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Friday, April 13, 2012

Bersih 2.0 desak tukar Pesuruhjaya Pilihan Raya

Altantuya poser: 'She got visa for France in KL'

Can a Mongolian national be issued a visa to enter France while in Malaysia?

The answer is no, says a Foreign Ministry official from Mongolia, who is puzzled that Altantuya Shaariibuu obtained such a visa when in Malaysia - about one or two years before she was brutally killed.

NONEThe officer, who was in Malaysia with Setev Shaariibuu (left), the father of the murdered translator Altantuya, said Mongolians must apply for, and obtain, foreign visas in their own country, not abroad.

"There is no way anyone of us can get a visa while in another country. We will be told to return to our country to apply for it," the officer, who did not want to be named, told Malaysiakini.

At a meeting with human rights group Suaram on Monday, Setev had expressed bewilderment that his daughter's visa to enter France had been issued in Malaysia.

"Altantuya told me that she had obtained the visa and would be travelling to Germany before going to France," he said in the presence of Suaram activists, including its director Cynthia Gabriel.

razak baginda acquitted 311008 09"My daughter told me that Razak (Altantuya's companion - political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda) had requested the assistance of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak (then deputy prime minister and defence minister), and she was issued a visa under the name Amina Abdullah," he claimed.

"All these happened sometime between 2004 and 2005, before her death in 2006," Setev added.

Setev also claimed that Razak tried to obtain a visa for Altantuya to enter Britain through his contact at the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.

He said Altantuya told him that Razak's contact at the high commission had agreed to help her, but then she left Malaysia before she could get the visa.

Who was Amina?

During the 2007 murder trial of the two police officers who were charged with killing Altantuya, the name ‘Amina' cropped up as one of her ‘names' and speculation then was that Altantuya had married Razak and converted to Islam.

altantuya and son 050309However, Setev had at that time refuted the claim, saying Mongolian parents would sometimes address their eldest or first-born child as ‘Amina', which means "my life, my own".

Setev was on a three-day visit to Malaysia to seek closure to his daughter's murder and has been pleading for an end to delays to a RM100 million civil suit he filed in 2007 for sufferings incurred by his family as a result of Altantuya's (right) untimely and cruel death.

He has named Razak, the two police officers who were subsequently convicted of murdering Altantuya - Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar - and the Malaysian government as respondents in his suit.

Razak was acquitted of abetting in Altantuya's murder without his defence being called, and the fact that the Attorney-General's Chambers did not file an appeal on this matter raised eyebrows.

Following Razak's acquittal, human rights NGO Suaram filed a case against French shipbuilder DCNS for allegedly paying kickbacks to top Malaysian officers.

The commissions were said to be for the purchase of two Scorpene submarines by Malaysia in an RM7.3 billion deal inked in 2002 when Najib was defence minister.

Setev has agreed to be a witness in the case, which he claimed is linked to his daughter's grisly murder. The court case has recently opened in France with two investigative magistrates being appointed.

Get Burmaa to testify

Setev also said that the French court should subpoena Altantuya's friend Burmaa Oyinchimeg, who was a witness in the murder trial of the police officers Azilah and Sirul, whose appeal against their conviction and death sentence is set for hearing in August.

altantuya razak baginda mongolian murder 290607 burmaaBurmaa (centre in photo), who was the prosecution's sixth witness, caused a stir during her testimony when she said she had seen a photograph of Altantuya with Najib and Razak.

Najib has denied ever knowing or having met Altantuya, but Setev had insisted yesterday that he had also seen "with his own eyes" a photograph of Altantuya, Najib and Razak.

However, he said at his meeting with Suaram, Burmaa began fearing for her life after she testified in the Malaysian court and has since fled Mongolia.

Losing your religion?: ‘NADRA should not be deciding people’s faith’

" If a person says he is from a certain faith, NADRA should take his word for it," Executive director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace Peter Jacob.

LAHORE: Human rights activists have criticised the National Database and Registration Authority’s (NADRA) apparent policy to refuse to change ‘Islam’ as a person’s religion in their records.

MPA Rana Asif Mahmood was recently summoned by the courts to answer a petition seeking his disqualification from his Punjab Assembly seat reserved for minorities on the grounds that NADRA identified him as a Muslim in its records.

Mahmood told The Express Tribune that he was a Christian and NADRA had mistakenly identified him as a Muslim because of his name. He said NADRA had refused to rectify the error.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a NADRA official said that while a person could get their religion changed in the records from a religion other than Islam to another faith, the same could not be done if the person wanted to change their religion from Islam to another faith.

“If a person says he is from a certain faith, NADRA should take his word for it,” said Peter Jacob, executive director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace.

He said that he had come across other examples of NADRA misidentifying a person’s religion because of their name. He said that NADRA should rectify such mistakes if an applicant showed proof of their religion. “It’s as simple as showing a certificate from the church, which carries a record of people of the Christian faith,” he said.

NADRA Public Relations Officer Farrukh Mushtaq said though he was not completely sure, it was “very likely” that a request by a person identified as a Muslim to change their religion would not be accommodated.

“My understanding of the matter is that if stated by the person himself that he/she is a Muslim, the religion cannot be changed,” he said. However, he added that it the ID card recipient provided evidence of their religion and established that there had been a clerical error, the request would be entertained.

Mushtaq said that a clerical error was highly unlikely. “Data is cross checked several times in cases of identity card entries,” he said.

He said that once a person applied for an ID card and his particulars were recorded, they were sent a form for attestation. At this stage, the applicant could attest that the information was correct, or report that it was not.

Mahmood, however, said that he had noticed the error in the entry for religion in his attestation form and reported it to NADRA. He said that he received his ID card and it did not mention religion, so he assumed that NADRA had changed its records. However, when his son applied for an ID card last September, he was told that he could not put down Christianity as his religion because the records showed his father to be a Muslim.

Upon approaching NADRA officials for corrections, Mahmood said he was told that there was no provision for changing the religion entry. “I have since realised that many people whose names do not reflect their religion have suffered this problem,” he said.

Human rights activist Khalid Shah said that NADRA should review its policy. “With a stroke of a pen, a man is being forced to call himself a Muslim despite not being one,” he said.

He said that the courts should direct NADRA to rectify errors such as apparently occurred in Mahmood’s case. “Typographical errors costing a person his religion and then not being rectified – that’s very disturbing,” said Shah.

IA Rehman, the secretary general of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said that there should be an investigation into why Mahmood had been put down as a Muslim in the first place, and why NADRA had refused to change it when Mahmood pointed it out to them. “If he can present evidence that he belongs to the Christian faith, he should not be troubled,” he said.

About NADRA’s policy to not change the religion entry if it were down as Islam, Rehman said it was “unfortunate and a violation of human rights”. He said that the policy appeared to be a reflection of customs prohibiting a Muslim from changing their religion, but it was still a violation of a person’s basic human rights.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2012.

Liow knows about MMC’s racism, says doc

A graduate of a Ukranian university accuses the minister of faking ignorance about the issue.

KUALA LUMPUR: A doctor who graduated from Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) today accused Heath Minister Liow Tiong Lai of lying when he denied knowledge that the government practised racial discrimination when sending students abroad for medical studies.

Dr A Subendran said he met Liow in 2009 and discussed the issue with him. He gave FMT a photograph showing him with the minister taken during the discussion.

“I met him at his office regarding recognition of CSMU by the MMC (Malaysian Medical Council),” he said, adding that he also told the minister of suspicions that the council’s policy on recognition of medical degrees was motivated by racist sentiments.

Speaking to reporters in Parliament on Monday, Liow rejected allegations that the MMC was practising a double standard in compelling students going to universities in Baltic countries to do a foundation course and exempting those going to Egypt and Jordan. The government sends only Malays to the Middle Eastern universities.

Dr Subendran said Liow promised to investigate the allegation of racism during the 2009 meeting.

On Monday, Liow, after denying that there was a double standard, said he would look into the matter.

Dr Subendran described the denial as “great acting” on the part of the minister.

He also said he wrote about the double standard in an email to Liow’s personal account on Aug 14, 2010, with copies to the Chief Secretary to the Government Mohd Sidek Hassan and deputy ministers SK Devamany and A Kohilan Pillay. None of them responded, he added.

Dr Subendran forwarded a copy of the email to FMT. In it, he pointed out a 2007 news report about an education consultant explaining that the Sijil Peperiksaan Malaysia was adequate as an entry requirement into Egyptian medical programmes.

“So, it is crystal clear that MMC implements different sets of rules for Malays and non-Malays,” he said.

“But, the question now is, why is Liow pretending to be in the dark when he has solid evidence about the double standard?

“It seems to me that he is forced to lie to the media to save BN’s reputation as it heads for the general election.”

Deaths at NS camps taken lightly?

The NS programme needs a 're-evaluation' and cannot continue under the present circumstances which has left both the parents and trainees worried.


The country’s money-spinning and disastrous National Service (NS) programme has once again made news for the wrong reason. A trainee, R Vinoth, 18, last month died of suspected leptospirosis which is caused by rat poisoning.

Since its inception, the NS programme has been plagued with casualties and problems. Trainees had died due to food poisoning, had been raped, sexually assaulted, drowned and suffered fatal injuries during training.

There was even a racial brawl that broke out among the trainees and still the man who masterminded this ill-conceived programme, the then defence minister and current Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak finds no reason to re-evaluate or simply terminate the NS programme.

Between 2004 and 2008, a total of 339,186 youths had undergone NS training. Statistics show that as of June 2008, 17 deaths had taken place since the NS inception in 2004. Twelve trainees died in the camps and five others died during breaks or within days of completing their training.

Najib, even the present Defence Minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, is least disturbed with the fatalities taking place during NS training. That explains Ahmad Zahid’s remark that the government had no plans to review the NS training programme following Vinoth’s death in the Terkok camp in Sungai Siput Utara in March.

“The call to suspend or to review the programme is a step backward. We know certain matters cannot be avoided,’’ was Ahmad Zahid’s reply to a supplementary question from Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah) during question time in Parliament.

Is Ahmad Zahid through his “certain matters cannot be avoided” telling parents and future NS trainess that death at the NS camps is unavoidable? That is very creepy, coming from a minister looking after the nation’s safety.

How has re-evaluating or suspending a life-threatening programme become a step backward? It is Ahmad Zahid’s thinking that has to “progress” from its present state.

The most Ahmad Zahid decided to do was to omit water training modules for trainees slated for NS training next month. The Defence Ministry would now consider using swimming pools instead of man-made lakes for future water-based training activities.

Why no concern, Najib?

What will it take for Najib to acknowledge that the NS programme has done more harm than good? He continues to disregard calls for the programme to be axed as according to Najib, “many parties are involved”.

Just who are these “many parties” referred to by Najib? Who really is “benefiting” from the NS programmes – is it the “frightened” trainees or the suppliers of the various periphernalia related to the programme?

Is the NS free of cronyism and corruption? Have certain quarters been awarded lucrative deals in all things related to the NS?

Between 2004 and 2007, a sum of RM2.37 billion was spent on the NS programme. This despite Najib having said that the programme would not cost more than RM500 million a year.

In 2004 some RM608.6 million was spent, 2005 (RM604.8 million), 2006 (RM588.2 million) and in 2007, some RM565 million was spent.

Deaths at NS camps taken lightly

In trying very hard to safeguard the “interest” of those “many parties”, Najib in 2008 revealed his couldn’t-care-less attitude when he dismissed the deaths of NS trainees. The premier said just because 16 participants had died, there was no reason to terminate the NS programme.

To Najib, the 16 deaths represented a mere 0.004% of the 339,186 trainees who had gone through the programme since 2004.

“Out of the figure, 11 trainees died in the camps while another five died outside the camps. Of the deaths reported in the camps, seven were due to illnesses and four due to accidents,” was all that the prime minister could say.

On Feb 15, 2010, NS trainee, Mohd Zulhaili Noraihan, 18, died at the Kem Wawasan Ovai in Papar, Kota Kinabalu. The camp personnel were held responsible over the participant’s death, for their lackaidaisical attitude in providing medical aid.

In January last year, a Sikh NS trainee Basant Singh woke up horrified to see his long hair snipped while he was asleep at the training camp in Penang. No apology was tendered by the National Service and Training Department nor by Najib to the trainee, his family and the Sikh community over the incident which violated the Sikh religious rights.

Making matters worse was Najib’s domineering wife Rosmah Mansor who defended the NS programme. Why did she do that? Is the Najib family a “stakeholder” in the NS programme, that is, the “many parties involved”?

NS needs “re-evaluation”

The NS programme needs a “re-evaluation” and cannot continue under the present circumstances which has left both the parents and trainees worried.

The government’s arm-twisting manner in forcing youngsters to attend the NS training is clearly in the “best interest” of the “many parties involved”. Those who dodge training are liable to a fine of up to RM3,000 and or six months imprisonment. Exceptions are made strictly for those who have physical disabilities or serious medical ailments.

From the original two years to a year and finally reduced to six months, the NS programme was meant to forge camaraderie between the traineees and arrest racial polarisation that has pervaded schools, colleges and universities in Malaysia. Honestly, has the NS succeded in its objectives?

Instead, the lack of counsellors, imbalanced diet for the trainees, poor communication between the various secretariats and the absence of a code of conduct for camp commandants, directors, trainers, facilitators and supervisors have all contributed to NS being a flop.

The National Service and Training Department which comes under the Defence Ministry has failed to solve the most basic of concern, that of hygiene at the training camps, resulting in cases of food poisoning being reported every year.

In January 2009, 155 national service trainees at the Teluk Rubish camp near Lumut suffered from food poisoning after a meal of chicken chop at the camp’s canteen.

In 2005, fears were raised in Parliament about trainees being trained to use firearms, namely the M-16 rifles. Najib had claimed then that it was merely a pilot project but a DAP member revealed that the Parliamentary Select Committee on Unity and National Service had not been informed of the project. The firearms module has since become an official module in the programme.

The trainees are also not required to seek qualified medical opinion when submitting a health status declaration. While they are required to undergo training at government hospitals, this however is not effectively reinforced.

However, these “deficiencies” in the programme make no difference to Najib, who, in trying to portray the NS as a success, had then said:

“I would like to inform the House that the programme has been well-received by the rakyat despite the cases of death. The confidence of the rakyat shows through the applications to voluntarily take part in the programme which has increased from 929 applicants (2007) to 1,137 ( 2008 ).”

Would Najib and Ahmad Zahidi, ike the rest of the parents, face sleepless nights if it was their child drafted to do NS, which ever since its formation has been nothing short of a nightmare?

Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.

More irregularities as EC continues ‘patch-up’ job

Bersih highlighted more irregularities in the latest electoral roll and repeated its demand for the EC's immediate resignation.

KUALA LUMPUR: Electoral watchdog Bersih today highlighted that there were 15,000 voters in Sabah who were re-registered in Selangor as well, according to the gazetted electoral roll of April this year.

It revealed this while highlighting several other irregularities which it spotted in the gazetted roll.

Specifically, Bersih found 15,520 voters from Sabah and 8,585 voters from Sarawak re-registered in Selangor.

When asked if these could just be the case of voters who have requested for a change of address, Bersih steering committee member, A Subramaniam Pillay was sceptical.

“The point is, these names should not be appearing twice [in the gazetted roll], before re-registering in an area. The EC should first delete [these names] from the list.

“The computer program has as such caught this. Why do we spend so much of money on a programming system which cannot detect such elementary issues?” he said.

When asked for specific cases of these re-registered voters, Bersih said that more information will be given in due time.

Other irregularities highlighted today were:

7, 841 voters were registered under Code 71 in Selangor alone. This code is used to refer to citizens born outside of Malaysia.

Numerous cases of more than 15 people registered under a single address.

In the last quarter of 2011, no deaths were registered in Sabak Bernam, Sungai Besar, Hulu Selangor and Tanjong Karang. (Such cases will be registered under Code 33.) However, a check with National Registration Department (NRD) revealed that death certificates were issued in these constituencies.

No deaths

Elaborating on the irregularities, Subramaniam said that it was highly dubious that there were no deaths in three months in a constituency.

“The data base really needs to be cleared… the EC is merely doing patch-up work here and there when the whole roll needs to be cleaned.

“If a bank’s database is this dirty, all of you won’t put money in the bank because all of your money won’t be secured,” he said.

Bersih steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah, who was also present, said that the point was that these irregularities still persisted.

“These irregularities should not occur… the EC says it is cleaning up the electoral roll but we are still discovering this kind of fraud,” she said.

Bersih repeated its demand for the EC officer bearers to resign immediately because the integrity of the electoral roll has been compromised.

“Instead of securing the one person, one vote, the EC has disenfranchised the rakyat’s votes through its complicity in the fraud shown above,” said the committee’s co-chairperson A Samad Said.

The irregularities have been taken from a study currently underway by political scientist Ong Kian Ming. The study is called Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (MERAP).

Behind veil of new bill, time bombs tabled

With the media focus being on the bill to replace the ISA, a DAP MP notes that the tabling of amendments to criminal laws went unnoticed.

GEORGE TOWN: The simultaneous tabling of amendments to the Penal Code, Evidence Act and Criminal Procedure Code were ticking time bombs, warned an opposition leader.

DAP Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong said the amendments had shaken public confidence in the Barisan Nasional federal government.

He said Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s ticking time bombs were a rude awakening for Malaysians that the BN government had no intention of real change.

He said people’s trust in the government would erode when oppressive laws repealed with so much fanfare were replaced with equally, if not more, abhorrent legislation.

“The time bomb legislation offend the spirit of legal reform,” added the DAP international bureau secretary.

Liew said due to the main focus being on the introduction of the new Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012 (SOSM) to replace the Internal Security Act, the simultaneous tabling of amendments to the criminal laws went unnoticed.

He said the amendments to the Penal Code portrayed a government operating under a cold war siege mentality, giving the authorities near martial law powers.

“BN’s cold war siege mentality is omnipresent,” he added.

The new Section 124B of the Penal Code created an offence known as “activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy”, which was punishable by 20 years imprisonment.

Section 130A defined it as “an activity carried out by a person or a group of persons designed to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by violent or unconstitutional means.”

Under Section 124C, an attempt to commit an “activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy” was punishable by 15 years imprisonment.

Liew argued that the amendments opened the backdoor for questionable convictions violating human rights if misused by an irresponsible government.

“Fears of abuse are raised when a mere attempt to commit the crime is meted out such a heavy punishment,” he cautioned.

Media freedom under threat

He warned that freedom of media and information was under threat with the introduction of Sections 124D, 124E and 124F.

The amendments make it a crime to print, sell, possess or import documents and publications detrimental to parliamentary democracy.

With sketchy definition and a high penalty up to 15 years for printing under the amendments, Liew warned that opportunities were rife for government abuse to clampdown on literature deemed undesirable by the ruling party.

He said the definition “sensitive information” under the new Section 130A (i) was disturbing because it was so broad that it encompassed any document, information or material, whether or not it was classified as top secret, secret, confidential or restricted.

The section must be read together with Part IV of the new SOSM which introduced special procedures relating to sensitive information. It provides for in camera hearing in a trial involving sensitive information.

Under Section 8 (8) of the SOSM, decisions of the court under these procedures were non-appealable.

“This would allow the government to keep sensitive information out of the public eye, not even accessible to the media,” noted Liew.

He alleged that portions or elements of the ISA had also been smuggled into the Penal Code via the new amendments.

Comparatively, he said the words “counsels violent disobedience to the law or any lawful order” in the new Section 124H of the Penal Code were hauntingly similar to the definition of “subversive document” in Section 29 (3)(b) of the ISA.

“The terms ‘counseling disobedience to the law thereof or to any lawful order therein’ are chillingly reminiscent of the definition of ‘terrorist’ in Section 2 of the ISA,” he said.

Malaysia security bill threatens basic liberties: HRW

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia's proposed bill to replace a hated security law that allows indefinite detention without trial opens the door to a range of future abuses, Human Rights Watch warned Wednesday.

In September Prime Minister Najib Razak promised to repeal the colonial-era Internal Security Act (ISA) which in the past had been used against political opponents and suspected terrorists.

Najib, who took power three years ago, has been courting voters with polls expected to be called soon in what will likely be a tight battle against a resurgent opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim.

The new Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill was presented in parliament on Tuesday and if passed next week guarantees detainees access to a legal counsel after 48 hours.

It also prohibits arrest solely on the basis of "political belief or political activity".

"The Malaysian government is putting to rest the long-derided ISA, but it is also setting the stage for future abuses," HRW's deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said in a statement.

"While the new law has improvements, the authorities still hold too much power to detain people on broad grounds, for too long, and without judicial oversight," he said.

Robertson also said the new law would give the police broad powers to conduct searches without judicial warrants and permit police unilaterally to impose electronic monitoring devices on individuals released from detention.

"There are not nearly enough civil liberties protections written into this law," he said.

Robertson said the Security Offences Bill sets the stage for trials with secret witnesses, unlawfully obtained evidence, and continued detention of those found not guilty.

"The government should go back to the drawing board and draft a law with input from civil society that will ensure the protection of basic rights," he said.

Critics have said Najib's reform pledges are ploys to garner voter support after the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition suffered its worst performance ever during the 2008 polls.

© Copyright (c) AFP

ISA removed but sword of Damocles remains

Kim Quek - The Malaysian Insider

APRIL 12 — Many Malaysians may be pleased with the removal of the much-condemned Internal Security Act (ISA), but the sword of Damocles that hangs over the heads of opponents of ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) stays intact.

This is due to the embedment of two key elements in the newly-introduced Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill that will in reality allow arbitrary detention for many years.

These elements are the broad and vague definition of offences that fall under this Bill, and the loophole that will allow prolong and lengthy detention through exploitation of the judicial process.

The definition of security offences

Among the broad range of vague offences included under this Bill, are the threat to public order or security, and disaffection against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

That the vague ground of “prejudicial to public order or security” has been consistently and widely abused in ISA detention in the past is evident from the fact that, except for a few genuine cases, all the more than 10,000 individuals so detained are political dissidents, whose only “guilt” is their opposition to BN.

Prominent among them are Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Mat Sabu, Lim Guan Eng, just to mention a few. Who in their right mind would imagine that these leaders of outstanding integrity and steadfast principles would have done anything that would undermine the security of the nation?

As for offences against the Agong, isn’t it still fresh in our mind that in the run up to the Bersih 2.0 rally last year, the authorities detained six members of Parti Sosialis Malaysia for “waging war against the Agong”? That this is a concocted charge is self-evident when not an iota of evidence has been produced to substantiate the accusation to date.

If BN has thought fit to freely abuse these grounds of detention in the past, when their political power had always been secure, why should we assume that they wouldn’t do it now when their very political survival is hanging on a thread due to the vibrant rise of Pakatan Rakyat and the widespread public disillusionment over BN’s endless mega misdeeds and ineptitude?

Prolong detention through judicial process.

Though the Bill provides for the right of the detainee to go for trial within the first 28 days of detention, he may, however, not see freedom for many years to come. This is due to the provision of Section 30(1) whereby even when the detainee is acquitted by the court, his detention may continue uninterrupted, as the prosecutor is entitled to orally apply for appeal and ask for the detention to continue until all legal processes are exhausted.

Experience in the past tells us that if it so pleases BN, this legal process can take many years.

One example is Anwar’s first sodomy trial, which started in 1999 and ended five years later in 2004, and even that duration was considered shortened thanks to former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s resignation in 2003.

This is evident from the fact that the sodomy trial took four years to travel from the High Court to the Court of Appeal, but only one year from there to the Federal Court where the conviction was overturned in 2004, after Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over as premier in November 2003.

A more recent example is the murder trial of Altantuya Shaariibuu, with which Prime Minister Najib Razak is said to be entangled. The trial started in January 2007, but the appeal has not even heard in the Court of Appeal five years later, and looks set to be further delayed until after the next general election. Obviously, someone up there does not want it to be heard so soon for obvious reason.

There is not the slightest doubt that our judiciary, along with all other state institutions, are subject to illegitimate political manipulation.

With that in mind, how can we be not worried that any of BN’s opponents may be arbitrarily arrested under a pseudo crime in the Bill and kept in prison indefinitely while the legal process goes on endlessly?

No justification for new bill

The point is that the premise upon which the Bill is based as cited in the preamble — that the security of the country is under threat — is false, hence there is no justification to introduce this Bill, following the repeal of ISA.

To justify the Bill, BN has to satisfactorily explain precisely the threats that the nation has been facing.

It is common knowledge that we have not been threatened nor do we foresee threats from any foreign country — not even in the remote future.

Neither is there the slightest evidence of any internal plot from any quarter to overthrow the government by force or to inflict mass violence.

The only possible threat that may justify the introduction of preventive law is international terrorism, for which we must have a precise definition for “terrorism” — unlike the wide ranging and non-defined offences included in the Bill — so as to eliminate abuse of the law. For such guidance, we can look to the existing conventions of the United Nations, which is in tune with universally accepted values.

As for all other offences — even those arising from racial and religious friction — we have ample existing laws to deal effectively with them.

What we lack now is not good laws but good implementation with integrity.

In conclusion, this latest legislative initiative hyped by Najib as “heralding a golden democratic age in Malaysia” in his speech during the installation of the Agong on April 11, is but another gimmick to woo the middle ground ahead of the polls without actually reforming BN’s repressive power.

Malaysia, Britain Concur On Importance Of Moderation In Eradicating Extremism

SEMENYIH, April 12 (Bernama) -- Malaysia and Britain are on the same page with regard to moderation being a key element in eradicating extremism and achieving global security.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak pointed out that it was important to tackle terrorism in the minds of the people first.

"I'm against the use of the word 'war' against terrorism because war is just using military might, and we can't put down extremism, fanatism and terrorism just by using military might," he said when delivering his Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) Foundation special address at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, here, Thursday.

Najib spoke in the presence of his British counterpart, David Cameron, who is on a two-day visit to Malaysia.

The Malaysian leader took the opportunity to drive home the point that Islam was inherently and fundamentally a moderate religion which rejected extremism and respected other faiths.

Najib noted that despite being at the fringes, extremists were the ones who were making the loudest voice and tried to occupy centre stage.

"If we the moderates don't speak up and articulate our views, then people on the fringes and extremists will occupy centre stage. This is where we'll lose out.

"And that's why we've called for the GMM so that moderates across all faiths will speak up, articulate and drown out the voice of the extremists," he said.

Meanwhile, Cameron said he was keen to share the GMM platform with Najib since the latter's visit to London last year where he delivered a speech on this matter at Oxford University.

He pointed out that democracy and moderation went hand in hand, and Malaysia had proven this to be true.

Cameron said democratic foundation was the greatest threat to extremism, and also a vital foundation for moderation.

While stressing that terrorism was not linked exclusively to any one religion or ethnic group, the British leader said Islam and Islamic extremism were not the same.

"They are completely different and we need to be clear on this point. Islam is a religion of peace observed by over one billion people. Islamist extremism is a political ideology.

"It's vital to make this distinction between religion and extremist political ideology because time and again community has equated these two," he said.

Cameron observed that there was a need for the world to be clear that the real divide was between political moderates and political extremists.

"Let's be clear about the reality of the threats we face from Islamist extremists. Terrorist attacks do not represent Islam, and any misrepresentation is a source of great anguish to the vast majority of Muslims," he added.

Rich-poor gap widens across Asia

The divide between the rich and the poor is widening in countries across Asia. 
“Of the 28 countries that have comparative data between the 1990s and 2000s, 11 — accounting for about 82% of developing Asia’s population in 2010 — experienced rising inequality of per capita expenditure or income, as measured by the Gini coefficient,” reports the Asian Development Bank.
Source: Asian Development Bank
As the global economy slows, the labour market is expected to soften in Malaysia.
Wage are being suppressed by the policy of importing foreign workers and paying them low wages, and this is aggravated by high levels of household debt compared to disposable income.
Neo-liberal policies are contributing to the trend. Privatisation and higher tariffs for essential services, lower taxes for the rich and large corporations, policies that favour Big Business and removal of subsidies on essential goods and services for the poor have widened the rich-poor divide.
The prices of fruit, vegetables and housing are soaring as well.
Expect conditions to become increasingly difficult for low-income workers.