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Monday, January 19, 2009

Pakatan forms council to counter federal discrimination

UPDATED

By Neville Spykerman(Themalaysianinsider)

ALOR SETAR, Jan 18- A formal Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Chief Ministers Council and Secretariat was established today to counter what they claimed is discrimination by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Speaking to the press this evening after meeting his fellow PR mentris besar, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said they were fed up of being left out by Abdullah, who only met with Barisan Nasional menteris besar.

“When MBs of all states meets during the Council of Rulers, we are excluded by the Prime Minister, who meets only BN MBs separately at the end.”

Lim said they were left with two options, to either go back to their states or wander the streets of the city they were in.

“We have been patient for nearly a year and as leaders who are democratically elected by the people we felt we had no choice but to form the council.”

The establishment of the new council was formally called the Mentaloon Declaration by Kedah MB Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak who hosted the meeting in Dewan Sri Mentaloon, which is at his official residence, here.

He said the council will be used to co-ordinate the activities of the five states and was necessary to reduce miscommunication between leaders.

“Many feel that we (PR Chief Ministers) are contradicting each other and through the council we hope to sit together and iron out our differences.”

Perak MB Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said the council will meet at least twice a year and will be chaired by the menteri besar hosting the event.

Selangor MB Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said the Council was an opportunity for them to exchange ideas and learn from each other.

“It will also enable us to manage our states more effectively.”

Kelantan MB Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat was at the meeting earlier but did not attend the press conference.

DATUK SERI ABDULLAH AHMAD BADAWI SHOULD CALL FOR A SNAP GENERAL ELECTIONS BEFORE RESIGNING

With various accusation and criticism raised against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his administration, it would be most appropriate for him (Datuk Seri Abdullah) to call for a SNAP GENERAL ELECTIONS to gauge who will administer the country after his intended departure in March 2009.

The recent by-elections in Permatang Pauh and Kuala Terengganu have indicated that the rakyat is really unhappy with the Barisan Nasional administration, although various 'goodies' and smear campaign employed had backfired.

Just try to hand over the premiership to his deputy would be most inappropriate since he had failed to convince the voters that the BN administration is what Malaysians need and look forward to.

The position of Prime Minister is given to the member of parliament who has the confidence of the Dewan Rakyat and just trying to hand over the baton is now considered outdated since these leaders have created a scenario that the failure were attributed to the weakness of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah.

In actual fact, the whole Barisan Nasional leadership need to be overhauled, with new and younger faces to restore the confidence the rakyat will have towards the Barisan Nasional.

In order for such a CHANGE a snap general elections would be the answer and since it is the absolute prerogative to dissolve and call for the fresh general elections, it would be best of him to use this to rebuild his integrity and reputation with the rakyat.

Then, the issue of incompetency and so forth would never arise again and parties who have been calling for his (PM Datuk Seri Abdullah) immediate exit would stop making these calls in fear of their own misdeeds and abuse of position.

Let the rakyat elect the suitable candidates who will administer the country, Pah Lah.

DR M CLAIMS BN ESPECIALLY UMNO IS INFECTED WITH CORRUPTION AND GREED FOR POWER

At last, the Barisan Nasional leaders especially from UMNO who dominate the ruling coalition have come to their senses that the rakyat do not want them anymore since they are uncaring, ineffective, inefficient, arrogant and corrupted and their 50 odd years was a greatest disaster for Malaysians on the whole.

The mentor of this creation, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has finally spill the beans -''Barisan Nasional which has ruled for half a century will be dumped at the next elections if it continues to embrace corrupt leaders''.

It seems the time has come for Malaysians to evaluate all projects and decisions made for the rakyat by the Barisan Nasional government and punish everyone involved in this menace, misuse of power and waste of public funds.

What that surprise sensible Malaysians is the continued attack on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. It seems that there is something that is still untold and his continued claim that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak should not be blamed for the surprising defeat in Kuala Terengganu is absolutely unacceptable. Datuk Seri Najib was totally responsible for the BN machinery and looking at the amount of public funds wasted at Kuala Terengganu, it would be sensible that Datuk Seri Najib should resign and take complete responsibility. But as usual, its not UMNO or BN style and now they have found a scapegoat to blame for their disastrous defeat. Datuk Seri Najib should realise that every action of his has been doubted, land title issue, unfair treatment of UMNOputras and other Malaysians, mystery involving the murder trial of Altantuya Shariibuu, royalty issue, Monsoon Cup and many more.

It would be wiseful for Tun Dr Mahathir to stop commenting on Malaysian politics since he was the one who had corrupted the system while Datuk Seri Najib should resign immediately and take full responsibility of his failure.

KT by-election – “308” political tsunami on course and a dire warning to UMNO and in particular Najib

The Kuala Terengganu by-election has lived up to its historic significance.

It has delivered two important messages.

Firstly, that the “308” political tsunami of the March general election last year is very much on course, confirming that the paradigm shift in Malaysian politics some ten months ago was no fluke shot but represented deep-seated and wide-ranging political aspirations of Malaysians.

Secondly, a dire warning to Umno and in particular Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is to be Prime Minister in ten weeks’ time of the far-reaching consequences if they refuse to heed the people’s call for change.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in his comment on the Kuala Terenggany by-election result has likened UMNO and BN to “a sinking ship” if their leaders remain in denial.

How many UMNO and BN leaders would dare to agree with Razaleigh when he warned:

“Money, machinery and incumbency could not trump the call for change. BN will lose, and will in the end lose everything, until we respond fully and sincerely…

“Actually this was more than a referendum on the leadership. It was a test of the relevance of UMNO in its present form. If UMNO is no longer relevant to the Malays, the BN formula is dead.”

The results of the Kuala Terengganu by-election will have to be studied in detail, in particular the impact of the hudud issue in the by-election.

Public forum: "Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 - What next?"

ImageOPENING SPEECH BY DATO’ AMBIGA SREENEVASAN

PRESIDENT OF THE MALAYSIAN BAR

Yang Berbahagia Dato' Meme Zainal Rashid, Ketua Pengarah Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat, distinguished guests, speakers and moderators of today’s Forum, representatives of civil society, members of the Malaysian Bar, ladies and gentlemen.

It gives me great pleasure on behalf of the Malaysian Bar to bid you a good morning and to warmly welcome you to our Auditorium for this Forum. I am sure we are all looking forward to it, and to hearing and learning from the speakers and participants.
The disability rights movement began in the U.S. in the 1970s following on from the civil rights and women’s rights movements in the 1960s. We have come a long way from when John Tyler, himself disabled with severe polio, parked his wheelchair in front of Metro buses in Seattle in the late 1970s as he campaigned for better wheelchair lifts on buses. The aim of such movements was to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities. Simple everyday routines for others proved difficult for disabled persons because of the lack of accessibility and safety in public areas like streets, buildings and transportation. It was more than 30 years later that we were to see the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities come to light.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (“Convention”) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 13 December 2006, and became opened for signature on 30 March 2007.

The Convention aims to change the perception of disability from one that looks upon it with sympathy to one that deals with it with respect, i.e. it moves from a charity-based model to a rights-based one.

The Convention provided that it would come into force 30 days after the 20th ratification, and 30 days after the 10th ratification in respect of the Optional Protocol. The Convention came into force on 3 May 2008. To-date, 138 countries around the world have signed the Convention.

The Convention itself was negotiated over more than 5 years with a large representation of non-governmental organizations involved.

The Convention underlines eight general principles, namely:-

1. respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons;
2. non-discrimination;
3. full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
4. respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
5. equality of opportunity;
6. accessibility;
7. equality between men and women; and
8. respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

Malaysia signed the Convention on 8 April 2008. However Malaysia has yet to ratify the Convention. Out of the 138 countries that have signed the Convention, only 46 have so far gone on to ratify or accede to the Convention.

All of the rights under the Convention are actually contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nevertheless a specific convention for those with disabilities allows for their issues to be brought into sharp focus for resolution.

There is no doubt a cost element is involved in redesigning public areas and buildings and undertaking obligations. The Convention therefore calls for “progressive realisation” of most of its provisions. That cost, however, will be offset by the greater contributions that can be made by persons with disabilities to society.

The Convention therefore allows countries to set goals towards the full inclusion and equality of opportunity for people with disabilities.

There is also an Optional Protocol to the Convention. This also came into force on 3 May 2008. The Optional Protocol creates additional functions for the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which is to be established as part of the Convention. This Committee would be empowered to consider what are known as “individual communications” and “inquiries”. The Committee would then be able to consider communications from individuals or group of individuals claiming to be victims of a violation of the provisions of the Convention by a State Party to the Optional Protocol. The Committee would then also be able to conduct an inquiry on a State Party, following information received indicating grave or systemic violations of the Convention by the State Party. To-date 81 countries have signed the Optional Protocol, and 27 have gone on to ratify or accede to the Optional Protocol. Malaysia has not signed or acceded to the Optional Protocol.

The Malaysian Bar strongly urges the Government to ratify the Convention as quickly as possible, and to also accede to the Optional Protocol.

Pursuant to signing the Convention, the Government has introduced new legislation by way of the Persons With Disabilities Act 2008 (“Act”). This came into force on 7 July 2008. Although not expressly stated, the intention of the Act appears to be to bring into domestic law the principles of the Convention. This can be seen in the fact that the Act borrows heavily from the Convention.

From a human rights perspective, the Act may be seen as a small but significant step forward. However it is my opinion that we need to have much more courage in our beliefs and convictions and adopt the full spirit and intent of the Convention in a more all-embracing and comprehensive manner.

Let me give you an extended example of what I mean. One of the paragraphs (paragraph 3) of the preamble to the Act reads as follows:-


“RECOGNIZING the importance of accessibility to the physical, social, economic and cultural environment, to health and education and to information and communication, in enabling persons with disabilities to fully and effectively participate in society.”

This is taken directly from paragraph (v) of the preamble to the Convention which reads as follows:-


Recognizing the importance of accessibility to the physical, social, economic and cultural environment, to health and education and to information and communication, in enabling persons with disabilities to fully enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms.“

The two paragraphs are identical word for word except at the end, when the much stronger and more noble “enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms” is removed and replaced with the words “and effectively participate in society”.

Let me quote you the definition of the term "reasonable accommodation", which is a concept introduced in the Convention and adopted in the Act, to cater to the needs of persons with disabilities. In the Convention, this term “reasonable accommodation” means:-


“necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

In the Act, this term “reasonable accommodation” is defined as:-


“necessary and appropriate modifications and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise of the quality of life and wellbeing on an equal basis with persons without disabilities;

Again, the drafters of the Act have shied away from the fuller language of the Convention, in affirming equality for persons with disabilities with others “of all human rights and fundamental freedoms” and instead only promising “quality of life and wellbeing on an equal basis with persons without disabilities”.

We have to ask why the drafters of the Act changed the last few words of the paragraph in the preamble and in the definition of “reasonable accommodation” to remove the reference to persons with disabilities being able to “enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms”?

Perhaps it is an indication that our ambitions with respect to persons with disabilities is still very small, which is such a pity. In terms of this concept of “reasonable accommodation”, the Act provides that this should be implemented only in the area of education. Whereas in the Convention, this concept of “reasonable accommodation” covers not just education but all aspects of life, from access to justice, liberty and security of the person, and employment. The provisions of the Convention are far more comprehensive and inclusive.

As I indicated earlier, it is only in the Optional Protocol that there are measures to challenge one’s own Government as to whether it has lived up to its obligations under the Convention. In the Act, there is no provision for any penalty for any party who does not live up to the obligations under the Act. In fact, the Federal Government is expressly excluded from any wrong-doing for any failure to address the needs of persons with disabilities under the Act.

The Act instead takes on a more advisory and enabling environment. The Act provides for the formation of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities where Government representatives and representatives of persons with disabilities will work to restore and uphold the rights of disabled people in Malaysia.

The Act is far-reaching in that it accepts that persons with disabilities have a right to enjoy the benefits of amongst others public transport, housing, education, employment, health-care, etc. but provides little or no remedies if they face discrimination in this regard.

As a contribution to society and the community of the disabled in Malaysia, the Bar Council’s Law Reform and Special Areas Committee has organised this forum to educate the disabled, their families, caregivers and interested members of the public on the legal rights of the disabled as enshrined in the Act and to promote better understanding and effective implementation of the provisions in the Act.

Ladies and gentlemen, in the area of persons with disabilities we are only limited in what can be achieved by our vision. I am reminded of the words of the writer Hellen Keller, who was blind. She was once asked whether it was a tragedy that she had been born blind. Hellen Keller replied that the greater tragedy was to be born with sight but be unable to see.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank the Organising Committee for its efforts. I wish everyone a fruitful discussion.

Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan
President, Malaysian Bar
17th January 2009

Hadi to Abdullah: Stay on as PM

(Rocky´s bru)



"Saya meminta Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi terus kekal sebagai Perdana
Menteri dan meneruskan reformasi yang diperlukan seperti dalam bidang pilihan raya dan beberapa bidang lain." - Abdul Hadi Awang, PAS president



Is it a joke? Some people would think so. I believe that while he is not really sincere in wanting Abdullah to stay on as PM, Abdul Hadi is dead serious!

It's politically expedient. The weak leadership of Abdullah has strengthened Pakatan Rakyat. PAS, DAP and PKR never had it so good. When Abdul Hadi said that "the Pakatan Rakyat will give Abdullah the necessary support to stay on as PM and carry out his reforms", he clearly spoke on behalf of the other Pakatan leaders, including Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Tok Guru, and Karpal Singh.

How far is Pakatan Rakyat willing to go to ensure that Abdullah remains as Prime Minister after March this year?

Read the m-Star article here.

Dr Mahathir, meanwhile, says the BN's defeat is a vote of no-confidence against Abdullah. And a warning for Najib Razak. Read here.

Selected commentaries on BN's fall in KT:
The Scribe's Pengundi Masih Marah Kepada BN
Pasquale's BN would have had better chances if the candidate was not Wan Farid
Aziz Hassan's Worse in Every Sense
Nobisha's Rakyat nak Monsoon drain, BN beri Monsoon Cup!
Nuraina's One more vote for Hudud!

Pentarama!? Jailani Harun is pissed off. He thinks a Pentarama (a night fiesta of songs and dance) held on the eve of the election, attended by the BN leaders and 3000 guests, contributed to the BN's defeat. Read They wanted you to lose, Farid!

Don't Blame Najib For BN Defeat, Says Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 (Bernama) -- Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak should not be blamed for the Barisan Nasional (BN) defeat in the Kuala Terengganu by-election.

"Some voters did not support BN because they do not like the candidate," he said when asked to comment on polls where Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut from Pas beat BN's Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh by 2,631 votes yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after launching the Save Palestinians Campaign organised by the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs at the Bangsar Sports Complex here today, Dr Mahathir said the voters had to choose between the BN candidate and Pas' and they finally picked the Pas candidate.

"They also do not like Pas but they were forced to choose," he said.

Najib who is BN deputy chairman led the coalition's election machinery.

-- BERNAMA

KT By-Election Reflects Need For Reforms - Gerakan

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 (Bernama) -- The result of the Kuala Terengganu by-election reflects the urgency for Barisan Nasional (BN) to carry out further reforms.

Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the result amplified the need for BN to become a more cohesive and effective multiracial coalition to continue representing, serving and uniting the people.

He said that despite the disappointment, BN leaders should remain positive and move forward by re-doubling their efforts to realise the various reforms as promised.

"We must focus on re-building unity among the races, reducing the people's economic burden and re-assuring them of our deep commitment to ensuring fairness and justice for all," he said in a statement today.

-- BERNAMA