30 March, 2011

Anwar may come out the winner if he can disprove his alleged part in the video,

Sex video may strengthen Anwar, says WSJ
By Shannon Teoh
March 30, 2011

The sex video implicating Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim could end up strengthening his position if he can convince Malaysians he is not the man in the recording, a leading US newspaper said today.

The internationally distributed Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said that if the opposition leader is successful in his denial, it will reinforce the belief that he is the victim of a political ploy and turn the tables on Umno, seen to be the perpetrators of the sex tape.

“If Anwar can convince Malaysians that he is not the man on the tape, this latest attack will only make him stronger, since it will bolster the belief at home and abroad that he is the victim of politically motivated persecution.

“That would spell bad news for the ruling United Malays National Organisation (Umno), which says it has nothing to do with the sex tape,” it said in an opinion piece today.

It wrote that the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) is currently vulnerable despite Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak steadying the ship since taking power in April 2009.

This is due to corruption scandals such as the potential RM12.5 billion cost overrun in the Port Klang Free Zone project that are occurring on its watch, the newspaper said.

Anwar’s PKR has alleged that Najib is involved in the video, a claim which gained credence when Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik — who had to resign in 1994 as Malacca chief minister after accusations of statutory rape — admitted to his involvement.

But Umno has been quick to distance itself from its former Youth chief, and Najib himself called for the public to focus on police investigations into the identity of the man in the video, not the allegations of his party’s involvement.

The WSJ added today that the timing of the tape is politically significant as snap elections are expected later in the year....more


11 March, 2011

The law on sedition is often seen as a colonial legacy ?

Where words run free

The law on sedition is often seen as a colonial legacy. However, its problem is not so much that it is colonial as that it is archaic. Sedition is a law that has its roots in societies which did not want change and which privileged the preservation of order above everything else. But democratic societies must by nature be inherently unstable - because it is from this instability that change arises.

Scholars have shown that the etymology of 'sedition' is conflicted - on the one hand the Greek roots of the word 'stasis' imply changelessness or stalemate and on the other stasis also is a synonym for revolt or movement. Similarly, the Latin 'seditio' conveys the idea of 'a turning back onto oneself and the tension of movement, of separation from the other'. It is astounding that a word with such an interesting legacy came to represent such reactionary politics where people could be, and are, incarcerated for life for opposing the political views of an established state.

Most modern states have a conflicted relationship with this law - not wanting it because it clearly runs against the right to free speech, and not wanting to dump it because it helps contain criticism of the state. In the US, the Sedition Act of 1798 had so much opposition that Thomas Jefferson allowed it to expire when he became president. Former president Adams, his political rival, had used the Act to imprison his supporters. Later, southern states tried enacting sedition laws primarily to prevent any criticism of slavery. However, sedition did not find its way back in the American Constitution till World War I, and then too it was restricted to criticism of the state's war efforts.

Today, sedition is not applicable to American citizens and is used primarily against what Americans call 'aliens'. In Malaysia, sedition laws are used to control hate speech, primarily against Malays or to pre-empt any criticism of the state. Maintaining 'order' in Malaysia thus means maintaining Malay supremacy and sedition laws are an instrument to ensure this.

India's relationship with sedition has also been a troubled one and it is incomprehensible that, given the level of opposition there was to retaining it in the Constituent Assembly, it was nevertheless retained. Most stalwarts of the assembly, including Nehru, spoke vehemently against it, but the clause stayed! In 1962, the Supreme Court upheld Section 124A of the IPC, the sedition clause. However, the court clearly recognised that there was a problem in implementing the law as it was framed. So it set about imposing very strict conditions which had to be met in order for someone to be convicted for sedition.

In looking at whether the Act was merely a colonial act or not, the court found that since it was a general British law there was no real reason to strike it down. This was almost 50 years ago. However, England started the process of removing sedition from its books as far back as 1979, but because of the Northern Ireland imbroglio, this was delayed and it was only in 2009 that sedition and seditious libel, as common law offences, were abolished. If, in 1962, the Supreme Court retained 124A because England had it, is this not enough reason to junk it now that this is no longer the case?

The 1962 judgment also imposed strict conditions under which sedition could be applied. It was to be limited to acts where there was a clear intention or tendency to create disorder, or incitement to violence. Effectively it would therefore require not only speech which caused 'disaffection' or 'disapprobation', but also a clear intention to create disorder or incite violence.....read more


10 March, 2011

The Christian Federation of Malaysia said it was "fed up" with the government's refusal to allow the distribution of Bibles.

The Christian Federation of Malaysia claims that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's promise that there would be no ban on the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bible had been ignored by the authorities.

CFM, the umbrella body for almost all Christian groups in the country, said the premier decided last year that the scriptures would be allowed to be distributed freely, at least in Sabah and Sarawak.

This was communicated to CFM leaders by several cabinet members and their aides in December 2009, according to CFM's chairperson Bishop Ng Moon Hing.

Ng said that following the impoundment of another consignment of 5,000 copies of the scriptures last year, Najib was informed of the matter.

“When told about the continued impoundment of these 5,000 Bibles at a high-tea event last Christmas, (the premier) expressed surprise that the order to release the same held in Port Klang had not been implemented.

“However, nothing has been done by the authorities to ensure their release,” said Ng.

In all, Ng said that 30,000 copies remain impounded at Port Klang and the Port of Kuching. The Bible, in its Bahasa Malaysia form, is called Perjanjian Baru, Mazmur dan Amsal (New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs).

The rare rebuke by the Christian Federation of Malaysia signals growing impatience among the religious minority in a years-old dispute over the government's ban on the use of the word "Allah" as a translation for God in Malay-language Bibles and religious texts.

Christians were "greatly disillusioned, fed up and angered by the repeated detention of Bibles," the federation said in a statement. "It would appear as if the authorities are waging a continuous, surreptitious and systematic program against Christians in Malaysia to deny them access to the Bible" in the Malay language.

Home Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment, but the government has repeatedly denied being unfair. In another recent incident, the ministry acknowledged it had barred the entry of imported Bibles but denied they were seized, saying the importer had simply failed to claim them from the port.

The trouble stems from the government's stance that the use of "Allah" in non-Muslim texts could confuse Muslims and even entice them to convert. Nearly two-thirds of Malaysia's 28 million people are Malay Muslims, while 25 percent are ethnic Chinese and 8 percent are Indians. Ethnic minorities are mostly Christian, Buddhist or Hindu.

A court ruled in December 2009 that Christians have the constitutional right to use the word "Allah." The government has appealed the verdict, but no hearings have been scheduled.

The dispute caused a brief surge in tensions in January 2010, when 11 churches were attacked by firebombs amid anger among some Muslims over the court ruling.

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03 March, 2011

PM Najib must tackle racial division !

After almost two years in office, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is cutting an international image as a modern, progressive, moderate Muslim leader bent on closing the widening ethnic and religious divide that is threatening his country's future.

During a visit to secular Turkey last week, Mr Najib trumpeted Malaysia's credentials, saying it had proved that its system of governance based on moderate Islam had worked and could be a good model for other countries to emulate, especially Islamic countries.

He said the success of a system was not just about numbers but also about whether it could improve the quality of life, and about good values, ensuring fairness, rule of law, being inclusive, having a social safety net and caring for the poor.

This certainly is good news for Australia. Like Indonesia, the well-being of Malaysia is of paramount importance, given our links.

Since coming to power, Mr Najib, who is in Canberra on his first official visit to Australia, has pledged more transparency in government and reached out to the 28 million population - made up of 60 per cent Malays, 26 per cent Chinese and 10 per cent Indians - with inclusive policies such as the 1Malaysia concept which is aimed at uniting the people to work as one nation.

Last March, he launched his New Economic Model to cut red tape to promote greater private investment and domestic competition and reduce the state role in the economy as well as improve education programs to increase the number of skilled workers.

More radical is his declaration to wind back affirmative action policies that ironically were introduced by his father as prime minister in 1970 to empower Malays after race riots in 1969.

This policy switch is long overdue after more than 40 years of special privileges and racial quotas in business, government jobs, education and housing that have alienated many of the country's Chinese and Indians and led to a brain drain as thousands of skilled and professional people have moved to Australia, the US, Canada and Britain.

But Mr Najib's visionary 1Malaysia will come to nought so long as Malaysia's political parties, government and opposition alike, zealously continue to play the race and religious cards.

As Malaysian blogger-in-exile and whistleblower Raja Petra Kamaruddin observes, Malaysia's Malay politicians are mostly trying to outdo each other to show they are more Malay and more Muslim than the other guy. This in turn has bred suspicion and distrust and the people are drifting apart.

It does not help when disciplinary action is not taken after a school's Malay principal tells a group of Chinese students eating lunch during the fasting month of Ramadan to go back to China.

And what do you make of a fatwa against Muslims observing Valentine's Day, entertainers being banned because their dress is too short, women being threatened with the cane for drinking beer or having sex out of wedlock and churches and Hindu temples having to battle increasing restrictions?

The US International Religious Freedom Report 2010 says religious minorities continued to face limitations on religious expression, even though the Malaysian constitution provides for freedom of religion.

Government policies promoted Islam above other religions and restricted distribution of Malay-language Christian materials.....more

Source:Malaysian PM must tackle racial division - By P.T. Singam

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01 March, 2011

Malaysia: Indigenous tribespeople allow to challenge the acquisition of their ancestral land

The Federal Court's decision to allow indigenous tribespeople from Borneo the right to challenge the acquisition of their ancestral land has been hailed as a historic test case.

Their legal battle for native title began 12 years ago after the Sarawak government requisitioned land for the controversial Bakun dam and a timber pulpmill.

"Since we know that there are a lot of native lands which had been acquired and cases relating to such acquisition are pending in the court which are likely to be raised, we therefore decided to grant leave," Chief Justice Zaki Azmi said.

The Federal Court said it will begin hearing the arguments on April 28. Two separate cases, dealing with each of the Borneo projects, are being heard in tandem.

Lawyer and human rights activist Baru Bian, one of the campaigners who have propelled the case to the apex of Malaysia's justice system, welcomed the court's decision as "an initial victory".

"The decision to allow leave is indeed historic," he told AFP at the court.

"This is the first time the power of the state government extinguishing native customary rights over land in Sarawak is challenged - whether it is valid and constitutional."

The test case has been brought by members of tribes including the Iban, Kayan, Kenyah and Ukit peoples, some of the many ethnic groups living on Borneo, which is split between Malaysia, Indonesia and the sultanate of Brunei.

Baru Bian said the outcome would have major implications for around 200 cases currently lodged with lower courts, where indigenous people are fighting against the state for allegedly grabbing their ancestral land...more

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