Archive for November, 2014

30
Nov
14

Najib’s BROKEN PROMISE – ‘Najib’s Sedition Act U-turn cowardly, reeks of malice’

‘Najib’s Sedition Act U-turn cowardly, reeks of malice’

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s decision of to retain the Sedition Act is “cowardly” and “reeks of malice”, says Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan (GHAH).

“GHAH is deeply disturbed and outraged with Najib’s cowardly decision to renege on his promise to abolish the Sedition Act and to ‘fortify and strengthen’ the Act instead,” the leading coalition for the Act’s abolition said in a statement yesterday.

Led by Suaram, Lawyers for Liberty and the Civil Rights Committee of Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, GHAH added the decision is in bad faith on the part of the government.

“The sudden decision … allegedly protect the sanctity of Islam and other religions and to address those calling for the secession of Sabah and Sarawak reeks of malice and bad faith, as the Act has been rampantly abused to charge politicians, activists and dissidents.”

GHAH added Najib’s announcement to further fortify the Act will stifle dissent and lead to a “bleak and undemocratic future”.

“This decision tightens the noose around freedom of speech and expression and makes clear what a bleak and undemocratic future we have under Najib’s administration.

“The shocking increase in sedition charges and investigations in the past two years reaffirms the prime minister’s false reformist credentials and it is evident that his administration is still reliant on the draconian and antiquated legislation to control and suppress democratic norms and legitimate dissent.

Promise not kept

Najib’s highly anticipated announcement at the height of the Umno AGM yesterday received a standing ovation and rousing applause from the ruling party’s members, who had stepped up calls for their president to back down from his pre-election promise in 2012 to abolish the Act.

After BN’s poorest showing in recent history during the 13th general election in 2013, there have been growing calls from Umno’s right wing to retain the Act, which has since been used in a massive dragnet over the past year against opposition members and other voices of dissent.

Last Friday, a group of GHAH activists handed over an anti-Sedition Act petition to the Parliament.

…more
Nov 28, 2014 – Malaysiakini
‘Najib’s Sedition Act U-turn cowardly, reeks of malice’

30
Nov
14

74% of Malaysian households earning less than RM6,000 a month

Addicted to debt

MALAYSIAN households face a pivotal moment.

As the economic environment turns against their favour on the back of rising interest rates and higher cost of living, many households in the country will find themselves in a vulnerable position because of their high level of indebtedness.

Further setbacks for many Malaysian households are their limited savings and relatively low income – a situation that will surely exacerbate their vulnerability to various shocks such as a loss of job or health emergencies. For instance, the decline in the prices of commodities such as crude palm oil and rubber is already hitting the livelihoods of rural households hard.

Previous studies suggest that Malaysians have racked up so much debt that most of them have been spending a large portion of their monthly income just to pay back their loans.

Last year, the debt-service-ratio of households in Malaysia stood at 43.5%, which means households in the country on average use more than two-fifths of their monthly disposable income to service their loans. What’s even more disturbing is the estimated debt-service-ratio of civil servants in the country at around 60%.

The acceptable level of debt-service-ratio is up to 30%, implying that a sound financial position is when a household is not spending more than one third of his income on debt repayment.

High consumerism, low wage

A recent study by Khazanah Research Insitute (KRI) on the state of households in Malaysia also paints a worrying picture.

The report, entitled simply “The State of Households”, shows that consumerism is high in Malaysia, with many households owning discretionary durable goods such as television, washing machines, refrigerators, cars and motorcycles, despite their relatively low-income levels.

Most households in the country cannot actually afford to buy all those high valued items with cash; so, they are doing so on credit.

“The wealthiest pay by cash; the better-off choose credit based on interest rates and the least well-off choose based on what is on offer and the instalment payments they can afford,” KRI says in its report.

“But the reality is that the buyer pays more than a quarter of the purchase price in interest payments. The problem is most acute with consumer durables – rates are almost 50% per year,” the research arm of sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd says of the impact of “ansuran mudah” (affordable instalment schemes) on households.

Official statistics show that the median household income in Malaysia currently stands at only RM3,626 per month.

For the low-income group, who makes up the bottom 40% of Malaysia’s society, the median household income is only RM1,852 per month, while that for the middle 40% is at RM4,372.

The better off, who make up the top 20% of the country’s households, earn a median income of RM9,796 per month.

KRI’s study gives further insight into the state of household income in the country: despite Malaysia’s rapid economic growth in the last two decades, 74% of the country’s households are still earning less than RM6,000 a month. Those who earn less than RM4,000 a month make up 55% of the country’s households, while 23% of households in the country make less than RM2,000 a month.

At the individual level, KRI says, the median monthly salaries and wages is only RM1,700.

…more
Addicted to debt
22 November 2014 – thestar.com.my

29
Nov
14

Najib’s BROKEN PROMISE – Umno can’t use Sedition Act to stay in power, warns Pak Lah

Umno can’t use Sedition Act to stay in power, warns Pak Lah

Amid Umno’s jubilant greeting over the retention of the Sedition Act 1948, former party president and prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi warned that the law should not be abused to help the party stay in power.

Writing in his blog soon after his successor Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced a U-turn on his promise to repeal the act, Abdullah reminded Umno members that the party could only stay in power with the people’s support.

“In our enthusiasm to retain the Sedition Act, I remind Umno members that the act is not to be used to keep Umno in power.

“Umno’s power and strength comes from the people’s support. Remember, if the people no longer support us, there is no law on God’s earth that can save Umno from losing power,” Abdullah said.

The former prime minister, however, agreed with the decision to retain the colonial-era law.

He also noted the enthusiasm with which Umno delegates had shown when Najib said the act would remain in his policy speech earlier today.

“I support the decision to retain or amend any laws that protect national harmony, that uphold our constitution, that affirm the social contract forged by our forefathers.

“And that ensures that the federation of Malaysia is not destroyed by irresponsible people. All this, I support,” he said before stating his caution.

At the Umno general assembly, Najib had said the Sedition Act would not only be retained, but strengthened with amendments to protect the sanctity of Islam, curb insults against other religions and to punish anyone who called for the secession of Sabah and Sarawak from Malaysia.

Najib said he decided this after considering feedback from Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Wanita Umno, Pemuda Umno, Puteri Umno, the grassroots, as well as non-governmental organisations.

“Hence I, as the prime minister, decided that the Sedition Act 1948 will remain,” he said, amid roars of approval from the delegates gathered at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

He said this was Umno’s wish, adding that he believed their friends in Barisan Nasional (BN) would be with them.

Gerakan president Datuk Mah Siew Keong, however, issued a nuanced protest in a statement this afternoon, noting public dissatisfaction over the abuse of the act against academics and public intellectuals.

“Gerakan’s fervent hope is that the Sedition Act will eventually be replaced with a comprehensive National Harmony Act. The new framework must include a set of punitive and positive measures to ensure societal stability but at the same time promotes national unity and harmony,” he said.

…more
Umno can’t use Sedition Act to stay in power, warns Pak Lah
27 November 2014 – TMI

29
Nov
14

10 missteps by 1MDB that needed answers

YOURSAY ‘Many concerns were brought up for which no answers were available.’

MP to get foreign gov’ts to trail 1MDB RM7bil

Mushiro: The forum on Wednesday night by Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli and Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua was gripping but frightening.

Both Rafizi and Pua were very cautious and they spoke of the only points where they have the facts and evidence and so far they could account for only RM20 billion. They are yet to dig up information on another RM22 billion.

Among the missteps by 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad) that they pointed out include:

1. Initial denial by Malaysia of the government guarantee for the US$3.5 billion bonds.

2. Commission of above 10 percent paid to Goldman Sachs, which is 100 times higher than industry practice.

3. Interest rate of 13.2 percent which is ridiculous.

4. The deal with PetroSaudi where more than US$1.2 billion was paid to them and when PetroSaudi could not pay the loan, 1MDB gave them more loan to pay back the earlier loan.

5. The over-priced cash purchase of Tanjung and Genting Sanyen IPPs (independent power producers).

6. The non-negotiated awards to 1MDB to build two power plants in Malaysia, which is not even required yet. YTL, despite being the lowest bidder, lost out.

7. The below-market price award of the Sungai Besi airport land to 1MDB and the spiral revaluation of this asset in their books.

8. The below-market price award of the Tun Razak Xchange centre and the spiral revaluation of this asset.

9. The resignations of international auditors, EY (Ernst & Young) and KPMG, without submitting the accounts in the first two years.

10. The control by a Saudi bank which issued another guarantee, whereby the bank retain 40 percent of the money obtained and charged 5.9 percent interest for the total amount of loan.

There were many other concerns brought up for which no answers were available. It may be because of this that Rafizi is resorting to getting more information from relevant foreign government and sources.

…more
Nov 22, 2014 – malaysiakini
By Yoursay
10 missteps by 1MDB that needed answers

28
Nov
14

Repeal of Sedition Act 1948: A Promise Unfulfilled

Press Release

Repeal of Sedition Act 1948: A Promise Unfulfilled

The Malaysian Bar is very disappointed that the Prime Minister is reported in the news media as having said that the Sedition Act 1948 will not be repealed, and therefore he would not be keeping his promise in this regard. As we ordinarily understand it, a promise is a commitment to carry through a matter despite difficult circumstances, and not only when it is convenient to do so.

The Malaysian Bar is further appalled that the Prime Minister is not only reneging on the promise he made two years ago to repeal the Sedition Act 1948, but that he intends to “strengthen” it. It is ludicrous that Malaysians would not only be prohibited from discussing and debating issues of public and national interest, or constitutional matters, but would be criminally punished for doing so. This is highly oppressive, and represents a lurch towards authoritarianism. It is delusional to imagine that such draconian legislation would foster national peace and harmony.

It is folly to think that the Sedition Act 1948 is our answer to maintaining and promoting peace and harmony. There is nothing in the history of the Sedition Act 1948 and its use — either previously or currently — that supports any such notion. This is unsurprising, because the Sedition Act 1948 was not designed nor intended to achieve true peace and harmony. Its sole purpose was to entrench power and control by denying democratic rights and space through suppression and punishment. Far from promoting a culture of meaningful, frank and robust discourse, the Sedition Act 1948 criminalises questions, criticisms and expressions of thought. In our pursuit for peace and harmony, we must accept that questions, criticisms and disagreements are integral to the learning and maturing process.

In genuinely wanting peace and harmony, we should be honest with ourselves as to what the real causes of disharmony are in Malaysia.

In many instances, disharmony in Malaysia arises from insecurity, the exploitation of such insecurity, and the inability or unwillingness to deal with questions, criticisms or differing views in a mature manner.

There are quarters in Malaysia who have created an environment of disharmony — misinterpreting and abusing the Federal Constitution, distorting our history, exploiting insecurities, and resorting to scare-mongering and threats of, or incitement to, violence against property or persons, as a response to questions, criticisms or differing views. These people are not brought to account by the law. Instead, the Sedition Act 1948 is used against the persons who raise questions, concerns or criticisms.

In maintaining the Sedition Act 1948, we would be playing into the hands of, and caving to, pressure by these irresponsible quarters. It is not peace and harmony that would be achieved through the maintenance of the Sedition Act 1948, but a perpetuation of disharmony. Recent events, the abuse of the Sedition Act 1948, and the current disharmony in Malaysia directly inform us of this.

Achieving real and lasting peace and harmony requires commitment and hard work, and not the criminalisation of criticisms and expressions of thought. Will our other national leaders also renege on their publicly stated stance against the Sedition Act 1948? Will they take the easy option or do the right thing instead?

The Malaysian Bar calls upon the Government to abide by and put into effect its promise to repeal the Sedition Act 1948, and to propose new national harmony legislation that would serve to promote and achieve genuine peace and harmony.

Christopher Leong
President
Malaysian Bar

28 November 2014

…more
Press Release | Repeal of Sedition Act 1948: A Promise Unfulfilled
28 November 2014 – malaysianbar.org.my

28
Nov
14

Najib’s BROKEN PROMISE – Bouquets, brickbats for Najib over sedition flip-flop

Bouquets, brickbats for Najib over sedition flip-flop

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s decision to maintain and further strengthen the Sedition Act has drawn mixed responses.

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) executive director Eric Paulsen dismissed the prime minister, who had earlier promised to repeal the Act, as a “false democrat”.

“In holding on to power, he is willing to do anything including leaving his ‘moderate’ image and becoming an ultra-Malay right advocate, retaining an odious legislation, by his own words a ‘relic from a bygone era’.

“Not surprising since he has been flip-flopping for a while now despite his repeated promise to abolish the Sedition Act,” he said.

DAP lawmaker Gobind Singh Deo said it was unconstitutional to maintain the Act.

“Quite obvious that the prime minister who said the Sedition Act would be abolished is back-tracking on the assurance he gave.

“This does not reflect well on Najib, who is not able to take the pressure coming from certain factions inside Umno.

“We are still going to challenge the Act in court, as it is unconstitutional. We will see what the law has to say regarding this,” he added.

Suaram director Yap Swee Seng expressed disappointment with Najib.

“This does not do good for his reputation as the promise to repeal the Sedition Act was made publicly and known by the international committee.

“The argument to protect the Malay rights with the Sedition Act is invalid as that is already stated under the Federal Constitution,” he said.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim tweeted that the people should protest this move.

“The Sedition Act 1948 was used by the British colonisers to oppress local freedom fighters is now being used to defend Umno. Najib has failed yet again,” he added.

…more
Nov 27, 2014 – malaysiakini
Bouquets, brickbats for Najib over sedition flip-flop

27
Nov
14

Sedition Act does NOT protect Malay rights

Sedition Act does NOT protect Malay rights: PM Najib must carry out pledge to repeal – Latheefa

At the ongoing Umno General Assembly, leaders such as Muhyiddin Yasin, Khairy Jamaludin, Shahrizat Jalil and others have claimed that the Sedition Act 1948 is crucial to protect the position of the Malays, the Rulers, Islam and related matters.

This claim is completely misleading and has no legal or constitutional basis.

The Sedition Act does not establish or guarantee any of the above rights. The Sedition Act is a harsh colonial law which was intended to tackle the communist insurgency and preserve British colonial rule.

It is the Federal Constitution which protects the special position of Malays (Article 153); the Malay language( Article 152); the Rulers ( Article 181); and Islam as the religion of the Federation( Article 3 )

Pursuant to Article 159, these provisions cannot be amended without the consent of the Conference of Rulers.

Therefore, there is no basis for the oft-repeated claim by Umno leaders and right-wing groups such as Perkasa and Isma that these rights are under threat.

The Sedition Act is an ordinary penal law which criminalizes certain types of speech, but does not entrench, prescribe or guarantee any of the above rights.

It is a draconian law which punishes regardless of intention of the speaker, and is so widely couched that any kind of criticism of the government could be regarded seditious.

This type of law has no place in any country which purports to be democratic and claims to respect the rakyat’s fundamental rights.

In July 2012, PM Najib Razak had publicly pledged to repeal the Sedition Act 1948. If he goes back on that promise, the people will never trust Umno or its leaders again, and will rightly punish them and the other BN component parties during GE-14.

…more
Sedition Act does NOT protect Malay rights: PM Najib must carry out pledge to repeal – Latheefa
27 November 2014 – Malaysia Chronicle




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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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