Archive for August, 2014

31
Aug
14

Sedition used to silence Gandhi

NGO: British used sedition to silence Gandhi

As the nation celebrates independence from British rule today, the government’s use of the colonial-era Sedition Act 1948 has come under severe criticism.

Rights group Proham notes that the British had used the law to silence India’s iconic Mahatma Gandhi who had questioned the illegitimacy of the colonial rulers.

“Proham is of the opinion that the Sedition Act 1948 is a legislation which was first introduced by the colonial administration to stifle the activities of independent fighters.

“While it was not extensively used in Malaya then, the situation was very different in the Indian independence struggle when the then colonial administration used it extensively to arrest and detain Gandhi and other Indian independence fighters,” said the NGO’s chairperson Kuthbul Zaman and secretary-general Denison Jayasooria.

The duo in a joint statement today said the Act must not be used to silence ” legitimate questions and criticisms” against politicians and rulers as it is part of the democratic process.

Instead, they argued, the government should be “more concerned with those who advocate the use of violence and associated with groups locally or internationally”.

The lead up to this Merdeka has seen the government cranking up the use of the Sedition Act against opposition leaders and critics, with four being charged in just a space of last week.

This comes in spite of the governments repeated insistence that Prime Minister Najib Razak’s promise to repeal of the Act made a whole two years ago, is still on track.

…more
Aug 31, 2014 – Malaysiakini
NGO: British used sedition to silence Gandhi

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29
Aug
14

Sedition Act used to silence critics

Putrajaya using Sedition Act to silence critics, says Bersih 2.0

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) today expressed concern at the continued use of the Sedition Act 1948 “to silence dissenters and freedom of speech”.

In a statement, Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad of PAS was the latest opposition lawmaker to be charged with sedition.

“Khalid had merely given his opinion about dissolving the executive powers of the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais),” Maria said.

“But he has now been charged under the Sedition Act 1948 for giving his opinion.”

Maria said Seri Delima state assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer was expected to be charged with sedition for uttering the remark “Umno celaka”.

Furthermore, Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli from PKR also has several cases against him pending under the Sedition Act.

“The list of opposition figures and activists who have been charged under the Sedition Act is not short either,” Maria said.

On the list are Padang Serai MP N. Surendran (PKR), student activist Adam Adli, Batu MP Tian Chua (PKR) and Seputeh MP Teresa Kok (DAP).

Maria said Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia president Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman had also been charged with sedition.

“Considering the latest developments, it is clear that the Sedition Act will continue to be used as a weapon to silence dissenting voices.

“This is clear infringement of democratic spirit which always encourages different opinions and voices.”

She said a government, which curtailed the freedom of speech, was also denying voters the rights of personal opinions which influenced their choice during the general election.

Bersih 2.0 called on Putrajaya to abolish the Sedition Act 1948.

“Putrajaya should be confident that the people can draw their own conclusions when confronted with alternative opinions or provocative speeches.

“Malaysians do not need such a draconian act to decide how to think,” Maria said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had promised to abolish archaic and draconian acts when he took over the administration of the country in 2009.

…more
Putrajaya using Sedition Act to silence critics, says Bersih 2.0
26 August 2014 – TMI

28
Aug
14

Dr M only happy when clone takes over

Dr M only happy when ‘Dr Mahathir clone’ takes over Putrajaya, says Musa Hitam

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will not be satisfied until there is a clone of himself in the seat of power, says Tun Musa Hitam, in reference to the former prime minister’s latest outburst against the Najib administration.

Musa, who was deputy prime minister from 1981 to 1986, said Dr Mahathir had never stopped feeling unhappy with any sitting leader since leaving public office in 2003.

“He will only be satisfied if there is a Mahathir clone who becomes the top leader in Malaysia,” Musa told The Malaysian Insider in an exclusive interview this week.

He was commenting on Dr Mahathir’s decision to withdraw support for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s government.

Dr Mahathir also outlined a laundry list of complaints against Putrajaya.

“Look at all the deputies who served during Dr Mahathir’s 22 years in office. I was considered dangerous. Tun Ghafar Baba (1986-1993) was considered to be all right, loyal. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (1993-1998) was considered to be a terrible fellow.

“Anwar was said to be disloyal and alleged to have done this and that. Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (1999-2003) was such a nice guy,” Musa said.

Musa said it did not take long before Dr Mahathir viewed Abdullah as being Malaysia’s worst and weakest prime minister simply because Abdullah disregarded his wishes.

“So out with him,” he said with a wave of his hand.

Musa, 80, left the government in 1986 after tendering his resignation over differences with Dr Mahathir.

The following year, he teamed up with his then arch political foe, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, to take on Dr Mahathir and Ghafar, then a deputy prime minister and Umno vice-president for the party leadership.

Dr Mahathir defeated Razaleigh by 43 votes while Musa failed to retain his post by a similar margin.

While Razaleigh went on to form Semangat 46, Musa remained in Umno.

Musa said when Najib succeeded Abdullah, Dr Mahathir was announcing that the former was his boy and was busy advising him to do this and that.

“But when it appeared that Najib knew his mind and was doing things on his own, it got worse and worse for Dr Mahathir.

“Dr Mahathir felt that Najib was not consulting him on important issues but instead subjecting himself to foreign influences,” Musa said.

“That is Dr Mahathir for you, do not believe what he says about claiming that his criticism of Putrajaya is friendly advice.

“His objective is to get Najib out of Putrajaya,” Musa said flatly.

…more
Dr M only happy when ‘Dr Mahathir clone’ takes over Putrajaya, says Musa Hitam
BY LEE SHI-IAN AND MD IZWAN
28 August 2014 – TMI

27
Aug
14

REPEAL the Sedition Act!

Movement to repeal the Sedition Act

In July 2012, the Prime Minister announced that the Government would repeal the Sedition Act 1948. The announcement was made as part of the Government’s political transformation plan, which included repealing the Internal Security Act and annulling the three subsisting proclamations of emergency.

In place of the Sedition Act, the Government would table a “National Harmony Bill”, seeking to “find a balance between every citizen’s freedom of expression, and the need to handle the complex nature of the country’s multi-racial and multi-religious society.”

Earlier this year, the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) drafted three bills to replace the Sedition Act. The three bills were made public in order to gain feedback and consultation from stakeholders and interested parties. However, because of pressure from certain quarters, it appears that the three bills have now been shelved indefinitely.

The drafting of three bills was the Government’s most serious attempt thus far to repeal the Sedition Act. Two years after the Prime Minister’s announcement, the Act is still in force.

A law that is still part of the statute books is still valid. Legally, there is nothing to stop the Government from carrying on investigations and prosecutions under the Act. But by promising to repeal the Act, the Government has tacitly acknowledged that the Act must go. There is a legitimate expectation that the Sedition Act will be on its last legs, coming ever closer to its expiry date and that there would be less reliance on the Sedition Act.

Not so. The Act it is still being applied on the citizens of this country even after the Prime Minister’s announcement. It has been used on politicians, like the late Karpal Singh, whose conviction still stands as his appeal would have abated with his passing. It has been used on activists and political dissidents. It has been used on netizens who say or post “offensive” things online. Our freedom of speech and expression is still being restricted by the Government through the use of the Sedition Act.

The Act is a colonial vestige. It was enacted before the Federation of Malaya achieved independence and it was used by the British to deal with militant communists insurgents at the time.

The Act criminalises “sedition” by making it an offence to do anything which has a “seditious tendency” or to utter any seditious words. “Seditious” is defined in the Act as any act, speech, words, publication or other thing that qualifies as one having a “seditious tendency”.

What is a “seditious tendency”? Almost anything can and would have a “seditious tendency”, going by the Act’s definition. Any criticism of the Government would be seditious. Any comment made that can raise ill will and hostility within the population. What is said or done may even be justified, yet would still fall foul of the Act. For a sedition charge to succeed, the prosecution does not even need to establish intention of the accused to be seditious.

Freedom of speech and expression is not absolute. But restrictions to freedom of speech and expression should not be arbitrarily applied. The threshold should not be what the Government believes to be seditious. It is not for the Government to decide what can and cannot be said. The Act is so wide and arbitrary that it can and has been abused by the Government to stop people from saying things it does not condone.

So what do we do when the Government has not fulfilled its pledge to repeal the Sedition Act? Well, we as citizens should pressure the Government to come good on its promise. There have been repeated calls from political parties, civil society and the Malaysian Bar for the Government to repeal the Act. But not a concentrated effort.

The National Young Lawyers Committee of the Bar Council will take the initiative. But this is not just a movement for lawyers. It will be a nationwide movement, made out of all members of society. The law affects everyone, so its repeal must be demanded by everyone.

The time for talking is over. It is time to take action. It is time for all those who want to see the end of the Sedition Act to come together. It is time for a movement – focused and dedicated to a singular goal – to make the Government repeal the Sedition Act.

…more
Movement to repeal the Sedition Act
by syahredzan johan
August 25, 2014 – thestar.com.my

24
Aug
14

HIGH-COST or high-income nation by 2020?

The reality and hyperbole of high-income Malaysia by 2020

According to government efficiency agency chief Datuk Seri Idris Jala, Malaysia is on track to achieve its high-income target of US$15,000 (RM47,414) by 2020, if not sooner, as a result of the policies under the National Transformation Programme (NTP).

That is like Manchester United football team coach Louis Van Gaal predicting his team will win the English Premier League this year as a result of his player buys and tactics.

Or for that matter, Malaysia saying its football team will make it to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Those are really targets, not reality until it happens. But Senator Jala, who heads the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu), is fond of taking numbers to insist the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and Government Transformation Programme (GTP) is working to plan.

Jala said yesterday gross national income per capita had climbed steadily from US$7,059 (RM22,313) in 2009 to US$10,060 (RM31,799) in 2013, representing a 42.5% growth during the period.

In a statement yesterday, he said since the launch of the ETP in 2010, the areas under the National Key Results Area (NKRA) have generated a total of 1.3 million additional employment opportunities, where the ETP targets to create 3.3 million new jobs by 2020.

One would like to believe him. After all, under his leadership, flag carrier Malaysia Airlines booked profits but flew back into red ink after he left. Why? Didn’t his policies stick and work for the national airline?

Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed also said approved pipeline investment has been increasing year-on-year since 2010, surpassing the government’s annual investment target of RM148 billion under the 10th Malaysia Plan.

In 2011, approved investment stood at RM154.6 billion; in 2012, RM167.8 billion; and in 2013, RM216.5 billion.

That should be good news for many of us but it remains as headline figures. The reality on the ground is that not many Malaysians are having a share of the wealth or a rise in incomes.

Putrajaya is using the assumption that once US$15,000 is achieved as per capita income, Malaysia will be a high income nation. As simple as that? But per capita income is not a reliable indicator as only 30% of per capita income counts as income, the rest are booked as profits.

How can Malaysia even talk about a high income economy when a significant percentage of the local workforce cannot make ends meet and do not appear to have the capability of doing so anytime soon.

We have soup kitchens in the cities and programmes for affordable housing. We have direct cash aid. How does that gel with Malaysia well on its way to a high income nation status by 2020?

That is why even though the government announced the 6.4% growth in the last quarter, it had little impact on the wellbeing of ordinary Malaysians. It is just a statistic, a headline figure and nothing more.

Jala and Pemandu’s time has been punctuated by fantastic headline numbers and hyperbole but both do not reflect the real situation on the ground.

Malaysia is six years away from 2020 and the target for a high-income nation. Repeating it ad nauseam won’t help the cause or the people who don’t feel the money that Putrajaya says is in our pockets.

The reality for most Malaysians is Malaysia might just be a higher-cost nation by 2020 with perhaps a few more billionaires to make sure the hyperbole per capita figure looks just right. – August 24, 2014.

…more
The reality and hyperbole of high-income Malaysia by 2020
COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
24 August 2014 – TMI

21
Aug
14

Absurd sedition charges

Criticising court judgment not an offence, say ex-judge, lawyers

It is unheard of to frame a charge against lawyer N. Surendran for criticising a written judgment of the court, a retired judge and lawyers said.

They said it was ridiculous to prosecute him under the Sedition Act for expressing his opinion, adding that there must be room for dissent and criticism in a democratic society like Malaysia.

Retired Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram said anyone was welcomed to criticise a judgment in the strongest terms.

“You only run foul of the law like contempt of court for attacking the judges personally.”

He said he had never come across anyone, let alone a member of the Bar, being prosecuted under the archaic law, from the time he started practice in 1970 until his retirement from the bench in 2010.

“It is common for lawyers and academicians to dissect judgments. Are we not now allowed to make a critical evaluation of the judges’ legal opinions?”

Sri Ram was referring to the sedition charge against Surendran yesterday for publishing an article, in which he wrote that the Court of Appeal ruling on March 7 which found Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim guilty for sodomy was “flawed, defensive and insupportable”.

Michelle Yesudas of Lawyers for Liberty said Surendran made the statement while carrying out his duty as a lawyer and the charge is similar to the sedition charge and conviction of the late Karpal Singh.

Karpal was found guilty in February 2014 for giving his legal opinion as a lawyer during the 2009 constitutional crisis of Perak.

“Surendran’s case sets an arbitrary and unjust precedent that will allow courts to convict lawyers for legal views that conflict with the political stance of the government,” said Yesudas, who is the legal/campaign coordinator of the lawyers’ group.

She said the Najib administration held the record for the most absurd sedition charges against opposition leaders and dissidents like Teresa Kok, Tian Chua, Datuk Tamrin Ghafar, Haris Ibrahim, Safwan Anang, Adam Adli, Hishamuddin Rais, Suhaimi Shafie.

…more
Criticising court judgment not an offence, say ex-judge, lawyers
BY V. ANBALAGAN, ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
20 August 2014 – TMI

20
Aug
14

Najib ‘deceived’ Malaysians with promise to repeal Sedition Act – Human Right Watch

Najib ‘deceived’ Malaysians with promise to repeal Sedition Act, says rights group

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 19 – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s promise to repeal the Sedition Act was “designed to deceive” Malaysians and the international community, said a global rights group, Human Right Watch (HRW) claimed.

Human Right Watch (HRW) hit out at the Najib administration saying that the “draconian law” is direct violation of freedom of expression, referring to the charges that have been levelled against PKR vice-president N. Surendran today.

“By engaging in legal harassment and persecution of opponents using a law that is an relic of colonial authoritarianism, Prime Minister Najib demonstrates that he apparently has no abiding commitment to either political moderation or human rights,” said HRW Asia’s deputy director Phil Robertson, in a statement today.

“His prior pledges to amend the Sedition Act sadly stand revealed as hollow rhetoric designed to deceive both Malaysians and the international community,” said Robertson.

Surendran was charged under Section 4 (1) (c) if the Sedition Act earlier today for criticising the appellate court’s ruling that overturned a lower court’s decision to discharge Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from his second sodomy rap.

The Padang Serai MP and lawyer was accused of committing the offence in a news release titled “Court of Appeal’s Fitnah 2 Written Judgement is Flawed, Defensive & Insupportable”, that was issued to news portal Malaysiakini on April 18 this year.

In the release, Surendran had allegedly accused the prime minister of influencing the judiciary in Anwar’s appeal against his second sodomy conviction.

If found guilty, Surendran faces a fine of up to RM5,000, a maximum three-year jail term, or both.

Robertson said that the charge against Surendran was part of Putrajaya’s campaign “systematically pursue its political opponents” using fabricated offences under the Sedition Act.

After Election 2013, PKR vice-president and Batu MP Chua Tian Chang, famously known as Tian Chua, and DAP’s Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, have been hauled to court for purportedly having committed offences under the same Act.

Chua was accused of having uttered seditious words in a forum at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on May 13, 2013, while Kok was charged for sedition in May this year for a satirical Chinese New Year “Onederful Malaysia CNY 2014” video taking a swipe at the national issues such as the Sulu invasion in Sabah last year and the education system.

Najib had said in a July 11, 2012, speech that the Sedition Act represents a “bygone era” and would be replaced by a legislation to safeguard national harmony.

…more
Najib ‘deceived’ Malaysians with promise to repeal Sedition Act, says rights group
August 19, 2014 – Malay Mail Online




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All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?

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