Archive for September, 2014

30
Sep
14

Calling politicians who jump parties ‘political frogs’

Its okay to call politicians who jump parties ‘political frogs’, rules court

In the context of Malaysian politics, it is not defamatory to refer a politician, who hopped from party to party, as a “frog” or “political frog”, a Penang High Court ruled today.

Judicial Commissioner S. Nantha Balan said while the words were not complimentary, they were also not defamatory.

He said this while ruling on former Bukit Gelugor PKR division chairman Lim Boo Chang’s defamation suit against Tanjong MP Ng Wei Aik for calling him a “frog” three years ago.

He dismissed the suit and ordered the plaintiff to pay the defendant RM30,000 in legal cost.

“The plaintiff (Lim) has failed to prove that the impugned words were defamatory.

“There is no evidence that the defendant had any vendetta against the plaintiff,” he said, adding that the remark was made by Ng when he had to defend his party, DAP, from being maligned by the plaintiff.

“I do not see this as a manifestation of malice. It showed that he (Ng) had to do it out of necessity to counter allegations that the DAP was bullying its partner (PKR) in the coalition.

“As such, there was no intention to do harm to the plaintiff, but was instead done to prevent harm inflicted on DAP and Pakatan Rakyat in general,” he said in his decision this morning.

Nantha Balan said the term “frog” or “political frog” was merely a moniker or label for politicians who keep changing parties, which was not actionable defamation.

“The plaintiff brought it upon himself by leaving PKR,” he said.

Lim joined Gerakan in 1984, MCA in 1999 and then PKR in 2008. He quit PKR in 2011 and tried to rejoin Gerakan but was unsuccessful in his application.

Its okay to call politicians who jump parties ‘political frogs’, rules court
23 September 2014 – TMI

29
Sep
14

Only Utusan has total freedom, says Marina

Only Utusan has total freedom, says Marina Mahathir

Activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir today took a dig at Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia, saying that the daily enjoys absolute freedom unlike other newspapers which do not have such a privilege.

“Utusan has the freedom to stir up things,” said the eldest daughter of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in her speech at the International Malaysia Law Conference in Kuala Lumpur.

She was speaking at a session titled “Freedom from Fear – Is it a Basic Human Right?” when she made the reference to Utusan Malaysia, which had been slapped with numerous suits for its reports.

Marina said this in response to a question by moderator, former Bar Council chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, who asked panel members whether the Sedition Act 1948 must be repealed.

Many, including opposition members, have asked why the newspaper was not prosecuted for carrying inflammatory articles that touched on race and religion.

Marina said Putrajaya was wrong in using the law on the pretext of stopping chaos from happening.

“Are they talking about a pre-emptive strike, and did it work?” she said.

She said she had complete faith in the public who would not react when provoked.

“Some people wanted to burn churches, but Malaysians did not buckle,” she said, adding the event could have been manufactured to create fear.

She said it was Putrajaya who was in fear, and not the people, in using the law to stifle freedom of speech and expression.

“Young people are not scared and the law will not deter them.”

She also said Malay rights group Perkasa enjoyed special treatment and obtained space to have its views heard on the media compared to others.

…more
Only Utusan has total freedom, says Marina Mahathir
26 September 2014 – TMI

28
Sep
14

Malaysia Tightens the Sedition Screws Again

Student activist sentenced as human rights campaigners sound the alarm

Malaysia is continuing its drastic crackdown on dissent, sentencing student activist Adam Adli Halim to a year in jail for statements he made at a forum in Kuala Lumpur in May accusing the government of voter fraud.

“Adam Adli is the latest victim of this sustained assault against freedom of expression in Malaysia,” according to a statement by Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch in Bangkok. “By throwing people in prison for political speech, Prime Minister Najib and his government are showing the kind of authoritarian tendencies one usually associates with single-party rule rather than democracy.”

The darkening picture is one of a government increasingly concerned that, after 50-odd years in power, it is losing its grip although the opposition is in equal disarray from internal dissension. It is also clear that the law is being used selectively, with inflammatory anti-minority statements made by the likes of Ibrahim Ali, the firebrand leader of the Malay supremacy NGO Perkasa, and other Malay supremacists ignored by the authorities.

So far, 14 people have been arrested for sedition over the past year, at least one for statements made as long as two years ago. Another was arrested over comments earlier this year about a five-year-old political controversy.

The first was the former Perak State Governor, Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, from the opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia, or PAS, who allegedly defamed Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in remarks he made in Ipoh in April of 2012 concerning the 2009 Perak political crisis. Critics have accused Najib of bribing three Perak state assembly members to switch from the opposition to independent, allowing the Barisan Nasional to oust the state government won by the opposition in the 2009 election.

The second case involves Dr. Azmi Sharom, a University of Malaya professor who was charged over comments printed in a column in the Malay Mail over the 2009 Perak events. Those who read the column have been unable to figure out just what the charge relates to, illustrating the problem with the law, which critics say is so vague that it can be used against almost any form of speech.

Najib promised to do away with the sedition law, the even more draconian Internal Security Act, which allows for unlimited detention without trial, and elements of the Printing Presses Act which limits the establishment of a free press. However, after the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, and particularly the United Malays National Organization, lost the popular vote in May 2013 to the opposition for the first time since 1969 – although retaining a majority in parliament through gerrymandering – Najib came under a blistering attack from former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his allies, who accused him of weakness in corralling dissent

As a result, while the Internal Security Act was repealed, it was replaced with one almost as strict, much of it based on the US Patriot Act pushed through after the 9/11 attacks. The Printing and Presses Act was modified slightly but it still hamstrings the independent press. The Sedition Act has remained in place and is being used as a weapon to throttle almost any comment by the opposition. Those found guilty face the possibility of five years in prison and a fine of RM5,000.

“The government of Prime Minister Najib Razak should repeal the Sedition Act, which has repeatedly been used to prosecute people for political purposes in violation of the right to freedom of expression,” Human Rights Watch said in its statement. “The government is increasingly using the Sedition Act to instill fear and silence in political opponents and critics.”

…more
Malaysia Tightens the Sedition Screws Again
SEPTEMBER 2014 – Asia Sentinel

28
Sep
14

Unacceptable that UPSR students made to suffer

Parents mull skipping UPSR test resit, want pupils absolved

Several parent groups are asking for their children to be exempted from resitting leaked USPR test papers, saying it places unnecessary pressure and causes them stress and trauma.

The parents said the pupils should not be penalised for not retaking the papers and wanted to know if the score of the original test would be used. The authorities have ordered a resit for Science, English, Mathematics and Tamil test papers.

“What will they do to students who don’t want to resit?” asked Malacca Action Group for Parents in Education (MAGPIE) chairman Mak Chee Kin.

“Will they be failed in those subjects?”

He questioned, in the event the children were failed for not retaking the papers, whether parents could take action against the ministry, saying it was the ministry’s fault that the leaks occurred in the first place.

Magpie is joined by Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE) and Association of Parents and Individuals towards Revising the Education System (Aspires) in the call to the ministry to exempt pupils from having to retake the English, Maths and Tamil papers.

The Education Ministry announced pupils would have to retake the Mathematics and Tamil language papers on October 9. This is following the first two leaks which were discovered in the Science and English papers.

Students had already sat for the English paper when the leak was announced on September 11. They will now resit the paper and take the Science examination for the first time next Tuesday.

Both education ministers Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh have issued public apologies over the leaks and assured that the culprits will be brought to book.

So far, police have detained a total of 14 people, including 12 teachers, to assist in investigations and have recorded statements from 30 individuals – 19 teachers, eight officers from the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate (MES), an officer from a ministry, a journalist and an engineer.

The decision to hold the resit has outraged parents and students as well as education lobby groups who say students are upset at being made to retake the exam through no fault of theirs.

Mak said if the ministers were confident that those responsible would be arrested, then only those students linked to the culprits should have to resit the papers.

“I am sure they can narrow it down to the states, to the schools and to the individuals. Why make everyone suffer?” he said.

Two days ago, PAGE chair Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim called on the ministry to do away with the resit of the English, Maths and Tamil UPSR papers as it was causing unnecessary pressure on some half a million Year 6 pupils.

She said the decision by the MES to have students resit the papers had disregarded the circumstances and had failed to take into account the negative impact on the pupils.

“It is unacceptable to UPSR pupils and parents who have no choice, no say, and are forced to accept a resit of the papers due to the shortcomings of the MES and the greed of certain people,” she added.

“We urge MES and the ministry to accept the UPSR papers that have been taken which are English, Mathematics and Tamil and have the pupils sit only for Science since they have yet to sit for the paper.”

Today, she asked what would appear on the result slip if students chose not to retake the three papers.

“Will they be failed or will the score of the original test be used?”

She also added that even if a student did not sit the examination, or even failed, they would still go on to Form 1.

“Even if they fail, they all go to Form 1 anyway. It would not make a difference unlike the SPM and STPM,” she said.

Shamsuddin Hamid, who is the founder of Aspires, said it was “disgusting” that the ministry ordered a resit without consulting stakeholders including parents and teachers.

…more
Parents mull skipping UPSR test resit, want pupils absolved
27 September 2014 – TMI

27
Sep
14

Sedition blitz stifling academic freedom

Sedition blitz will lead to self-censorship in universities, warn academics

Putrajaya’s sedition blitz, which included charging a law lecturer, has created a climate of fear which will lead to self-censorship among academics and students in institutions of higher learning, a forum on academic freedom was told last night.

If the fear continues, it will be an unhealthy development which will further cripple the roles of universities as a place to cultivate critical thinking, debate and feedback, said academics at the forum at Universiti Malaya.

Political economist Professor Dr Edmund Terence Gomez said academics and students should not succumb to the government’s ongoing sedition spree by self-censoring their expressions.

“I am concerned with the stifling of academic freedom which will lead to self-censorship and that is not the way to run a university and debate ideas,” he said.

Gomez’s colleague, law lecturer Associate Professor Dr Azmi Sharom, was recently charged under the Sedition Act for commenting on what had happened in Perak in the 2009 constitutional crisis – a move that sent shockwaves through the academia and legal fraternities.

Azmi joined a slew of individuals, including opposition politicians, activists, a lawyer, a journalist as well as two Muslim ulama who have either been charged with sedition, are facing trial or being investigated.

Gomez said there should be concrete action such as creating awareness by shining the international spotlight on the current sedition blitz.

“If we continue to sit back and let it be, then the university is finished. If we keep quiet, we can expect more of this to continue.

“If we mount a campaign, the government will sit up and take notice. We need to take this out to the international domain. Once it goes international, the government will be concerned because no one wants this kind of publicity,” he said.

The academician with Malaysia’s oldest university said academics and students must be given a free rein to discuss problems because universities have always been recognised as a safe place to debate and discuss ideas.

However, without academic freedom, universities, which function as the place for critical thinking and feedback, will be severely stymied, he added.

Gomez said this was why public universities needed to have greater autonomy, whereby leaders of universities must be chosen by the academic staff instead of being appointed by the government.

In referring to neighbouring Thailand and Indonesia where there is an increasing number of self-governing universities, Gomez said this was because of the burgeoning democracy in the two Southeast Asian countries which realised the importance of having autonomous universities to get feedback from academics.

…more
Sedition blitz will lead to self-censorship in universities, warn academics
25 September 2014 – TMI

26
Sep
14

Malaysia’s rank in crony-capitalism index

Our crony-capitalism index

The countries where politically connected businessmen are most likely to prosper

Crony Capitalism index

AMERICA’S Gilded Age, in the late 19th century, saw tycoons such as John D. Rockefeller industrialise the country—and accumulate vast fortunes, build palatial mansions and bribe politicians. Then came the backlash. Between 1900 and 1945 America began to regulate big business and build a social safety net. In her book “Plutocrats”, Chrystia Freeland argues that emerging markets are now experiencing their first gilded age, and rich countries their second, with the world’s wealthiest 1%, who benefited disproportionately from 20 years of globalisation, forming a “new virtual nation of Mammon”.

Inventing a better widget, tastier snack or snazzier computer program is one thing. But many of today’s tycoons are accused of making fortunes by “rent-seeking”: grabbing a bigger slice of the pie rather than making the pie bigger. In technical terms, an economic rent is the difference between what people are paid and what they would have to be paid for their labour, capital, land (or any other inputs into production) to remain in their current use. In a world of perfect competition, rent would not exist. Common examples of rent-seeking (which may or may not be illegal) include forming cartels and lobbying for rules that benefit a firm at the expense of competitors and customers.

Class warriors and free-market devotees alike are worrying about rent-seeking. American libertarians fear an elite has rigged their country’s economy; plenty of ordinary Joes reckon the government and Federal Reserve care more about Wall Street than Main Street. Many hedge-fund managers sniff that China is a house of cards built by indebted cronies.

To test the claim that rent-seekers are on the rampage, we have created a crony-capitalist index. Our approach builds on work by Ruchir Sharma of Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Aditi Gandhi and Michael Walton of New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research, and others. We use data from Forbes to calculate the total wealth of those of the world’s billionaires who are active mainly in rent-heavy industries, and compare that total to world GDP to get a sense of its scale. We show results for 23 countries—the five largest developed ones, the ten largest developing ones for which reliable data are available, and a selection of eight smaller ones where cronyism is thought to be a big problem. The higher the ratio, the more likely the economy suffers from a severe case of crony-capitalism.

We have included industries that are vulnerable to monopoly, or that involve licensing or heavy state involvement (see table 1). These are more prone to graft, according to the bribery rankings produced by Transparency International, an anti-corruption watchdog. Some are obvious. Banks benefit from an implicit state guarantee that lowers their cost of borrowing. When publicly owned coal mines, land and telecoms spectrum are handed to tycoons on favourable terms, the public suffers. But the boundary between legality and graft is complex. A billionaire in a rent-heavy industry need not be corrupt or have broken the law. Industries that are close to the state are still essential, and can be healthy and transparent.

…more
Our crony-capitalism index
The countries where politically connected businessmen are most likely to prosper
Mar 15th 2014 – economist.com

25
Sep
14

‘PM showing true colours with sedition spree’ – Human Rights Watch

‘PM showing true colours with sedition spree’

The recent unleashing of the Sedition Act upon dissenting voices has revealed the prime minister’s true authoritarian colours, said an international human rights group.

“The Malaysian government is increasingly using the Sedition Act to instill fear and silence in political opponents and critics.

“Prime Minister Najib Razak’s crackdown on free expression has shown his true rights-abusing colours,” said Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson in a statement today.

He said the Act, which prohibited “vague offences” was becoming a convenient tool for the Najib government to clamp down on critics of his administration.

“The Malaysian government has apparently decided that its vaguely worded Sedition Act is its new catch-all charge against its most vocal critics.

“Najib should realize that throwing activists and opposition leaders in jail for what they say is a slippery slope to authoritarian rule.”

The past months has seen the government revving up the Sedition Act 1948 – an archaic law that the colonial British had used against its local political opponents – to full force against every facet of Malaysian society from politicians to academics and even netizens.

‘Najib backtracked after GE13’

Robertson noted that Malaysiakini journalist Susan Loone has not been spared the sedition crackdown, for reporting the statements of Penang executive councillor Phee Boone Poh.

He added the crackdown included the use of other laws such as “sections of the penal code that severely restrict expression”, for example that against PKR vice president Rafizi Ramli (left).

Robertson reminded Najib that before the 13th general election the PM had promised to repeal the Sedition Act but had backtracked after BN’s dismal election results.

“Following the election, in which the ruling coalition the BN retained power despite major losses in the national parliament, he retreated from his pledge,” he noted.

He called on Najib to repeal the act, “which has repeatedly been used to prosecute people for political purposes in violation of the right to freedom of expression”.


…more
Sep 15, 2014 – Malaysiakini
‘PM showing true colours with sedition spree’




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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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