawyer.

- nst

I am Malay, and proud of it

Image

It is time the crutches are removed and the Malays learned how to walk with their heads held up high. Malays have to be made to believe that the Ketuanan Melayu and the NEP is an insult and that is suggests Malays are weak creatures.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Religious superstition and persecution never ceases to amaze me. Take the case of Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow of Mogadishu, Somalia. On 27th October 2008, 13-year old Aisha was killed. She was killed when 1,000 people stoned her to death. And she was stoned to death because three men had raped her. She was raped, so they accused of adultery.

Imagine a 13-year old girl killed in a most brutal manner because she was raped by three men. Should it not be the three men who should have instead been stoned to death? And do you not wonder why Islam suffers from a serious image problem? Muslims should take stock of what they are doing and understand the disservice they are doing to Islam.

Our religious rehabilitation by the Kamunting detention camp started on the Tuesday after Deepavali. The highlight of the sessions was the “nasi tomato” and the chicken wing in a plastic bag that they served for lunch, courtesy of JAKIM but paid for by the Malaysian taxpayers, 90% who are Chinese.

The JAKIM ustaz told us that Islam is the true religion and that all other religions are false. We were reminded not to believe in or follow other religions, which are not accepted and recognized by God. Only the Koran is the true Holy Book and was sent to us by God through the Prophet Muhammad. All other books are false and were created by man and did not come from God.

We must also not copy or ape the non-Muslims as that will lead us astray and we will become an apostate if we act like the kafir. He did not, however, give any examples on what would be considered acting like a kafir.

In the meantime, in another incident that happened outside the Kamunting detention camp, an UKM lecturer explained that Muslims should not do yoga or meditate, as the origin of this is Hinduism. Muslims who do yoga or meditate would be led astray, argued the wise man from UKM. He then asked the religious scholars to come out with a fatwa or decree banning Muslims from doing yoga or meditating.

It is ironical that the JAKIM ustaz who visited Kamunting chose that subject matter to kick off our religious rehabilitation program. The article that got me into trouble with the government and which resulted in my detention under the Internal Security Act said exactly the same thing. I pointed out that the Friday prayer sermons run down the other religions. I also argued that we are told not to ape the non-Muslims or take them as our friends as the non-Muslims are sworn enemies of Islam and can never be our friends. For that I was detained under the Internal Security Act and my first lecture happened to be the very thing I said and which got me detained.

There are in fact many things which Malays do and which originated from Hinduism. Take the stringing up of coloured lights as one example. Seven days before Hari Raya Malays would string up coloured lights around their home, sometimes even on trees like they do during Christmas. This is a throwback of the old days when they used to use kerosene or oil lamps. And this was a custom borrowed from Deepavali because the Arabs do not do this.

So, the next time you pass by a Malay house during Hari Raya and you see all those coloured lights you can smile, knowing that the occupant of that house is borrowing a Hindu ritual -- only that he or she does not know it.

If we really want to go into the long list of Hindu customs and rituals that the Malays have borrowed the list would be endless. We should not ape the kafir, the religious scholars tell us. If not we would become a kafir. Well, what about wearing a tie, coat and pants? Is this not a kafir attire?

How many Malays go about wearing a robe and turban? Even that UKM lecturer who wants a fatwa issued banning Malays from doing yoga or meditation wears kafir clothes. Look at all the Malay government officers. They all wear kafir clothes and sometimes a tie as well. The security forces all wear kafir uniforms with a kafir hat on their heads.

We count our days using a Christian calendar. I am facing various charges for crimes I committed on certain days of the Christian calendar. What was the day of the Islamic calendar, the Hijrah calendar, that I committed my crimes? The charge sheet does not say.

I am facing various charges in a kafir court. The charges I am facing are crimes according to kafir laws. I was also under detention without trial according to a kafir law. In fact, according to Islam, I have not committed any crime. And Islam does not allow for detention without trial.

For that matter not only have I not committed a crime, according to Islam, but what I have done is what Islam has actually made mandatory. Islam makes it mandatory for all Muslims to perform “Amar Makruf, Nahi Munkar”. This means to uphold good and oppose evil. All Muslims must do this without exception. Not doing it, according to Islam, makes you an extremely weak Muslim.

I, however, am now facing trial and was under detention without trial for performing my Islamic duty. And kafir laws, not Islamic laws, are being used against me. Kafir laws are being used against Muslims for doing what Islam has made mandatory.

And what is the reaction of Muslims to all this? What is the UKM lecturer doing about it? Is he up in arms about the kafir system being implemented against Islam? Is the Member of Parliament for Kulim demonstrating on the streets and screaming, “I am a Muslim first I don’t care about other people’s opinions”?

Okay, the UKM lecturer wants yoga and meditation banned and the Kulim MP wants to shut the mouths of anyone who wants to talk about Islam. But that is about it. It never goes beyond that,

Sometimes the Malays can be amazing. Okay, not sometimes, most times. Now UMNO wants Zaid Ibrahim sacked as a Malay. Can any Malay actually be sacked as a Malay? I wonder, but UMNO thinks it can be done. UMNO says that Zaid would be nobody -- he would not be a lawyer of the biggest law firm in Malaysia -- if he was not a Malay and the country did not have Ketuanan Melayu and the New Economic Policy.

Zaid thinks that that is an insult. He would like to believe he is what he is because he is Zaid and because he is smart. If he would instead be a simple fisherman in Tumpat, Kelantan, without the benefit of Ketuanan Melayu and the NEP, then this means Zaid is actually quite stupid.

I share Zaid’s view. I also would like to believe that I am “somebody” and “special” because I am Raja Petra. If it is because of Ketuanan Melayu and the NEP, and if not because of that I would be washing cars in Bangsar, then this would certainly make me very unhappy.

Yes, Zaid and people like him do not need crutches. Only losers need crutches. And that is why UMNO wants these crutches to remain, because they are all a bunch of losers. I would like to believe that I am what I am because of who I am and not because of Ketuanan Melayu and the NEP. I take pride in that. I would hate people saying, “of course Raja Petra is successful. He is a Malay and Malays have Ketuanan Melayu and the NEP to help them. Malays need crutches to get ahead.”

It is time the crutches are removed and the Malays learned how to walk with their heads held up high. Malays have to be made to believe that the Ketuanan Melayu and the NEP is an insult and that it suggests Malays are weak creatures. Malays must be proud of their achievements and not credit their achievements to the protection and special privileges they enjoy because they are Malay. The Malays used to be a proud race. Now they are no longer proud. They accept that they are weak. So they demand protection to compensate for this weakness.

Hindu American Foundation Press Release: Hindu Americans Condemn Banning of Hindu Group in Malaysia


www.hafsite.org

HINDU AMERICAN FOUNDATION
PRESS RELEASE


Hindu Americans Condemn Banning of Hindu Group in Malaysia
Demand Release of Its Leaders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For Media Inquiries contact:
HAF Director of Public Policy
Ishani Chowdhury
Office: 301.770.7835
Fax: 301.770.7837
Email: ishani at hafsite.org

November 5, 2008 (Washington, D.C.)--A prominent U.S. based human rights group, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), today joined a growing chorus demanding restoration of civil rights in Malaysia after the recent banning of the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF). In a letter written to the Malaysian Emabssy in the United States, the Foundation condemned the recent banning of the avowedly non-violent organization and the ongoing incarceration without trial of five HINDRAF leaders.

In November 2007, HINDRAF organized a massive, peaceful rally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, that leaders said was to raise global awareness about the persecution and discrimination the Hindu minority faces in that country. These allegations have been verified and documented in HAF's Annual Hindu human rights report as recently as this year.

According to media coverage and first hand reports reaching HAF offices, the Malaysian government brutally crushed the gatherings and jailed five of the HINDRAF leaders without trial under the draconian Internal Security Act. Popular discontent over the government's response led to a major reversal in the ruling party's electoral fortunes earlier this year. In a bid to consolidate power, however, the Malaysian government banned HINDRAF on October 15, 2008.


"In our letter to the Malaysian embassy, we highlighted the temple destructions, lack of free speech and discrimination Hindus are facing in that country on a daily basis," said Ishani Chowdhury, HAF's Director of Pubic Policy. "We call upon the Malaysian government to lift its ban on HINDRAF and release the Hindu leaders imprisoned without cause for nearly a year."

The HINDRAF chairman, P. Waythamoorthy, is currently exiled in London, and has been in close touch with HAF leaders. Waythamoorthy's six-year old daughter was among eleven others that were illegally detained without cause on October 23, 2008.


"The Malaysian government has chosen an anti-democratic, authoritarian path that ostracizes and persecutes Hindus--a people whose history in that country spans six centuries," added Chowdhury.

Evoking the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, in her letter, Chowdhury wrote that, "it is imperative that...Malaysia work for the equal and fair treatment of the Hindu minority community and address grievances as such."

The Hindu American Foundation is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting the Hindu and American ideals of understanding, tolerance and pluralism. Contact HAF at 1-301-770-7835 or on the web at www.HAFsite.org.

DAP slams Home Ministry for appealing against RPK release

By Shannon Teoh

PETALING JAYA, Nov 9 - DAP has slammed the Home Ministry's decision to appeal the Shah Alam High Court's decision to free Malaysia Today website editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin from detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang said the decision showed Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar's "utter contempt for the fundamental concept of the rule of law and the most rudimentary commitment to human rights in the country."

The Ipoh Timur MP pointed to Syed Hamid's actions in issuing a detention order under Section 8 of the ISA on Sept 22 not because raja Petra constituted a threat to national security but to frustrate the editor's earlier habeas corpus application.

Raja Petra had been summarily packed off to the Kamunting Detention Centre to start a two-year formal detention pending a second habeas corpus application.

On Friday, after a 56-day detention, Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad had ruled in the blogger's habeas corpus application that the Home Minister acted outside his powers in detaining Raja Petra under the ISA.

In a press statement today, Lim called Syed Ahmad's decision a "positive reflection in the last five months of" Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi's administration and "should be the occasion for the Cabinet to undertake a full review of the draconian laws in the country as well as to uphold the doctrine of the separation of powers by repealing all legislation which institutionalises the executive usurpation of judicial powers."

He further called on the Cabinet to overrule Syed Hamid's decision to appeal the court's decision.

"The Prime Minister should restrain Hamid from proceeding until there is a full review of the matter by both the Cabinet as well as Parliament.

"Will the MCA and Gerakan Ministers and leaders stand up now to oppose Syed Hamid's decision?" he said, referring to the resolutions passed by both parties' national assemblies recently to resolve the issue of the ISA.

The statement also announced that the anti-ISA Parliamentary Caucus will hold an emergency meeting in Parliament tomorrow to discuss the issue and two candle-light vigils will be held tonight - one at Taman DR Seenivasagam, Ipoh and another at Padang Timur, Petaling Jaya.

DAP leaders will be present at both vigils.

Not quite judicial renaissance yet, says Anwar

By Shannon Teoh

SHAH ALAM, Nov 9 – Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has warned against taking the court decisions on Friday as a “signal of judicial renaissance.”

“A few judges have acted based on legal facts and their conscience. But I do not take it as something that inspires confidence without reforms in the judicial system,” he said.

On Friday, Justice SM Komathy Suppiah ruled that Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail’s certificate of transfer to move Anwar’s sodomy trial from the Sessions Court to the High Court was invalid.

On the same day, Shah Alam High Court judge Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad had ruled in controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin’s habeas corpus application that his detention under the Internal Security Act was unjustified.

“Recent developments have given us hope. Raja Petra was ordered to be set free but I would not get overexcited that this signals the start of a judicial renaissance,” the PKR de facto leader said.

The Permatang Pauh MP was speaking at the launch of four books written by the party’s deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali here with Unisel undergraduates in attendance.

“With a clear conscience, I have no problems rejecting all laws which are abusive, not just the ISA but any that tries to stunt the freedom of thought, including the Universities and University Colleges Act,” he told them.

Anwar was joined in launching the books by Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim who announced an RM30 million allocation for a holistic Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Social Development (SPIES) programme for higher education institutions in the state.

“It is the intention of the state to promote balanced education and outlook,” he said, pointing out that the Klang Valley has become an educational hub with over 15 institutes of higher learning, prompting Bangi, which houses several of these institutes, to be known as Bandar Ilmu (Knowledge City).

Nation's interests must come before race: PM

Nation's interests must come before race: PMThe Sunday Times, Singapore

by Aaron Low

• Non-Chinese PM? Possible, but not soon

Singapore's leaders must put national interests first before those of their particular racial community, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made it clear yesterday.

That is why the country will not head down the road of electing people to Parliament to represent the interests of their race, as is the case in Malaysia and New Zealand.

In response to a question on whether Malay Members of Parliament have difficulty balancing their community's interest with the national interest, Mr Lee explained what he expected of MPs here.

'If he is a Chinese, I want to ask him if he is a Singaporean who happens to be of Chinese descent or is he Chinese first, who happens to be living in Singapore,' he said.

Singapore is unlike Malaysia as it does not have 'a coalition government where there is a Chinese party and a Malay party and an Indian party, and then we try to push and see who can push harder'.

Neither does it intend to move towards a system of proportional representation as practised in New Zealand, where the small number of MPs voted in to represent Maoris can exact a price each time the government seeks their support.

'But for Singapore, I think it would be the wrong thing to do. In Singapore, you come in, you have to think about the interests of Singapore,' Mr Lee said.

On the difficulty of finding Malay political talent, he said it was tough to find such talent across all the races.

Although the pool of Malay talent is bigger than what it used to be, the proportion of Malay professionals - such as doctors, lawyers and engineers - is still lower than the national average, he said.

Mr Lee also called for the grassroots leaders' help in talent-spotting, asking: 'Do you know anyone to introduce to me?'


Non-Chinese PM? Possible, but not soon

PM: Race still a factor among S'poreans, but attitudes have shifted in the new generation

By Zakir Hussain

Singapore may have a non-Chinese prime minister one day but that is unlikely to happen any time soon, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday, four days after Americans elected their first black president.

Mr Lee said race is still a factor that determines voters' preferences here, although he noted that attitudes have shifted.

He was replying to a question from Association of Muslim Professionals board member Yang Razali Kassim at a dialogue with 350 Malay grassroots and community leaders at the Grassroots Club.

Mr Yang Razali asked if, in the light of Mr Barack Obama's win, Singapore was ready for a prime minister of a minority race, and specifically from the Malay-Muslim community.

Mr Lee said in reply: 'It's possible. It depends on how people vote, on who has the confidence of the population.'

'Will it happen soon? I don't think so, because you have to win votes. And these sentiments - who votes for whom, and what makes him identify with that person - these are sentiments which will not disappear completely for a long time, even if people do not talk about it, even if people wish they did not feel it.'

However, he also acknowledged that attitudes towards race have shifted in the last two to three decades.

'Attitudes have shifted because English provides more of a common ground, because the new generation is better educated and they can see that there are successful people of all races,' he said.

'But to reach a position where everybody is totally race-blind and religion-blind, I think that's very difficult. You will not find it in any country in the world.'

Grassroots volunteer Muhammad Nabil Noor Mohamed, 20, said Mr Lee's assessment is realistic. Yet Mr Nabil also believes that people of his generation can see beyond race and religion 'to assess a leader on his ability and his merit'.

Last year, a survey of 1,824 Singaporeans' views on inter-racial ties by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies found that 94 per cent of Chinese polled said they would not mind an Indian as prime minister, and 91 per cent said they would not mind a Malay in the top post.

Mr Lee prefaced his remarks on Singapore by noting that Mr Obama's election victory marked a 'historic change' for America.

But the win did not mean race was no longer an issue there, he said. He pointed out that after 20 years of Bush and Clinton presidencies, Americans wanted a change.

'People were tired, they wanted something different, and Mr Obama represented something different,' he said.

'He was an effective candidate, charismatic candidate and able to mobilise young people and enthuse them, inspire them.'

Mr Obama won 52 per cent of the popular vote against opponent John McCain's 46 per cent, but a closer look at how ethnic groups voted showed that race remained a factor, Mr Lee said.

Just 43 per cent of whites voted for Mr Obama, compared to 60 to 65 per cent of Latinos and Asians and 95 per cent of blacks.

'To say that's socio-economic, nothing to do with race, I don't think so.

'The factor is still there, but there are other factors which are important and in this case they all added up, enough for Mr Obama to score a good majority and become president,' he said.

Mr Lee also took questions on the economy, foreign workers and representation of Malay interests during the 90-minute dialogue.

It was organised by Mesra, a People's Association council that coordinates Malay grassroots activities, as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations

Sabah, Sarawak lawyers say court ruling takes their rights away

Sabah, Sarawak lawyers say court ruling takes their rights away 'Loss of right' upsets lawyers in the east

The Sunday Star

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah and Sarawak lawyers have voiced shock over a ruling that peninsula-based lawyers can represent cases originating from the two states when they come before the Court of Appeal.

The Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS) and the Sabah Law Association (SLA) described the decision as taking away their rights to appear for cases originating from the two states by fixing the cases to be heard in peninsular Malaysia.

In a joint statement, SLA president Datuk John Sikayun and AAS president Frank Tang said the rights of Sabah and Sarawak lawyers were guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and could not be taken away by mere administrative action.

“AAS and SLA will bring the matter up with relevant authorities and if opportunity arises on an appeal to the Federal Court, we will ask to be heard on this issue,” the statement added.

The two bodies claimed the decision violated the Malaysia Agreement and eroded the sanctity and constitutional safeguards agreed between Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak in the formation of Malaysia.

They were reacting to a decision by a three-man Bench presided by Justice Datuk Gopal Sri Ram that peninsula-based lawyers can represent their clients in the appeals of cases that originated from Sabah and Sarawak if the case was heard in the Court of Appeal in any peninsula state.

In the ruling, Sri Ram said the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 empowered the Court of Appeal president to direct an appeal against any decision of the High Court of Borneo States of Sabah and Sarawak to be heard by appellate courts anywhere in the states of Malaya.

He made the ruling in a commercial case that originated from the Kuching High Court involving a suit by Datuk Ting Cheuk Sii against nine respondents under the Companies Act and winding-up petition.

Sri Ram held that Tommy Thomas, an advocate of the High Court in Malaya, could represent Ting in his appeal fixed for hearing next week.

RPK’s rearrest under ISA - Cabinet/Parliament must overrule Hamid

(LimKitSiang) Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar’s announcement in Kota Kinabalu last night that the Home Ministry will appeal against the Shah Alam High Court decision on Friday to free Malaysia Today website editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin from detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) is most deplorable and reprehensible.

It shows Hamid’s utter contempt for the fundamental concept of the rule of law and the most rudimentary commitment to human rights in the country.

In ordering Raja Petra’s release after a 56-day ISA detention, Shah Alam High Court judge Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad ruled in the blogger’s habeas corpus application that the Home Minister acted outside his powers in detaining Raja Petra under the ISA, as the grounds given for Raja Petra’s detention were insufficient rendering the ISA detention unlawful.

Syed Ahmad Helmy held that although Section 8 of the ISA on the detention order by the minister barred judicial review, there was a procedural non-compliance by the Minister resulting in an “ultra vires” order.

As illustration, the judge gave the example that the minister cannot act in bad faith to detain a person who decided to colour his hair red.

In actual fact, Hamid acted mala fide in a very substantive manner in issuing a detention order under Section 8 of the ISA late in the night of September 22 not because Raja Petra constituted a threat to national security but to frustrate the administration of justice and the rule of law by “killing off” Raja Petra’s earlier habeas corpus application.

Raja Petra’s first habeas corpus application to challenge the legality of his ISA detention on Sept. 12 under Section 73 of the ISA was slated for hearing at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Sept. 23.

When Raja Petra’s lawyers, his wife Marina Lee Abdullah and family members and supporters turned up in court on the morning of Sept. 23 for the harbeas corpus hearing, they were shocked to learn from the Senior Federal Counsel, Abdul Wahab Mohamad that the issue had become academic and the application should be struck out as Raja Petra was no longer detained under Section 73 (which permits judicial review) but under Section 8 (which bars judicial review except for procedural defects).

Raja Petra had also been summarily packed off to the Kamunting Detention Centre to start his two-year formal detention.

I had on Sept. 24 condemned Hamid’s ministerial detention order of Raja Petra, “hours before his habeas corpus application hearing at the Kuala Lumpur High Court” on Sept. 23 as “a gross violation of human rights, a blatant abuse of power and downright contempt of court by the Home Minister and a travesty of the rule of law in Malaysia”.

I had said: “One would have expected that being a lawyer by training, the Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar would have greater regard, respect and understanding of the principles of a just of rule and would not do anything to frustrate the legal process as in RPK’s habeas corpus application hearing yesterday. But Hamid has proved everyone wrong.

”The Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail should explain whether he was privy to the Home Minister’s decision on Monday (Sept. 22) night to frustrate the legal process over RPK’s habeas corpus application hearing yesterday (Sept. 23) challenging the police detention under Section 73 of the Internal Security Act (ISA) by the simple but most cynical and irresponsible expedient of the Minister signing a formal detention order under Section 8 of the ISA.

”Was the Attorney-General consulted and his agreement sought to this irresponsible ploy to frustrate RPK’s habeas corpus application and did he advise the Home Minister against such flagrant contempt of court and to trust in the impartiality and integrity of the judicial system to pronounce on the legality of the police detention of RPK under the ISA under Section 73?

”Whose idea was it that the Home Minister should abuse his powers to expedite the formal detention of RPK under Section 8 of the ISA in order to frustrate RPK’s habeas corpus application, when RPK had been detained for only 10 days under Section 73 which provides for a 60-day police custodial detention?”

There had been thundering silence from Hamid, Gani Patail as well as the MCA/Gerakan Ministers and leaders who had been staging a “song and dance” about their new-found opposition to the ISA, demanding a review if not repeal of the draconian detention-without-trial law.

The Shah Alam High Court decision to free Raja Petra, which is a positive reflection in the last five months of the Abdullah premiership, should be the occasion for the Cabinet to undertake a full review of the draconian laws in the country as well as to uphold the doctrine of the separation of powers by repealing all legislation which institutionalizes the executive usurpation of judicial powers and independence by excluding judicial review of abuses of executive power, like Section 8 of the ISA.

However, Hamid seems to be unrepentant in refusing to understand the changes demanded by Malaysians after the March 8 “political tsunami” for a full restoration of the just rule of law, a truly independent judiciary and a total end to all forms of abuses of executive power.

I call on the Cabinet to overrule Hamid’s decision to appeal against the Shah Alam High Court decision to free Raja Petra from ISA detention, which can only mean that Hamid wants Raja Petra to be re-arrested and sent back to Kamunting Detention Centre.

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should restrain Hamid from proceeding with the appeal against the Shah Alam High Court decision to free Raja Petra until there is a full review of the matter by both the Cabinet as well as Parliament.

Will the MCA and Gerakan Ministers and leaders stand up now to oppose Hamid’s decision to appeal against the Shah Alam High Court decision?

The Parliamentary Caucus on Repeal of ISA and release of all ISA detainees will hold an emergency meeting in Parliament tomorrow to discuss the issue.

There will be two candle-light “No to ISA” vigils tonight - one at Taman DR Seenivasagam in Ipoh at 8 pm and another at Padang Timur Petaling Jaya (near Amcorp Mall), which have now multiple objectives, viz:

· No to ISA;

· Release all ISA detainees;

· First Anniversary BERSIH rally for a clean, fair and democratic electoral system.

· No to any appeal against Shah Alam High Court decision to re-arrest Raja Petra and send him back to Kamunting Detention Centre;

· Restore doctrine of separation of powers among the Executive, Parliament and Judiciary; and

· Repeal all laws with “no judicial review” clauses to subject all forms of executive abuses of power to legal challenge and judicial review.

I will be at the Candlelight Vigil for freedom, justice and democracy in Ipoh tonight. Other DAP leaders will be at the PJ Candlelight vig

As chairs fly, Umno could be lurching towards implosion

It used to be that flying chairs were associated with MIC meetings. No longer.

The big news today should have been Mat Taib emerging as a surprise contender for the Umno deputy president’s post, joining Ali Rustam and Muhyiddin.

But flying chairs at the Seremban Umno meeting, which left two people injured, have added to the litany of serious troubles facing Umno.

It is not just one incident that suggests that Umno is going through a testing time. Serious money politics, factionalism, the return of the old guard and Mahathirism, bitter leadership struggles and protests at divisional meetings are all evidence of a party in crisis. The big question now is can the party pull through unscathed at a time of economic turbulence or will the fissures that are now evident lead to a final implosion?

Najib is reported as saying that 900 complaints of money politcs had been received by the party’s disciplinary board. 900?! We have heard top Umno politicians complaining about attempts at vote-buying and money politics.

At the Rembau meeting yesterday, a commotion broke out when a number of delegates complained that nominations were closed prematurely.

Over in Tanah Merah, several members managed to get an ex-parte injunction from the Kota Baru High Court to defer the division’s delegates meeting. Controversy surrounds the status of 32 branch heads and alleged phantom members.

And that’s just the news over the last two days!

One commentator told me that Anwar and Pakatan Rakyat won’t have to do much or even bother looking for defections from MPs who lack conscience or principles. Instead, PR leaders can just sit back and watch as Umno, after the heavy blows it took on the chin on 8 March, stumbles around like a dazed and ageing heavyweight fighter trying to avoid hitting the canvas for the final count.

The houses in Mosman Park

(bigdogdotcom) We obtained first hand photos of some said houses, on Bayview Terrace, Mosman Park, west of Perth, Western Australia. These were obtained this afternoon, in sunny pre-summer Perth weather.

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These are the two famous photo of the house with the address 34 Bayview Terrace, Mosman Park, Perth WA which first appeared in Malaysia Today sometime last year. It was still under renovation then. Now, it is fully completed.

These ones are numbers 44, 66 and 66A on the same street.

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dscn6962The houses, three in the row, fronting the Mosman Bay.

By far, we have reasons to believe these are the most profilic and luxurious address in all Western Australia. Another Brick in the Wall was right. The east facing view from these three houses, overlooking Mosman Bay is most outstanding. The cliff on the park across from these three houses were at least 100 feet high (from the waterfront).

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This shot, was taken two hours ago. Note the skyscrapers on Perth, towards the west of the Mosman Bay.

Who ever bought these houses, must really want to live here for the rest of the intended lives, as free people. These are definitely serious addresses for people with lots of money, migrating and starting a new life here in by far the most posh suburb of Perth. Never in doubt, people who live in this address, would make these homes with most amazing views as a “holiday home”.

Just to clarify, as per reported by Another Brick in the Wall blog on 19 April 2007, there are no houses on 22 & 24 Bayview Terrace. Only empty lots, meant for two separate bungalows. However, the sign in front says that they were sold. It even have drawings for the proposed bungalow lots.

PAYOUT FOR JUDGES


Tun.Dr.Mahathir
1. Now we know how much has been paid out to the judges.

2. It is not bad at all. The Government must have plenty of money to give away for something that the Government says is not an admission of guilt and does not merit an apology. This generous act is unprecedented but must now be taken as a precedence. We should see more money being doled out every time a Minister feels a need to be popular with the Opposition. I wonder whether the amount of ex-gratia is based on how much the ex-de facto Minister of Justice considers would please the Bar Council.

3. The Minister informs us that the judges had been drawing full pension for the last 20 years. The highest pension is RM6,548.59 per month. Roughly this adds up to RM1,600,000 for 20 years.

4. Judges in Malaysia are paid two pensions - one at 55 years and one at 65 years. As I pointed out before one judge actually draws three pensions. Is the sum mentioned the total or just one?

5. Assuming that the highest pension is paid to the most senior of the judges, then he would have done extremely well to get RM5,000,000.00 (Five million Ringgit). He would have to draw pension for another 60 years to get RM5 million. Truly the Government is generous.

6. Were the judges sacked or suspended? I think they were sacked. The records say so. Now the Minister says "No", the judges were not sacked or suspended.

7. Why pay them compensation if they are not sacked or suspended and they did not even lose their pension rights?

8. Were they allowed to continue being judges, to preside over cases brought before them? I cannot remember them doing this.

9. Really the Salleh saga gets curiouser and curiouser.

Gov't to appeal RPK release

(Malaysiakini) The government is to appeal the release of leading blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, who was detained under controversial internal security laws and freed last week, according to reports today.

MCPX

Raja Petra was released by the High Court on Friday after it ruled that the government had acted outside its powers by ordering Raja Petra to serve two years in detention without trial.

"I am disappointed but I respect the court decision," Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar told the New Straits Times newspaper.

However, he said his ministry would direct the attorney-general to appeal against the decision, the paper reported.

"We need to find out how the court interpreted the home minister's discretionary power" as laid out under the country's tough Internal Security Act (ISA), he added.

raja petra kamaruddin habeas corpus case 071108 12Raja Petra, founder of the popular Malaysia Today website, which has outraged top leaders with its stream of critical stories, was detained in September for writing articles that allegedly insulted Islam.

Raja Petra is best known for his articles on politics, and has already been charged with sedition and defamation for linking Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife to the sensational murder of a Mongolian woman.

There has been a rash of detentions in recent months under the ISA, which allows for renewable two-year periods of detention without trial and which critics say have been increasingly used against political opponents rather than national security threats.

-AFP