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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

As ‘miserable’ as Rosmah - Altantuya’s family and the suspension of MP Gobind Singh Deo

A close aide of Najib, Razak Baginda, has admitted that the slim and beautiful Mongolian national was his lover. However, a private investigator in the case has also revealed that before meeting Razak, Altantuya was Najib’s mistress.

By Wong Choon Mei, Suara keADILan

Incoming prime minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor may have upped the ante in the fight to prove their innocence from allegations of being involved in the international commission and murder case of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu.

If so, the latest salvo from the couple - the barring of lawmakers from Malaysia’s own Parliament from even trying to raise questions about their possible complicity - has worked against them, creating even greater suspicion in the minds of Malaysians.

Not only are parliamentarians shaking their heads at improper procedure, many Malaysians believe that a sensational news report published by well-known French newspaper Liberation recently may have shot a bit too near to the truth for comfort.

Hence the shocking decision to suspend Gobind Singh Deo, the fast-rising and popular MP for Puchong known for his fearless defence and pro-bono legal work for the underdog. Gobind had tried to question Najib in Parliament, sparking a counter-attack from the government, which now wants him barred from the august House for a year without pay or privileges.

Tabled by Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz, the motion to suspend him with immediate effect was passed today after 40 minutes of debate. This spurred an immediate walkout by the opposition, even though the Najib’s Umno-Barisan Nasional coalition had been expected to leverage on its majority and hammer the vote through.

“This is an indication of Najib’s intolerance. It also shows how allergic he is to the mere mention of Altantuya,” scorned Tian Chua, an opposition lawmaker and information chief of KeADILan.

“Gobind was already been punished by the Deputy Speaker Ronald Kiandee with a one-day suspension for what transpired in the House on Thursday, and it goes against all the rudiments of common sense, fair play and justice to subject him to double jeopardy with a very harsh second punishment over the same incident,” chided veteran politician Lim Kit Siang.

But according to Nazri: “His rude behaviour to the Deputy Prime Minister was sufficient.”

As ‘miserable’ as Rosmah

But such is the political reality in Malaysia after more than five decades of dominance by the Umno-BN, where as a result, top Umno leaders are emboldened to pursue their whims and fancies - political or personal - with little fear of retribution or remorse.

The 28-year old Altantuya, who was pregnant, was allegedly shot twice in the head by two elite police officers, previously detailed as bodyguards to Rosmah. Her body was then blown up with explosives to avoid identification.

A close aide of Najib, Razak Baginda, has admitted that the slim and beautiful Mongolian national was his lover. However, a private investigator in the case has also revealed that before meeting Razak, Altantuya was Najib’s mistress.

According to Liberation, Altantuya was a go-between in Malaysia’s costly purchase of two Scorpene submarines during Najib’s tenure as defence minister, while Razak was his intermediary for the commission paid by European shipbuilder Armaris.

Things came to boil, when a jealous Rosmah refused to pay Altanutya a cent of her US$500,000 share of the overall 114 million euros commission. Altantuya’s pestering of Razak eventually led to her killing, the French newspaper reported.

Najib and Rosmah have assiduously denied all involvement in the case. In a bid to damage-control, Rosmah has in the past few days given out interviews to foreign media.

“When I heard these unpleasant things it shocked me, I can’t imagine that somebody like that could exist on this earth and not feel guilty about making other people’s lives miserable,” she told a news wire over the weekend.

Possibly so, but another group that must have also felt as miserable as Rosmah, is Altantuya’s family - her two small sons, her mother and her father. They have threatened to take the case to the International Court of Justice.

Freedom of speech does NOT exist in Malaysia

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Now, before you get all excited about Gobind Singh Deo’s one-year suspension and about Karpal Singh being charged for sedition today, please read this piece and understand that, in spite of what you may have been led to believe, freedom of speech does NOT exist in Malaysia.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

First, see these two videos of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s speech in Parliament in 1993:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asNTbvlK7Eo

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRMDrtn6898

Okay, now read what Tengku Razaleigh wrote in his Blog (http://razaleigh.com/) about a week after the recent Perak Constitutional Crisis.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah on the Constitutional Crisis of 1993

This is not the first constitutional crisis in which the rights of the Rulers have been touched upon. Today’s crisis in Perak is about the legitimacy of the process by which a new state government has been formed in Perak. It’s not about the status of the Rulers.

In comparison, the Constitutional Crisis of 1993 arose from an ugly confrontation between Umno and the Rulers over a question that had direct and profound implications on their sovereignty and that of the Yang diPertuan Agong. For good reason, the Head of State in most countries may not be prosecuted in an ordinary court of law. In 1993, the government campaigned to remove this immunity through amendments to the Constitution.

I opposed these amendments.

In the event, the Rulers and Parliament were railroaded by the government of the day and the amendments duly passed. These are the very same amendments, which, today, make it legal for a Ruler to be prosecuted. Mr Karpal Singh, though I disagree with him, was acting well within his rights that an Umno-led government enacted in 1993 when he earlier proposed to sue DYMM the Sultan of Perak.

Let’s reflect on this irony. Does Umno serve the Rulers more genuinely by upholding and protecting the Constitution, which guarantees their status, or by histrionic displays tuned for the coming Umno elections?

This bears upon the question of the kind of leaders, and the kind of party, we want. Do we want to be led by those who can understand and address the foundational issues facing our society today, and shall we have leaders capable of forging “mutual consent by debate and discussion, inquiries and elections”, or shall we again be landed with those whose main talent is to strike poses that people outside a small, insecure circle in Umno, and particularly Malaysia’s internet generation, find ridiculous?

Was greater harm done to the sovereignty of the Rulers in 1993 through Parliament or a week ago on the streets of Perak?

And is today’s Umno, with its inconsistent adherence to the rule of law, its inconstant respect for the key institutions of our country, a credible or effective defender of the Rulers and of the laws upholding this institution?

Or do we actually harm what we claim to protect?

Above is a video recording in two parts of the speech I made in Parliament in 1993 opposing the amendments to the Constitution.

I stand by my argument.

***************************************

Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia

(1)Subject to Clauses (2), (3) and (4) -
(a) every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression;
(b) all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms;
(c) all citizens have the right to form associations.

(2) Parliament may by law impose -
(a) on the rights conferred by paragraph (a) of Clause (1), such restrictions as it deems necessary or expedient in the interest of the security of the Federation or any part thereof, friendly relations with other countries, public order or morality and restrictions designed to protect the privileges of Parliament or of any Legislative Assembly or to provide against contempt of court, defamation, or incitement to any offence;
(b) on the right conferred by paragraph (b) of Clause (1), such restrictions as it deems necessary or expedient in the interest of the security of the Federation or any part thereof, or public order;
(c) on the right conferred by paragraph (c) of Clause (1), such restrictions as it deems necessary or expedient in the interest of the security of the Federation or any part thereof, public order or morality.

(3) Restrictions on the right to form associations conferred by paragraph (c) of Clause (1) may also be imposed by any law relating to labour or education.

(4) In imposing restrictions in the interest of the security of the Federation or any part thereof or public order under Clause (2) (a), Parliament may pass law prohibiting the questioning of any matter, right, status, position, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative established or protected by the provisions of Part III, article 152, 153 or 181 otherwise than in relation to the implementation thereof as may be specified in such law.

***************************************

Article 10[1][a] of the Federal Constitution provides that every Malaysian citizen shall have the right of free speech and expression. Taken in isolation, it appears to be a guarantee of that right. Sadly, as we all know, the guarantee is not absolute. Starting with Article 10[2][a] and [4] of the Federal Constitution, we are immediately reminded that any such guarantee is, in fact, illusory. Furthermore, restrictions to free speech are enshrined in legislation, such as the Sedition Act 1948, Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984 and the Internal Security Act 1960.

The 1983 Constitutional Crisis involving the Rulers and the 1993 constitutional amendments to, inter alia, remove the personal immunity of the Rulers clearly demonstrates that a new ethos has evolved during the Mahathir Administration that permits the discussion of matters that involve the Rulers.

Chin Thye Choo

***************************************

The issue is simple. Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia guarantees all citizens the right to freedom of speech, assembly and association. However, this same Article 10 allows the government to take away that right when deemed necessary. In short, you do not have automatic freedom of speech, assembly and association. The government decides when you can and cannot have it.

If you were to note what Tengku Razaleigh said in his 1993 speech in Parliament (in the videos above), there are certain things that can’t be questioned. These are issues related to the Rulers, Malay rights and privileges, the National Language, and Islam. Even two-thirds of Parliament can’t change this. The only people who can change this would be the Rulers’ Conference. Even then it must be a unanimous decision by the Rulers’ Conference. A simple majority will not be sufficient. Just one dissenting voice from one of the Rulers is good enough to block any move to make these changes.

It therefore becomes unlawful for anyone to challenge the position of the Rulers or the position of Islam and the National Language or to challenge Malay rights and privileges.

Nevertheless, in 1993, ten years after the First Constitutional Crisis, Parliament removed the immunity of the Rulers. This matter was heavily debated at that time and was opposed by Tengku Razaleigh. However, Umno, at the behest of the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, wanted the Rulers’ wings clipped. So Parliament passed the law that now subject the Rulers to prosecution and court action, which prior to 1993 was not possible.

Yes, Umno removed the Rulers’ immunity. And, as Tengku Razaleigh said, it was done after an orgy of Ruler-bashing (pesta mencaci raja-raja, as he put it). The mainstream media went to town in revealing the excesses, transgressions and misconduct of the Rulers to the extent that even the international media picked up the issue, which made a mockery of Malaysia’s Rulers.

The Rulers were run into the ground and driven through the mud. They were defiled and insulted. If an opinion poll had been conducted at that time, probably 90% of Malaysians, across the board, would have opted for the abolishment of the Monarchy and for Malaysia to be transformed into a republic.

As Tengku Razaleigh said, it was Umno who had harmed the Monarchy beyond repair. The Monarchy was no longer perceived as the noble institution as it once was. It was now viewed as a joke and something that Malaysia could do without.

Ghafar Baba, the then Deputy Prime Minister, said there is nothing wrong in criticising the Rulers. In fact, the Rulers should be criticised considering that many of them had misbehaved. What can’t be argued is whether the Monarchy should be abolished and the country turned into a republic. That would be seditious, said Ghafar. Everything else is fair game.

A nationwide campaign was launched to bring the Rulers to their knees. The mainstream media ran expose after expose about the excesses, transgressions and misconduct of the Rulers. By the end of it all, very few Malaysians had respect for the Monarchy and many openly said that it is time for the Monarchy to go.

State Assemblies debated the issue of the ‘corrupt’ Rulers and how the Rulers were beneficiaries to state land, timber concessions, and government contracts. ‘Tengku’ Wong was exposed as the ‘Ali Baba’ front man for the Sultan of Pahang. ‘Tengku’ Yong was exposed as the same for the late Sultan of Terengganu. The mainstream media ran photographs of the lavish palaces in Penang owned by the Sultans of Selangor and Kedah (which was all bullshit, of course, because the Sultans did not own these properties). Exposes of pig farms, gambling debts, lavish lifestyles, and whatnot, were done, all linked to the Rulers of the various states.

The government impounded the Sultan of Kelantan’s Lamborghini on allegations he had refused to pay the import duty on the car -- when in actual fact he was exempted from paying tax. But even when it was later proven he never avoided paying the import duty, the damage was still done. Malaysians were aghast that the Sultans were each buying dozens of multi-million Ringgit sports cars and did not have to pay any tax like the rest of the rakyat.

Heck, after seeing what the mainstream media revealed, even I became ashamed to admit I am from the Royal Family. Umno had totally and absolutely demolished the Rulers. Even Malays were openly condemning the Rulers.

Yes, when it suits Umno, there is absolute and total freedom to attack the Rulers, run them into the ground, and drive them through the mud. They even change the law in Parliament to remove the immunity of the Rulers so that they not only can be attacked but can also be dragged to court as well. But when they want to silence the opposition, they declare that criticising the Rulers is a crime.

I was informed they are considering charges of treason against me for that open letter to Nizar, which was posted in Malaysia Today. The Al Maunah group was also charged for treason. If I am found guilty, the sentence for treason is death by hanging -- like what happened to the Al Maunah people who were hanged in the Sungai Buloh Prison in August 2006.

Yes, that’s right. They can’t get me under the Internal Security Act or the Sedition Act or for criminal defamation. So now they want to hang me for treason for writing an open letter to Nizar asking him to defy the Sultan even if it triggers a Constitutional Crisis in Perak. However, history has shown that Umno did more than what I could ever do to the institution of the Monarchy -- and we have this on record.

Pakatan leaders lend support for Karpal

By Edward Cheah - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders showed up in full force today at the High Court in support of DAP chairman Karpal Singh as he was charged for sedition in the Sessions Court.

Karpal is being charged for sedition over comments made by him over the powers of the Sultan of Perak.

The courtroom was filled with PR lawmakers including the Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang and his son the Chief Minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng.

The opposition politicians said they believed the charge against the Bukit Gelugor MP was politically motivated and that the deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak was behind the charge.

“I believe they will go on a witch-hunt against opposition leaders,” said Anwar outside the courtroom

“I think the charge is politically motivated. It is just to give Najib an aura of acting tough against dissent,” said Kit Siang as he noted that the timing of the charge was significant as it was right before the Umno General Assembly.

“Darkness is descending on our country against liberty and human rights,” Kit Siang remarked ominously as he told reporters he would try to bring up the matter in Parliament later today.

Karpal charged with sedition for saying Sultan can be sued

By Debra Chong - The Malaysian Insider

Karpal being accompanied by lawyers and supporters outside the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court. – Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 - DAP chairman Karpal Singh was charged this morning with sedition for saying Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin's removal as Perak menteri besar by Sultan Azlan Shah could be questioned in a court of law.

The veteran lawyer-politician was charged at the Sessions Court here before Judge Mohamad Sekeri Mamat under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1946.

Karpal is further accused of several other seditious statements related to the entire Perak constitutional crisis which began a month ago.

He is accused of committing the crime during a press conference at his law firm here on February 6.

A partial transcript of the press conference, which formed the basis for the charge, was read out in open court.

Among the underlined statements, which are allegedly seditious are:

"With that ruling of the federal court which has stood the test of time for 32 years beyond a pale of a doubt, the Sultan of Perak has contravened Article 16(6) of the Constitutions of the State of Perak," referring to a 1977 Federal Court decision that the King had acted beyond his authority in confirming three detention orders under the Emergency Ordinance.

"Clearly the Sultan of Perak cannot invoke his powers under Article 16(1) which states [His Royal Highness shall appoint an Executive Council] to appoint a Barisan Nasional Executive Council with a new Menteri Besar and a new government. The Government of a Menteri Besar Dato' Haji Nizar bin Jamaluddin still had constitutional supremacy and legitimacy. The actions of the Sultan of Perak are clearly, premature."

Karpal pleaded not guilty.

If found guilty, he can be punished under the same Act with a maximum fine of RM5,000 and a jail term of up to three years for the first offence, and five years for subsequent offences.

This is Karpal's second sedition charge. His first was in 2000, during the trial of sacked deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, where he was charged for seditious statements on arsenic poisoning.

But the prosecution later dropped the charge against him and he walked out a free man.

Chief prosecutor, Datuk Kamaluddin Md Said from the Attorney General's Chambers, requested the case against Karpal be transferred to the High Court and bail to fixed at RM2,000 with one guarantor.

Karpal leaving the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court after pleading not guilty to sedition. - Picture by Choo Choy May

There were no objections from Karpal.

As he told reporters later, he wants the matter to go all the way up to the Federal Court.

He explained that if the matter was heard at the High Court level, it could be taken all the way to the apex court. On the other hand, if the matter remained at the Sessions Court, the highest it could get to was the Court of Appeal.

"I think the highest court in the land should decide on this, once and for all. This affects my dignity as an MP," the federal lawmaker for Bukit Gelugor said.

KARPAL SINGH TO BE CHARGED FOR SEDITION

Karpal Singh, the Member of Parliament for Bukit Gelugor and DAP Chairman, will be charged in the Jalan Duta lower court under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act for his alleged threat to sue the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah for acting beyond his powers and consenting to the appointment of Datuk Dr Zambry Kadir as the new Perak Mentri Besar which was reported to have been uttered on 6 February 2009.

Karpal Singh's daughter Sangeep Kaur Deo confirmed that her father was served with a notice by a policeman on Monday to be present at the Jalan Duta court at 9am on Tuesday.

Another swift action by the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional government when many old, serious and important cases are still pending investigation.

Political Roguery Runs Riot In Perak

by Martin Jalleh
(MJ tries to capture the initial events leading to Umno’s power grabbing, pariah politics and pyrrhic victory in Perak)

The rakyat of Perak are robbed in broad daylight of their political right to determine the State Government they want. Their will is ridden roughshod over by a few renegades and running dogs ready to reap their reward. A day of reckoning will come.

A fraudulent state government rules Perak. It is a farcical government of a fallacious “majority”. The people are frustrated and furious. They believe that a fake legislature forced upon them will eventually face its fatal consequences.

C4 and 4Cs

The Election Commission (EC) plays politics and panders to the political (pay)master. It even portrays itself as a court of law and makes a palpably wrong decision that prevents the people from being the paramount arbitrator to overcome Perak’s political deadlock.

The new EC chairman refuses to recognise the Perak Speaker’s request to call for two by-elections after two assemblymen “prostituted” themselves. It is a duty which he is constitutionally bound to do so – a fact promptly and plainly confirmed by his predecessor.

The EC chairman sets a precedent that will perpetuate party hopping and paves the way for Umno’s power grabbing, pariah politics and pyrrhic victory. He reinforces growing public suspicion that the EC is hand-in-glove with the powers-that-be.

The mandate given to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) by the majority of Perakians is made a mockery of by the minority UMNO State Government. Umno survives on manipulative maneuverings, mysterious disappearances and money politics led by Machiavellian characters like Najib Tun Razak, who will soon assume the mantle of PM.

Soon after Umno’s defeat in the Kuala Terengganu by-election in January, its elites called for a “revamp”, a “reinstating of the ‘wow’ factor” and “radical reforms”. As proof of its unwavering resolve – it receives without any reservation two former PKR assemblymen who have been charged for corruption!

Dr M slams the Umno leadership for ’stooping low’ in courting the two crossovers. He should know its implications. He had left behind a Cabinet of soiled reputations and an Umno full of spent characters and self-seeking sycophants. Pak Lah’s new MACC, a supposedly “serious” effort to stem out corruption, turns out to be a silly joke.

The country catches a glimpse of Najib’s “culture of change”. More powerful than C4, he will charge this country up when he wears the crown, with 4Cs – Corruption, Coercion, Crossovers and Coups. Such is his commitment to compromise our democracy – whatever the cost!

Dr M, who preferred Najib over Pak Lah as PM, very correctly captured in his blog (when he predicted that those using bribery will win in the Umno elections in March) the coming catastrophe in this country: “We will get an Umno government that is corrupt and without morals.”

The backroom politics of Umno and its backdoor takeover of the Perak State Government, forms the perfect background for Najib to lead Bolehland into a political backwater. Many believe that the bedlam created by Umno in Perak will surely bring about a backlash expressed in the ballot-box of the next General Elections.

Silver State’s Shaky Stability

Confronted by Umno’s hypocrisy, hopping highhandedness, hideous characters and hoax majority, the Menteri Besar (MB) of Perak and many Perakians turn to and place their hopes high on His Royal Highness (HRH) Sultan Azlan Shah – whom they hold in high regard.

Surely on His Silver Jubilee as Sultan of the Silver State, the exemplary sovereign who was a former Lord President, will shine like a silver lining in the sordid state of affairs. Indeed, he will safeguard the sentiments of his subjects expressed in the last General Elections.

Sadly, the Sultan’s solution makes very little sense to his subjects. HRH seems swayed by Umno’s political subterfuge and scheming. He summons the MB who sought a dissolution of the State Assembly. There will be no snap elections. The MB is told to step down, and to do so swiftly. The saddle belongs to Umno.

The popular MB of positive policies proves he is no pushover. All he wants is that the democratic procedures and process be followed properly. The Sultan’s personal discretion and his straying beyond his parameters of power is met with public disbelief and disappointment. Public perception over his impartiality plummets.

Respected retired judge N H Chan suggests that HRH has “sidestepped” provisions of the Perak constitution and made a “fatal error”. Tengku Razaleigh strongly implies that the removal of the MB by HRH was done “without regard for the rule of law”. And as Zaid Ibrahim sees it, “political questions should be resolved in the legislature and not behind closed doors in a palace”.

The Sultan returns Perak to its original stalemate. Nothing changes. Only the roles are reversed. The same razor thin majority remains. The initial political uncertainty is reinforced. Politicking in Perak – to remain in power or retain control – rages on, with each side trying to lure defectors.

The Sultan wants a “stable” State Government. Umno assures HRH that it has the majority due to the solid backing of three defecting “friendly independents” made up of two former PKR assemblymen charged for corruption – and a former DAP assemblywoman who reduces the price of democracy to cash and Camry!

In other words, the “stability” of the Silver State rests solely on three shady characters interviewed by the Sultan and whose status are now even more uncertain since the PR has filed a suit to declare their seats vacant.

Alas, the future of the people of Perak is determined by three “independents” who act independently of the people’s wishes, and an “unstable” Umno assemblyman who says that his hop from Umno to PKR and back to Umno ten days later – was for the sake of political stability!

The Sultan hands to the people of Perak a “unity government” which has a dubious majority, achieved by the most divisive means! On top of that it is overwhelmingly dominated by 27 Umno seats. There is only one MCA seat and three independent defectors’ seats. How’s that for an unique representation of multi racial unity?

Pawning the Palace

The nascent PR State Government is numbed momentarily by Najib’s nefarious tricks. It eventually bounces back with MB Nizar leading it with nerves of steel. Najib is naive to think that Nizar would wilt in the battle of wills. The MB (who is from PAS) will fight him all the way to the moon and back!

Nizar refuses to resign as MB. He believes he is lawfully the MB until he resigns of his own accord, or is removed by a vote of no-confidence in a formal sitting of the State Assembly. For Nizar and his Exco it is business as usual.

Naiib has made Nizar famous. The DAP backs him fully. The Bar Council praises him for the “many significant steps forward”. The people of all races have faith in him. He may be without an official office, car and house, but Nizar can find a place in the hearts of many Perakians!

Umno goes berserk over Nizar’s boldness. Next to buying over defections, Umno is an expert in diversions and distortion of the truth. Behold, the Umno boys are unleashed; protests are held (without police permits); police reports are lodged; and their press is ready and raring to spin.

At their hysterical best, Umno Youth chief Hishammuddin Hussein hits out at the opposition for “betraying the Rulers”, and his deputy Khairy Jamaluddin hollers for Nizar’s banishment. Surely such histrionics will be duly rewarded at the coming Umno elections.

Umno uses the royalty as pawns in their dirty political game. It is all about political expediency and nothing about being pro-royal. Najib makes use of the palace to push and protect his agenda and vested interests. The people are his least concern.

History reveals that Umno shows deference to the royalty only if it serves its political advantage. As a royal peer and Umno leader, Tengku Razaleigh sees through the hypocrisy of the Umno elite. He hammers them by implicitly suggesting that it is Umno who has harmed the Malay rulers more than anyone else! He recalls the constitutional crisis of 1993.

He describes it as “an ugly confrontation between Umno and the Rulers” during which the Umno-dominated government campaigned to remove the immunity of the rulers. He leaves a haunting question for Umno: “Was greater harm done to the sovereignty of the Rulers in 1993 through Parliament or a week ago on the streets of Perak?”

He strips bare Umno’s attempt to camouflage public opprobrium over its undemocratic takeover of the state government: “Today’s crisis in Perak is about the legitimacy of the process by which a new state government has been formed in Perak. It’s not about the status of the Rulers.”

In March last year, in a clash between Umno and the Sultan of Trengganu (who was also the King) over the appointment of the State’s MB, hostile Umno members hurled insults at the royalty and even hoisted banners headlined ”Animal King”.

All of the 22 BN assemblymen protested against the appointment and later boycotted the swearing-in ceremony of the new MB. Umno Trengganu even stripped the new MB of his (Umno) membership after he defied the party leadership and accepted the Sultan’s appointment!

Surely this was not treason. Umno protestors were not traitors. Neither were they tainting the name of the Sultan? They can’t be “rude”. They were just being Umno – “with its inconsistent adherence to the rule of law (and) its inconstant respect for the key institutions of our country” (Tengku Razaleigh).

“It is time for Umno-BN to stop using the Palace. It must now learn how to survive on its own as required by both the constitution and democracy,” is the wise advice that law professor Abdul Aziz Bari has to offer to Umno.

Meanwhile Nazir files a suit to declare illegal the government of the new MB. The Perak State Legislative Assembly Speaker suspends the newly appointed MB and his six Exco members.

Pak Lah tells the new MB to ignore the suspension and to lodge a police report against the Speaker. Dr M mocks at the ignorance of the PM. The country heaves a sigh of relief that he would be retiring soon

As for Anwar Ibrahim and the PR, they have a lot of soul searching to do. A democracy dependent on defections is a very defective process waiting to disintegrate. Crossover is not the answer for a nation at a crossroads. What has happened in Perak is a classic case in point.

Hopping does not bring hope. With money politics so rife, there is no guarantee that the hopper may not one day hop back into his/her original “hole”. The Umno assemblyman who double hopped in a space of 10 days is a perfect example.

The PR is a “people’s party”. The people’s wants, wishes and will must come first. The “tsunami” of March 2008 was a “people’s victory”. The very essence and reason for PR’s existence is – the people.

The only way for Perak to move forward is to go back to the people!

(The above article was written for the latest issue of Aliran Monthly. Subsequent to the above were significant events such as the raw courage of the MB, Speaker and PR Aduns holding the Perak State Assembly under a raintree, and scandalous events such as the jaundiced judgments of a junior judge (judicial commissioner) which made the judiciary the butt of everyone’s jokes.)

(16 March 2008)

The problem with the "Allah" ban

ImageThe Nut Graph

by Deborah Loh & Shanon Shah

IT is bewildering that a gazette on such a significant matter of public interest as the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims was issued and then rescinded just 24 hours after it was announced.

Did not Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar spot the mistake in the ruling, which he signed? The gazette, it must be noted, was published on 16 Feb but was only announced on 26 Feb.

The fiasco illustrates how citizens can wake up one morning to find themselves subject to new laws their legislators in Parliament had little chance to debate — and the very next day, to find the laws have changed, again without debate.

Such arbitrariness in a process as important as making laws that affect citizens should be questioned. Indeed, what is a gazette? What powers are invested in the executive branch of government to pass gazettes, and is there room for dissent?

What is a gazette?

"The passing of laws that do not go through Parliament for approval, but become law after being published in the Government Gazette, is an administrative way of making laws," explains Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.

"When we gazette that such and such words cannot be used (for example in the case of 'Allah'), it carries the enforcement of the law with it," he says in an interview in Parliament.

One recent example of a law that was enforced administratively is the rear seat belt ruling that took effect on 1 Jan 2009 under the Road Transport Act 1987.

The British Westminster parliamentary system allows for supplementary laws to be passed in this manner, provided that they are made under a specific Act. The Act itself is what has to be debated in Parliament, explains lawyer Sharmila Sekaran.

The parties involved in passing laws administratively are the relevant minister, the civil servants who draft the ruling, and the ministry's legal adviser or the Attorney-General's Chambers, which would be consulted in some cases.

"Practically, we must bear in mind that often, the minister has little real working knowledge in a particular area and thus will rely on advisers or civil servants," Sharmila says of the work that goes into drafting a law.

Room for dissent?

If citizens disagree with a law that has been passed administratively, or even with laws that have gone through Parliament, a judicial review is the right way to challenge it.

"But, the party filing for judicial review must be directly affected by the law. It cannot be someone with a vague or indirect interest," Sharmila tells The Nut Graph.

This is why the Islamic religious councils of several states as well as the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council representing the Sikh community have all filed to be intervening parties in the Herald suit. The suit challenges the government's ban of the use of "Allah" by non-Muslim groups.

Nazri says Members of Parliament can still raise motions to challenge a law after it has been passed. "Laws can always be amended, they are not cast in stone. So there is still room for public input and feedback."

Doing it wrong

The problem, however, is that the reality is far less ideal than what Nazri posits.

For example, the problem with the Home Ministry's initial ruling to allow conditional use of "Allah" was that it was an order placed under the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960. The order was cited as "Internal Security (Prohibition on Use of Specific Words on Document and Publication) Order 2009".

And the danger with the ISA is that is has an ouster clause: Section 8B, which states that a minister's decision is final and cannot be challenged.

"This is undemocratic. All decisions by an individual should be challengeable by an unbiased party, for example, the courts," says Sharmila, who is also National Human Rights Society (Hakam) secretary-general.

She also argues that the government cannot just make a law and "shove it under somewhere".

"This (the order on the 'Allah' issue) is not an appropriate law to be made under the ISA. You must look at what the entire Act is out to achieve, and then make supplementary laws to support the general aim of the Act," Sharmila says.

Because Section 8(1) of the ISA allows for detention without trial on persons who are deemed a threat to national security, the Home Ministry's move to place the ruling under the ISA effectively turned a religious matter into a national security issue.

Though the Act does not specifically touch on religious faith as a potential threat, it's easy to see the Home Ministry's line of thinking. It views the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims as prejudicial to national security.

In addition, if the prohibition of "Allah" was because of fears that Christian groups were proselytising to Muslims, the ISA is still not the right law to use. Lawyer K Shanmuga has argued before that it is up to the individual states and federal territories, and not the Home Ministry, to enact laws restricting the propagation of other religions among Muslims.

Pressure

Additionally, when Syed Hamid rescinded the gazette on the conditional use of the word "Allah", did the "mistake" only become apparent after the Malaysian Islamic Da'wah Foundation protested? After all, Syed Hamid did announce the rescinding in response to the foundation's protests.

"Decisions such as the one gazetted (allowing conditional use of the word by Christian publications) should have been carefully and comprehensively thought out before being issued ... Unsurprisingly, pressure was brought to bear upon the minister and his ministry.

"The problem with incompetent or careless decision-making is that when attacked, it cannot be defended and hence becomes a 'mistake' which has to be reversed or rescinded," notes Sharmila.

Interference

The enactment of the ruling can also be inferred as an act of interference with the judiciary. Herald has a judicial review pending against the government's 2008 decision to ban the word from the Catholic weekly's Bahasa Malaysia edition.

By issuing the ruling, what kind of message was the government trying to send the courts? That there is no room for legal, historical, linguistic, and textual arguments to decide whether or not "Allah" can be justifiably used by Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians?

In essence, the government had already decided for the court — yes, it's okay to use "Allah", but only because the executive says so. When instead, what is needed is a judicial decision based on facts.

For without factual basis and cogent arguments, the executive could, for its convenience, withdraw the ruling or impose further restrictions.

Fatwa for non-Muslims?

Perhaps, realising this, the government is now using other ways to restrict the use of "Allah". Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi recently said that all states and federal territories would soon institute their own gazette prohibiting non-Muslims from using the word.

Currently, Johor, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Perlis and Selangor have already included the ruling as part of their state Islamic enactments. Interestingly, the state enactments are based on an earlier fatwa prohibiting the use of "Allah" and three other words.

The question that arises is how can a fatwa be imposed on non-Muslims? Also, isn't enacting the fatwa as a gazette jumping the gun when the court has not completed its hearing of the Herald case?

Few people seem to be publicly raising these questions, perhaps due to the "sensitive" nature of the issue. But DAP deputy chairperson Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim did recently say it was unfair for the minister to force all states to gazette the ban without waiting for the court's decision.

In the meantime, the way the government has gone about trying to impose the ban on the use of "Allah" remains deeply problematic, not just from a rights but also a procedures perspective. And that can only be an indictment of the government of the day.

Sedikit sebanyak tentang saudara Gobind

Semalam, di Dewan Rakyat, Saudara Gobind Singh Deo, Ahli Parlimen Puchong telah digantung tugas selama setahun selepas cuba mendapatkan penjelasan berhubung tuduhan yang dilemparkan terhadap timbalan perdana menteri. Mengenali Saudara Gobind yang tuntas serta teguh memperjuangkan keadilan, saya pasti beliau akan terus berusaha untuk mendapatkan penjelasan yang sewajarnya.

Menggantung beliau bukanlah jawapan bagi permasalahan sebenar. Penyelesaian terbaik ialah apabila kedaulatan undang-undang, sistem mahkamah yang bebas serta peranan parlimen kembali dipulih. Hanya setelah itu barulah rakyat Malaysia mengetahui perkara sebenar dan menikmati Keadilan untuk semua.

Berulangkali saya tegaskan dalam ucapan tatkala membahas usul menghukum Saudara Gobind bahawa siapa sahaja tanpa kecuali, yang melemparkan tuduhan, apatah lagi dakwaan keras dan berat saperti kaitan dengan pembunuhan mesti bersedia mengemukakan hujah. Dan orang yang disoal atau didakwa, dalam kes ini, Dato’ Najib berhak menafi dan memebela diri.

Malangnya dalam kes ini, keadaan anih dan janggal. Gobind tidak diberi peluang berucap atau memberi penjelasan. Dato’ Najib memilih untuk tidak membuat sebarang kenyataan atau penafian!

ANWAR IBRAHIM

Sujatha inquest reveals ever more suspicious details concerning her death

While we keep the heat up on Altantuya, let’s not forget Sujatha. The inquest into her death which began yesterday raised some mind boggling alarm bells. Let’s go through the Star report:

The first day of the inquest into her mysterious death revealed that she had first called Vell Paari at about 6pm on June 19, 2007 to ask his permission to come to his house so he could sign a few documents and cheques.

When he said he would meet her the next day to sign the papers, Sujatha called again 15 minutes later but this time said she was unwell with stomach pain.

“She said she wanted to take the next day off,” said Vell Paari when questioned by deputy public prosecutor Geethan Ram Vincent at the magistrates court here.

He offered to drive her to the hospital but upon arrival at her condominium in Jalan Ipoh, Sujatha told him that she needed time to change and would call him when she was ready. Vell Paari then left the condominium to go to Odeon Cinema to check on some tickets he wanted to buy.

Samy Vellu’s son. Went to Odeon Cinema. To buy tickets for a movie.

:| :| :|

Yeah, not the most convincing story in the world.

The two phone calls do not quite fall into the category of “normal” I should think. Why would she ask for the day off with a second phone call only 15 minutes later? Got a stomach ache in that short space of time?

Also, if you were Samy Vellu’s son’s secretary, would you be asking your boss to come from his house to give you a ride to the hospital?

Why would she need to go to his house after working hours to get papers signed that obviously could have been signed the next day?

While on his way there, Sujatha’s brother Yugenthiran called his cell phone to inform him that Sujatha had drunk paraquat.

When Vell Paari contacted Sujatha, she kept repeating (in Tamil) “theriyaama kudichiten”, which meant she had unknowingly drunk something.

This of course, is the next glaring part. How does someone unknowingly drink paraquat? As a friend remarked: does it bear some striking resemblance to Coke perhaps?

To be honest, I don’t have any first hand experience with the poison, so I am open on this point to further enlightenment.

If Sujatha knew that Vell Paari was nearby, why did she call her brother to say that she had accidentally drank paraquat? And why would her brother then call Vell Paari?

Vell Paari went back to the condominium and contacted his cousin Dr S.P. Sakthiveloo, a doctor at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang where Sujatha was later brought in for treatment.

When he asked Dr Sakthiveloo which hospital she should be sent to, the latter said the best thing to do was to take her to a government hospital, as drinking poison was a legal issue and most private hospitals would not accept such cases.

Vell Paari then agreed with his suggestion to go to the hospital in Klang. After he picked up Sujatha and Dr Sakthiveloo, they arrived at the hospital at about 7.40pm.

When DPP Geethan pointed out that Hospital Kuala Lumpur was the medical centre closest to Sujatha’s home and it would have been faster to send her there, Vell Paari replied: “Yes, it would”.

DPP Geethan also asked why Vell Paari had not asked Dr Sakthiveloo to go directly to the hospital to save time, to which Vell Paari answered that the idea had not occurred to him as they were confused at that time.

And this of course, is the most alarming fact in a sea of alarming facts.

I think the question of why Sujatha was not brought to KL General Hospital, minutes away, and instead taken to Klang, a good hour’s drive at that time of day is damning enough.

Vell Paari picked up his doctor cousin first (wasting the extra time to pick him up, instead of having him drive himself), and drove the two to the hospital where said cousin worked instead of the hospital 5 minutes away.

Why did he need to pick the doctor cousin up first? Why did he need to bring her to a specific hospital, where it happens said doctor cousin worked, more than an hour out of their way, increasing the life threatening risk Sujatha faced with each passing second?

Altantuya. Sujatha. How many on Malaysian soil will suffer with the current brand of political families we now have?

Perak's Security Under Control Says Perak CPO

IPOH, March 17 (Bernama) -- The Chief Police Officer of Perak, Datuk Zulkefli Abdullah, said security in the state was under control although there were challenges in the form of public safety due to the activities of various quarters and also criminal activities.

"The commitment and earnestness of police personnel and the public has had a positive impact in the state as the crime index dropped by 2.16 per cent compared to 2007, the first such drop since 2003," he said at the Perak Police Contingent Excellent Service Awards Night yesterday.

In the function, Bernama's Perak bureau chief, Mohd Zabidi Osman, received the Perak Police Contingent's excellence award for support and cooperation in disseminating news.

Zulkefli said the Royal Malaysian Police would continue programmes that delivered quality services given that society was still worried about crime although incidences of crime had been reduced.

Malaysia parliament expels MP

Gobind, a member of the opposition DAP, was suspended following vote by Malaysian MPs

(Al Jazeera) Malaysia's parliament has suspended an opposition member for one year, after he called the incoming prime minister a murderer.

Gobind Singh Deo, a member of the opposition Democratic Action Party, made the comment on Thursday when he shouted "answer me, you murderer" at Najib Tun Razak, the current Malaysian deputy prime minister.

Najib is due to take over the job of prime minister next month.

Two police officers who had worked as Najib's bodyguards are currently on trial over the killing of a Mongolian woman in 2006.

Najib has denied any involvement in the case.

Gobind was suspended after the government called a vote of MPs on Monday in the Malaysian parliament.

Opposition officials have labelled the vote a "kangaroo court" and accused the government of abusing its power.

Gobind suspended for a year

Ali Rustam and others face polls shutout?

By Leslie Lau- The Malaysian Insider
Consultant Editor

KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 — Speculation is rife tonight about the possibility that a number of top Umno leaders, including leading deputy presidential candidate Datuk Mohd Ali Rustam, face suspension from the party for breaking campaign rules.

Umno could enter a period of uncertainty tomorrow if the party’s disciplinary committee takes action against these top leaders, as expected.

The Malaysian Insider has learnt that several candidates have received show cause letters in relation to allegations of money politics.

Umno disciplinary committee chairman Tengku Ahmad Rithaudeen Ismail will hold a press conference at 4pm tomorrow where an announcement will be made on the matter. But this evening threats were already flying with supporters of senior party officials promising reprisals if their benefactors are found guilty of money politics by the disciplinary committee.

A party official, who requested anonymity, told The Malaysian Insider: “There is a lot of restlessness in the party.

“The disciplinary committee is set to make a few announcements tomorrow. If there is a sense that it is to clear the way for certain individuals then there will be problems.”

Besides Mohd Ali, a number of other candidates are also facing the possibility of being blocked from contesting the crucial party polls next week.

Among them are deputy Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, former Selangor mentri besar Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman and Datuk Norza Zakaria.

If any of these leaders are blocked from contesting in the elections, it will send shockwaves through Malaysia’s biggest political party.

Mohd Ali, the Malacca chief minister, is said to be leading in the race to become party deputy president.

If he is disqualified, it will virtually mean the deputy presidency will be delivered to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The other contender for the party No 2 post is Muhammad who is said to be lying a distant third in the contest.

Dr Khir has already stated that there are attempts being made by unnamed quarters to sabotage his and Mohd Ali’s campaigns.

The Selangor Opposition Leader is leading the race to become Umno Youth chief.

But if he or Khairy are suspended, the remaining contender, Mukhriz Mahathir, will win in a walkover.

Norza, who is defending his party supreme council seat, has already been charged in court for bribery in his campaign, and is almost certain to be suspended or even expelled.

Azalina, who is also contesting a supreme council post, is being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). Her political secretary was also recently detained for questioning.

A mass suspension or expulsion of leaders suspected of corruption or vote-buying could have unpredictable results on the party.

While public support may be gained from tough action, a full scale shutout of candidates from key posts such as the deputy presidency could lead to accusations from within Umno of favouritism by Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Sujatha inquest Starts With VellPaari but Without Manikavasagam

From MP Kapar,

Key witness, Vell Paari, today took the stand to testify in the inquest probing into the mysterious death of former actress K Sujatha.

The son of MIC president Samy Vellu and chief executive officer of the party’s investment arm, Maika Holdings Bhd, was quizzed for almost two hours by DPP Geethan Ram Vincent.

During the questioning, Vell Paari was asked if he had ever engaged in a romantic relationship with the deceased as alleged but the 46-year-old denied it.

“I had no (romantic) relationship with her. I only cared for her as an employer,” he said, adding that he also cared for her as a friend.

He also said that Sujatha knew his family members well and revealed that he had been financing the overseas education of both Sujatha’s brothers from 2003 up until last year.

Although denying to be close to Sujatha, Vell Paari told the court that he had also been regularly taking Sujatha to clinics for her ovarian cyst treatment.

Upon the news of Sujatha’s death, speculations that Vel Paari had an intimate relationship with her was rife. Sujatha had worked as Vel Paari’s personal assistant since 1999 up to her death.

PKR supreme council member, S Manikavasagam, who claimed to have evidence linking Vell Paari to her death, then lodged a police report claiming that there were criminal elements involved.


Pressure from various parties prompted inquest

Vell Paari was subsequently questioned by the police for five hours in connection with the case.

Pressure from various parties have also prompted an inquest into the matter to be held. Today is the first day.

Meanwhile, Vell Paari today told the inquest that Sujatha had accidentally drank the poisonous weedkiller Paraquat prior to her death on June 19, 2007.

He said on that day Sujatha had called him through his mobile phone and said that she accidentally drank poison. She was also crying.

“I told her to relax and I will be there to take her to the hospital. She sounded emotional, crying but I am not sure (if she sounded like she was in pain),” Vell Paari told the court.

When asked by the prosecutor if he had asked Sujatha how he had accidentally drank poison, Vell Paari said he did not as he was to confused at the time and wanted to focus only on taking her to the hospital.

Vell Paari was also asked why he had opted to take her to the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang, some 45 km away from Sujatha’s Sang Suria condominiums on Jalan Ipoh instead of the much nearer Kuala Lumpur General Hospital.

Father sees no foul play in daughter’s death

Replying to the question, Vell Paari said his first cousin, Dr SP Sakthiveloo, whom he had contacted earlier for advice, had told him that private hospitals would not take in self-poisoning patients due to “medico-legal repercussions”.

According to him, his cousin suggested to him that Sujatha be taken to the Klang Hospital. It is also learnt that Sakthiveloo is a staff at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital.

The inquest has been postponed to tomorrow and Vell Paari is expected to be called in again to testify. He has yet to explain what had transpired on the day of Sujatha’s death.

Earlier today, the inquest also called in Sujatha’s father, Krishnan Kunchan Nair, to testify.

Krishnan was asked if he thought that there was foul play behind the death of her daughter.

The 53-year-old, however, said he does not believe that there was any foul play behind her death.

Another witness called in to testify was Sujatha’s former housemate, G Tanusha Nair who told the court that she was unaware if Sujatha had any intimate relationship with Vell Paari.

source: Malaysiakini.

Comment : Manikavasagam was informed that Police will serve Subpeona requesting his to present to court however he doesn’t receive yet.

Mahathir makes excuses for Najib in Perak, but …

By Wong Choon Mei, (Suara Keadilan)

Quick to sense the rising unhappiness over incoming premier Najib Abdul Razak’s improper power grab of the Perak state government last month, his politically more-savvy mentor Mahathir Mohamad has admitted that his protege was “too careless” and acted “in conflict with the law”.

But the palliative is unlikely to soothe Perakians - nor Malaysians across the country - who watched in disbelief the lopsided political wrangling and open abuse of federal institutions by Najib and his party, particularly the courts and the police, to carry out their political will.

“Umno-Barisan Nasional was too careless and did not wait for an assembly but instead asked the Ruler to sack the Menteri Besar,” Mahathir told the press over the weekend.

The feisty 83-year old was referring to Sultan Azlah Shah’s decision to accept Najib’s offer of an Umno-BN line-up to form the new state government following the defection of three Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen. According to Najib, the royal decision was correct, but to many in the country - including the legal fraternity - it was highly questionable.

Firstly, the status of the trio was already being challenged in the courts and then, Pakatan Rakyat Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin - the incumbent chief minister at that time - had refuse to give way.

Instead, Nizar had sought a dissolution of the state assembly so that fresh election could be held, allowing the people to choose the government that they wanted.

“You cannot topple a Menteri Besar or a Prime Minister without a no-confidence vote in the assembly. There is no other provision,” Mahathir expounded. “As far as I know, there is no such provision in the Perak or Federal Constitution.”

Politically less alert

Hundreds of kilometres away in a quiet part of the north-western state in which he has created such a storm of dislike and distrust for himself and his Umno party, the politically less-alert Najib continued to insist that he was right and that the ends justified the means.

“BN has no doubt that Zambry Kadir is the legitimate Menteri Besar and his executive council is the legitimate state executive council,” he said while announcing his party’s candidate for an upcoming by-election at the nearby Bukit Gantang constituency.

“Let the court decide. Let us not resort to rioting or lying on the road,” Najib added, referring to the rash of protests that broke out following his act of influencing the Perak Ruler to accept a new Umno-BN state government.

Indeed, the Pakatan has launched a barrage of lawsuits against the Umno-BN for contravening the state constitution and installing a new administration unsanctioned by the legislative assembly.

However, few Malaysians have confidence in the independence of their judiciary, where allegations of corruption and judge-fixing are rampant. For example, a Royal Commission of Inquiry found sufficient evidence and recommended an investigation into Mahathir himself for trying to influence the outcome of major cases.

Why does the pot keep calling the kettle black?

Yet that has not stopped Mahathir nor his protege Najib from taking the high moral ground and slamming corruption as a vice to be shunned. Over the weekend, the ex-premier also advised Najib not to appoint anyone who was corrupt into his cabinet.

“People are watching and we know who is corrupt. If Najib as prime minister chooses them, it will be signing his own death warrant and he will lose the 13th general election. There is a lot of money politics and if corrupt leaders win, then Umno will not regain support,” said Mahathir.

Sadly, among the current crop of first-tier political leaders - whether from Umno or outside - Najib perhaps carries the greatest ‘baggage’.

He has been hounded by allegations of graft throughout his 33-year career and just a week ago, both he and his wife - Rosmah Mansor - hit the headlines in Europe over the sensational commission and murder case of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu.

The news report published by well-known French newspaper Liberation alleged that a jealous Rosmah had refused to pay Altantuya a cent of her US$500,000 share of a 114 million euros commission for Malaysia’s purchase of three submarines sanctioned by Najib, who was then defence minister.

Altantuya’s refusal to leave empty-handed eventually led to her brutal killing in Malaysia in 2006 at the hands of two elite police bodyguards, who previously had been assigned to protect Rosmah.

Both Najib and Rosmah have repeatedly denied the allegations. Yet when a fast-rising young lawmaker - Gobind Singh Deo - tried to question Najib in the Malaysian Parliament over the incident, the government quickly hammered through a motion barring him from the august House for 12 months.

Tan’s off the hook, yes, but will the next person be so lucky? And the one after?

By Haris Ibrahim,

On a personal level, you have to feel happy and relieved for Tan Ean Huang, the benefactor of a Penang Syariah Appeal Court order this morning that allowed her to revert to her Buddhist faith, holding that her earlier conversion to Islam, to facilitate her marriage to her then Muslim partner, was not valid.

You can read about this in the Malaysianinsider.

I’ve handled enough of these cases to know the trauma that Tan would have gone through leading up to the presentation of her case before the Syariah Court and right up to the decision this morning.

So, yes, I’m truly happy for her.

Now what if the court had said no, she cannot revert to Buddhism?

Then what?

Should any judge of any court, civil or Syariah, have such a power?

After all, Article 11 (1) of the Federal Constitution confers on ‘every person’ the right to profess and practise their religion.

So when was Tan’s constitutional right to profess the faith of her own choice suborned to the power of a syariah judge to say ‘ay’ or ‘nay’?

The Syariah Court’s reasoning in Tan’s case appears to be that as her earlier conversion to Islam was not valid, she was not a Muslim in fact and as such could formally renounce.

”Muslim in fact’ and ‘Muslim in law’?

Whatever next?

If she was not Muslim when she presented her application to court, did the Syariah court have jurisdiction to hear her case?

Item 1, List 2, 9th Schedule of the Federal Constitution confines the jurisdiction of the Syariah Courts “only over persons professing the religion of Islam”.

Now, did Tan go to the Syariah Court saying ‘I am a Muslim and want to get out’ or ‘I’m not a Muslim’?

And if it was the latter, where was the jurisdiction of the Syariah court to hear her case?

The law is trite that the Syariah court, being one of limited jurisdiction, could not have acquired the jurisdiction to hear Tan’s case merely by her voluntary submission to that court, if the foundation of her application was that she was not a Muslim.

In an interview in the Sun in 2006, I was asked the following question :

There have been some calls for non-Muslims to seek redress through the syariah courts since Kaliammal’s case. Is this one way to resolve the issue?

My reply :

This call read in conjunction with the submission by the senior federal counsel in Moorthy’s case that even if the widow was left without a remedy, the civil court must refrain from entering upon the dispute as it lacked jurisdiction, is firstly, in my view, untenable in law and secondly and more importantly, a very dangerous suggestion which must be resisted at all costs.

It is legally untenable for non-Muslims to seek redress through the syariah courts because the 9th Schedule of the Federal Constitution confines the jurisdiction of the syariah courts to ‘only over persons professing the religion of Islam’. This jurisdiction cannot be enlarged by submission.

It is also very dangerous because non-Muslim litigants confronted with issues as in the Moorthy case may, out of frustration with the self-inflicted impotence of the civil courts, go to the syariah court for relief. The syariah court may give the relief sought in some cases, and may refuse in others. It is unlikely that jurisdiction is going to be challenged. Any orders obtained in the syariah court, if challenged in the civil court, will probably meet the same fate as in Moorthy’s.

In time, it will be argued that by the doctrine of custom and usage, as Prof De Smith puts it ‘the ultimate grundnorm’ has shifted.

[Editor's note: 'Grundnorm' is a German word that means 'fundamental norm', and is used to denote the fundamental order that forms a legal system's underlying basis].

The push to make this an Islamic state may [then] have been achieved.

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

Parliament becomes kangaroo court

By YB Lim Kit Siang

Parliament convened as a court of justice this morning to decide the fate of DAP MP for Puchong, Gobind Singh Deo, over what transpired in Parliament last Thursday but it operated as a kangaroo court as Gobind was not even allowed the floor to defend himself.

For the first hour, Pakatan Rakyat MPs raised one objection after another against the motion to suspend Gobind for one year as MP without pay and privileges, from the propriety of the motion whether from the standpoint of the Parliamentary Standing Orders, the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act 1952 or the Federal Constitution, to questions including double jeopardy and sub judice but they were all brushed aside by the Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin.

The Speaker also rejected the amendment by the DAP MP for Ipoh Barat, M. Kulasegaran to the motion by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz so as to refer Gobind to the Committee of Privileges over the charges cited in the motion: that Gobind had breached parliamentary privileges in alleging the involvement of the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the Altantuya Shariibuu murder case.

I told the House that questions about Najib’s involvement in the murder case are public interest issues, which have been raised not only in the House, but in the country and internationally.

These questions are not parliamentary contempts or parliamentary privileges, in view of the many circumstances giving legitimacy to these queries which Najib had failed to avail himself of the right to reply in the House to dismiss or clarify, including:

  • Testimony by the investigating officer of the murder case that Najib was an important witness but he had not been questioned;
  • Court testimony of a photograph showing three persons, including Najib and Altantuya;
  • Statutory declaration by a private investigator on Najib’s relationship with Altantuya;
  • The involvement of members of the police elite unit guarding the deputy prime minister in the murder case.

Pakatan Rakyat MPs staged a protest walk-out when Gobind and other PK MPs, apart from Anwar and myself, were not allowed speak in the debate – and the motion suspending Gobind for one year without pay and privileges was passed by the Umno/Barisan Nasional in Parliament.

Actress Sujatha suicide inquest

Bernama, March 16 — The chief operating officer of Maika Holdings Bhd told the Coroner’s Court today that his personnel assistant, K Sujatha, told him she had “unknowingly drunk” paraquat on June 19, 2007.

Vell Paari said he came to know about the incident after her younger brother, Ugenthiran, who was studying in Australia at the time, contacted him.

sujatha

He said he received the call at 6.30pm, about 30 minutes after Sujatha, who was also a local actress, had declined his offer to send her to the clinic although she had complained of stomach pains due to an ovarian cyst.

Questioned by Deputy Public Prosecutor Geethan Ram Vincent, who is assisting Magistrate Mohd Fauzi Che Abu acting as coroner, Paari, 46, said that immediately after confirming with Sujatha what had happened, he rushed to the Sangsuria Condominium where she stayed.

The condominium is located about 10 minutes drive from Paari’s house in Jalan Ipoh.

“While on the way to the condominium, I contacted my cousin who is a medical officer attached to the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang, for his assistance and advice,” said Vell Paari.

“He told me that since such cases would be rejected by medical centres, it was better for me to seek treatment (for Sujatha) at the government hospital,” he added.

He was testifying at the inquest of Sujatha, 28, who died at the Klang Hospital on June 25, 2007, four days after admission, for allegedly drinking weed killer.

Paari, who is MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu’s son, said his cousin, Dr S P Sakthiveloo, who stayed near his house, suggested sending Sujatha to the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital.

Questioned by Geethan as to why he did not seek treatment for Sujatha at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, which was just 10 minutes’ drive from his house, as compared to the hospital in Klang, which was more than 45km away, Paari replied that he was confused at that time.

Earlier, Paari told the coroner that he knew Sujatha since 1996 when she was working with one of the Maika’s subsidiaries and worked as his personal assistant between 1999 to 2007.
Paari said he knew Sujatha’s family well and funded her brothers’ education, one of whom studied in Australia.

Asked to describe his relationship with Sujatha, Paari said it was just an employer-employee relationship, where he had also cared for other staff, as well.

However, he admitted that he had sent Sujatha several times to Damai Hospital and clinics where she had sought treatment for her ovarian cyst.

“My relationship with Sujatha was just like any other friend,” said Paari who remained calm throughout his testimony.

Meanwhile, Sujatha’s father, Krishnan Kunchan Nair, 53, said he last met his daughter about three years before her death. He said he was unaware that she was warded at the hospital in Klang for nearly five days prior to her death.

Krishnan said Sujatha and he were not on good terms, adding that one of his sons informed him of her death.

Krishnan also told the court that he did not suspect foul play in his daughter’s death.

Sujatha’s housemate G Tanusha Nair, 28, said Sujatha had introduced Paari to her at a concert in Bukit Jalil.

Tanusha said she visited Sujatha at the hospital in Klang on June 19, 2007 after the deceased’s brother informed her that she was critically ill due to ovarian cancer.

She said she was unaware whether Sujatha and Paari were involved in a relationship.

The inquest continues tomorrow. — Bernama

Insurance agent killed by 10 gunshots

NST,
An insurance agent was shot 10 times at close range in front of his house in Taman Desa Beringin, Sikamat while he was about to drive to the market today.
In the 5pm incident, B. Sivaneswaran, 40, died on the spot after being hit by 10 of the 14 shots fired by one of two men in a silver Honda Civic, with fake registration number plates.

Negri Sembilan police chief, Datuk Osman Salleh said prior to the incident, the two suspects were seen outside the victim's house, waiting for him to come out.

"When the suspects saw the victim coming out of his house and getting into his Proton Gen 2, they drove towards him and fired several shots. The victim tried to escape by reversing his car.
"Unfortunately, the victim crashed into another car parked behind and the suspects took the opportunity to get out of their car and walk towards the victim and shot at him," he said when met at the scene.
Osman said initial investigations revealed that 14 shots were fired from a 9mm semi-automatic pistol, from which 10 shots hit the victim, especially on his right side.
"Efforts to track down the suspects are already ongoing, including getting a description from witnesses since the suspects were not wearing masks. We are not ruling out the possibility that the suspects were hired killers," he added.

Bk. Tinggi Murder: Kavitha charged with conspiring in husband’s murder

Bernama, March 16 2009 -- A part-time insurance agent was charged in the Magistrate's Court here Monday for conspiring with two men to murder her husband in their house last month.

R.Kavitha, 32, was charged with abetting L. Vasathakumar and R. Rathakrisnan to murder S. Sivananthan, 32, a construction contractor, by helping them to enter her house and directing them to kill him.

Kavitha

She allegedly committed the offence at No 22, Lorong Batu Nilam 17 E, Bandar Bukit Tinggi 2 here at about 9am on Feb 1.

No plea was recorded.

Magistrate Liew Horng Bin fixed April 3 for mention at the Shah Alam High Court.

In the same court, Vasathakumar, 22, an Astro installer, and labourer Rathakrisnan, 20, were charged with murdering Sivananthan at the same place and time.

No plea was recorded and Liew fixed the same date and place for mention.

Both offences carry the mandatory death sentence.

Assistant deputy public prosecutor Siti Noorbaya Jamil appeared for the prosecution while G. Harbhajan mentioned on behalf of Kavitha's counsel K. Nathan.

Vathakumar was represented by counsel V.Rajehgopal and Rathakrisnan by Ayasamy Velu. - Bernama

Bk. Tinggi Murder: Kavitha charged with conspiring in husband’s murder

Bernama, March 16 2009 -- A part-time insurance agent was charged in the Magistrate's Court here Monday for conspiring with two men to murder her husband in their house last month.

R.Kavitha, 32, was charged with abetting L. Vasathakumar and R. Rathakrisnan to murder S. Sivananthan, 32, a construction contractor, by helping them to enter her house and directing them to kill him.

Kavitha

She allegedly committed the offence at No 22, Lorong Batu Nilam 17 E, Bandar Bukit Tinggi 2 here at about 9am on Feb 1.

No plea was recorded.

Magistrate Liew Horng Bin fixed April 3 for mention at the Shah Alam High Court.

In the same court, Vasathakumar, 22, an Astro installer, and labourer Rathakrisnan, 20, were charged with murdering Sivananthan at the same place and time.

No plea was recorded and Liew fixed the same date and place for mention.

Both offences carry the mandatory death sentence.

Assistant deputy public prosecutor Siti Noorbaya Jamil appeared for the prosecution while G. Harbhajan mentioned on behalf of Kavitha's counsel K. Nathan.

Vathakumar was represented by counsel V.Rajehgopal and Rathakrisnan by Ayasamy Velu. - Bernama

Name those involved in money politics before Umno polls

KUALA LUMPUR, 16 March 2009: Umno information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhamad Taib has urged the disciplinary board to announced the names of candidates involved in money politics before the party elections.

"Yes, I have heard such talks but let us wait for an announcement from the disciplinary board. It is best to announce their names soon," he told reporters at parliament lobby here today.

Muhammad was commenting a front page report in Utusan Malaysia that several candidates vying for Umno's top posts have been summoned by the disciplinary board in connection with money politics.

The Rural and Regional Development Minister said a quick announcement was necessary to calm down the situation.

Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar agreed with Muhammad and urged that the names of candidates involved in money politics announced before the elections on 24 March.

"We cannot wait any longer as it will bring chaos and destroy the party. Money politics must be stamped out as it will erode the peoples' confidence in Umno," said the Home Minister.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Hasan Malek urged those investigated for money politics to accept them and respect the disciplinary board.

"Umno members who offered to contest party posts must accept the risks. If there is proof, then action must be taken irrespective whether they are "big fish" or "small fish". — Bernama

Rosmah: Najib’s biggest political liability? “Destiny,” mega conferences, nangka & loving yourself

pre-script: There are a few things I fear in life, and this woman is one of them. Datin Seri, please don’t hurt me! (ps- has anyone seen what was written by the 6 charged for insulting the Perak Sultan yet?)

Ah, the storied Rosmah.

You know, I think many people don’t like Najib, and wouldn’t trust him further than they could throw him.

But in all honesty, I doubt that his is a face that inspires higher emotions like hate. Who would bother to hate someone so limp, lacklustre, soft and… pudgy, is a word that comes to mind.

Now, his wife on the other hand.

I start with a simple question: have you ever heard someone sincerely and heartfelt genuinely (ie, not making some fat profit of her) say anything like - “I love Rosmah, she’s so nice!” Anything positive or good at all? (haha, maybe watch as soon they start coming out all over the place)

I could be wrong, but I think a mix of fear and loathing is more likely what you’d encounter.

The gossip and stories that surround this woman, her purported arrogance, extravagance, appetite for wanting to be involved in everything, etc, is voluminous. Luckily, this is not a gossip blog :P

As stated before, I also don’t believe in smearing the families of politicians, except wherein it affects the conduct of said politician.

One of the most persistently said things about Rosmah is exactly the manner in which she interferes with politics at the highest levels.

Her recent comments on destiny (o.m.g., *rolls eyes*), is but the first of what I think will be many public indicators of this. She complains of scrutiny, but launching oneself into the media exposes oneself to just that.

I’ll be perfectly honest though, it’s not without some trepidation that I blog about her.

I’ve said before that while Najib may have TDM’s lack of morals, he probably does not quite have the same level of TDM’s appetite for viciousness.

Now Rosmah on the other hand. Well, let’s say that wits are probably not what what she inherited from TDM :P

Believing in destiny is not uncommon among politicians, I know some on the Pakatan side who take such things quite seriously and pursue their ‘destiny’ relentlessly.

But is it just me, or is there something about the way Rosmah is articulating herself that speaks of a mad thirst for power?

For now, I write here only of personal impressions and speculations, with no intention to defame :P (let me say again: please don’t hurt me, Datin Seri!) But yeah, is there something in her eyes that suggests a proclivity to wield said power like a huge war club, crushing everything that pisses her off?

Let’s say I completely randomly and unrelatedly felt like pasting out the legend of Wan Anum:

Its legend is written in the book, Tuhfat al-Nafis. It has been told that in 1699, during the reign of Sultan Mahmud Shah II, pirates were storming the shores of southern Johor, from Mersing to Pulau Penyengat and Riau. Laksamana (Admiral) Megat Seri Rama, known as Laksamana Bentan, named after his origin, Bintan Island, was ordered to stop the menace. He left his beloved wife, Wan Anum who was heavily pregnant behind while he went to stop the pirate attacks.

His absence presented an opportunity to a former palace officer, who was jealous of Megat Seri Rama, to plot against him. Wan Anum eagerly craves a piece of jackfruit, taken from the palace orchard, that was on its way to be presented to the Sultan. The penghulu or the head of a sub-district, who was sending the fruit to the palace sympathised with Wan Anum. He stole a piece of jackfruit and gave it to Wan Anum. The Sultan, who noticed that the fruit had been cut, before he tasted the fruit, was so angered with the penghulu’s action. His thoughts were also poisoned by the jealous palace officer who said that Wan Anum’s action had obviously brought shame to the Sultan, leaving the Sultan to eat the rest of the fruit after her. The sultan ordered the women to the palace for punishment. Desperate for her life and the child she bore in her belly, Wan Anum told the sultan that the fruit that she ate was for her child. The Sultan asked for proof and the woman’s belly was cut, and the child was seen with the piece of the jackfruit.

Well, let’s hope Malaysia will never be cursed with such vicious rulers again.

Two quick notes. First, her first instinct to improve early childhood care and education is, somewhat predictably, to hold a mega international conference :|

I love these conferences. Super expensive hotels and hotel rooms, plane tickets, speakers fees, gala gourmet meals, oh how the list goes on and on.

Anyone want to guess how many millions will be spent? Perhaps via contracts to certain connected individuals? And the money will come from where again?

The biggest beneficiary? Oh, I’m sure it’ll be the needy children of Malaysia :|

Second, I couldn’t resist highlighting this quote:

“What’s important is your conscience, that when you wake up in the morning and you look in the mirror, are you able to look at yourself and love yourself, and ask yourself whether you’ve done the right thing.”

Besides the fact that she did inherit TDM’s penchant for self-delusion, for my money, I’m sure our friend has *absolutely* no problem doing at least one of the items boldedlah :P :)

Ali Rustam Scoff At Probe Rumour

SHAH ALAM, March 16 (Bernama) -- Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam has declined comment on a rumour that he was under investigation for alleged money politics by the party's disciplinary board.

"That's you have to ask the disciplinary board," he said when asked whether he would contest the deputy presidency at the party's elections next week.

Speaking to reporters after meeting Selangor Umno delegates here tonight, Ali gave a similar reply when asked whether he had received a letter from the board.

Its chairman, Tengku Tan Sri Ahmad Rithauddeen Tengku Ismail is expected to announce the results of the investigations into complaints on corrupt practices against candidates vying for Supreme Council posts and that of the executive committees of the three wings at a news conference tomorrow.

Ali, who is Umno vice-president, said he was not worried over the allegation and denied that he would announce his withdrawal from the contest in a meeting with Melaka Umno divisional leaders tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Umno information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhamad Taib, who spoke to reporters at Parliament lobby earlier, has urged the board to name the candidates involved in money politics before the general assembly.

Muhammad is also vying for the deputy presidency besides party vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

After Gobind, it's Karpal

By Screenshots, Jeff Ooi

Ten days before Umno election that will see "my husband's destiny to lead the country"...

DAP national chairman Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Glugor) will be charged under Sedition Act at 9am tomorrow (March 17) at the Sessions Court, Jalan Duta.

The announcement was made soon after his son, Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) was suspended for one year as an elected MP this afternoon.

Malaysiakini said, with the one-year suspension, Gobind will be deprived of RM157,303.68 in salary, allowances and perks over the next 12 months.

Azmin Ali : Who Killed Altantuya