Friday, July 24, 2009
By P. Gunasegaram (The Star)
WELL, a Royal Commission will look into interrogation procedures while the tragic death of young political activist Teoh Beng Hock itself will be investigated by an inquest to be headed by a magistrate.
But, really, all these would have been totally unnecessary if the key recommendation of another Royal Commission, headed by a former chief judge and assisted by a former inspector-general of police or IGP had been followed – for the setting up of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission or IPCMC.
The IPCMC should have become the institution that independently, fairly and firmly investigates all transgressions by the police and other related agencies, and in some cases even metes out punishment for these. We badly need an institutionalised process to deal with malpractices by enforcement agencies.
The Royal Commission on the police was set up in 2004 and was headed by Tun Mohammed Dzaiddin Abdullah with Tun Mohammed Hanif Omar as deputy chairman. Its findings were made public the following year.
It had recommended the setting up of the IPCMC and even enclosed draft legislation for that purpose, detailing its powers of investigation and inquiry to help fight corruption in the force and to investigate public complaints.
This commission should of course be extended to other enforcement agencies such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) from whose building Teoh fell to his death after at least 10 hours of continuous interrogation which went late into the night.
The current IGP has told us Malaysians not to speculate on why Teoh fell to his death, assuring us that the police will fully investigate the case.
But the public is bound to speculate on the reasons, and the only way such speculation can be stopped is to get to the truth of the matter.
The public is not going to have confidence in a fellow law-enforcement agency – the police – investigating a case which may implicate the MACC. The basic premise of that – and it is a reasonable one – is that police investigations will be coloured when they investigate fellow officers.
The inquest into Teoh’s death, to be headed by a magistrate, will have limited value because it can in most cases establish only whether or not there was foul play. A magistrate’s inquest will not find the culprit – if there is one. So what’s the point?
The next Royal Commission of Inquiry will be set up to look into interrogation methods by the MACC. This area has already been covered and recommendations made by the IPCMC, but these are yet to be fully implemented. What applies to the police should similarly apply to the MACC as far as interrogation is concerned.
To amplify the point, it helps to look at the previous recorded case of death following interrogation, that of A. Kugan, earlier this year. Then as now, the police gave an assurance that there would be full and fair investigations and no cover-up.
The first post mortem on Kugan was contradicted by a second post mortem which found that Kugan was tortured while under police detention. Subsequently, a 10-man “independent” committee studied the two post mortems but without the benefit of the body, which had been buried.
They “unanimously agreed” there was no evidence of thermal injuries in the skin on the back of the deceased as reported in the second post mortem. Their findings were revealed by Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican. But the composition of the panel was not revealed.
The police have said that their investigations are complete and have been submitted to Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail. But so far, six months after Kugan died, no one has been charged.
There have been many other deaths in custody but no one has been brought to book so far. According to the Royal Commission report on the police, in 2004 alone, there were 15 deaths in police lock-ups through out the country, involving people of all races. Of this only in one case was there an instruction to prosecute.
That indicates clearly and without any ambiguity the extent of mistreatment that does take place at police stations and lock-ups and the need for independent investigation of these circumstances.
Independent and fair investigation can only be done by an independent body headed by credible people who have wide-ranging powers under the law to not only investigate but to prosecute as well.
The police themselves strongly and openly lobbied together with other bodies against the setting up of the IPCMC.
Subsequent events have clearly showed that the IPCMC should have been set up and that the action of the police and related agencies, including the MACC, should be closely monitored by an independent body.
No less than a former chief judge, a former IGP and other distinguished panellists have said so in their recommendations for the police.
It is too early to say who caused Teoh’s death but the truth is going to be very difficult to establish without the IPCMC or a similar body.
If anyone has no doubts as to whether the police and related agencies can fairly investigate cases against their own kind, ask yourself this question: How many of us would send our own sons to prison or to the gallows even if they did wrong?
In every country where an independent body has been set up to oversee the behaviour of police and related agencies, there has been a considerable reduction in police corruption and misconduct. That will benefit everyone irrespective of race, creed or religion.
So let’s do the right thing and set up the IPCMC. In that way we can be sure that the deaths of Teoh, Kugan, etc, will at least be fairly investigated, and every effort made to bring the culprits to book. In that way too, their deaths would not have been completely in vain.
Five years ago, one day after the 11th General Election of 21 March 2004, I wrote this article which was published in the freeanwar.com website. That was five months before Malaysia Today was launched. Is what I wrote five years ago still relevant today? I will allow you to be the judge to that.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
The aftermath of Malaysia’s 11th General Elections: Where to now BA?
The opposition coalition, the Alterative Front (Barisan Alternatif or BA), will need a couple of days to recover from the shellshock before it regains its composure and decides where it goes from hereon. Yesterday, BA, in particular the National Justice Party (Parti Keadilan Nasional or keADILan) was wiped out in Malaysia’s 11th General Elections.
I am not about to go into a lengthy ‘I told you so’ piece. Nobody likes a ‘hindsight expert’. If you are so clever then why not talk with foresight, most would say. To offer your analysis after the event is easy. It is forecasting before the event that makes one an expert.
The fight has not ended
First of all, a defeat in an election is part and parcel of the game. Maybe keADILan has not seen itself massacred yet as, understandably, it is a new party and this is only its second election. It will need many more elections under its belt before it can learn how to handle both defeat and victory.
The Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS), though, is better at this as once before, in 1986, it was wiped out leaving it a solitary seat in Parliament. Since then, however, PAS revamped itself and went through a leadership change after which it bounced back stronger than ever -- until yesterday.
Now, PAS will have to do what it did in 1986. It will have to do some serious soul-searching and ask itself what went wrong. And what it discovers it is not going to like. But PAS will still need to address the matter. It will need to ask itself whether it is a missionary movement or a political party. It will need to ask itself whether it is in the business of propagating Islam or in the business of winning elections.
PAS is trying to be both. But it cannot, as it should by now have learnt. PAS wants to serve God and it conducts its business with this in mind -- the Islamic State Document (ISD) is but one proof of this. PAS must now understand that, to win elections, it must serve the voters’ interest. And if serving God is not what the voters want, is this then the political strategy to adopt?
I am not saying that serving God is wrong. What I am saying is PAS should ask the voters what it would like to see and structure itself, its policies and its strategies taking into account the voters’ sentiment. As it is now, PAS does things in isolation, detached from the voters, and this is not how a political party should be run. And all those who would like to serve God should leave the party and become fulltime preachers, leaving the ‘hardcore’ politicians the task of ‘mending’ the party.
KeADILan too will have to do its own soul-searching. Will it too need a leadership revamp? This will be for the party leadership to ponder upon. But keADILan will need to understand what it needs to do and change accordingly. If yesterday’s fiasco is the result of a bad leadership, then those responsible should gracefully stand aside and allow the party to be run by those who better understand politics.
If the party feels I have seriously erred and my role as the editor of the party newspaper, Seruan Keadilan, is a liability to the party, then I will be the first to tender my resignation and leave the scene without a whimper. I leave it to the party to decide my fate and I will accept whatever decision the party makes in the spirit of the betterment of the party.
I hope those others will do the same.
PAS’s 14-year cycle
PAS seems to suffer from a 14-year cycle, probably similar to what people call the ‘7-year itch’. In 1990 it won Kelantan State, which thereafter saw its performance going uphill the two elections following it in 1995 and 1999. Today, 14 years down the road, and it is back where it used to be prior to 1990.
Roughly 12 years prior to its success in the 1990 elections, Kelantan was under UMNO rule where in 1978 UMNO, with Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah leading the charge, knocked PAS out. 19 years before that, PAS was in control of Kelantan.
In short, every three elections or so, Kelantan changes hands from PAS to UMNO, back to PAS, then back to UMNO again. And now Kelantan may be back to UMNO again or, even if PAS can still retain Kelantan after the recount of about five or six seats today, it will only be able to rule the state with a simple majority. Whatever the outcome, no one is going to have a two-thirds majority in the Kelantan State Assembly.
The question now would be, will PAS require another 14 years or three general elections before it takes back the state from UMNO? This will mean it would be close to 2020 before PAS will see its fortunes change in Kelantan.
I remember way back in 1978 when UMNO managed to kick PAS out, one Kelantanese told me that every few elections they will give the state to UMNO so that they can get development. Then, when they feel they have been sufficiently developed, they will kick UMNO out and give the state back to PAS.
This sounds over-simplified, but if this is really the mentality of the Kelantanese, then expect Umno to be in power in Kelantan for the next three elections, or at least until the Kelantanese feel they have had enough development. Maybe UMNO would then now not over-develop the state to ensure that the people keep on feeling they still need more, which means Kelantan can perpetually remain under UMNO control.
The clock has been turned back 30 years
All Malaysians must understand the impact of yesterday’s general election. I am not talking with the advantage of hindsight here as I have said this even as early as last year during the launch of Party Keadilan Rakyat and what I said then drew a lot of flak from the non-Malays, in particular the Chinese supporters of the Democratic Action Party (DAP).
What happened yesterday is we have turned the clock back 30 years, back to the days leading to the 13 May 1969 racial riots infamously known as ‘May 13’. Then, when we utter the word “opposition” it is meant “Chinese” and when we say “government” we mean “Malay”. Today, we are back where we were in the days of the 1960s.
In this scenario who loses? What we managed to achieve in 1999, 42 years after independence or Merdeka, has just been demolished. In 1999, after 42 years of sweat and toil, both the ruling party and opposition were transformed into a multi-racial mix. No longer could you say that Chinese oppose while Malays support. Today that is again what it is.
This situation is bad for the Chinese as it is now so easy to play the racial card. When the Chinese go against the government it can easy be manipulated as they are against the Malays. Every policy the Chinese opposition oppose can be bandied as they are trying to undermine the Malays.
UMNO, which in 1999 lost the right to claim it was a party representing Malay interests, has regained that right. The opposition, in particular keADILan, which claims to represent all races and fights for equality for all races can no longer claim so.
In short, the line has been redrawn to Chinese opposing Malay interests. And with keADILan out of the picture this claim would have credibility.
I have said this before, and that is the opposition must not be reduced to Chinese only and the ruling party as all Malay. My saying so drew accusations that I am a racist. But what I feared most has happened. I also said if this happens then the Chinese have only themselves to blame as kicking out keADILan would mean Malaysian politics would be again reduced to Malays on one side and Chinese on another.
And is this not what happened yesterday? And does this not now put the Chinese at a great disadvantage? Every time the Chinese opposition opens its mouth the ruling party will scream that it is anti-Malay. And since the opposition is all-Chinese, and there is no real Malay opposition to speak off, will this not sound true?
It’s all about worldly desires
Before this, one could only speculate that the Malays are religious and that the ‘Islamic values’ tagline would work with them. PAS’ success in the Malay heartland of Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah was touted as proof of this.
Opinion polls done over the last two years, however, revealed the stark reality that money was the motivating factor for the Malays and not rewards in the afterlife. 1999 was a unique situation and should not be used as an indication that the Malays have finally ‘seen the light’ and have rediscovered Islam. The Malays are still basically the same. They have not changed much and money and development is still what the Malays seek
What was most puzzling is the Malays’ sense of ‘values’. The Malays seem to be torn between two opposing values. For example, more than 80% of the respondents in the poll feel that the Internal Security Act (ISA) is undemocratic as detention without trial go against the very grain of democracy. These same respondents, however, though they pray, fast, perform their Hajj (pilgrimage) and so on -- in short display signs of being pious Muslims -- are not able to equate the ISA to Islam teachings.
In other words, those 80% Malays who feel the ISA is wrong feel so with the spirit of ‘western’ democracy and not because detention without trial goes against Islamic teachings. In short, Islam is farthest from their minds in their opposition to the ISA.
Then, when the issue of security is discussed, these same people feel that the ISA is necessary to protect the security of this nation. How can they feel that the ISA is undemocratic yet feel it is required to guarantee the peace and stability of Malaysia? They agree that the ISA is evil but is a necessary evil.
This is where the Malays demonstrate an extremely confused state of mind and I have said this before in a piece where I said the Malays are a difficult race to understand whom even the Malays themselves do not understand, let alone a non-Malay.
What, therefore, do the Malays really want? A good afterlife is certainly not one of them! What they want is a good life right here on earth. And the Malays will chose secure jobs, a home, a couple of cars in their driveway, and money in the pocket, over guarantees of heaven after death. And if the ISA is required to guarantee them all this then the ISA shall remain, though in the same breath they may agree it is an undemocratic law.
In short, forget about “give me liberty or give me death”. To the Malays it is, “to hell with democracy but give me property”. And to hell with Islam as well if I have to sacrifice my comfort here on earth.
The Putrajaya experience
Which brings me to what happened in Putrajaya where the keADILan candidate, Abdul Rahman Othman, not only lost but lost his deposit as well. This, in fact, had been predicted, by no less than the Umno candidate, Adnan Mansor, who repeated time and time again that this would happen.
But how did Adnan know? How could be so boldly predict this without fear that he would embarrassingly be proven wrong? Because he knew he would be proven right and he knew why.
The Putrajaya constituency is 100% civil servants and 95% Malay. And they all live in government quarters, homes they do not own, at the grace of the government. Abdul Rahman knew this and he knew this would be the trump card Adnan could use against the Putrajaya voters. And he did.
Adnan met the civil servants face-to-face in their offices, though this was not allowed, and told them in very clear terms that they risk being kicked out of their government quarters if they voted for the opposition.
The voters were also told that their votes could be detected. All the ballot papers are numbered. The voters too have serial numbers. Once the ballot paper is torn from the book, the voter’s serial number is recorded on the counterfoil that has corresponding numbers to the ballot papers.
All they have to do is to check the ballot papers of the opposition votes and match its serial number against that on the counterfoil to know who voted for the opposition. When the voter goes into the polling station, his serial number is shouted out for all to hear and everyone in the room records it.
Many civil servants personally told Abdul Rahman that they strongly believe their votes are not a secret and that the government can detect whom they voted for. Abdul Rahman tried his best to assure the voters that this is not so and that their votes are definitely confidential but the fear factor was just to high, and in the short space of seven days it was impossible to change their minds on this.
Abdul Rahman, in fact, brought this matter to the attention of the Election Commission (EC) and requested them to make an official statement to clear the air. But it was not done and the Putrajaya voters who went to the polls on 21 March 2004 believed that their votes are not a secret and that it is not worth the risk of voting for the opposition and getting kicked out of their government quarters.
Two days before Polling Day, I discussed this fear factor with Abdul Rahman. We both believed that even if we cannot win we can still garner about 2,000 votes, an impressive enough performance against 5,000 voters, and not lose our deposit. But the fear factor was still very high and we had not been able to overcome it yet. If we could not do it the following 48 hours then we may yet prove Adnan’s prediction right.
We also discussed the ‘Scud missile’ that Adnan would probably use against us. We believed that a ‘Scud missile’ was waiting to be fired, and this should be in the wee hours of the eve of Polling Day. But we just did not know what. There was no question of not getting hit with something ‘big’. We even knew the timing. But we were groping in the dark wondering as to what it was going to be.
We decided to embark on a last round ‘polishing’ exercise of our own to counter whatever Adnan had waiting for us. Abdul Rahman himself prepared the ammunition. But on the last night we were stuck in our operations centre, unable to move. Every time we sent a team out the UMNO army surrounded it and locked it in. We phoned the police but got no help from them and this is not surprising considering this has been the scenario the entire week.
I phoned the head of the Putrajaya Special Branch, ASP Ibrahim, and shouted at him. I accused him of being an UMNO tool. I went berserk. I also sent him a nasty SMS message, which he saved on his hand phone, probably to use against me the next time they (again) detain me under the ISA.
While we were under siege on that last night, the UMNO army did their rounds popping VCDs into every letterbox of the 5,000 Putrajaya voters. The VCDs was a documentary of Lokman Noor Adam, the onetime Executive Secretary of the keADILan Youth Movement, ‘revealing’ amongst others that keADILan was being funded by the Jewish currency trader, George Soros, “the man instrumental in wrecking Malaysia’s economy”, that the keADILan leaders misappropriate the money received from supporters and donors for personal use to build lavish homes and buy luxury cars, and so on and so forth.
In short, keADILan was portrayed as a party backed by an enemy of Islam and Malaysia and its leaders but a bunch of corrupt, immoral and dishonest crooks. And this expose was made by non other than its Youth Secretary. And the VCDs showed the so-called ‘documentary evidence’ such as bank statements, etc. Whatever little support Abdul Rahman had was totally demolished.
What is frustrating about this whole thing is we knew it was coming and even knew when. We even planned our own counter-operation. But we were stuck at base and had to just helplessly watch the UMNO boys tear us down piece by piece. We knew we had lost even before the race started. We were outnumbered, outgunned and outmanoeuvred. And the UMNO boys laughed at us while they destroyed us in our very face.
We saw it coming
Putrajaya is not the only place we saw it coming but were forced to stand by helplessly and watch everything crumble before our very eyes. I frequently joke that PAS was built on love while keADILan was built on hate. PAS was built on love for Islam while keADILan was built on hate for Dr Mahathir.
This may have been said in jest but, as they say, many a true word is said in jest.
On the second day of Ramadan, a two-day conference was held in Melaka to discuss our political strategy for the 11th General Election. The number one issue that was agreed by all is that, now that Dr Mahathir has left the scene and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has taken over, keADILan has lost the concept of enemy.
It would, in fact, have been better if Dr Mahathir had stayed on. We could have held our ground or maybe even perform better if Dr Mahathir was still the Prime Minister. Now that Pak Lah is in charge, the concept of enemy has disappeared and this spells bad news for keADILan.
It was further agreed that keADILan would need to quickly reinvent the enemy or else face irrelevancy. If it fails to do so, then the need for keADILan will disappear. KeADILan is only required so far as to kick Dr Mahathir out of office. Once this has been achieved, then who needs keADILan anymore? Our political strategists, however, were not able to come up with this new ‘enemy’, or maybe they did not see the need for one. Whatever it may be, the prediction resulting from the Melaka conference was fulfilled.
Pak Lah walks down the same road as Dr Mahathir
Over the last couple of months I was asked by the foreign media, on more than one occasion, what I felt about the 11th General Elections and what was my prediction of the outcome. I replied that one must look back to the 1982 General Election soon after Dr Mahathir took over as Prime Minister. Then, Dr Mahathir was in his ‘honeymoon’ period and he performed well, as he did in the election after that in 1986. But, by the third election in 1990, his fortunes started to change and he lost Kelantan.
But Dr Mahathir lost Kelantan not because PAS, who at that time had teamed up with Tengku Razaleigh’s Semangat 46, was strong, but because the Kelantanese just hated Dr Mahathir’s guts.
If Dr Mahathir had stayed for just two terms, he would have retired at the top. But he stayed beyond that and, thereafter, Dr Mahathir was never able to recapture his ‘honeymoon’ period performance of 1982 and 1986 when PAS was practically wiped out.
Pak Lah, I replied, just like Dr Mahathir in 1982, is now also in his ‘honeymoon’ period. He, just like Dr Mahathir in 1982, is going to perform well this election. And he will continue to do so in the following election as well in 2009, just like Dr Mahathir did in 1986. It will have to be in the third election in 2014 (Malaysia’s 13 General Election) before Pak Lah can be brought to his knees.
If Pak Lah is smart, I added, he should retire around 2013 or 2014, just before the 13th General Election. Then he will retire at the top, something Dr Mahathir did not do. This will make Pak Lah the best performing prime minister in Malaysia history. If, however, just like Dr Mahathir, he tries to take Malaysia into his third election as Prime Minister, then he would face the same humiliation Dr Mahathir suffered.
In short, the opposition can expect humiliation in the 11th General Election, plus in the 12th as well. The opposition will then have to hope that Pak Lah becomes ‘greedy’ and clings to power, which means its fortunes will change in the 13th General Election. If, however, Pak Lah very cleverly bails out and hands the country to his deputy just before that, this would be bad news for the opposition as then it may never recover.
‘Show me the money’
I know this prediction does not augur well for the opposition. But when the Malaysian opposition parties can only win by default, win when the ruling party makes mistakes, then what can it expect? You just need to listen to the opposition speeches. The opposition leaders speak about the mistakes made by the government. It talks about the excesses and abuses. It talks about the corruption and mismanagement. In spite of all this, the country’s economy grows and Malaysians see development.
The opposition fails, or refuses, to understand what the voters want. They want the security and comfort of a good life and the ruling party has shown it can guarantee this. They want peace and stability and the freedom to get rich and the ruling party offers this. They want education and good jobs and the ruling party provides this.
Agreed, to get all this Malaysians must sacrifice a little freedom and democracy. Granted, while the voters are free to get rich, the ministers too help themselves to some of the money. Maybe, there is no real equality but the Chinese still prosper in spite of the Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) policy.
Malaysia offers the voters a win-win solution. Get rich, prosper, get a good education, get good jobs, live in beautiful homes, drive nice cars, but just do not question what the government does or criticise it. This is acceptable to two-thirds of the voting population. The balance one-third disgruntled voting population can support the opposition if it so wishes. But in the ‘first past the post’ election system that Malaysia practices, the one-third is of no consequence.
And yesterday’s 11th General Election has proven this point.
The voters have not heard how the opposition can better develop Malaysia. The voters have not been told how they would get even richer than now if the opposition were to come to power. In fact, Kelantan and Terengganu have proven the reverse; the people get poorer with the opposition running these two states. And this is all that counts. And this is something the opposition does not seem to understand.
Do I hear someone say this is a most unIslamic stand to take? Do I hear someone say that principles cannot be compromised and exchanged for worldly desires? Don’t tell me, tell the voters, they don’t seem to think so as yesterday’s message from them has very loudly and clearly shown.
And the message from the voters is, “Show me the money!”
By Debra Chong - The Malaysian Insider
KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 — The prosecution today effectively prevented Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s defence team from mounting an effective case after the court allowed it a stay of a decision to allow the defence access to more evidence.
Among the laundry list of items the defence had demanded and the High Court here had allowed last week are:
• statements from witnesses including a private hospital doctor who had first examined Anwar's accuser for signs of anal penetration;and
• working notes from the chemist that had run tests on DNA samples supposedly taken from both aggressor and victim and a clear and round-the-clock copy of closed-circuit television (CCTV) recordings taken from the condominium compound between June 25 and 27 last year which supposedly show 24-year-old Mohd Saiful Azlan Bukhari heading to the apartment unit where he has accused the 61-year-old opposition leader of sodomising him.
Sodomy is classified as “sex against the order of nature” and is a crime in conservative Malaysia.
Today, High Court judge Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah agreed with the prosecution that it could keep all the extra pieces of proof — except for the original DNA samples and swabs which have been sealed to prevent any possible tampering before the trial starts — until it succeeds in getting the Court of Appeal to hear its case.
For the court to insist the prosecution give the proofs to the defence immediately would make its appeal “academic”, the prosecution argued.
The same High Court judge had last Thursday ordered the prosecution to hand over the proofs so that Anwar's team, now missing its lead counsel since veteran lawyer Sulaiman Abdullah fell sick and pulled out, could have an equal chance to look at all the things the prosecution is using and prepare a more complete defence when the trial proper starts.
The Amer Hamzah Arshad and Sivarasa Rasiah combo had earlier argued forcefully that there was no proof of “irreparable damage to the prosecution” if it lets the defence see the documents at this point of pre-trial.
Instead, they claimed that the defence team would lose out if they did not get proofs beforehand because they would not have enough time to prepare their defence for Anwar, who has consistently said he is being made a victim of “political persecution” on “trumped-up charges”, especially since he had been cleared of sodomy the first time around.
“We're going to be looking at the documents eventually. What's the difference between now and later? Do they have something to hide?” Amer Hamzah charged in court.
He pointed out that the prosecution had failed to even mention in its affidavit of support that the defence or Anwar may start to harass the victim or witnesses and even the scientific experts after getting their hands on the documents.
But the judge overruled the defence's objections.
He also fixed Sept 2 for the next date to mention Anwar's bid to strike out the sodomy charges against him and fix a start date for the trial.
Interestingly, the date falls on the 11th anniversary of the PKR leader's sacking as deputy prime minister and which pushed the rise of the pivotal “Reformasi” movement.
KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 — Datuk Zaid Ibrahim attacked the Cabinet for its short-sightedness in handling the death of a DAP political aide, describing it as pushing much-needed reforms all the way back to square one.
The former minister tasked with law reforms told The Malaysian Insider the decision to split the investigations between a magistrate's court and a royal commission of inquiry seemed like another “ploy for cover-ups.”
“Why split?” he asked.
“The magistrate will determine the cause of death? Which is a fall from a high place. Then the royal commission is for determining procedures adopted by MACC? Don't they have a manual? Then who determines the culprits? The police,” Zaid huffed in a text message.
“So we're back to square one. Sickening. The rakyat will not get the truth from this government,” he added, disgusted by the turn of events.
He noted that a royal commission would be unlikely to solve the deep-seated problems affecting the public's trust in government institutions, pointing to the failure of the Attorney-General to follow up with concrete action after the highly-publicised royal commission of inquiry's hefty report on Datuk V.K. Lingam disclosed incriminating evidence of hanky-panky between the prominent lawyer and several influential VIPs, including judges, politicians and business tycoons.
“Did you get anything from the royal commission on Lingam video? None. What's the difference now? There will be cover-ups and more cover-ups,” he said despairingly.
Zaid, who is away in London, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak must answer to the public on the government's lack of determination to see justice done on the wrong-doers, all the way through to the end.
A celebrated lawyer himself, Zaid had been handpicked by fifth prime minister Tun Abdullah AhmadBadawi to head the reform packages before quitting Umno and his ministerial post in protest last year.
Though he has since joined up with the Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's opposition PKR, he defended his former boss, fondly known as Pak Lah, who finally lifted the secrecy surrounding the royal commission's report.
“It was because of Pak Lah, despite strong objections, that the report of the commission was released.
“The investigation by the A-G should have followed and action taken. What happened to that? Pak Lah left after that. The present PM must answer that question,” he said.
Are the 10 MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers prepared collectively to lodge official reports with the police and the MACC to protect the life of Ong
By Lim Kit Siang,
The joint statement of three MCA Ministers and seven deputy ministers pledging total allegiance to Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat as MCA President and Transport Minister is most extraordinary in more senses than one, including:
- Nobody in MCA, Umno, Barisan Nasional or outside feels or believes that Ong Tee Keat is fighting a “life-and-death” crisis in preserving his positions as MCA President and Transport Minister.
- Treated as minor news by the mass media, even by MCA-owned Star when it should be blazoned as front page headline news, with tertiary treatment in the Chinese media while totally ignored by the Bahasa Malaysia media;
- Hardly a flicker of interest of the Malaysian public or even the one million MCA membership.
MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers are trying to stage a second “David Copperfield” performance in Malaysia in 24 hours.
The first “David Copperfield” – the world famous magician or illusionist – performance was the Cabinet decision on Wednesday giving Malaysians the illusion that there will be a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the causes of the death of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock at MACC headquarters on 16th July 2009 when actually there is no such RCI.
The second “David Copperfield” performance is by the MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers in trying to create another illusion that there is a “life-and-death” political crisis for Ong Tee Keat when there is none!
Can the three MCA Ministers and seven MCA Deputy Ministers explain why they are trying to manufacture such a synthetic “life-and-death” political crisis for MCA President and Transport Minister, which had failed abysmally to convince or impress anyone?
The ten MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers would have made greater public impression if they had dared to collectively issue a public statement pledging full support to Ong to demand that the Cabinet review and change its decision on Wednesday so as to establish a comprehensive Royal Commission of Inquiry into the causes of Teoh’s death, the MACC’s interrogation techniques as well as why the MACC had failed to act independently and professionally to declare war against corruption but instead acted as Umno and BN catspaw to declare war on Pakatan Rakyat and selectively persecute Pakatan Rakyat leaders to topple the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat government!
At minimum, let the 10 MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers have the courage to name me or deny that they are referring to me in their unusual statement of support for Ong Tee Keat as MCA President and Transport Minister in facing a “life-and-death” political crisis.
In their statement, the MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers said Ong is facing his “life-and-death” political crisis because of the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal.
The joint statement condemned those who “ create obstacles, make threats, suppress the truth and mislead the public ” in the unfolding PKFZ “mother of all scandals”.
If the MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers are referring to me, say so. If they are not referring to me, say so as well.
I will respond accordingly if the MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers have the courage to name me as one of the targets of their extraordinary statement to try to save Ong’s political life.
One thing is for sure. Their joint statement will not save Ong from my continuing to question the MCA President why he had failed to honour his pledge when he became Transport Minister 16 months ago that he would “tell all” about the PKFZ scandal, in particular how a RM1.088 billion scandal under Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik as Transport Minister in 2002 could quadruple to RM4.6 billion under Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy as Transport Minister in 2006 and now set to become a RM12.5 billion scandal under Ong.
I had asked Ong 108 questions in my 36-day “three questions a day” on the PKFZ scandal and the MCA President had been running for cover for over a month, right from his scooting to France for the Paris Air Show when Parliament first met on June 15, 2009.
Ong’s failure and inability to answer the 108 questions is akin to his failure to pass as Transport Minister and MCA President like Shaolin disciples in “fighting stories” who could not pass the gauntlet of the 108 movements of Shaolin Wooden-men Lane and 18 Lohans to qualify leaving the Shaolin Mountain out into the world.
But all this sequel to demand full responsibility and accountability from Ong for the PKFZ scandal has to wait for another day, as the more immediate national concerns consuming my time and energy are to get justice over Teoh’s mysterious death, to bring down the crime rate to ensure that Malaysians can be safe in the streets, public places and the privacy of their homes; as well as to demand a fair and just solution to the PPSMI controversy.
In his wide-ranging interview with Sin Chew Jit Poh last Thursday and in his speech at a MCA function on Sunday, Ong made the most serious allegations ever about high-level corruption and abuses of power reaching all the way to the Cabinet, causing him to allege that corruption had emerged under the Najib premiership from the “darkness” into the open to do their evil work.
Ong even claimed that he was now “under siege” from people with vested interest in PKFZ, including some from within BN, revealing that he had received death threats from underworld figures and whose influence have gone as high as the Cabinet level.
Imagine a Cabinet Minister receiving death threats for carrying out his Ministerial duties!
Are the 10 MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers prepared collectively to lodge official reports with the police and the MACC to protect the life of Ong as well as to uphold the integrity of the Barisan Nasional government and Cabinet against the “dark forces” of corruption?
If they are afraid to lodge such reports, I can do it for them!
By Jacqueline Ann Surin
(TV pic by Frecuencia; remote control pic by Lusi; source: sxc.hu)
JUST before Datuk Seri Najib Razak became Malaysia's sixth prime minister on 3 April 2009, I was asked by a Malaysiakini reporter whether I thought there would be further media restrictions under his administration. Some sectors of society imagined, rightly or wrongly, that Najib would control the media even more than his predecessor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
My answer then was that it was hard to predict what exactly Najib would do. Whether or not there would be further media restrictions would depend as much on Najib and his advisers as well as on civil society, I figured.
But more than three months have passed since Najib assumed office. Whether or not media controls have worsened, one thing is certain: the evidence demonstrates that media control continues under Najib's administration.
These controls have twin objectives. Rather alarmingly, though not unexpectedly, one of the objectives is to unashamedly protect the image of the Najib administration at all costs. The other objective is to unfairly disadvantage the Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
"Shoot" the journalist
Where's the proof? One of the most recent incidents of clear media control was when ntv7 talk show host-cum-producer, Florence Looi, was issued a warning letter by her management and downgraded in her responsibilities.
What exactly did she do to warrant such disciplinary action? She asked two guests on her current affairs show, Point of View, to rate Najib's performance in his first 100 days. One of her guests, Malaysian Insider consultant editor Leslie Lau, gave Najib a "C" or "D".
Looi was taken to task for asking a legitimate question. Stranger still, she was taken to task by her superiors because apparently, such questions violate ntv7's "editorial policy".
I'll be happy to wager though that had Lau given Najib an "A" or even a "B" rating, Looi would not have gotten into any kind of trouble. Really, it's hard not to look at what happened to Looi and surmise that a journalist was punished for doing her job honestly and professionally.
Malaysian journalists for certain don't experience the same kind of violence that our Filipino counterparts do when it comes to reporting the truth. Filipino journalists are often murdered or physically threatened as a way to silence them.
While Looi's life is not being threatened, a similar principle is at work in the ntv7 newsroom as in the Philippines. Looi was punished so that she, and her peers in the TV station, would learn to keep silent when reporting critically about those in power. The method used by ntv7 may be mild in comparison to the methods employed in the Philippines, but the intention is the same.
Just as importantly, what kind of media organisation actually imposes a policy against asking legitimate questions about and of politicians, especially the prime minister who needs to be the most accountable public servant in the country? Answer: the kind that is owned by Media Prima — a company that is closely linked to Umno.
Khir Toyo (Pic by johnleemk / Wiki
commons) Indeed, there have been other instances that suggest rather convincingly that the Media Prima management running their stable of media companies is consciously "protecting" Umno politicians from adverse publicity. Even before the incident with Looi, the company applied a blanket ban about news regarding the mansion in Shah Alam that former Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo is building.
Even earlier, about two weeks after Najib became premier, the four private TV stations under Media Prima — TV3, ntv7, 8TV and tv9 — were ordered not to name political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, Najib's close aide, when reporting on the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case.
Apart from politically linked media companies protecting Umno's image, government-run and controlled media such as RTM are also ensuring that nothing besmirches or threatens the Najib administration.
Hence, the rather peculiar set of guidelines that RTM issued to its nine radio stations after Najib came to power. Merdeka Review reported on 15 May 2009 that a notice banning seven "sensitive" matters from being discussed on air was issued to prevent "controversy". The banned topics were opposition politics (ostensibly this refers to the PR), sex, race, language, religion, the monarchy, and issues of morality in current politics.
More recently, Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, who is the political secretary to Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and also the PR state assemblyperson for Seri Setia, had his invitation to appear on an RTM talk show rescinded for no apparent reason.
Nik NazmiTo be fair to Najib, he may not even be the one issuing these directives to the media. In all likelihood, these directives in both the private and public media are being issued by others to ensure that entrenched political interests are served.
Having said that, though, the prime minister surely cannot be oblivious about what is happening, especially when these incidents of media control have become public information as a result of online media coverage.
So, if Najib really wanted a "vibrant, free and informed media", what is he doing about the restrictions that continue to hamper the media from doing its work without fear or favour? What has he done to publicly demonstrate that media control by the government or by political parties is not what he desires for this nation? Unfortunately, nothing.
It would be a mistake for the rakyat to assume that just because the prime minister speaks of a free and vibrant media, this then is really what he intends to have in this country. There really is no evidence at all, since Najib came to power, that that is what his administration is interested in.They say silence is consent. This is especially true when it involves a person in power who can speak up to rectify a wrong. Najib is, for all intents and purposes, the most powerful man in the country right now. His silence about continued media restrictions speaks volumes.
By Claire Brownell
THEY'RE colonial relics, they're rarely invoked, and other Asian countries have effectively taken them off the books. But because Malaysia's sodomy laws are tangled up in politics and religion, they're probably not going anywhere for a while.
In 2007, Singapore modified their sodomy laws, expressed in Section 377a of the island-state's Penal Code, to exclude heterosexuals who perform consensual oral and anal sex. On 2 July 2009, India repealed its own Section 377. In contrast, Malaysia's most recent addition to the history of sodomy laws is its second charge against parliamentary Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
When asked what it would take to get Malaysia to follow suit and repeal its sodomy laws, gender and sexuality rights activist Alina Rastam laughs. "A miracle?" she asks. Nevertheless, could the time finally be right for Malaysians to rethink the relevance and righteousness of sodomy laws?
Simranjit (Courtesy of
Simranjit Kaur Gill) Simranjit Kaur Gill of the Women's Candidacy Initiative says the group has researched charges brought under Section 377 of Malaysia's Penal Code. The act criminalises "carnal intercourse against the order of nature", or oral and anal sex. Their research found seven charges from 1938 to the present. Four of those seven charges are connected to Anwar.
So why does Malaysia need a miracle to repeal an act that is mainly used to persecute a political opponent of the government?
Zulkifli Noordin, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)'s Kulim-Bandar Baru Member of Parliament, says Section 377 shouldn't be judged by the number of charges laid. The act should remain in place because it is consistent with the Islamic values shared by the majority of Malaysians, he says.
"It has been in human civilisation to treat sodomy as an offence [for thousands of years]. So there must be some reason why," he tells The Nut Graph.
Zulkifli "It's stated there in the Bible, it's stated there in the Old Testament, it's stated there in the Al Quran. So I think, to be safe, we should just follow God's law."
Ironically, the Barisan Nasional government also has little motivation to repeal a tool that has proved useful against its most powerful opponent.
Latheefa Koya, who is PKR's information chief and a member of Anwar's legal defence team, says the charges were politically motivated. It's hard to see its disproportional use against Anwar in any other way, she says.
A sodomy charge hits at the root of Anwar's credibility, Latheefa says. "He had an image of someone of high moral standing, who's Islamic in his background. So the best way to destroy that is trump up a charge with sexual connotation in it. And if you can't get that person to be seen with women, then you might as well deal with sodomy."
When contacted by The Nut Graph, the Attorney-General's Chambers declines to offer an explanation. Its public relations officer says in an e-mail that the office could not reply to inquiries connected to an ongoing case.
Latheefa says she personally thinks Section 377 should be repealed because there's no point policing the private actions of consenting adults. But PKR would not be pushing for the law to be taken off the books any time soon, she adds.
Latheefa"It would be wrongly seen that we are only trying to get rid of the law because Anwar is being charged. So in that context, it is complicated," she says.
It's also clear that there are major differences in opinion even among PKR members about Section 377, as seen in the differences between Latheefa's and Zulkifli's views.
Anwar's trial has created a classic catch-22. The government is politically motivated to keep the law the way it is. And the opposition is afraid that challenging the very law that is making their leader look un-Islamic would be seen as, well, un-Islamic.
More legal complexities
Section 377 isn't the only act criminalising homosexuality and sodomy in Malaysia. There are also many parallel offences under state-level syariah laws. These range from improper conduct in public spaces to sexual relations between persons of the same gender.
When deciding whether to prosecute Anwar under civil or syariah law in 1999, the High Court referred to a decision from a case in 1884 called Brett MR in R v Tonbridge Overseers. The judge in this case stated that where an offender commits an offence triable by either the civil court or a syariah court, he or she may be prosecuted in either one. What is less clear is who decides which court will try the case, and how that decision is made.
"There's no official policy. It's decided on a case-by-case basis," says Edmund Bon, chairperson of the bar council constitutional law committee and another member of Anwar's legal team.
Bon (Courtesy of Edmund Bon) But The Nut Graph has to go through four different answers from four different lawyers before Bon's final explanation that there is no formal procedure in place. The differences between these answers cannot be explained by lack of experience or expertise.There's really only one conclusion to be drawn: the system is complicated, often arbitrary, and full of ambiguous legal grey areas.
Potential for crackdowns
The combination of Section 377, the syariah laws, and the Internal Security Act (ISA) gives the police and Islamic departments a powerful arsenal to crack down on "unnatural sex", and any attempt to challenge the definition of "unnatural sex", if they want to. The broad scope of these laws means they can be applied to heterosexuals and non-heterosexuals, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
But Latheefa says that's not a scenario Malaysians need to worry about. Islamic law requires four witnesses for offences related to sex and sexuality, because charges are intended to be infrequent. Charges under Section 377 are meant to be rare for the same reason, she says.
"The whole philosophy behind such offences is to say that we look at it very seriously, but in order to establish it, you would probably have to [commit] it in public," she says.
Zulkifli makes a very similar point: "I don't think the government is interested to barge into all these gay clubs and whatnot, unless somebody lodges a report," he says. "But if it's rampant, if people start having [homosexual] sex at every corner, then maybe we will take action."
That may be how Zulkifli defines "rampant," but keeping the law the way it is means the police and government have the power to arbitrarily decide.
Anwar Alina says giving them that power without checks and balances is dangerous. "Anything that is discriminatory is disturbing. Having these laws remain is an issue, even if they're hard to enforce," she says.
Ironically, Alina says Anwar's sodomy trials have helped sexuality rights activism to develop in Malaysia. The 1998 trial pushed the issue into the public eye. Today, many non-governmental organisations are taking stands on sexuality rights, and are even starting to conduct training workshops on the issue.
Nevertheless, Alina says the movement is still in its infancy 10 years later. "There have been advances since Anwar's trial in 1998, but they're really just a drop in the ocean."That said, many people thought it would take a miracle to change India's sodomy laws, too. Look what eventually happened.
PENANG, 23 July 2009: The MIC is willing to offer RM3.2 million if the Penang government can get back the land in Kampung Buah Pala, Bukit Gelugor from the developer.
MIC Youth chief T Mohan said the move was to enable the residents to continue living in the village.
He was speaking to reporters after handing a memorandum to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng through the latter's political secretary Ng Wei Eik at the Komtar building here today.
Mohan and a group of men arrived at Komtar at about 5.30pm to hand over the memorandum immediately after he was released from police arrest.
They were arrested at about 10am today on Jalan Datuk Keramat here for illegal assembly to hand over the memorandum to the chief minister.
Asked whether the value of the land of the land could be higher than the price at which the land was sold, Mohan said, "Why did the Pakatan Rakyat state government proceed with the sale of the land when they knew the value was higher?"
According to the records, the Barisan Nasional had initiated the sale of the land, but the confirmation letter on the land ownership was issued by the present state government, led by Lim on 27 March last year.
There was commotion at Komtar after Mohan handed over the memorandum when a man verbally abused the group, causing them to chase the man and beat him, but the police managed to restore order.
The Kampung Buah Pala land controversy came about when the villagers were ordered to vacate the land before 3 Aug following the sale of the 2.6ha land by the previous state government to Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Pulau Pinang Bhd, which then appointed Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn to develop the land. — Bernama
By Augustine Anthony
Lam Wai Loon
July 23, 2009
This post is reproduced from here
Originally published in Skrine’s Legal Insights, Issue 3/2008 (October Issue), and updated in Issue 4/2008. Copyright belongs to Skrine. Reproduced with permission.
The recent findings of the Royal Commission of Enquiry into the V.K. Lingam Video Clip have brought Royal Commissions (often called “royal commissions”) into the limelight. This article seeks to provide an overview of the statutory framework governing the creation and operation of such commissions.
The Commissions of Enquiry Act 1950 (”the Act”) is the statutory power for the appointment of any such commission.
Since the inception of the Act, there have been at least nine occasions in which a royal commission has been set up, namely:-
(1) Royal Commission of Enquiry into the V.K. Lingam Video Clip (2007-2008);
(2) Royal Commission for Police Reform (2004);
(3) Royal Commission to Investigate on the Alleged Injuries suffered by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim while in Police Custody (1999);
(4) Royal Commission of Enquiry into the Fire at the Bright Sparklers Factory in Sungai Buloh New Village (1991);
(5) Royal Commission of Enquiry to Investigate a Fire at Sekolah Agama Rakyat Taufikah al-Halimah in Padang Lumat, Yan, Kedah (1989);
(6) Royal Commission of Enquiry on the Collapse of the Upper Deck of the Pengkalan Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal in Butterworth (1988);
(7) Royal Commission on the Teaching Services (1971);
(8) Royal Commission of Enquiry to Investigate the Workings of Local Authorities in West Malaysia (1968);
(9) Royal Commission on Salaries and Conditions of Service of the Public Service (1965).
Establishment of a Royal Commission
Royal Commissions may be convened by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong “when it appears to him to be expedient to do so”. Read with Article 40 of the Federal Constitution, it would appear that this would entail acting only on the advice of the Cabinet or of a Minister acting under the general authority of the Cabinet.
Essentially, Royal Commissions are convened to look into matters of considerable public importance. These matters include the conduct of any federal officer, the conduct or management of any department of the public service or of any public institution and any matter in which an enquiry would be for the public welfare, except the following:-
(a) a matter involving any question relating to the Islamic religion or the Malay customs;
(b) a matter relating to Sabah or Sarawak included in the State List of the Federal Constitution or dealt with by State Law, as provided in Item 10 of the State List of the Federal Constitution.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong will determine the number of commissioners, the place and time when the enquiry will be held and its report submitted, and the manner the enquiry will be executed. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has the discretion to decide whether the enquiry or any part thereof will or will not be held public.
Terms of Reference
The terms of reference of a commission define the objectives and the parameters of the enquiry. The terms of reference of a commission are determined by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Cabinet or of a Minister acting under the general authority of the Cabinet. The proper extent of the terms of reference of a commission is often a serious question especially with regards to matters of great controversy.
Powers of the Commissioners
The powers conferred upon the commissioners are essentially quasi-judicial in nature, and the proceedings of a royal commission are deemed to be judicial proceedings under the Act. Because of this nature of the task, retired senior judges are often appointed as commissioners. Like judges, commissioners are expected to carry out their duties independently, impartially and free from fear.
The commissioners have the powers to procure and receive all necessary evidence, written or oral, and to examine all persons who have knowledge of the matter in question as witnesses. The evidence of the witnesses can be taken on oath or affirmation or by way of statutory declaration.
The Act also confers upon the commissioners the power to summon any person in Malaysia to appear before them to give evidence and to issue a warrant of arrest to compel the attendance of any person who, after having been summoned to attend, fails to do so, to give evidence.
Witnesses are protected against self-incrimination under the Act. The evidence taken at an enquiry will not be admissible in any civil or criminal proceedings against the person who gave the evidence.
To assist the commissioners in the enquiry, the commissions are also empowered to require the Public Prosecutor to cause any matter relevant to the enquiry to be investigated. Any person appointed by the Public Prosecutor to investigate any such matter will have powers similar to that given to the police officers in any seizable case.
Additionally, the commissioners have the power to hold any person for contempt for any act of disrespect or any insult or threat offered to any of the commissioners while sitting in commission or at any other time and place on account of his proceedings in his capacity as a commissioner.
Findings of a Commission
The role of a royal commission is to merely enquire and report - it does not have the power of punishment.
While a royal commission is only a fact-finding body, it would normally be required to make recommendations based on its findings. These recommendations are not binding on the Government who may adopt some or all of the recommendations or disregard the same.
Challenging a Commission’s Findings
Certain parties in the Royal Commission of Enquiry into the V.K. Lingam Video Clip have applied to Court for a judicial review of that Commission’s findings. This is an unprecedented move in Malaysia and it will be interesting to see the outcome of these proceedings. ***
*** Update in Issue 4/2008 Skrine’s Legal Insights
These applications were dismissed by the High Court on 12 December 2008.
Abdul Kadir Musa J. held that the Royal Commission did not make any decisions and merely conveyed their findings in their Report to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The judge rejected the applicants’ contention that the findings should not be construed as decisions of a public authority which may be subject to judicial review under Order 53 Rule 2(4) of the Rules of the High Court, 1980.
By Caroline Jackson
MULU (Sarawak), July 24 (Bernama) -- Penan headman Belulak Seng, who is in charge of the Batu Bungan settlement located a stone's throw away from the Mulu airport at the Mulu National Park in Sarawak, stays connected with the outside world through his mobile phone.
Previously he and the other Penans were semi-nomadic roaming the national park to forage and harvest non-timber forest products. However, now they cultivate vegetables, keep animals and sell Penan handicrafts to tourists visiting their village.
They live in the 28-door longhouse set against the scenic backdrop of limestone crags by the Melinau River leading to the World Heritage Mulu Caves.
"Now we have a more routine lifestyle and stable income. We can stay in touch with our children studying at a boarding school (SK Tutoh Apoh) in Long Panai, about three hours boat ride downstream," he said through an interpreter.
Some of the Penan youths there are employed at the national park as well as the Royal Mulu Resort, whose hotel guests are mainly eco-tourists from Europe and Australia.
"Thank you for coming and taking a peek on how we live and in helping us overcome problems in the future," he told a visiting delegation of European timber trade representatives during a familiarisation trip organised by the Sarawak Timber Development Corporation (STIDC) and the Malaysian Timber Council (MTC).
Belulak and his community's way of life is a stark contrast compared with the gloomy picture painted by some non-governmental organisations (NGO) that the Penans, with an estimated population of 10,000, are facing an uncertain future as their forest habitat are being depleted by logging activities.
The fate of the Penans has been a controversial subject ever since they resisted logging operations in their home turf, including Baram, Limbang, Tutoh and Lawas since the 1990s.
Like many local indigenous communities who live in the areas where timber companies operate, Belulak was also wary that the ongoing logging activities at the back of his longhouse which is a bit too close to comfort.
Nonetheless, the priority for the Penan chief and the 300 villagers now is clean water and electricity that they hope the government will supply them and proper documentation like birth certificates or Mykads.
MTC London director Sheam Satkaru noted that the conflict between indigenous rights and state land use is a highly complex issue which has brought international attention to the Penans, especially due to the global publicity provided by the Bruno Manser Foundation.
She said because they lived in the forest, the assumption was that the logging industry was driving them out of the forest.
This negative perception that was capitalised by the Switzerland-based NGO founded by Bruno Manser, an environmental activist and self-proclaimed champion of the Penan's plight during the 1990s.
However, the tribe was in the limelight again recently due to allegations of sexual harassment against their women purportedly committed by workers of a major timber company operating in the Baram area.
Satkaru when met by Bernama during the trip noted that the representatives from emerging timber markets and United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Italy and Greece were satisfied with the explanation they sought during a dialogue with the Penan villagers.
MTC's objective is to correct the negative perception by communicating through seminars, newsletters, reports, articles besides bringing responsible foreign representatives from the timber industry, NGOs and media to get a feel of the rainforest and provide a better understanding in terms of the needs for conservation and sustainable forest management going hand-in-hand, she noted.
IMPRESSED BY PENAN'S PROGRESS
Meanwhile, Christoph Rullman, the managing director of the German Association for the Protection of Forests and Woodlands was impressed with the government's efforts to put Penan children in schools and assimilate the semi-nomadic people with the rest of the society.
Having read a lot of things about Malaysia including illegal logging, reviews by MTC and international environmental conservation organisations like the WWF and Greenpeace, he was actually very surprised to see the seemingly endless green canopy of forest on the 30-minute flight from Miri to Mulu.
"I totally can understand that this is a big issue for the Malaysian government because we would do the same as well. From the European point of view it is a treasure and something so unique because you still have these people living in the forest.
"There is a fear that if they (Penan) develop, they will lose their cultural background but you have to develop them otherwise they would not have a chance to survive in modern times...You can't actually lock them somewhere in the forest," he said.
For Samling Global Limited, the Sarawak-based timber company listed on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, social responsibility is an integral part of its operations apart from subscribing to sustainable practices.
Its Head of Corporate Communication Cheryl Yong said it has been a practice for the indigenous people, notably the Penan to put up blockades as a signal that they wish to negotiate and inform the company of their needs.
Citing an example, she said four of the five villages - Long Main, Long Kepang, Long Benalih and Ba'Bubui within the Sela'an-Linau Forest Management Unit are Penan settlements for which Samling as the forest concessionare has to engage before entering to harvest.
So far 149 villages in Baram, Lawas, Bintulu and Belaga had benefited from the company's community outreach programme that includes the construction of Penan service centres as well as basic amenities and infrastructures.
The programme also focuses on "No" to slash and burn and "Yes" to agriculture and husbandry.
By Jeff Ooi,
The late Beng Hock's family today expressed their disappointment and rejected the Cabinet's "Inquest + Royal Commission of Inquiry" decision as being “neither here nor there” to guarantee justice for Beng Hock.
They wanted to meet the PM soon to tell him that they had expected a Royal Commission of Inquiry to find out the truth behind Beng Hock's death in its entirety.
Beng Hock’s youngest sister Teoh Lee Lan, 29, who spoke for the family and cried the most, said:
“We were elated when we first got the news but then later felt disappointed when it became clear that the Royal Commission would only investigate MACC’s procedures while the inquest would be carried out to probe my brother’s death.
“This is not what the family wanted as we had made our request known to several ministers, including Najib’s political secretary (Dr Oh Ei Sun), when they visited us last week.”
This is the Teoh Family's statement in its original form, in Chinese:
Yesterday, immediately after Najib announced the Cabinet decision, this blogger was among the first in the country to state the reasons why Beng Hock has been short-changed and cheated. Read here.
For suspended Puchong parliamentarian Gobind Singh-Deo (below), the government should also not forget the death of 23-yer-old A Kugan, who died under police watch.
"We have to remember that Kugan was also a victim of assault and we need to find out the type of interrogation techniques used in the police station.
"If the (techniques) are unlawful, recommendations (by royal commission) should be made to avoid similar tragedies in police custody," he said.
Second post mortem
Unlike Teoh who had died under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's (MACC) watch, Kugan died five days after he was detained in connection with several car theft cases at the Taipan police station in USJ.
However, a video of the remains taken at the Serdang Hospital mortuary revealed severe bruises on the body, leading many quarters to accuse the police of foul play.
Following a massive public outcry, attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail (left) reclassified the case as murder and investigations were underway.
One day after the AG made the announcement, 11 constables and lance corporals from the Subang Taipan police station, where Kugan had collapsed and died, were removed and put on desk duty pending investigations.
'Family still in the dark'
"But up until now, there is absolutely nothing going on in Kugan's case as no one has been charged...those responsible are walking about freely," said Gobind.
Gobind also urged Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar (below) to immediately reveal the techniques of interrogation used against Kugan when he was being held.
Gobind also said that Kugan's family is "still in the dark" as to why no one has gone through the case.
"They also have no idea if action has been taken against the cops involved.
We all have an equal concern in Kugan's as well as Teoh's case because it involves one more custodial death in the country," said Gobind.
So Guan Eng, what is this all about?
Are you dancing with the devils to fit your C.A.T. according to their taste?
Watch the video recording and let the truth to be exposed.
Malays who say “matlamat menghalalkan cara” (the ends justify the means) are munafiq Muslims. Malays who support and defend the ISA are munafiq Muslims. Munafiq Muslims are those who do not walk the talk. Munafiq Muslims are those who talk about Islam but do what Islam forbids.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
ISA dan oportunis politik
Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri atau ISA tidak menjadi isu jika tidak dipolitikkan oleh sesetengah pihak. Sebelum tragedi 9/11 Presiden George W. Bush pun pernah membidas ISA. Tetapi sesudah 9/11 dia kata ISA amat relevan untuk era terorisme.
Pada awal 1980-an Amnesty International membuat isu pasal ISA. Maka KDN jemput wakil Amnesty International melawat beberapa tahanan ISA di Kemunting. Sesudah itu NGO antarabangsa itu tidak lagi membangkitkan soal ISA.
Kali ini ada orang politik nak anjurkan perhimpunan besar-besaran pada 1 Ogos 2009 sebab hendak berarak ke Istana Negara untuk membantah ISA. Pada hari ini juga satu lagi NGO akan adakah perhimpunan di Kuala Lumpur untuk menyokong ISA dikekalkan.
Ini bermakna ada pihak membantah ISA dan ada satu lagi pihak menyokong ISA. Seperti saya pernah tulis dalam Utusan Malaysia kira-kira sebulan lalu, ISA perlu untuk keselamatan rakyat, keselamatan ekonomi dan keselamatan negara.
ISA cuma dijadikan isu oleh sesetengah oportunis politik yang meraih sokongan menerusi isu. Jika tidak ada isu kumpulan ini akan layu tanpa sokongan.
Kumpulan ini silap jika mereka nak berarak ke Istana Negara sebab ISA. Mereka nak tnnjuk kekuatan kononnya mereka disokong oleh rakyat. Mereka tidak sedar bahawa antara silent majoriti pun ramai yang sokong ISA.
Jika mereka tak percaya, teruskanlah perarakan pada 1 Ogos depan dan lihat berapa ramai rakyat yang akan bersama pihak yang menyokong ISA yang juga akan berhimpun pada hari berkenaan.
Apa yang membimbangkan ialah kemungkinan adanya golongan provokator di kalangan pembangkang untuk menimbulkan huru-hara dan kemudiannya ditudingkan kepada pihak pemerintah.
Kumpulan provokator ini juga mungkin akan dikirimkan menggangu perhimpunan pihak penyokong ISA. Bayangkan apa akan jadi jika huru-hara tercetus.
Seelok-eloknya, batalkan cadangan perarakan pada 1 Ogos depan supaya pihak penyokong ISA juga akan membatalkan rancangan mereka. Ini elok kerana kerajaan pun sudah bercadang untuk meminda ISA.
Jika kita benar-benar prihatin hantarkanlah memorandum kepada kerajaan supaya diberikan pertimbangan dalam pindaan yang dicadang akan dilakukan. Jika pemerintah tidak memberikan reaksi, jadikanlah ISA sebagai manifesto dalam PRU13.
Cara ini lebih budiman dan berhemah. Lagi pun ISA bukannya undang-undang yang buruk. Ianya hanya diberikan imej yang buruk oleh pihak-pihak yang mempunyai buruk sangka terhadap pemerintah.
Secara peribadi saya syakki adanya pihak-pihak tertentu yang kini sengaja nak menghangatkan isu ISA untuk melencongkan pandangan rakyat daripada isu-isu politik yang lebih explosive dan controversial membabitkan sesetengah pemimpin pembangkang.
Jangan korbankan keselamatan negara dan keselamatan rakyat demi masalah peribadi yang sedang membelenggu diri seseorang.
It is so tiring having to write about the same old issue over and over again. I have written about this so many times I thought I can stop writing about it by now. Apparently they will not allow me to stop. They keep raising the same issue, which I have already addressed. And they keep raising the same arguments, which I have already replied to.
It looks like I will have to, again, argue my case. And I sincerely hope this will be the last time I will have to do this but I doubt it. On 1 August 2009, PEKIDA is going to organise a pro-ISA demonstration so I suspect the issue will be very much alive for some time to come.
Yesterday, Tan Sri Sanusi Junid wrote about the Internal Security Act in his Blog (http://sanusijunid.blogspot.com/2009/07/internal-security-act-isa.html). Above is a posting by Ruhanie Ahmad, which I lifted from his Blog. I don’t think I need to explain who Sanusi and Ruhani are.
It appears that the ISA issue can be easily compartmentalised into two categories -- those who support the ISA and those who oppose it. Those who support it are the pro-government supporters while those who oppose it are the pro-opposition supporters. Simply put, pro-government means pro-ISA and anti-ISA means pro-opposition.
Those who support the ISA say it is necessary to have a detention without trial law for the sake of national security and they accuse those who oppose the ISA as political opportunists who oppose the ISA for political mileage.
They make the issue sound so simple and they try to explain it exactly that way, in very simple ‘logic’. Well, allow me to also use simple logic to explain the issue the way I normally do.
Let’s paint a hypothetical scenario. Let’s say Parliament passes a new law that says all Malaysians have to choose whether they want to be a Malay or a Muslim. The new law says you can’t be both. You can’t be both Malay and Muslim. You must choose one or the other. If you choose to be a Malay then you can’t be a Muslim, and vice versa.
So all 15 million Malays have to submit their declarations. On this document they have state whether they want to be Malay or Muslim. If they mark ‘Malay’, they will no longer be Muslim. And if they mark ‘Muslim’ then they will no longer be Malay.
You can bet that 99% of Malays would mark ‘Muslim’. They will choose to be Muslim over being Malay. Being a Muslim means you automatically get to go to heaven even if you are so evil you send shivers down the spine of the devil. Being a Malay who is no longer a Muslim means you automatically go to hell.
That, simply put, is the Malay psyche.
A Malay would never in a million years dare reject Prophet Muhammad or the Quran. Doing so would mean his or her soul would be condemned for eternity. They will kill or die in defence of Prophet Muhammad and the Quran. Life is cheap if it is lost in the defence of the dignity of Prophet Muhammad and the Quran. Your life is even cheaper if they need to kill you as punishment for insulting Prophet Muhammad or the Quran.
That is the Malay psyche.
Nevertheless, while these people will swear they choose Islam over all else and are prepared to kill and die for the sake of Islam, they will also be the last person on earth to adhere to Islamic teachings.
Islam abhors injustice. Islam forbids detention without trial. Islam is opposed to the ISA. But these Umno people want the ISA to be retained in spite of the fact that this detention without trial law violates Islamic teachings.
Tell me what I should do about such people. Tell me I am going overboard by criticising Malays. Tell me I being unfair in my comments about the Malays.
No, don’t tell me anything. Let me instead tell you. The ISA violates Islam and those who defend the ISA are defending a haram law. And let me repeat what I have said so many times before. Malays who say “matlamat menghalalkan cara” (the ends justify the means) are munafiq Muslims. Malays who support and defend the ISA are munafiq Muslims. Munafiq Muslims are those who do not walk the talk. Munafiq Muslims are those who talk about Islam but do what Islam forbids.