Penang CM corruption case, Court to rule on motion anti-corruption act ‘unconstitutional’


In this file photo taken on 30 June 2016, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and business woman Phang Li Khoon was seen in Penang Sessions Court. Lim was charged with two counts of corruption. The High Court here today fixed March 7 to unveil its decision on a motion filed by two accused parties in the corruption case of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who are seeking a declaration that Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act is unconstitutional. Pix by Danial Saad
Men of law: DPP Masri (right) leading the prosecution team out of the courtroom after the day’s proceedings.

Court to rule on ‘violation’ motion ahead of CM corruption trial

GEORGE TOWN: The High Court here will rule on March 7 whether Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 is in violation of the Federal Constitution.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Khoon want Section 62 to be declared unconstitutional as they claim it is against the tenet of “considered innocent unless proven guilty.”

Penang High Court judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail set the date after the defence and prosecution made their arguments.

Lim and Phang are facing charges under the MACC Act in relation to the sale and purchase of a bungalow in 2014 and separately filed the motion to declare Section 62 a violation of the Federal Constitution in early January.

Phang’s counsel Datuk V. Sithambaram said Section 62 must be struck down as “it is contrary to a right to fair trial and is in violation of the fundamental rights of the accused.”

He argued that the section infringes the accused’s constitutional right under Article 5(1) and Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution.

“Section 62 of the MACC Act requires the defence’s statement and documents, which would be tendered as evidence, to be delivered to the prosecution before the start of trial.

“However, the right of an accused to be presumed innocent and right to silence are encapsulated in the Federal Constitution.

“Article 5(1) declares that no person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law and Article 8(1) dictates that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.

“The court has not called for defence and yet the prosecution is asking for the statement of defence, even before the court decides. This is against the presumption of innocence,” he told the court yesterday.

Gobind Singh, acting for Lim, said the provision favours the prosecution and discriminates against the rights of the accused.

He argued that Section 62 restricted the defence of the accused person by excluding the right of an accused to expand his defence further and produce further documents at the trial.

“It is against the provisions of equality under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

He also said the accused could be subjected to criminal consequences under Section 68 of the MACC Act for failing to comply with the Act’s provisions and be penalised under Section 69 of the MACC Act.

DPP Masri Mohd Daud said Section 62 of the MACC Act is not discriminatory and is procedural and a general provision.

“The Act does not stop the defence from making further submissions other than those which had been submitted,” said Masry.

“The arguments that Section 62 contradicts Article 5 of the Con-stitution is far-fetched! Article 5 refers to, among others, the rights to consult a lawyer and the rights to be informed of the grounds for an arrest.”

On June 30, last year, Lim was charged with obtaining gratification for himself and his wife Betty Chew by approving the conversion of two lots of agricultural land belonging to Magnificent Emblem into residential development while chairing a state Planning Committee meeting on July 18, 2014.

The offence under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act, carries a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of at least five times the value of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

He faces another charge under Section 165 of the Penal Code for using his position to obtain gratification by purchasing his bungalow in Pinhorn Road from Phang at RM2.8mil, below the market value of RM4.27mil, on July 28, 2015. The offence is punishable by a maximum of two years in jail or a fine, or both.

Phang, who is charged with abetment, faces up to two years in jail or a fine, or both.

Both Lim and Phang have pleaded not guilty. Their cases will be jointly heard between March and July.

Phang is respresented by Sithambaram, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik and A. Ruebankumar, while Lim by Gobind, Ramkarpal Singh Deo, R.S.N Rayer and Terence Naidu.

By Chong Kah Yuan The Star/Asia News Network

Related:

MALAYSIAN ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION ACT 2009 – SPRM

http://www.sprm.gov.my/…/1059-malaysiananticorruptioncommissionact2009act-694

The ACT 694 under the Law of Malaysia, which is also the Malaysian AntiCorruption Commission Act 2009, received the Royal Assent, gazetted and enforced …

Penang CM’s trial: Court to hear motion anti-corruption act …

Guan Eng and Phang claim trial, bail set at RM1m … – Malaysiakini

 

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China hardens after illegal tribunal ruling on South China Sea


In ignoring the verdict on the South China Sea, Beijing is following precedents by great powers as no permanent member of the UN Security Council has ever complied with a ruling by the Arbitral Tribunal on an issue involving the Law of the Sea.

 

Arbitration award

CHINA’S resolve on its sovereign claim to most of the South China Sea appears to harden after an international tribunal ruled against this new superpower in Asia.

On Tuesday, the international arbitratry at the Hague backed the Philippines’ argument that there was no legal basis for Beijing’s maritime claims.

The tribunal dismissed China’s vast claims in the vital waters, known to have vast oil and gas deposits.

From the start, China has insisted that it will ignore the tribunal decision.

It has also warned that increasing pressure on the issue could turn the resource-rich waters into a “cradle of war”.

Three days following the tribunal’s ruling, China’s state media reported that China may build mobile nuclear power plants in the South China Sea.

“China will soon start assembling its first maritime nuclear power platform and is expected to build 20 floating nuclear power stations in the future, which will largely beef up the power and water supplies on the South China Sea islands,” reported Global Times on Friday, citing China National Nuclear Cooperation (CNNC). (http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/994578.shtml)

The state-owned Global Times added that “marine nuclear power platforms will be used” in the islands and reefs of the Spratly chain in the internationally contested sea.

And two days before the tribunal announcement, China had enhanced its military presence under the directive of President Xi Jinping.

Meanwhile, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Tokyo should stop “hyping up and interfering” in the South China Sea issue, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Li: Tokyo must respect China’s territorial sovereignty

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/HMP0a_ODVGU

https://youtu.be/HMP0a_ODVGU

Japan is not a state directly involved in the South China Sea issue, and thus should “exercise caution in its own words and deeds, and stop hyping up and interfering” in the issue, said Li.

Commenting on the decision of the tribunal in Hong Kong on Friday, a judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said the award on the South China Sea arbitration had the effect of “pouring fuel on the flame”.

Xue Hanqin, while addressing a colloquium in Hong Kong, said: “Anyone can easily tell that this award will certainly aggregate the dispute between China and the Philippines, aggregate the current military tension between China and the US and definitely aggregate tension in the region.”

Indeed, countries in this region are keeping a close watch on the situation – paying particular attention to the actions of the United States, Japan and China.

The ruling of the tribunal – the legality and decision which has been questioned by academics from the East and West, has indeed caused an unprecedented level of tension in this part of the world since the Second World War.

This is despite the repeated assurance by China that it still prefers to resolve the disputes in the South China Sea via consultation and peaceful talks among the parties laying claims to the islands – which include Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

To many analysts, the United States and Japan cannot turn away from the responsibility of instilling instability as both have in recent years provoked disputes with Beijing and challenged China’s sovereign claims to the South China Sea waters.

Indeed, China’s stand on not recognising the tribunal’s decision has won resounding support from commentators who know the history of the region.

China’s sovereignty over the islands and reefs in the South China Sea has been established in the course of history.

Until the 1930s, the United States had never regarded the South China Sea as part of the territory of the Philippines, according to professor of Political Science Peter Li of the University of Houston.

Li sees the tribunal’s award as “null and void”.

China’s rejection of and non-participation in the arbitration proceedings are in compliance with UNCLOS, which, adopted in the early 1980s, was not designed to settle territorial disputes.

Hence, arbitration over matters concerning the delineation of maritime boundaries is beyond the scope of the convention, Li opined.

The impartiality of the tribunal, headed by a Japanese, has also been questioned as it was biased from the start three years ago, he added.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/yeXCM7WcFxo

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/xBt7QizIAGg

The professor blamed the award for “putting regional peace at risk” as it will encourage other parties to the dispute to seek a similar approach to buttress their claims to the South China Sea.

“A worse scenario is that countries from outside the region (the US) shall impose themselves on the region, thus making a peaceful resolution of the dispute even more remote.”

And according to The Diplomat, in ignoring the verdict on the South China Sea, Beijing is following precedents by great powers as no permanent member of the UN Security Council has ever complied with a ruling by the Tribunal on an issue involving the Law of the Sea.

Graham Allison, director of Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, noted in his writing: “In fact, none of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council have ever accepted any international court’s ruling when (in their view) it infringed their sovereignty or national security interests. Thus, when China rejects the tribunal’s decision in this case, it will be doing just what the other great powers have repeatedly done.”

Amid all the tension, what is important is that China has issued a long white paper that essentially reiterates its aspiration to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. 

The United States and Britain have criticised Beijing on this issue, but they had forgotten the precedents they have set.

In the 1980s when Nicaragua sued Washington for mining its harbours, the United States argued that the ICJ did not have the authority to hear Nicaragua’s case.

When the court ruled in favour of Nicaragua and ordered the United States to pay reparations, the United States refused, and vetoed six UN Security Council resolutions ordering it to comply with the court’s ruling, according to The Diplomat.

Just last year the tribunal ruled that Britain had violated the Law of the Sea by unilaterally establishing a Marine Protected Area in the Chagos Islands. The British government disregarded the ruling, and remains in the Marine Protected Area.

In its commentary on Friday, Xinhua said the South China Sea arbitration “is just a start key for the United States having ulterior motives to agitate the South China Sea situation to reinforce its hegemony”.

“The superpower has always been trying to turn the western Pacific Ocean into its own sphere of influence, dreaming to turn the South China Sea into the Caribbean where its warships patrol at will.”

To increase its dominance in the Asia-Pacific region in the face of China’s growing economy and increasing influence, the United States has since 2009 began a rebalancing strategy to the Asia Pacific to contain China’s rise, exerts Xinhua.

The South China Sea arbitration is another plot hatched by the US government, as Alberto Encomienda, former secretary-general of Maritime and Ocean Affairs Center of the Philippine Foreign Affairs Department, had said the United States has instigated his country to initiate the arbitration.

But to the credit of the Philippines, its government under a newly elected president is adopting a softer and conciliatory line towards China as it calls for more economic cooperation with Beijing.

This floats the prospects of cutting down conflict in future.

Amid all the tension, what is important is that China has issued a long white paper that essentially reiterates its aspiration to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, jointly with Asean member countries.

By Ho Wah Foon The Star/Asia News Network

 

Related:

Arbitration: More questions than answers

On July 12th, an arbitral tribunal in The Hague made anaward in the South China Sea territorial dispute case filed by the Philippines. The tribunal itself and its subsequent award, have manypoints which have raised more questions than answers.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/xBt7QizIAGg

Arbitration and award questionable

An award was made earlier this month over the South ChinaSea territorial dispute by The Hague-based arbitral tribunal consistingof five arbitrators.

 

China, the Philippines reached consensus on disputes

China has just released a white paper which reiterates thecountry’s position on resolving territorial disputes in the South ChinaSea through dialogue and negotiation. According to the white paper, China and the Philippines reached consensus in the past on resolving therelevant disputes that way.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/PvKQ5irjOFs

 

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Critical time for DAP leader, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng


 

Video: //players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5010689338001

There has been widespread sympathy for Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng but he is under pressure to walk the talk and take leave while he clears his name in court.

IT was almost 7pm but the sky was still bright when a convoy of cars emerged from the underground car park of Komtar, Penang.

The only hint that this was no ordinary caravan of vehicles was the flashing lights and siren from an accompanying police car.

The moment had finally come after weeks of speculation. Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had been arrested and was being escorted to the MACC headquarters to be charged in court the next morning.

It has been a spectacular fall from grace for the DAP leader who rose to power on an awesome wave of popular support and who is known as “Tokong” among the Penang people.

Lim has claimed trial to two charges, one of which pertains to using his position to benefit his wife Betty Chew and himself in the rezoning of a piece of land belonging to a private company known as Magnificent Emblem in 2014.

Another charge is related to his purchase of a bungalow from businesswoman Phang Li Koon a year later at below market value.

Phang, a mysterious figure until thrust into the media spotlight, was charged with abetment in the property transaction.

Gossip and speculation about the nature of the charges have been brewing among the cafe society but everything should be clearer when hearing begins towards the end of the year.

Lim is not the first political head of state to have waded into troubled waters.

Former Selangor mentri besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo is now on parole after spending six months in jail for purchasing an under-valued “Balinese palace” from a company that had business links with the state government.

Another former Selangor mentri besar, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, also lost his job following the Australian Gold Coast affair that saw him charged with possessing undeclared foreign currency.

The late Datuk Seri Harun Idris was forced by Umno to resign in the 1970s after he was charged for corruption.

Lim is also not the first to resist taking a leave of absence after being charged in court.

Former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan clung on after being charged for corruption. He was eventually found guilty but his penalty was not great enough to cost him his seat.

But Pairin’s time was old politics and this is supposed to be the era of new politics.

The DAP central executive committee has given Lim a ringing endorsement to stay on in his job on grounds that “there is no question of conflict of interest as Lim has no influence or control over the prosecution”.

It is only expected of DAP to stand by their top leader because if the top man falls, the party will become shaky.

But it also means that DAP is unable to walk the talk. The party is famous for asking others to step down over issues big and small but is unable to live up to the same principle when it involves one of their own. It will be hard for the party to judge others from now on.

It has put DAP figures like their Selangor chairman Tony Pua in an awkward situation. Shortly after the bungalow issue erupted, Pua had said there was no need for Lim to go on leave unless charges were brought against him.

He was quoted in a pro-Pakatan Harapan news portal as saying: “When charged, then (the person) should take time off.”

But legally speaking, the Chief Minister does not need to go on leave even with these kind of charges hanging over his head.

According to a Selangor judicial figure, forcing him out would be pre-judging him.

“He can still chair meetings, make decisions over land and development and sign documents. He can even go on with that tunnel thing.

“But having said that, a politician’s life is not only about legalities but also perception. He is representing a party that lectures others what to do. Can they still do that?” said the judicial figure.

Moreover, the Chief Minister’s focus, said the judicial figure, will now be divided between his case and running the state. There will be complications as the court case drags on.

Lim may not have influence or control over the prosecution but as the Chief Minister, he has control over the civil servants who may be called to testify in his case.

It will be awkward for potential witnesses who are his subordinates because not many people would be comfortable going to court to testify against their boss.

His presence would also bring uncertainty to the state and investors do not like uncertainty.

Still, it is his call and he has the full support of his party including that of party doyen Dr Chen Man Hin whose reputation is impeccable.

The charges against Lim are quite serious and it is only natural that he is doing what it takes to defend himself. Being Chief Minister will give him that much needed clout and back-up to face the complications ahead.

Besides, there is talk of new charges in the works related to the Taman Manggis land and also involving a company with links to “Miss Phang”, as she is known.

But there is also another side to the story why DAP is reluctant to have an acting Chief Minister take over from Lim.

Lim’s deputies are Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Rashid Hasnon from PKR and Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy from DAP.

Either one of them could act in Lim’s place if he goes on leave. But the sentiment in this Chinese-dominated party is that senior state executive council member Chow Kon Yeow should be the acting Chief Minister.

DAP would look terrible if Chow leap-frogs over the two deputies. It would only reinforce the perception that DAP is a Chinese chauvinist party.

However, if either Rashid or Dr Ramasamy takes over, the party’s right-wing Chinese base would be badly affected. Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, DAP probably thought it would be better for Lim to remain at the top.

DAP leaders have slammed the charges as baseless and an attempt to topple a democratically elected leader. It is quite clear they intend to approach this as a political trial and to win over the court of public opinion.

A lot of Lim’s time will be spent convincing the public that he is innocent and a victim. Events like “Walk with Guan Eng” and “Session with the People” have been planned for today.

His supporters have tried to liken his dilemma to what Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim went through in 1998. It is not the best of comparisons given that Anwar was able to galvanise a whole generation of young Malays who flooded the streets in anger.

What DAP may have failed to take note of was that many Chinese intelligentsia have been wary of Lim’s leadership since the Mercedes-Benz episode. Lim had opted for a Mercedes S300L as his official car a mere three months after the state purchased a new fleet of Toyota Camry for the state leaders.

This was evident in comments by the Huazong chairman of Negri Sembilan, Lau Zhi Wen, who is as anti-Barisan Nasional as one gets and has often run down the 1MDB issue.

Lau’s comments in the wake of the court case have gone viral among the Chinese-speaking circle.

He recalled the early days when Lim flew economy class and provided hope for change and greater transparency. He said the people had longed for another Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat who was respected for his simple lifestyle.

But Lau said that Lim changed after winning by a bigger majority in 2013.

“Many said you grew arrogant, others still deify you. You changed cars, flew business class and bought a RM5mil bungalow for RM2.8mil,” he said.

Lau said he had high expectations of the Penang Chief Minister but would no longer speak up for him.

The Chinese vernacular press that would have once defended him to the hilt was also visibly neutral. The thing is Lim does not have as many friends in the Chinese media as when he started out as Chief Minister.

The Chinese vernacular media was instrumental in helping to propel DAP to power. They put Lim on a pedestal but now, eight years down the road, many of them have stories to tell about how they were treated by Lim and his staff and they are not pleasant stories.

The same goes for some of the lawyers watching the drama at the Penang courts on Thursday. A few years ago, they would have come out for him but on that day, their response was: “Let justice take its course.”

DAP is hopeful and confident that the court case will swing sympathy and support towards Lim and arrest the resurgence of support for Barisan.

They are painting their secretary-general as a victim of selective prosecution. Lim has also been trying to tug at the heartstrings with famous sayings that he would prefer to die standing than live on bended knees, and playing up his overnight detention at the MACC headquarters.

The court case proper has yet to start but the court of public opinion is already in session.

By Joceline Tan

 

Who’s is who?

Judge:
Judicial Commissioner Datuk Azmi Arifin

Accused:
1. Lim Guan Eng 2. Phang Li Koon

Prosecution:

1. Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali 2. DPP Masri Mohd daud 3. DPP Mohd dusuki Mokhtar 4. DPP udiman lut Mohamed 5. DPP Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul 6. DPP Mohd Zain Ibrahim 7. DPP Muhammad Fadzlan Mohd Noorbr

Lim Guan Eng’s counsel:

1. Gobind Singh Deo (lead) 2. Ramkarpal Singh 3. R.S.N Rayer 4. M. Kulasegaran 5. P. Subramaniam 6. M. Manoharanbr

Phang Li Koon’s counsel:

1. Datuk K. Kumaraendran (lead) 2. Dev Kumaraendran 3. Raj Shankar 4. Chetan Jethawanibr />

No room for an Islamic State (IS) and the racists in multiracial Malaysia


Let not the first brick be laid

THREE issues that have surfaced over the past week have terribly disturbed me and I am sure many Malaysians who are rational, reasonable and fair-minded feel the same way. More than that, these actions are slowly eroding the Malaysia that we know.

Minister in charge of Islamic Affairs Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom told Parliament that unilateral conversions are lawful and gua­ranteed under the Federal Constitution.

This writer does not know if Jamil understood what he was reading out, which was presumably prepared by an official, or if he had referred to the Cabinet papers or read up on the Federal Constitution.

There is a 2009 Cabinet directive on uni­lateral conversion and early this year, a five-member Cabinet committee on unilateral conversion also decided that no child can be converted to another religion without the consent of both parents.

The 2009 Cabinet directive also stipulated that children must follow the practised religion of the parents at the time of marriage in the event that one of them converts.

Surely Jamil must be aware of the committee because he is also a member. Among the others in the panel are Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup.

The other members of the committee are Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, de facto law minister Nancy Shukri, and Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

Jamil and his officials cannot read the Federal Constitution – specifically the provision for conversion – in isolation.

The argument of the singular meaning for “parent” does not hold water as the Interpretation Act 1948 & 1967 clearly indicates otherwise; the term “parent” in Article 12 (4) must necessarily mean both the father and mother.

To construe otherwise would mean depriving, for example, a mother of her rights as a parent to choose the religion of her infant under Article 12 (4), if the father alone decides. In simple English, the Interpretation Act stipulates “parent” to mean plural, not singular.

The Interpretation Acts of 1948 and 1967, which generally apply to all Acts of Parliament, state that words in the singular shall include the plural. Therefore, the Constitution ought to be interpreted in like manner.

Jamil should also put himself in the shoes of other Malaysians, especially non-Muslims. He may be in charge of Islamic Affairs but he is also a leader of all Malaysians.

I don’t think Jamil will be a happy man if his spouse makes a decision without telling him, and we are not even talking about religious issues.

Lest we forget, the Federal Court has ruled that Hindu mother M. Indira Gandhi is allowed to challenge the validity of the unilateral conversion of her three children by her Muslim-convert ex-husband Muhammad Riduan.

The ruling is the culmination of the interfaith custody battle between Indira and Muhammad Riduan that began in 2009. They were married as Hindus and today, no one has been able to trace the whereabouts of Muhammad Riduan (formerly K. Pathmanathan), who had converted the couple’s three children – then aged 12, 11 and 11 months – to Islam without their presence or Indira’s knowledge, just six days before he obtained a custody order for all three in the Syariah Court on April 8, 2009.

Another big surprise last week was the Government’s decision to allow PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang to table a Private Member’s Bill in the Dewan Rakyat to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.

On Thursday, it was at the bottom of the day’s agenda but it was prioritized by two Federal Ministers. It came as a surprise because PAS has brought the Private Member’s Bill four times since 1995, and has never succeeded. On Thurday, Hadi got this first step.

We can be sure that Hadi will repeat his mantra that the Bill only seeks to empower the Syariah Courts and it only involves Muslims.

When tabling the Bill, he said it seeks to amend Section 2 of the Act to state that the Syariah Courts will have jurisdiction over Muslims, and in the case of offences on matters listed in Item 1 of the State List under the Ninth Schedule of Federal Laws.

He said it is also to include Section 2A, which states that in the conduct of criminal law under Section 2A, the Syariah Courts have the right to impose penalties allowed by Syariah laws related to offences listed in the said section, in addition to the death penalty.

What Hadi is pushing for is unacceptable. We live in a plural society. Those who argue that the Syariah law is only for Muslims may have missed this point – can anyone in Malaysia guarantee that crimes would only involve Muslim criminals and victims?

Many kinds of criminal acts affect non-Muslims, including rape. If we follow what Hadi is preaching – we will have to find four male witnesses of repute to testify in a rape case. Women witnesses are not accepted and we wonder where we are going to find four men of good reputation in relation to a rape case.

If non-Muslims already find that judges in civil courts are reluctant to adopt a firm stand on the civil rights of the aggrieved non-Muslim party, we wonder how the Syariah Courts can defend the interest of non-Muslims.

There cannot be a parallel criminal justice system with Muslims and non-Muslims subjected to two different laws. This is not about Islam, as advocated by Hadi and PAS, but simple common sense. But of course, common sense is not that common in PAS but we hope there will be a sense of fair play from Umno, and not the agenda dictated by the likes of Jamil. Sometimes we wonder if Jamil is really from Umno or PAS.

The third disappointment must be a speech made by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaacob, the controversial Rural and Regional Development Minister, who is well known for his communal remarks.

Last week, he reminded his listeners that Malays must unite to prevent non-Muslims from becoming Prime Minister because the Federal Constitution is silent on the racial origin of the top boss.

First of all, I cannot imagine any non-Malay aspiring to be the PM because, accept it, realistically it is not going to happen in my lifetime. It took 200 years in the United States for a black man to become president, even when the whites and blacks are mainly Christians and speak English.

But it is sad that in this age and time, Ismail is still looking inward and seeing things through his racist lens. Surely, he must have applauded when a Muslim became the first mayor of London, and for that matter, the first mayor in a big Western city.

Even in Jakarta, the capital of the world’s largest Muslim country, a Christian Chinese has been voted in as the city’s governor.

The non-Malays, especially the Chinese, are aware of their position as a minority in Malaysia. Politicians like Ismail should stop using phrases like “they” and “us” in his speeches, because we are all Malaysians.

What he has said serves little purpose, except to hurt feelings unnecessarily. A true mature Malaysian leader will talk about the strength of all Malaysians, regardless of their race and religion, coming together and not going separate ways.

As one lawyer put it aptly in his article, Malaysia is represented by at least 45% of the population who have faiths other than Islam. The important question one needs to address is the line between maintaining social stability and securing individual rights of religious practice and freedom of religion.

He further added, “this needs to be re-evaluated – where the politicisation of the Muslim rights over the non-Muslim citizens and fear mongering has had considerable effect in defining the parameters of the fundamental rights afforded to the citizen by the Constitution.”

Three months from now, Malaysia will celebrate its National Day. As we replay the old visual of Tunku Abdul Rahman raising his hand at Stadium Merdeka, let us not forget that the Alliance created Malaysia as a secular democracy.

Tunku would have been horrified at the thought of what Hadi and his PAS theolo­gians want to do with Malaysia.

He would have also reminded a few Umno leaders, who have no sense of history, that our Independence was made possible because of the unity of Umno, MCA and MIC, and that without Sabah and Sarawak, there would be no Malaysia.

So please think carefully of the hearts and minds of the rest of Malaysians who do not live in Kelantan and do not want to see Malaysia turned into an Islamic State. Let not the first brick be laid.

By Wong Chun Wai The Star

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

 

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Why not abolishing wars, seeking peace in the 70 years after WW2 & inception of the UN?


TheWorldWar_2Why should an organisation devoted to saving “succeeding generations from the scourge of war” make it its business to authorise war?

In the 70 years since the inception of the UN, the world has unfortunately witnessed many theaters of conflict. 

SEVENTY years ago, the Charter of the United Nations solemnly proclaimed that the people of the UN were determined to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and to “establish conditions under which justice … can be maintained”.

Peaceful resolution of disputes was the over-arching ideal of the Charter. However, the Charter permitted two exceptions under which recourse to war was permissible:

> Under Article 51, a nation can defend its sovereignty against an armed attack.

> Collective use of force can be undertaken under Chapter VII of the Charter under a resolution of the UN Security Council.

In the euphoria of the establishment of the UN, these two provisions were regarded as just and fair exceptions to the prohibition on the use of force.

But with the tragic misuse of UN authorised interventions in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, one is made to wonder why an organisation devoted to saving “succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and securing peace and justice should make it its business to authorise the revolting actions that necessarily flow from war.

It is therefore timely to demand that the provision relating to collective use of force under Chapter VII be reviewed or repealed.

Spiralling wars: In the 70 years since the inception of the UN, the world has unfortunately witnessed many theatres of conflict. In a nuclear age, the savagery of war has become even worse. The grounds on which war can be waged have expanded.

Anticipatory self-defence: Some powerful nations like the US and Israel have interpreted the Charter to read into it the right of pre-emptory attack or anticipatory self-defence.

Humanitarian intervention: A new ground of “humanitarian war” without the authority of the UN has been established extra-legally by the American-European Union Alliance.

Regime change: Wars for the purpose of regime change were and are being waged in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

Proxy wars: Many rich and powerful states are fomenting civil wars and supporting armed mercenary forces for the purpose of subverting the sovereignty of other states. Tragic examples are Yemen, Libya, Syria and Ukraine.

Privatising torture: Since the 90s, wars, incarceration in overseas prisons and torture have been privatised. This is a wicked way of avoiding accountability under national laws.

Terrorism: Unspeakable horrors are being committed by terrorist groups like the IS. However, it must be stated that all terrorism, whether by private groups or state actors, is an abomination. On the pretext of combating terrorism, many states are committing atrocities both within their territory and abroad.

Targeted killings: Extra-judicial assassinations of the officials of other states or national liberation movements are being carried out by drone attacks, special-forces units or covert operations.

Humans as guinea pigs: Some nations are developing, deploying and testing their new weapon systems in countries that they invade or occupy – countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza whose population has become a guinea pig for testing deadly weapons.

Threat of missile attacks: Threats of missile and nuclear attacks have become standard language of foreign policy. This is a violation of international law.

Selective sanctions: In the name of human rights, sanctions are being enforced but in a very selective way by the Security Council and by individual nations against their opponents. This is despite overwhelming proof that sanctions hurt innocent civilians and cause untold misery and deprivation to the weakest members of society.

The ICC: The International Criminal Court has gone into operation. But nations like the US and Israel refuse to join it. The UN Security Council and the ICC have brought to book a few war criminals. Sadly, the work of the ICC shows a terrible ethnic bias against Africa. Mass murderers from the USA, EU and Israel remain immune.

Cold War reignited: The Cold War has become reignited and with it new theatres of conflict as in Ukraine are causing massive loss of life.

Merchants of death: The arms trade continues unabated and ignites and fuels regional wars and retards the search for political solutions to international disputes. All arms traders are merchants of death but enjoy a prestige and wealth unknown to many other professions.

Western exceptionalism: Western unilaterism is a sad reality of geopolitics today. In the last decade itself, there were full scale invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq on trumped up charges plus bombing of Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria. In Yemen, Libya and Syria, western proxies are in the forefront of the so called civil war.

US drones blow up “enemy combatants” in many parts of the world with sickening regularity. Despite its professed belief in democracy, Washington has a sorry record of collaborating with right-wing military officers to overthrow elected leaders who do not do Washington’s bidding. The latest victims are Morsi in Egypt in 2013 and Yanukovych in Ukraine in 2014.

On July 3, 1988 the United States shot down an Iranian Airbus killing 290 passengers. The Western world expressed only muted regret.

Genocide in Palestine: US and European complicity with Israel in the 67-year old genocide of the Palestinians is an undeniable fact. As I write, Israel continues to butcher children, women and civilians in Gaza.

Srebrenica: Dutch complicity in the massacres in Srebrenica is well documented.

Structural violence: Add to these military atrocities, the structural violence and oppressive economic systems of the West. There is a desire to consolidate an uncompromising version of corporatism that seeks total economic hegemony over Asia and Africa.

Environment: An environmental catastrophe is awaiting the world unless we take adequate measures to control the threat. Needless to say that part of the ecocide is contributed by the use and misuse of weapons of mass destruction.

In sum, it is a pretty grim situation in the world today. What can be done to bring about a more peaceful and just world? There are obviously no simple solutions. A comprehensive, holistic approach is badly needed.

Reflecting On The Law by Shad Saleem Faruqi

Shad Faruqi, Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM, is a passionate student and teacher of the law. He can be reached at prof.shad.saleem.faruqi@gmail.com. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

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You are ‘Stupid’ is not defamatory


Jeff Ooi

PUTRAJAYA: Calling a person “stupid and recalcitrant” does not amount to defamation, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Court of Appeal judge Justice Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus, who chaired a three-man panel, held this in a civil appeal brought forward by Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi (pic) against a politician over the dismissal of Ooi’s defamation suit.

Justice Mohd Hishamudin ruled Thursday that “although it was not nice to use the words”, it did not amount to defamation.

On April 22 last year, Ooi’s defamation suit against Gerakan deputy secretary-general Dr Thor Teong Gee for calling the former “stupid and recalcitrant” at a press conference was dismissed by the Penang High Court.

Justice Mohd Hishamudin, who upheld the High Court’s ruling in an unanimous decision, also ordered Ooi to pay RM10,000 to the defendant in costs.

In the coram were Court of Appeal judges Justice David Wong Dak Wah and Justice Vernon Ong Lam Kiat.

At the outset of court proceedings when queried by Justice Mohd Hishamudin, Ooi’s lawyer R. Ramesh Sivakumar argued that those words were defamatory because they were a personal attack on the credibility of his client.

Ramesh Sivakumar argued that Dr Thor had acted mala fide by using those words.

“He could have used better words. By calling him stupid, he was portrayed as not fit to be an MP,” he added.

However, Dr Thor’s counsel Baljit Singh and V. Amareson were not required to submit in the appeal.

In an immediate response, Dr Thor said he was very grateful for the appellate court’s decision as he had never made a personal attack against Ooi.

“An NGO invited me to give a professional views on medical issues on radiation,” said Dr Thor, who is a Penang-based medical doctor, when contacted.

In her ruling earlier, High Court Judicial Commissioner Nurmala Salim said Ooi had failed to state the alleged defamatory words in the original language, which was in Mandarin, in his statement of claim.

She also held that the words used by the defendant Dr Thor in the press conference were in reference to a radiation issue, and not a personal attack against Ooi.

“I am inclined to concur with the defendant’s (Dr Thor) counsel that the words uttered are commonly used by Malaysians of all races during an argument or when one is angry,” she said in her decision.

She also said the court did not see how the words had sullied Ooi’s reputation and office, as he had earned a bigger majority of votes in the 2013 general election compared with the general election in 2008.

“The plaintiff (Ooi) himself had refused to state how the words had tarnished his office and reputation,” she said, before dismissing the suit and ordering Ooi to pay RM20,000 in costs to Dr Thor.

Ooi sued Dr Thor for defamation for allegedly uttering the words “stupid and recalcitrant” against him in a press conference on May 21, 2010.

He sought aggravated and exemplary damages, a retraction and an apology by Dr Thor, as well as costs and other relief deemed fit by the court.

By M. Mageswari The Star/Asia News Network


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New lawyer Darren Tan, once 10 years in jail; S’pore CJ: do criminal and family law


Darren Tan_parent

10 years in jail, now a lawyer

Darren Tan, 35, is finally a full-fledged lawyer.

He reached that milestone yesterday when he was called to the Bar during a mass ceremony at Nanyang Technological University.

It was a far cry from his shaky start in life when drugs and gang activities led to over 10 years behind bars and 19 strokes of the cane.

“This is the culmination of what I’ve been working towards for the last 10 years,” he told The Sunday Times. “It’s like waking up from a dream and finding out your dream has become reality.”

His life of crime began at the age of 14, and he was in and out of prison for offences that included robbery and drug trafficking.

It was only when he was 25 and behind bars for the third time that his transformation took place. He found God, and decided to make something of himself.

He resumed his studies with help from the prisons programme, re-learnt English, a language he had forgotten, and aced his A levels, scoring four As and a B, including an A1 for General Paper. He was still in prison when he applied for law school, and became the first student with a criminal past to be admitted to the National University of Singapore law school.

Now, he has a job waiting for him. He did so well during his six-month practice training at TSMP Law Corporation that the firm has given him a permanent position as a commercial litigation and dispute resolution lawyer.

The firm’s joint managing director, Mr Thio Shen Yi, said that while he had initially decided to take a chance on Mr Tan, it had only been a six-month risk.

“He still had to earn his job. And he has,” said Mr Thio. “He is sincere; he has street smarts, maturity and EQ. You can see his transformation through his actions, and this resonated with us because we’re very much a firm that believes in giving back to the community.

“If I had ever thought there was any risk of the firm’s reputation being besmirched, I would not have taken him on.”

Said Mr Tan: “This is my first real job. I enjoy what I’m doing and the bonus is I get paid for it. I’m learning new things every day.”

He spends long hours at work, but tries to leave early every Monday. He and former inmate Kim Whye Kee, an artist, have set up an outreach initiative, Beacon of Life, based in Taman Jurong, to help at-risk boys and youths. On Monday and Saturday nights, they play football.

Mr Tan dined with Britain’s Prince Edward in a 16th-century castle earlier this year, when he was invited there to speak about the National Youth Achievement Award which he has received, and how its programmes could benefit others.

Mr Thio is hoping to rope in Mr Tan to work on the Yellow Ribbon Project to help former prisoners, a scheme which his firm supports.

“He will be able to give us direct insight into where the need is greatest,” he said.

The Singapore Academy of Law, which has supported the Yellow Ribbon Fund since 2011, is in talks with Mr Tan to be part of its upcoming corporate social responsibility programme, which aims to get more in the legal fraternity to join forces to help former offenders.

An only child, Mr Tan has a girlfriend and lives with his parents in a four-room flat in Jurong West.

With a steady pay cheque, he can finally help with family expenses and has promised to take his parents and godfather on a cruise.

His father, Mr Tan Chon Kiat, 67, who does not work, and mother, Madam Ong Ai Hock, 62, a production operator, could not be prouder.

Said Madam Ong: “I didn’t think he would have these opportunities but he has changed his own future. I used to be very worried for him, but now I’m very happy.

“It goes to show that if you work hard, the past is the past.”

Looking forward, her son said: “I have a mantra of sorts – ‘Be good in what I do and do good with what I do’. I used to take drugs because there was a void in my heart and my life. Now, I have something to get hooked on apart from drugs. My life is a good enough substitute.”

By Chang Ai-lien Straits Times/Asia News Network Sun Aug 24 2014

Once in jail, but he’s now a law grad

Darren Tan
For the first three years in law school, Mr Darren Tan kept to himself.

Now he wishes he hadn’t.

The 35-year-old, one of over 10,000 to graduate from the National University of Singapore this year, was afraid that he would not be accepted because of the more than 10 years he spent in jail for drug and gang-related offences.

But last July, he told his story to the media. “After I went public, I received messages of support from my classmates,” said Mr Tan, who will receive his law degree on Thursday.

He has secured a practice training contract with TSMP Law Corporation, but hopes to continue helping lawyers with pro bono work.

Fellow graduand Chua Koon Ting, the first polytechnic student to enter the Faculty of Dentistry, also said that he was not treated differently by fellow students.

“What I learnt is that in university, no one cares where you came from, it’s in the past,” said the former Singapore Polytechnic student, 27, who is now practising at the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics.

This year, 10,282 will be graduating from NUS. They will include the first graduates from five programmes, including the master of Social Work and Public Health doctorate.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam presided over the main commencement ceremony yesterday, in which 160 students from the University Scholars Programme received their scrolls.

One of them was valedictorian Ow Yeong Wai Kit, 25, who received first class honours in English literature.

He will be heading to University College London to do a masters in literature on a Ministry of Education scholarship.

“It’s not so much about whether one has a degree. What’s more important is that we have certain intangible skills that can be used regardless of one’s vocation, such as a sense of curiosity,” he told reporters.

The ceremony was also attended by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat. During his address yesterday, NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan spoke about former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who last month received an honorary Doctor of Laws from NUS.

Said Prof Tan: “The qualities and values he exemplifies, and in particular, his deep sense of purpose, these serve as a powerful beacon not just for all of us in NUS, but for the broader community in Singapore and beyond.”

By Stacey Chia, Debbie Lee The Straits Times/Asia News Network, Friday, Jul 12, 2013

CJ advises new lawyers to do criminal, family law

Lawyers-S'pore

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s newest lawyers have been urged to begin their careers in family and criminal law to hone their skills, instead of heading straight for corporate law, which is getting more competitive than ever.

The legal community yesterday welcomed 430 newly appointed advocates and solicitors at this year’s mass call to the Bar, up from 411 last year and 363 the year before.

The expansion in the number of lawyers means the newcomers will enter a market where the generous salary packages and multiple job offers their predecessors enjoyed will be harder to come by, said Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.

This is also because other major legal centres around the world, such as New York and London, are cutting back in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, he added.

A week ago, Law Minister K. Shanmugam highlighted how Singapore could face a glut in supply of lawyers in the next three years as more aspiring lawyers pursue a law degree here and overseas.

During yesterday’s ceremony at Nanyang Technological University, the Chief Justice said the legal industry is adjusting from one of “undersupply” – when there were more jobs than law graduates – to one where supply and demand are more balanced now, especially in commercial law.

“This means that you will not be running with the wind to your back,” he told the new lawyers hoping to enter corporate and commercial practice. Instead, they can expect “more competition, fewer guarantees and less room for negotiation”. This is a trend that is happening not only in Singapore.

After a period of sustained growth in New York and London “in the later decades of the 20th century”, the pace of recruitment there has slowed down.

Singapore, which benchmarks lawyers’ salaries with those paid by New York and London firms, is no exception to these market forces, especially given how “we also compete in a South-east Asian market where starting salaries are generally lower”. Instead the Chief Justice challenged the new lawyers to take the plunge into family and criminal law – where there is a shortage – and cut their teeth there.

While he admitted that there may be a “good deal less glamour” in these areas of the law, there is no better place than community law for young lawyers to get into the thick of the action, said the Chief Justice.

New lawyers The Sunday Times spoke to said while the market may be getting tighter now, it is their juniors who will feel the pinch. Mr Asik Ali Sadayan, 26, a Singapore Management University graduate, said: “My juniors have told me that it has become a lot harder to get training contracts.

It was easier for my batch and we did not feel the competition as much.” Every year, about 400 local law graduates, along with a growing number of foreign-educated ones, apply for about 500 training contracts offered by law firms.

The six-month contract gives would-be lawyers the real world training they are required to complete before they are called to the Bar. In his speech yesterday, Law Society of Singapore president Lok Vi Ming said his organisation is considering various initiatives to ensure that every graduate eligible for a training contract will get it.

Other new lawyers told The Sunday Times that they had their hearts set on corporate law, and would prefer to give back to society through pro-bono work – something the Chief Justice said was important for lawyers to be involved in.

Not only does such work keep lawyers connected to the community, it also helps them to avoid thinking that their worth is reflected by how much they bill and little else.

Sources: The Straits Times/Asia News Network Sun Aug 24 2014

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