Archive for March, 2018

31
Mar
18

Suhakam cannot support Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 in its present form

Suhakam: Set up parliamentary committee on fake news

The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has urged the government to set up a parliamentary committee on fake news.

In a statement today, Suhakam chairperson Razali Ismail said the commission cannot support the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 in its present form, and a parliamentary committee is needed to consider more plausible measures to address the problem of fake news.

“Though the concern over the utilisation of fake news is global, which Suhakam agrees must be managed, Suhakam having perused the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018, cannot support the bill,” he said.

Razali listed ten reasons for Suhakam’s rejection of the bill.

Among others, he said the proposed law could have enormous implications and could inspire an authoritarian form of government.

“The government’s track record in utilising laws for reasons other than its intended purpose is arguably questionable,” he added.

He expressed concern that the proposed law could also be used to exert control on the media and worsen Malaysia’s standing on the Reporters Without Border’s World Press Freedom Index. Malaysia ranked 144th out of 180 countries in the 2017 index.

Razali also pointed out that several key parts of the proposed legislation is vague or poorly addressed.

These include the fact that the bill fails to specify who is responsible for verifying whether a piece of information is fake or otherwise and does not offer a distinction between news that was generated with malicious intent or not.

The word “knowingly” under Section 4(1) of the bill, which criminalises the deliberate production and dissemination of fake news, is ambiguous.

The term “prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order or national security” under Section 8(3) also poorly defined, he said.

The clause disallows the court from setting aside an order to remove fake news deemed as such by the government.

“Suhakam cannot agree on this clause as it ousts the jurisdiction of the courts, further taking away judicial powers and denying the right to seek relief from the courts, which is an affront to the rule of law in a democratic form of government,” he said.

Penalties imposed unreasonable

In addition to these, Razali said the bill is not in line with the principles of freedom of expression under the Federal Constitution as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The penalties imposed are also considered unreasonable and disproportionate.

He also expressed concern over the lack of public consultation for the bill and the rushed manner it is being tabled in Parliament, which he said is a cause for concern and not in the national interest.

“Despite being legally mandated to advise and assist the government in formulating legislation, Suhakam was only invited to the final consultation, without having sight of the bill.

“The trend to ignore this provision in the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 is of serious concern,” he said.

Apart from coming up with alternative solutions for tackling fake news, Razali suggested that the parliamentary committee should also find ways to avoid confusion over the various laws already available to tackle misinformation.

He said these include the Penal Code, the Sedition Act 1948, the Defamation Act 1957, the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, among others.

…more
Suhakam: Set up parliamentary committee on fake news
28 March 2018

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30
Mar
18

Withdraw the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 – Malaysian Bar

Press Release

Withdraw the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018

The Malaysian Bar is deeply troubled by the introduction of the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 in Parliament on 26 March 2018. It is the stated intention of the Government to have this legislation passed in the current sitting of Parliament, and it will likely be brought into force before the campaign period for the 14th General Election.

The drafting of the proposed legislation raises many questions regarding its content, intent and impact. The Malaysian Bar highlights the following:

(1) The definition of “fake news” does not simply include news but also information, data and reports, which in its broadest sense exists “in any…form capable of suggesting words or ideas”, that is/are “wholly or partly false”. What is ‘false’ is not defined. “False news” is already criminalised under section 8A of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (“PPPA”). The definition of “publication” in the PPPA is not dissimilar to the various definitions in the proposed legislation. A “false” communication is also criminalised under section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. These provisions beg the question of why there is any need to create a new law to criminalise “fake” or “false” news.

(2) The proposed law criminalises “fake news”, but since that is not clearly defined, it could be used to suppress freedom of expression in the context of expressing views or opinions. The wording of the provisions is sufficiently wide for an action to be brought challenging “correct” or “incorrect” views on, for example, the economy, history, politics, science, and religion. Such a law may be far too wide, and could be held to be ultra vires (i.e. in violation of) the Federal Constitution.

(3) The extra-territorial reach of the proposed legislation is, arguably, wider than that of any other law in Malaysia. It will apply so long as the “fake news concerns Malaysia or the person affected by the commission of the offence is a Malaysian citizen”. Therefore, neither the complainant nor the person complained of needs to be physically present in Malaysia for the offence to have been committed. Further, a court order to remove the publication can be served “by electronic means”, which is not defined but could conceivably include service by email, Twitter, WhatsApp, or other forms of text messaging or social media.

(4) An individual or entity affected by “fake news” can apply to the courts for an ex parte order to remove the news, i.e. without informing the person being complained of. There is no opportunity to have both parties present in court to argue the veracity of the “fake news”. The likely procedure is for the Sessions Court to evaluate the complaint and any supporting evidence or documents submitted by the complainant and, if the court decides that the item is “fake news”, to grant an order.

An order can be challenged, but an application to challenge does not operate to suspend or defer the original order, which must still be complied with. However, if it is the Government that obtains the order, and it alleges that the “fake news” is prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order or national security, and the court agrees, the order cannot be challenged.

(5) The proposed legislation does not deal with a situation if the government publishes “fake news”. Looking at what is taking place around the world, this is an omission that needs to be addressed.

(6) If the offence is committed by a body corporate, the proposed law allows for criminal liability to attach to its directors and officers, but it can also attach to anyone “to any extent responsible for the management of any of the affairs of the body corporate or was assisting in such management”. Thus, for example, if a news reporter writes a story about Malaysia that is held to contain “fake news”, the editor or sub-editor of the company employing the news reporter would also be criminally liable. Failure to abide by a court order leads to the commission of a criminal offence, which carries a fine of up to RM100,000 and a continuing fine of RM3,000 for each day of non-compliance. Such failure also results in a contempt of court, and arrest is allowed under the Criminal Procedure Code.

(7) The many illustrations, in the proposed legislation, of how an offence is committed under the proposed legislation actually involve the issue of civil or criminal defamation, for which Malaysia has adequate legislation and legal procedures. This again raises the question of why new legislation is required. Of serious concern is the fact that publishing a “caricature” can also constitute an offence of “fake news”. Parodies and poking fun, which by their very nature may involve some embellishment, would now constitute a criminal offence.

(8) While the use of the word “knowingly” in the elements of the offence denotes a requirement of intention, there is no requirement of malice or ill intent, unlike section 8A of the PPPA. However, there is another offence in the proposed legislation, of failing in one’s duty to remove news, “knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe” that it is “fake news”. What constitutes “knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe” is not defined. This lack of certainty gives cause for concern.

(9) The real issue of “fake news”, which is what is currently in the minds of many governments around the world, is about the setting up of fake social media accounts and publishing news through it, of sending tailored messages based on someone’s online profile, and the funding of the same, and influencing outcomes of elections. However, these matters are not adequately addressed in the proposed legislation. Only the issue of funding is dealt with and criminalised in the proposed section 5. Again, other existing legislation already caters for the offence of aiding and abetting the spreading of false news, so this provision does not serve any purpose except for the provision of a huge maximum fine of RM500,000 and/or a heavy maximum jail sentence of 10 years, to act as a chilling deterrent.

Previous issues of the Prime Minister receiving a vast donation prior to the last General Election, and what may have been done with those funds, have been wholly overlooked. The presence in Malaysia of a foreign company involved in data analytics and online profiling is also ignored. If the Malaysian Government were genuinely concerned about the possibility of foreign funding and foreign influence on the outcome of our upcoming General Election, surely it should have focused instead on campaign finance reform, data security, and personal privacy.

Ultimately, the public is left to ponder the “value add” of this proposed new legislation.

Regrettably, the intended provisions enable:

(1) the Government to immediately silence “fake news”;

(2) court orders to be rendered unchallengeable if there is accepted evidence of prejudicing public order or national security; and

(3) intimidation of the media and honest practitioners of freedom of expression, who must now be 100% correct in their reporting, postings or statements, or else stand accused of being “partially false”.

Sensitivities about the reputation of Malaysia by way of negative comments and criticisms can now be attacked through an extremely wide extra-territorial application of the proposed legislation, putting this in the same category as international terrorism, cross-border corruption, money-laundering, and trafficking in persons. While this issue should not be ignored, the proposed broad-based law to criminalise the dissemination of news amounts to legislative overkill.

The Malaysian Bar calls on the Government to withdraw the proposed legislation from consideration at this current sitting of Parliament, and to convene a proper Select Committee to look comprehensively and publicly into the issue. The Government must not legislate in haste.

…more
Withdraw the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018
27 March 2018- Malaysian Bar

25
Mar
18

1MDB failed to submit bank/financial statements of foreign subsidiaries to AG and PAC

Opposition refutes 1MDB’s claim to have submitted relevant documents to AG

KUALA LUMPUR (March 21): 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) had failed to submit any bank or financial statements of its foreign subsidiaries to the Auditor-General (AG) during an investigation by the Public Account Committee (PAC).

At a press conference today, DAP’s Petaling Jaya Utara lawmaker Tony Pua refuted 1MDB President Arul Kanda Kandasamy’s claim yesterday that the state-owned strategic investment fund had already submitted all related documents to the National Audit Department during the investigation process by PAC.

Pua, who is also member of the bi-partisan Parliamentary committee, remarked that Arul Kanda is a “perfect” chief executive officer for 1MDB, “because he is the master spinner of lies and half-truths to protect those responsible for pillaging billions of dollars from the company”.

“Firstly, it has already been stated and repeated many times that 1MDB had failed to submit any bank or financial statements of its foreign subsidiaries which raised billions of dollars in borrowings to the AG and the PAC. This was despite the repeated request for the relevant documents by both the AG and the PAC over the period of nearly a year,” he said.

Hence, Arul Kanda’s claims were “clearly fake news”, Pua added.

“Secondly, Arul Kanda would like Malaysians to forget that it wasn’t just Tony Pua or the opposition who have protested the transfer of more than US$1 billion to Good Star Ltd, a company owned by Jho Low (Low Taek Jho),” he said.

“The then chairman of 1MDB, Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh, had quit his position in utter disgust after discovering that the US$700 million was secretly transferred to Good Star Ltd, without the knowledge or approval from the board of directors,” Pua added.

Pua said the evidence cannot be clearer that 1MDB is “in cahoots” with Jho Low to scam the company of billions of ringgit which were siphoned to Good Star, under the guise of a “pretend joint venture (JV)” with PetroSaudi International Ltd.

Yesterday, local media also reported, citing Arul Kanda himself, that as a buyer of shares in a JV entity from PetroSaudi, 1MDB had made the payment as instructed by PetroSaudi, and that 1MDB had received shares in the company as a result of the payment.

The JV entity was named 1MDB PetroSaudi Ltd, and under an agreement between both parties, 1MDB was to provide the JV with a capital of US$1 billion in return for one billion shares in the JV vehicle, equivalent to a 40% equity interest in the JV.

“The instruction for 1MDB to pay USD$700 million into the account of Good Star Ltd was provided by the seller, PetroSaudi, via the law firm White & Case (London), an international firm which is professional and renowned,” Arul Kanda reportedly said.

“PetroSaudi had also given written confirmation that when the funds are paid by 1MDB to Good Star, the company (Good Star) is owned by PetroSaudi,” he added.

Hansard of conversation between the PAC and Bakke on Feb 11, 2016 revealed Bakke and his 1MDB board of directors were “shocked”, after realising the fund had been transferred to Good Star.

“And finally, the last condition we said, we wanted the US$1 billion of investment to be credited into the account of the JV company, which was 1MDB-PetroSaudi’s account,” the Hansard read.

“So, when the board was informed about this [US$700 million transfer to Good Star], we actually, we were shocked and we were angry, that is how I would like to describe our reaction,” the Hansard added.

…more
Opposition refutes 1MDB’s claim to have submitted relevant documents to AG
March 21, 2018 – theedgemarkets.com

23
Mar
18

Why rush Fake News Bill?

Why rush Fake News Bill, asks DAP lawmaker

TABLING the Fake News Bill in the Dewan Rakyat ahead of the 14th general election is a cause for concern, DAP MP Ramkarpal Singh said.

In a statement last night, the Bukit Gelugor MP questioned the motive of the move following Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Jailani Johari’s remarks that any news related to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) not recognised by the authorities was considered false information.

Ramkarpal, a lawyer, said the authorities’ findings could not be conclusive, as they are not based on evidence tested in court.

“As such, the said findings cannot be taken as conclusive evidence that certain criticisms of 1MDB which are not recognised by the said authorities are fake.

“Furthermore, there have been numerous instances of severe criticisms by foreign media of 1MDB with some going as far as to suggest that the prime minister himself is implicated in the scandal it finds itself in.

“To date, the prime minister has shockingly not commenced any legal action against such foreign media,” he said.

Jailani yesterday said that since 1MDB had been investigated by the police, the Attorney-General’s Chambers and Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), any information concerning the state investor not confirmed by the authorities would be deemed fake news.

Earlier this month, he also accused foreign newspapers and broadcasters of spreading fake news about 1MDB as part of an agenda to damage Prime Minister Najib Razak’s reputation ahead of the 14th general election.

International media coverage of the 1MDB scandal picked up again following Indonesia’s seizure of the RM1 billion super yacht The Equanimity belonging to businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low), who is said to be Najib’s confidant and business advisor.

Ramkarpal asked if the proposed Fake News Act would also apply to the foreign media; and whether the government would seek Interpol’s help to arrest the authors of damning articles in publications like the Wall Street Journal and The Economist abroad to face charges here under the new Act.

“Going by the failure of the government to take action against the said foreign media so far, it is practically certain that no action will be taken against them under the new law.

“With that result, it is likely that the new Act is highly suspect and merely to shut out criticism of 1MDB, or for that matter, any other sensitive matters in the run up to general election.

“The government should avoid further negative perceptions against it by tabling the said Bill in these circumstances, which will undoubtedly attract further ridicule of the already dismal record of freedom of speech in this country internationally.” – March 22, 2018.

…more
Why rush Fake News Bill, asks DAP lawmaker
22 Mar 2018 – TMI

21
Mar
18

Swiss review criminal complaint filed by figure in 1MDB case – Reuters

Swiss review criminal complaint filed by figure in 1MDB case

ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss prosecutors are reviewing a criminal complaint filed against two former colleagues and an alleged accomplice by Xavier Justo, a former director of energy group PetroSaudi International Ltd and a key figure in the 1MDB affair.

Justo told Reuters he was trying to clear his name after being jailed in Thailand for blackmailing his former employer over its ties to the scandal-hit Malaysian state fund 1MDB, with which it ran an energy joint venture from 2009 to 2012.

The blackmail allegation arose from Justo’s demanding money from PetroSaudi and threatening to make public information he gleaned from his time at the company.

PetroSaudi, which was not itself a subject of the complaint, responded through its lawyers that Justo was merely trying to “deflect attention from his own wrongdoing”.

It was documents that Justo leaked after he left PetroSaudi in 2011 that triggered investigations in at least six countries into alleged theft of assets from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund.

The documents raised suspicions about how funds at the venture were used and prompted investigators to probe suspicions that money had been siphoned off from the joint venture.

A total of $4.5 billion was misappropriated by high-level officials of 1MDB and their associates, according to civil lawsuits filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak set up 1MDB in 2009 and served as chairman of its advisory board. He and the fund have denied any wrongdoing.

FORCED CONFESSION?

Justo was freed from a Thai prison in an amnesty in 2016. Now he alleges that his confession came under pressure from PetroSaudi executives and their allies — including public relations officials and a fake London police detective — to cover up facts in the scandal.

The Swiss Office of the Attorney General confirmed it had received Justo’s criminal complaints and was reviewing them, declining to comment further.

PetroSaudi has denied wrongdoing in connection with the 1MDB venture and said it would cooperate fully with authorities.

Asked for comment on Justo’s allegations, PetroSaudi’s lawyers released a statement saying he was only repeating claims that contradicted his previous admissions.

“Our client did not take any steps to force him to make a false confession. He confessed to blackmail because the evidence against him was overwhelming and incontrovertible,” it said.

They questioned why Justo had gone public with his criminal complaint at a weekend news conference only months after approaching Swiss authorities.

“It seems to our client that the timing of this press conference suggests it has been carefully orchestrated to coincide with the upcoming elections in Malaysia, when Prime Minister Razak will be seeking re-election,” they said.

Justo said Swiss authorities had asked him to delay filing charges to avoid interfering with their existing money-laundering investigation.

The complaints that he and his wife brought against PetroSaudi co-founder and chief executive Tarek Obaid, ex-PetroSaudi director Patrick Mahony and Briton Paul Finnigan include making threats, blackmail, extortion, endangering the lives of others, slanderous denunciation, misleading justice, and money-laundering.

They could not be reached immediately for comment.

Justo was sentenced to three years in prison in Thailand in 2015 on charges of blackmail and attempted extortion after what he now says was a confession made under pressure from his former PetroSaudi colleagues and their associates including Finnigan, who Justo says posed in Thailand as a detective from London’s Metropolitan Police.

“The deal (with his former colleagues) was ‘Cooperate, give them whatever they want … and you will be out before Christmas 2016’, so I confessed,” he told Reuters. “It was a set-up.”

Justo denied in the interview that he had tried to blackmail PetroSaudi, saying he was simply trying to recover the balance of a 6.5 million Swiss franc settlement agreed when he left the company in 2011.

…more
Swiss review criminal complaint filed by figure in 1MDB case
March 20, 2018 – Reuters

19
Mar
18

Crucial whistleblower of 1MDB scandal speaks out at last

…more
SWISS BOMB! Justo Speaks Out At Last, As Swiss Prosecutors Adopt His Criminal Complaint Against PetroSaudi Directors
17 March 2018 – SR

16
Mar
18

WHY has 1MDB not submitted its accounts since 2014?

Why are your accounts missing since 2014, Tony Pua asks 1MDB

WHY has 1MDB not submitted its accounts since 2014, Pua asked today, following the state investor’s disavowal of funds confiscated by the Swiss authorities.

1Malaysia Development Bhd said it has not lost any money and that its funds are fully accounted for, a claim which the Petaling Jaya Utara MP dismissed as lacking in credibility.

“If 1MDB money is fully accounted for, why hasn’t 1MDB made any full disclosure of its accounts since 2014?

“In fact, 1MDB has not produced any legitimately audited account since March 2012 after Deloitte Malaysia withdrew its endorsement of 1MDB’s March 2013 and 2014 financial statements,” he said in a statement.

The state investor said yesterday that the CHF104 million (RM430 million) held by the Swiss federal treasury does not belong to 1MDB and is a fine imposed on banks which allegedly breached Swiss laws.

Responding to news and press statements by opposition leaders about the Swiss Parliament’s plans to debate and vote on a motion to repatriate the “stolen” funds to Malaysia, 1MDB said the amount in question cannot be claimed by the firm nor by the Malaysian government, as the money does not belong to 1MDB.

Pua said despite numerous requests by the auditor-general (AG) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), 1MDB has refused to submit its updated financial statements and even hand over any bank statement of its accounts with foreign banks.

“It does not take a genius to figure out that 1MDB has more than something to hide.

“This is the very reason the PAC could never have exonerated prime minister (Najib Razak) of stealing from 1MDB because the AG and the PAC were never given the necessary documents to verify that such illicit transfer of funds never took place.

“Even when I had asked for a simple listing of the debts still being held by 1MDB, as well as the debts assumed by the Ministry of Finance, it gets rejected by the parliamentary speaker.”

Pua said the reason the board and the top management of 1MDB are evasive is obvious and understandable, as they are an integral part of the plot by top leaders to steal tens of billions of ringgit from Malaysian taxpayers.

“The mother of all scandals has already precipitated the single largest anti-kleptocracy legal suit by the United States Department of Justice.

“Given that the board and top management of 1MDB are part of the part of the kleptocracy scam, how do they expect Malaysians to believe their denial of the ownership of more than RM400 million confiscated by the Swiss authorities?”

The denial also holds no water as 1MDB has also lied to about the nature of its joint venture with Petrosaudi International Limited, which masked the transfer of US$1.03 billion to the accounts of Good Star Limited in Switzerland, Pua said.

“1MDB repeatedly testified that Good Star was a subsidiary of Petrosaudi, before Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) subsequently confirmed that Good Star’s sole shareholder was the fugitive Low Taek Jho.” – March 15, 2018.

…more
Why are your accounts missing since 2014, Tony Pua asks 1MDB
15 Mar 2018 – TMI




Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!

The dawn of A Better Malaysia!
Rafidah Aziz, Hannah Yeoh, Ambiga at TTDI ceramah

 

Mahathir in Putrajaya ceramah

 

What happened to 1MDB’s money? – CNBC Video
Nuclear lessons for Malaysia (Part 1) (Part 2)
BN govt is directing attention to distant past and distant future, in order to distract people from present misdeeds and poor governance
Felda - A picture is worth a thousand words
How the 1MDB Scandal Spread Across the World (WSJ)
We cannot afford ridiculously expensive RM55 Billion ECRL!
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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