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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dungarpur tension spreads to Udaipur, 12 injured

JAIPUR: Monday's violence in Dungarpur spread to Udaipur on Tuesday where hundreds of people from the minority community, protesting over the morphed pictures of a holy Muslim shrine on the social networking site, clashed with the police. At least 12 persons were injured after police resorted to baton charge to disperse the mob who pelted stones after violating Section 144 of CrPC.

"There were some miscreants who started pelting stones on the police. In order to maintain law and order, we had to use mild force. At least 12 persons including 6 policemen and ADM (city), ML Chauhan, were injured in the incident," said a senior police officer.

He added that Section 144 was already in place in town but while some people violated it and police asked them to disperse. But they started pelting stones on the police.

"At least 20 people were arrested for allegedly disturbing peace, law and order in town," he added.

Meanwhile, Dungarpur town that witnessed clashes on Monday remained tense for the second consecutive day. However, no untoward incident was reported in town. As per a bandh call given by the traders and members of the muslim community, markets and the business establishments remained closed throughout the day. Amid the heavy force, people preferred to stay back to their homes.

"At least five companies of various police units were camping in the town since Tuesday. The situation is a bit tense yet it is under control," said superintendent of police, Don K Jose while talking to TOI.

The SP added that at least 30 people were arrested so far for disturbing peace in the region.

Meanwhile, sources from Dungarpur claimed that the cable television networks were blocked. Likewise, police and district administration urged people not to spread any kind of rumours.

French firm fined RM133m for bribery in Malaysia

Tenaga Nasional awarded a RM2.8 billion contract to Alstom earlier this year. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — French engineering group Alstom was fined RM133 million by Swiss authorities after its employees were found to have bribed civil servants in at least three cases including the award of contracts in Malaysia. It is the second French company in as many years to be fined for bribing government officials in Malaysia, after telco firm Alcatel-Lucent paid RM435 million to resolve US criminal and civil probes in December 2010.
The four-year probe centred on payments made by Alstom Network Schweiz AG to middlemen — termed “commercial agents” by the company — in return for securing government contracts to build power stations in 15 countries since the 1990s.
The Financial Times reported today that the Swiss Office of the Attorney-General said it had not found criminal wrongdoing by the French company and a Swiss affiliate, which, “as far as can be ascertained” did not know about the bribes.
“But it accused Alstom of ‘failing to meet the standards for an international group employing over 75,000 people’, sanctioning the group for ‘corporate negligence’,” the international business daily said.
The Washington Post also reported Alstom as saying it was satisfied with the outcome of the case as it concluded “the absence of any system or so called slush funds used for bribery of civil servants.”
Alstom supplied Malakoff’s gas-fired power plant in Lumut. — pic
But the US daily also reported the French firm as acknowledging “that prosecutors had concluded that ‘improper payments were made to civil servants in Latvia, Malaysia and Tunisia.’” “In two out of these three cases, Alstom itself would appear to be a victim of the actions of some of its employees, who would have benefited from kickbacks. In the third one, Alstom was simply a subcontractor of a consortium,” the company said, according to Reuters.
Alstom was awarded a RM2.8 billion contract by Tenaga Nasional earlier this year to provide key power generation equipment to Southeast Asia’s first 1,000-megawatt (MW) supercritical coal-fired power plant Manjung, Malaysia.
It also won turnkey contracts in 1994 and 2000 to build four power plants including the 1,300MW Lumut and the 670MW Kuala Langat plants and deals in 2003 and 2004 to install environmental control systems for the Tanjung Bin and Jimah coal-fired power plants.
Alstom was also appointed by Tenaga to supply two 125MW hydro power turbines, a generator and ancillaries for the 250MW Hulu Terengganu hydro power plant in 2010.
Alstom says it is “the largest original equipment manufacturer in Malaysia” having supplied key equipment for nearly 7.5 gigawatt (GW) of the country’s installed power generation capacity.
The ruling will have significant repercussions for a concurrent criminal investigation by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office. Brazil is also investigating some of the company’s contracts.
The Swiss authority also looked at alleged wrongdoing by Alstom in 12 other countries but did not find compelling evidence.
In July, a former Alcatel employee was charged in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court with giving a RM25,000 bribe to a Telekom Malaysia (TM) officer, in a case linked to the French company’s admission last year that it had bribed government officials to win a US$85 million (RM255 million) contract.

Why no Indian-majority seat?

The manner in which the country or the total electorate has been divided into electoral constituencies over the years, has cruelly and crucially affected the Indian electoral strength.

By P Uthayakumar

Electoral constituencies in Malaysia are determined in two steps. First, the apportionment of parliamentary constituencies among the various states; and second, the delineation of both parliamentary and state constituencies in each state.

The ruling party controls the apportionment among states through amendments to Article 46 of the Federal Constitution. The Election Commission then delineates the apportioned constituencies. As there is a lack of specification of the rules governing the EC on this particular function, the numerous delineation exercises that have been conducted in Malaysia since Merdeka have been carved in particular to favour the ruling Umno government.

In this discriminatory process, the third largest race in the country consisting of more than two million people have ended up been denied and do not have a single constituency of being the majority.

This has been the single biggest contributory factor that has led the Indians in this country to having the lowest demographic index among all races in Malaysia. Even though there are several Indian elected representatives in Parliament as well as in state assemblies, the very fact that they are elected from constituencies where Indians are only a minority, they are in truth toothless to highlight or champion gross marginalisation and discrimination policies of the Indians by the government of the day as they are dependent on the majority communities mainly the Malays and Chinese in their respective constituencies.

Constituency delineation has two aspects that can affect electoral outcomes: the distribution of the total electorate among constituencies (apportionment) and the determination of constituency boundaries (districting). Both have been exploited for partisan political advantage by the Umno government and are common and effective forms of electoral abuses that have been implemented to shortchange the Indian population in Malaysia to become “voiceless” in the ballot.

The government, through the EC, has delineated constituencies with unequal electorates (ie mal-apportionment) to favour themselves with more Malay majority supporters in the smaller constituencies. The constituency boundaries have also been drawn to favour Umno and disadvantage the Indian community, a practice commonly known as gerrymandering.

Worsens racial polarization

The manner in which the country or the total electorate has been divided into electoral constituencies over the years, has cruelly and crucially affected the Indian electoral strength outcome under plurality election.

The bias application of rural weightage, which since 1973 has been constitutionally left to the discretion of the EC has also gravely contributed in rendering the Indian vote powerless. This has aggravated the Indian political dilemma, heightened perceptions of political inequalities particularly for the Indians and worsened racial polarization among Malaysians.

It is indeed shocking and very “backward” to note that while Indians reside in large numbers in many areas like Sungai Petani, Padang Serai, Batu Kawan, Nibong Tebal, Ipoh Barat, Bagan Datoh, Teluk Intan, Tanjung Malim, Sungai Siput, Klang, Kota Raja, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor, Kuala Langat, Kapar, Sepang, Kelana Jaya, Teluk Kemang, Rasah, Cameron Highlands and Lembah Pantai, the EC has not seen it fit to carve out even a single Indian majority constituency but is able to bend over backwards and create Malay majority constituencies like in Putrajaya.

Perlis for example has 15 state assembly seats having less than 9,600 voters consisting mainly Malay Muslims. Putrajaya has only a miserable 5,096 voters but consisting of 95% Malay Muslim majority.

The Indians voters number more than 715,000 but have zero number of Indian majority constituencies. Sabah voters number 802,000 but have 25 parliamentary and 60 state seats. Sarawak voters number 886,000 but have 31 parliamentary and 71 state seats.

The Orang Ulu’s that form just 0.005% of the Malaysian population have four majority state seats crafted and created specially for them. They even have a parliamentary seat (Baram) having 42.8% Orang Ulu’s with a smaller voter composition of 24,398 in total.

The Indians for that matter in comparison consists of 8% of the Malaysian population but have zero Indian majority constituencies. Very “backward” indeed!

Others give voice to minorities

All over the world, democracy is preserved and enhanced by giving a “voice” to the minorities through the ballot by providing constitutional legislative reserve seats so that their legitimate interests will be protected and not drowned by the majority, except in Malaysia.

In Singapore the Group Representative Constituencies (GRC) provides for mandatory Malay and Indian candidates to be listed to total about one third of the total Singapore parliamentary constituencies with the view that minority interests will be protected.

In the Republic of India, the minority Anglo Indians have been granted two reserved Lower House of parliament (Lok Sabha) seats.

In Lebanon, Belgium, Cyprus and even in Zimbabwe, communal rolls and special electoral requirements to accommodate the representation of cultural groups based on religion or language are in existence to protect minority interests.

Nowhere in the whole world are there any civilized democracy practicising nation where the third largest race consisting of 8% of the population but do not even have a single constituency having a majority of its race.

Selangor has the highest concentration of Indians in the country. More than one third of the Indian population in Malaysia resides in the state. However since 1974, through two successive delineation exercises in 1984 and 1994, the difference between the actual parliamentary seats allocated versus the number of parliamentary seats that Selangor should have been allocated has been reduced systematically from -3 to -4, the worst in the entire Peninsular Malaysia!

Based on all these factors and looking at the current state of more than 70% of the Indians in this country marginalised and living in poverty having the lowest demographic index amongst all the races in Malaysia due to no proper representation without fear or favour at the highest level, the Human Rights Party proposed to the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reform that thee be at least 53 constituencies where Indians make up a significant majority of voters.

It is because the voter make-up in present state and parliamentary constituencies make the Indian voters the minority and as such their rights are not championed in the assembly houses.

I am not proposing Indian representatives to be elected but merely Indian majority seats be created so that all the woes of the Malaysian Indians will be highlighted at the justified gravity levels of their grievances.

I would even go so far as to propose for a Malay-Muslim representative be elected in such a Indian majority created constituency to give it a truly “multi racial” image in the very same manner as how some falsely claim, Indian representatives being elected in Malay-Muslim majority constituencies as being “multi racial”.

P Uthayakumar is the pro-tem secretary-general of the Human Rights Party.

Judge: Lawyers can represent themselves

The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: There is nothing in the Legal Profession (Practice And Etiquette) Rules 1978 that prevents a lawyer from acting for himself, the High Court ruled.

Justice V.T. Singham made this ruling yesterday, allowing three lawyers who have been sued by Bank Pertanian (M) Bhd in a RM19.7mil negligence suit to represent themselves in court.

He dismissed the preliminary objection made by Bank Pertanian against Zulpadli Mohammad, Ahmad Edham Abdulwani Mohamad and Yusfarizal Yussoff.

“When a lawyer elects to conduct his own defence in the High Court where he is a party, he does not appear as counsel and should disrobe himself.

“In this case, the court is of the view that there is nothing in the Legal Profession (Practice And Etiquette) Rules which prohibit a lawyer who is a party or named as a party from acting in person,” Justice Singham ruled yesterday.

He then asked the three to file their notice of intention to act in person as a substitution for the memorandum of attendance.

The suit was filed by Bank Pertanian on May 19 against the three over professional negligence, claiming that they had failed in their duty to exercise reasonable care in their advice to the bank over the matter involving two properties in Ulu Selangor.

Something is rotten in the state of Malaysia

By CL Tang,

The line "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark", expressed by Marcellus to Hamlet in one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, was in response to the former's disgust at the moral decay and political corruption in the kingdom.

In Malaysia, even as the foul stench of the National Feedlot Company's (NFC) financial shenanigans permeates throughout the country, our leaders fail to smell anything fishy, leading to the question, "Do our leaders have an ounce of ethics left?"

This NFC fiasco has all the ingredients of cronyism, nepotism, corruption, incompetence and fraud.

Yet there is no Marcellus in our government who thought it stank. Could this be because these are the normal practices in our government's ministries?

That it is okay to award a RM250 million cattle project to a company with no experience whatsoever, in which the Auditor-General slammed as "in a mess", whose owners happens to be the family members of a federal minister, and in which the board diverted national funds to purchase luxury condominiums, against the mandate in which it was given?

To these damning revelations, our Government says, "What's the problem? These are hardworking people! Stop complaining and smell the roses!"

As we ordinary Malaysians struggle to maintain our real incomes and spending power in the face of rising prices, we look at despair at the cavalier tidak-apa response by the Government when hundreds of millions of our money are being misused, squandered and wasted.

The average Malaysian taxpayer can expect swift, punitive and legal consequences when he under-pays.

Yet when millions of our hard-earned ringgit are so blatantly abused, we see a game of musical chairs as the institutions that are supposed to protect our tax money scurry from their responsibilities, as if they were afraid of offending the perpetrator.

To be sure, we do not begrudge those who made their wealth through hard work, and those who took risks with their capital.

But this NFC episode surely takes the cake. Is it any wonder, that the average urban taxpayer has the perception that in Malaysia, business is rigged in favour of the political elite?

That one can attain great riches not because of competency or intellect, but because your wife happens to be a federal minister or that your father is a Umno or MCA bigwig?

Indeed, incompetency and failure by these cronies are bizarrely rewarded with bailouts.

And when the rakyat questions this, the standard modus operandi is: First deny that it is a failure - "mana ada masalah?" (the Auditor-General is mistaken because he does not know how to count cows); then decry it as a (take your pick) sexist, racist or religious slander by the Opposition.

The way the BN politicians are behaving, it would seem they believe the adage that 'Malaysians easily forget' - in other words, don't comment, let the issue die by itself.

Well, we cannot allow them to take us as fools for even a minute longer.

Despite all this talk about transformation and transparency, it is business usual for these political masters and their cronies.

The lack of action by the government in response to this NFC saga aptly reveals that the government we have is nothing more than a private, cosy club that dishes out lucrative contracts and concessions to their family members, relatives and cronies.

It is time those politicians who plunders our treasury at will without fear of repercussions be held accountable.

Something sure stinks in the state of Malaysia, and Malaysians must stop putting up with it.

It is time to harness all our anger, despair, and sheer frustration, and send a loud message to these inept BN politicians that their time is over in the next general election.

His Holiness Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswathi urges Hindus to fight against Communal Violence Bill 2011.

Communal Violence Bill 2011: His Holiness Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswathi urges Hindus to fight ultimately.

Tiruvanthapuram : 21 Nov. 2011 || Hindu Existence & IBTL presentationHis Holiness, the Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peeth, Swami Jayendra Saraswathi has called for the one billion strong Hindus of India to stand and fight against the proposed Communal Violence Bill draft. His holiness was speaking at the meeting of the delegates of various Hindu organisations as part of the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Temple Entry Proclamation. 

The event was organised by the Hindu Aikyavedi at Tiruvanthapuram. The year-long platinum jubilee celebrations were inaugurated by His Royal Highness, Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, head of the royal family of Travancore.

Speaking on the occassion, His Holiness said that the bill is an attempt to destroy the unity of Hindus and all must fight against it. His Holiness also spoke about the social reformer Sree Narayan Guru. His Holiness said that the state and the Hindu community at large ows a lot to him. Shree Narayan Guru’s fight against untouchability and other inequalities helped the community to remain united.

On this occasion, Kesari editor J Nandakumar also delivered a talk on the proposed Communal Violence Bill. He emphasized that the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill 2011 was aimed at splitting the Hindu community.

Other talks delivered in the meeting included one by Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha general secretary N K Vasudevan who spoke on Justice Ranganathan Commission report and another by Aikyavedi state secretary Brahmachari Bhargavaram who talked about ‘Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple and Kerala Temples’.

It was an important conglomeration for Hindu community. Around 110 leaders of 61 Hindu organisations attended the leadership meet held as part of the function.

Conspiracy to destroy Mata Vaishno Devi Temple atop Trikuta hills in Jammu & Kashmir.

Mining near Vaishno Devi shrine with the support of Christian and Muslim lobby is nothing but a conspiracy to destroy the thousands years old Hindu Shakti Peeth in J&K. 

~ Upananda Brahmachari. 
Katra | Jammu | 18-11-2011 :: Vaishno Devi temple is nearly an assumed million year old that was studied by geologists. It is not possible to predict the exact age of the temple. Vaishno Devi temple is not mentioned in the Rig Vedas, but mountain Trikoot is mentioned in the Vedas. 

The worshiping of Shakti started in Puranic period. The first mention of Maa Shakti (Mahamaya Shakti – Supreme Mother Power) is in Mahabharata. This was mentioned by Arjun when he prayed to Mother Goddess on advise of Krishna he said “Jambookatak Chityaishu Nityam Sannihitalaye”. This means prayer to Shakti who resides in the mountains of Jamboo. 

So we can assume that this is the reference to Vaishno Devi temple, which is located in Jammu. May be, Jammu in old times was called as Jamboo.

It is also believed that Pandavas were the first to construct temple of Goddess adjacent to the Trikoot Mountain and the five stones inside Vaishno Devi temple is said to be symbols of Five Pandavas. 

Oldest reference for Vaishno Devi temple is when Guru Govind Singh goes there from Purmandal. Purmandal is a pilgrimage center which has an old foot track for Vaishno Devi temple. Vaishno Devi temple is believed to be the place where skull of Sati fell. Some do believe that right arm of Sati felled here and Vaishno Devi temple also have the stone shaped human hand called as Varad Hast which means “the hand that gives blessings”.

This cave temple has a very popular following from people of all faiths. Among the most revered of shrines, and the oldest in the region, it entails a 13.5 km trek from Katra which in turn is 50 km from Jammu. The route up to the shrine consists of both tiled paths as well as steep staircases, and the devout often walk bare-feet up the Trikuta Mountain. 

Several shrines, wayside stalls for snacks and beverages and water-points dot the route. An important temple, midway at Adhkunwari, marks a major center of obeisance where the goddess is supposed to have spent nine months on her journey up the mountain.

But in the name of Development and procurement of magnesium  ore  from Trikuta Hill of the Shivalic range with in the periphery of  Trikuta wildlife sanctuary, the Central Govt. and other related bodies have given the nod for magnesium  mining out of a conspiracy hatched by Vatican Operator Sonia Maino Gandhi and the Pak operators with Omar Abdullah.

Actually, the Jammu and Kashmir government’s proposal for mining 12,40,000 tonne per annum of high-grade magnesium deposit in land owned by the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board near the pilgrimage site, and setting up of a 30,000-tonne per annum magnesium plant have got the Centre’s nod.

The go-ahead came after the state government advocated a proposal to de-notify the 31.40sq km Trikuta wildlife sanctuary in the vicinity of the project site, and the Union environment ministry ratified it in April.

The existence of the wildlife sanctuary nearby had made it mandatory for the state to approach the National Wildlife Board’s standing committee seeking clearance for mining. Supreme Court orders require that all projects falling within a 10-km radius of any wildlife sanctuary or national park be cleared by the standing committee of the PM-chaired NWB.

In a two-pronged move, the state government first asked for the sanctuary to be de-notified in April. The NWB’s standing committee permitted the de-notification of the sanctuary with a rider: the state government should notify twice the area elsewhere as a sanctuary. Then, in October the state government moved another proposal to set up mining operations near the delisted sanctuary.

Minutes of the April meeting of the standing committee record that the state board for wildlife and the state’s chief wildlife warden had recommended the proposal.

However, some non-official members on the standing committee objected to it. Prerna Singh Bindra, one such member, said: “This de-notification sets a bad precedent.” But after the meeting of the standing committee in October last, it is found that the proposal was to mine in non-forest private land under the ownership of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. Mining was proposed for only 17.92 ha out of a total mine lease area of 485.30 ha of private land.

The lease agreement is between the shrine board and the Jammu and Kashmir Mineral Development Corporation. The proposal was cleared by the state wildlife board and the state’s chief wildlife warden, and did not require any felling of trees. J&K chief wildlife warden said at the meeting that the state government had already started the process of identification of areas to be notified as new sanctuary in lieu of Trikuta Wildlife Sanctuary.

As a matter of fact, Omar Abdullah is hatching plans to destroy the famous Vaishno Devi temple. Plans have been made to start mining activity very near to the sacred Temple. 

The crooks have managed to secure a no objection from the Ministry of Environment. All Hindus should unite against this diabolical move to destroy the environment surrounding Vaishno Devi temple. It will not be a surprise if some extremist elements use the mining route to destroy the temple itself. 

Militants are trying to evict all Hindus from J&K. The pilgrimage centers are enabling Hindus to unite and resist the militants in J&K. The diabolical idea is to pollute the surroundings and eventually destroy the temple itself so that pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi temple ceases. 

It is our appeal to all Hindu brothers and sisters and the Hindu organizations to join and start a movement to stop this dangerous mining project. 

We should also approach the Supreme Court to get a stay against the Central and J&K government’s ill motives to this age old Hindu Shrine of Vashno Devi, which is still disseminating its power to keep Hindu vibes in J&K against the total aggression by the Islamists and the Chinese.  

Omar has to be kept under watch. He wants to withdraw AFSPA (Armed forces Special Powers Act 1958), start mining activity around sacred Hindu pilgrimage centers, dilute vigilance on borders, what is the deep rooted plan?  The Christian lobby in New Delhi and the Pakistan lobby in Srinagar are always trying to offer J&K to Pakistan in a designer platter by various techniques.

If a huge oil reserve is found under the Jama Masjid in New Delhi  or Gold reserve is found under the  Azmir Shariff, does the Govt. give a nod to start the related projects there ? Govt. Should rethink as our  magnesium reserves and the resource is not in an acute crisis at all or the Trikuta source of   magnesium is mot the last option to retain our industrial and economical development. But, Amarnath Yatra and Vaishno Devi Darshan in J&K are the retaining Life Line of integrity and the existence of Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India more practically and most evidently.

Courtesy : Internet Sources and TOI.

Hindus attacked, raped

Prosecution tells tribunal about his links to war crimes

Delawar Hossain Sayedee along with other collaborators kept a Hindu girl confined to her father's house at Parerhat in Pirojpur and raped her day after day during the Liberation War, the International Crimes Tribunal was told yesterday.

The victim, Bhanu Shaha, daughter of Bipod Shaha, left the country after liberation out of fear of public humiliation. She still lives in India, said Syed Rezaur Rahman, a senior prosecutor, while placing the opening statement against Sayedee.

In the tribunal's first trial since its formation on March 25 last year, the prosecution on Sunday got through 61 pages of the statement in court.

Yesterday, Rezaur read out the remaining 27 pages before the three-member panel of judges headed by Nizamul Huq.

On October 3, Jamaat-e-Islami Nayeb-e-Ameer Sayedee, one of the seven Jamaat-BNP leaders detained over war crimes links, was charged with 20 counts of crimes. The charges include genocide, murder, rape, arson, abduction and torture of civilians.

The tribunal will start taking depositions of witnesses on December 7.

Rezaur described the crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Sayedee in 1971 and also the background of the case.

He told the tribunal that Sayedee had led a 50-member team of the Razakar Bahini, an anti-liberation force, in attacking Hindu Para of Hoglabunia under Pirojpur.

Sensing the presence of the miscreants, members of the Hindu community had managed to flee.

The razakars, however, got hold of Shefali Gharami, wife of Madhusudan Gharami, and raped her.

Shefali gave birth to a baby girl after the war but, like Bhanu Shaha, she had to leave for India.

On May 5, 1971, Saif Mizanur Rahman, deputy magistrate of then Pirojpur Sub-Division; Foyezur Rahman Ahmed, sub-divisional police officer and father of famed writer Humayun Ahmed and noted educationalist-writer Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, and Abdur Razzak, SDO in charge of Pirojpur, were taken to the Baleshwar river bank and shot to death.

Sayedee as a member of the killing squad was present there.

Under his pressure, some 100-150 Hindus of Parerhat and other villages converted to Islam and had to go to a mosque, said the prosecutor.

He oversaw the creation of a fund with cash and other property looted by the razakars from the locals, mainly Hindu families. He also issued a Fatwa (religious edict) legalising war booty, said the prosecutor.

He also succeeded in allying himself with the Pakistan army, as he had a good command of Arabic and Urdu.

Sayedee went into hiding after the war but returned to his home district of Pirojpur in 1986. In the guise of an Islamic scholar, he began addressing waz mahfils or religious gatherings to hide his past, Rezaur said.

Luahan keluarga tahanan ISA Sabah

Najib serves old wine in new bottle

Instead of allowing more space for public assembly, the new Peaceful Assembly Bill would further stifle lawful dissent and perpetuate a culture of fear.

PETALING JAYA: All street protests have been outlawed. Rally organisers have to give one month’s notice to the police. And if you under 15, don’t even be seen at any rally.

And to drive the point home, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s government has come up with hefty fines for rally organisers and participants.

In the new Bill, those found participating in an illegal assembly could be fined up to RM20,000 and the organisers who fail to give sufficient notice could be fined up to RM10,000.

In a nutshell this is what the Peaceful Assembly Bill means. The Bill was tabled in Parliament today by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz.

In September, Najib announced a slew of reforms including scrapping Section 27 of the Police Act that requires a permit before holding an assembly.

And there was some hope that liberisation was finally taking place in the country. But today when the Peaceful Assembly Bill was tabled, it proved to be draconian than the previous Police Act.

Several political parties and special interest groups were quick to point out that this was just old wine in a new bottle.

Breach of the constitution

Calling it a breach of the constitution, PKR vice-president N Surendran said it was obvious that the Barisan Nasional government is trying to make peaceful assembly difficult for the people.

“Najib’s promises of reforms is a farce. This law is a joke and will make our country the laughing-stock of the world,” he said.

He also said that there was no reason why street protests should be outlawed as such rallies were normal, harmless and an integral part of any functioning democracy.

“It is the job of the police, upon notification, to manage traffic and other matters during rallies.

However, in many cases, the police themselves cause traffic congestion by putting up unnecessary road-blocks,” said Surendran.

He added that it was absurd to have a 30 days notice period before anyone could hold a rally, saying even South Africa’s authorities require only seven days notice.

“Must we wait a month if we want to gather and hand over a memorandum to the government? The government is bent to make it difficult for the rakyat to convene any assembly,” he said.

Surendran also said that Section 8 of the new Bill granted wide discretionary powers to the police to stem public assembly and the high fine would serve to deter people from participating in rallies.

Najib a ‘liar’, ‘moderate dictator’

Echoing Surendran’s concerns, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general S Arutchelvan said the new Bill only proved that BN must be voted out as it will never be able to reform.

“I think BN is paranoid of losing power like dictators in the Middle East. The bill is more draconian than Section 27 of the Police Act,” he said.

Calling Najib a liar, the PSM leader said the new Bill is unconstitutional as the Federal Constitution permits all Malaysians to assemble peacefully, irrespective of race, religion, gender and even age.

“The age limit for organising a rally is ridiculous. What if students want to hold an assembly to show solidarity on some issues concerning their well-being?

“In some countries, those aged 15 and 16 are even allowed to work,” said Arutchelvan.

He also alleged that the 30 days notice would be used by the government to get those opposed to the rally to lodge police reports against the organisers.

“And the police will use the reports to stop the assembly, like what they did to Seksualiti Merdeka organisers,” he said.

Bersih 2.0 steering committee member, Wong Chin Huat said the new Bill was a scam and bluntly called Najib a “moderate dictator”.

“Its just a cosmetic change, like you are changing the name of Official Secrets Act (OSA) to Freedom of Information Bill while the former’s clauses are still intact,” he said.

Calling it an insult, Wong said that the wide powers granted under Section 8 to the police would legitimise any action taken by the authorities against the demonstrators.

“And any protester will know that there will be agent provocatuers in the group. The latter will start something but the organisers will carry the blame,” said Wong.

Reforms mere political gimmick

Abolish ISA Movement (GMI) chairman Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh said the age limit is set to stifle students from voicing out their legitimate rights.

“Instead of encouraging our young ones to participate in democracy and give voice on issues affecting the nation, we are perpetuating a culture of fear,” he said.

He also said the public should not accept this Bill and it only showed that Najib’s promises of reforms were a political gimmick.

“Just look at Section 8 of the new Bill. The police can act against the protesters based on their whims and fancies,” he said.

Lawyer: Homosexuality not unconstitutional

A legal expert says the federal constitution doesn't specifically label homosexuality as an offence or seek to ban it.

PETALING JAYA: A senior lawyer has disputed a government decree that homosexuality is unconstitutional and instead said that the federal constitution in fact leaves the matter open to debate.

Yesterday Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Jamil Khir Baharom, declared homosexuality as unconstitutional and cited sections 377 (a), (b), (c) and (d) of the Penal Code which refer to carnal intercourse against the order of nature.

Jamil’s statement was subsequently backed by fellow Cabinet Minister, Nazri Aziz, who referred to Article 3 of the Federal Constitution which states that Islam is the religion of the federation.

Nazri explained that if certain acts fall within the constitution but go against Islam they are deemed inapplicable in Malaysia.

But Alex De Silva from the law firm Bodipalar Ponnudurai De Silva (BPD), told FMT that there is no provision within the federal constitution that specifically states that homosexuality is an offence or that it should be banned.

“Article 3 states that Islam is the religion of the federation but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the federation,” he recited.

“It enshrines the special position of Islam in Malaysia. It’s not meant to be interpreted as such that any practice that goes against it is unconstitutional.”

De Silva pointed out that if that was the case then the consumption of pork and alcohol would also be unconstitutional since both go against Islam.

“As for the Penal Code, section 377 makes it an offence for two persons to engage in carnal intercourse,” he said. “The two persons could be of the same sex or even of the opposite sex. It does not specify homosexuals.”

“In any event, being guilty of an offence under the Penal Code does not make the offender “unconstitutional”. It merely means that the offenders may be guilty of an offence and is liable to be charged and if found guilty to be sentenced.”

De Silva added that Article 8 of the constitution that pertains to equality must also be taken into consideration.

Article 8 (2) states that there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender.

“Yes it doesn’t mention sexual preference,” De Silva acknowledged. “At the time when the constitution was drafted probably this was not an issue.”

“But the issue at hand is arguable. Homosexuals may perhaps rely on Article 8 to argue that the equality guaranteed would extend to not to discriminate against them as a class premised on the ground that all are citizens are equal.”

Gay rights made headlines earlier this month after police banned the annual Seksualiti Merdeka festival which has championed the freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity since 2008.

New assembly law undermines Constitution, says Ambiga

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 – Bersih 2.0 chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan slammed today the proposed new law on peaceful assembly for giving greater powers to the home minister and the police to curb dissent and undermine the Federal Constitution.

In a statement today, the prominent lawyer accused the government of failing to keep up with international standards and creating instead the illusion that Malaysians now have greater freedom as provided by the country’s supreme law.

“This Bill restricts our rights as much as possible. It gives unfettered powers to the minister and the police to further restrict the freedom to assemble. It impinges on free speech. In short, it will stymie legitimate dissent in ourcountry,” Ambiga (picture) charged.

“Furthermore freedom of assembly includes peaceful street protests. By excluding this as a right altogether the Federal Constitution is once again undermined,” she said.

Ambiga moved to punch holes in the Peaceful Assembly Bill tabled this morning, saying it was worse than the existing and unconstitutional section 27 of the Police Act 1967 it was to replace.

“This right is one of the most basic and indispensable of the fundamental freedoms necessary for the functioning of a democratic society and is provided for in the Federal Constitution,” she said and cited from a 2004 Royal Commission on the Police led by former Chief Justice Tun Mohammed Dzaiddin Abdullah to prove her point.

The vocal human rights activist urged the government to immediately withdraw the proposed law if it was sincere to prove correct Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s reformist stand on making Malaysia the “best democracy”.

The prime minister promised a raft of reforms in his Malaysia Day address on September 15, including the repeal of the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA) and doing away with annual permits for the print media, saying he wanted to give Malaysians more freedom.

The former Malaysian Bar president cautioned that voters will be watching the MPs to see who supported the proposed law in the run-up to the 13th general election, widely expected to be called early next year.

But the Bar Council’s current constitutional law committee chief, Syahredzan Johan, took a slightly different stance.

The younger lawyer told The Malaysian Insider that while he had grave misgivings about the government’s prohibition of “street protests” and its definition, he regarded the new law as a “step up” compared to section 27 of the Police Act.

“Section 27 is very oppressive. Anything that loses that is a step forward, with caveats,” he said.

“To me it’s still a step forward because you don’t need a permit from the police anymore. Now they can’t stop you from assembling but we should push forward for the weaknesses to be rectified,” he added.

Pakatan Rakyat MPs in Parliament today castigated the government for presenting a more “repressive” law despite being globally panned after it resorted to tough police measures to clamp down on dissent.

In a city lockdown last July 9 during the Bersih 2.0 rally, police had shot chemical-laced water cannons and tear gas into thousands of street demonstrators demanding for cleaner elections.

The organisers estimated 50,000 people turned out for the rally, but official figures put the figures closer to 6,000 with nearly 1,600 arrested.

EC Hopes 13th General Election Will Be Held Simultaneously

SUNGAI PETANI, Nov 22 (Bernama) -- The Election Commission (EC) hopes the election for parliamentary seats in all states and the state seats, except for Sarawak, be held simultaneously.

Its chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof, said he would meet the leaders of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat-DAP-PAS political pact which is in power in Selangor, Penang, Kedah and Kelantan to explain to them the good of having the simultaneous election.

"Although the law allows the election for the state seats and the parliamentary seats to be held separately, the EC feels it is better to do it simultaneously to save cost, time and energy.

"The process is the same," he told reporters after opening a state-level briefing for returning officers and assistant returning officers in preparation for the 13th general election here Tuesday.

Abdul Aziz said the EC was prepared to have the general election this year or next year.

On Nov 17, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said that the Selangor State Assembly would not be dissolved early next year, even if Parliament was dissolved.

Abdul Aziz also said the EC welcome suggestions from any quarters to improve the election process, but that it should be done through proper channels.

On voters, he said, 42,000 names out of the 12.4 million registered voters could not be traced or ascertained their status.

"The owners of these 42,000 names are given until December to verify their status. They are required to go the National Registration Office to verify their identity cards and then to the EC to register," he added.

He said more than 13,000 of the "doubtful" voters were in Sabah and about 2,000 in Kedah.

There were still about three million Malaysians between the age of 21 and 41 who had yet to register as voters, he said, adding that most of them were in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan.

In Kedah alone, there are about 300,000 people who have yet to register, he added.

PM to propose Motion to end all Emergencies

A Member of Parliament has just received a Notice that the PM will be proposing a Motion to end all Emergencies. 
“That means all the Emergency Ordinances will lapse after six months,” said Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, the MP for Sungai Siput.

The motion would very likely be coming up after the parliamentary session on the Budget, said Jeyakumar when contacted in Parliament.

That’s the good news.

But if Najib is serious about ushering in democracy, then he must revamp the so-called ‘Peaceful Assembly Bill’ to make it democratic and uphold the right to freedom of assembly.

He must also abolish all detention without trial laws and not resurrect them under new laws with more ‘politically correct’ sounding names. He must uphold the basic right to an open trial as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

If Najib doesn’t do this, all his high-falutin’ talk of ushering greater democracy is just a sham.