China rejects arbitration tribunal South China Sea ruling ; History backs China in sea disputes


China on Wednesday rejected a Hague-based arbitration tribunal’s ruling giving it six months to respond to a legal claim by the Philippines over disputed waters in the South China Sea.

China’s stance of not accepting or participating in the arbitration proceedings filed by the Philippines has not changed, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said at a regular briefing on Wednesday.

The response came after the tribunal of The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands, issued a statement on Tuesday, which requires China to submit evidence to defend its territorial claims in the South China Sea before December 15.

The tribunal cited an obligation to assure “each party a full opportunity to be heard and to present its case,” according to a Tuesday statement.

The Philippines in March filed a memorandum to the international arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), questioning the validity of China’s “nine-dash” territorial claim.

However, experts said that without a bilateral agreement, the UNCLOS has no jurisdiction to interfere in sovereignty issues, which made China’s stance reasonable and lawful.

“The international arbitration procedure must be agreed by both parties. If China rejects participating, the arbitration will not work,” Ji Qiufeng, a professor of international relations with Nanjing University, told the Global Times.

Ji noted that the international tribunal is most likely to withdraw the Philippines’ case.

“It will be a wise decision for the international tribunal as it lacks power to enforce. Even if the tribunal makes a judgment by default, China will not accept its verdict,” Ji said. “The tribunal may lose its credibility.”

The United States has said it supports the Philippines’ arbitration case, which is closely watched by other claimant countries including Vietnam, which said last month it was considering legal action against China after a Chinese oil rig started to operate in waters near the Xisha Islands that Hanoi claims as it territory.

Ji pointed out that Vietnam’s legal threat is very likely to depend on the result of the Philippines’ case. “As China stands firm against the Manila plea, Hanoi should be aware that the threats would prove in vain.”

– By Hu Qingyun Source:Global Times Published: 2014-6-5 0:43:01

History backs China in sea disputes

China has been criticized by some countries for making “ambiguous” claims on the islands, islets, reefs and waters in the South China Sea. For example, it has been criticized for “failing to honor” the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea despite being a signatory to it, as well as for “violating” other international laws on the sea.

A few international observers also accuse China of deliberately obscuring its territorial claims in the South China Sea by using terms not found in the UNCLOS, such as “adjacent waters” and “relevant waters”. And some countries keep demanding that China “clarify” its nine-dash line map.

The fact is that, if these countries do not change their mindset and attitude, the nine-dash line will continue to be vague for them irrespective of how clearly China defines it.

China has an unequivocal and consistent territorial claim on the islands and other land features in the South China Sea. As a matter of fact, it has unequivocally stated its claim in three official documents: the 1947 Location Map of the South China Sea Islands released by the Kuomingtang government in Nanjing, the 1958 Declaration of the Government of New China on the Territorial Sea and the 1992 Law on Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone. These documents state that the Dongsha Islands, Xisha Islands, Zhongsha Islands, Nansha Islands and other islands are part of the sovereign territory of China.

Some countries view China’s maritime claim in the South China Sea as ambiguous because of certain historical reasons. The first reason is that the UNCLOS does not properly address the issue of historic rights. Despite the reference to historic title in Articles 15 and 298(1)(a), the provision on historic bays in Article 15(6), and the recognition of traditional fishing rights in Article 51, it does not have any provision for the definition of historic rights or their specific connotation and denotation.

The second is that no consistent understanding has been reached in international law on historic rights. For example, Yehuda Z. Blum, an Israeli professor of law and diplomat, has observed: The term “historic rights” denotes the possession by a state, over certain land or maritime areas, of rights that would not normally accrue to it under the general rules of international law, such rights having been acquired by that state through a process of historical consolidation … Historic rights are a product of a lengthy process comprising a long series of acts, omissions and patterns of behavior which, in their entirety, and through their cumulative effect, bring such rights into being and consolidate them into rights valid in international law.

Besides, a state acquires historic rights through effective exercise of these rights (long series of acts, omissions and patterns of behavior) by one or more states, a practice followed by relevant states. The concept of historic rights is almost equivalent to that of historic water.

In this vein, Leo Bouchez, a renowned international law professor, says the concept of “historic rights” has evolved from the concept of “historic water” and “historic bays”. The development from “historic bays” to “historic water” and from “historic title” to “historic rights” indicates the evolution of legal concepts with the development of state practice, and that such concepts have not been finalized.

From the point of view of China, one of the world’s oldest civilizations, the South China Sea is part of the traditional Asian order and, hence, it would be inappropriate to comprehend the nine-dash line by relying solely on the Westphalian nation-state system.

As Keyuan Zou, Harris professor of International Law at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK, has observed, the South China Sea nine-dash line map was officially released by the Chinese Kuomingtang government half a century before the UNCLOS, and one decade before the 1958 Four Geneva Conventions on the Law of the Sea. Thus, China’s historic rights within the nine-dash line cannot be ignored. The nine-dash line drawn by the Chinese government in 1947, at approximately the median position between China’s South China Sea islands and reefs and the coastlines of bordering states, reflects the scope of China’s claims. The consistency of the claims has been maintained by China after 1949, and the claims have been recognized or acquiesced to by bordering states over a long period of time. Therefore, the nine-dash line has probative force and weight under international law.

The so-called ambiguity in China’s nine-dash line map and its claim on the waters within that line mainly stems from the imperfection of the UNCLOS. To some extent, international law on historic rights is defective in theory and doctrine and lacks a unified standard.

China has been striving to clarify its claim in the South China Sea. But the joint efforts of the international community are also needed to complement and improve the UNCLOS by agreeing to a new international convention or protocol in order to clarify the understanding of historic rights.

The author is deputy director of Maritime Security Institute at East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai. The views expressed are personal. His most recent book is Legal Interpretation of China’s South China Sea Map: An Inclusive Approach to Ocean Public Order.

– By Zheng Zhihua (China Daily)

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End the lawyers’ monopoly on conveyancing in Malaysia


End the conveyancing monopoly

Lawyers set outrageous fees despite the fact that the work done does not involve additional skill.

WHEN I started my legal practice many years ago, it was quite common for lawyers to give discounts on fees chargeable for conveyancing and loan transactions. In fact, some of us charged time costs to clients because the work was quite straightforward (even if the sums involved were large).

In those days, there was already a no-discount rule. The legal fraternity then was more realistic and the Bar Council was lenient when it came to the amount of fees we could charge: no one would be liable for disciplinary action for not following scaled fees, and breaches were more frequent than observance. Those were happy days.

By and large, conveyancing and loan documentation for financial institutions are straightforward matters. They usually involve standard terms that lawyers use on a daily basis without much effort (though some lawyers might dispute this).

Conveyancing fees are what we call “easy money” – clerks do all the work and lawyers collect their fees for signing on the right pages. The higher the value of the property, or the value of the bank loan, the higher the fee.

I have never thought it right to charge high fees on this basis; after all, high-value residential property transacted in Ampang, for example, requires the same work and skill as that of lower-valued property in Klang, so why should there be a difference in fees?

The fact is that the scaled fees mandated by the Bar Council favour the lawyer who undertakes larger property transactions – but why this is so can be difficult to understand, and I suggest you read Michael Joseph’s Conveyancing Fraud, which was first published in 1989.

Joseph was an English solicitor who did his part to expose the arbitrary and unfair system by which the Law Society of England and Wales (the governing body for solicitors) set outrageous fees despite the fact that the work done had no relation to any additional skill.

Ultimately, good sense prevailed and solicitors lost their monopoly over conveyancing in England and Wales. A new breed of professionals called “conveyancers” was given the right to do this work as well and, as a result, fees were much reduced and services improved. That’s what competition does to any industry.

But not in Malaysia. Here, the Bar Council still insists that only lawyers can undertake conveyancing work and scaled fees must be strictly followed – a practice abandoned long ago in other Commonwealth countries.

When it comes to this issue, the Bar Council somehow always overlooks the question of public interest. It seems that, to the Council, it’s their members’ interests that are more important.

The economist Adam Smith warned us 250 years ago that when people of the same trade met, the conversation usually ended up in a conspiracy against the public through the raising of prices.

We now have the Competition Act 2010, which in essence seeks to promote the competitive process, and the rule of the game is to discourage anti-competitive behaviour. The stance taken by the Bar has been definitely against the Competition Act, although no one dares to challenge the lawyers’ monopoly.

The question remains: why must lawyers be the only type of professionals allowed to do conveyancing work?

A solicitor friend countered this view by saying that the Competition Act itself allows for exclusion. For example, Section 13 of the Act exempts any agreement or conduct that complies with a legislative requirement. My friend argued that the Solicitors’ Remuneration Order 2005 (which allows for scaled fees to be charged) is such a legislative requirement.

But wait a minute. I’m not saying that the Bar is in violation of the Competition Act. I’m saying merely that the Bar’s monopoly on conveyancing is not in compliance with the spirit of the Act. The Bar is once again out of touch!

The Malaysian Competition Commission, under the able leadership of former Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Siti Norma Yaakob, should exercise its power under Sections 11 and 12 of the Competition Act to perform a “market review” of the situation and publish the results.

I am sure such a study will show the need for the establishment of a new breed of professional conveyancers so as to give lawyers some fair competition, and I’m sure the market review will benefit the public immensely.

Arguments that conveyancing work is complicated and must be done by lawyers have already been used in Australia and England, and have been found to be baseless – in fact, the quality of conveyancing services in Australia and New Zealand actually improved after the lawyers’ monopoly was broken.

In Malaysia, there are many former legal clerks and Land Office employees who can qualify and be registered as conveyancers. Of course, local conveyancers will have to be properly regulated under their own professional standards organisation to ensure that a high quality of work will be maintained.

The lawyers’ monopoly has no purpose whatsoever in this day and age. Moreover, given that the Bar Council has always fought for the political and human rights of the people, I believe it should extend this public spirit to conveyancing and other spheres, even if it means less “easy money” for lawyers.

In fact, the real test of our commitment to a particular cause is our willingness to persist even if it hits our pockets, so I say again: the public will surely benefit from an end to the conveyancing monopoly, services will improve and prices will fall. So why can’t we do it?

Contributed by by datuk zaid ibrahim The Star/Asia News Network

> Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, true to his Kelantan roots, is highly passionate about practically everything, hence the name of this column. Having established himself in the legal fraternity, Zaid ventured into politics and has been on both sides of the political divide. The former de facto Law Minister at one time is now a legal consultant but will not hesitate to say his piece on any current issue. He can be reached at zaid.ibrahim@partners-corp.com. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

Karpal Singh: Bye-bye, Jangan main-main/Don’t fool around !


Karpal-singh_Tell SpeakerStanding his ground:Karpal telling the Speaker: “I have a right to be here” as the police wait to escort him out in May 1981.  Images for Karpal Singh imagesTributes for Karpal Singh’s Quotes:

“Jangan main-main” – a catchphrase of sorts for the statesman, Karpal Singh said this on many occasions – to the Registrar of Societies when his beloved party was faced with the threat of deregistration, after being sent live bullets by thugs.

“The tiger is still alive and … a wounded tiger is even more dangerous.” – Karpal in April 1995 after DAP was defeated in Penang. The then-state chairman said the defeat did not mean the end of the opposition in Penang.

“I know what it is like to lose your liberties. So I want to go on being in Parliament as long as I can.” – Karpal in 1995, when asked about his determination during the general elections campaign period.

“For there to be integration in essence and spirit, I hope all restrictions in the way of uniting the people are removed.” – Karpal in June 1995, welcoming the move to integrate the legal systems of Sabah, Sarawak and West Malaysia.

“Offences perpetrated upon children, particularly infants, are the most heinous of offences because children are defenceless against such attacks.” Despite his dislike of capital punishment, Karpal felt that those who committed crimes against children deserved harsh sentences.

“Singh is King.” A reference to a popular Bollywood movie with the same catchphrase, Karpal used the line several times including after he received live bullets in the mail (prefaced with “jangan main-main”).

“I do not intend to give up. The Opposition has a big role to play in this country.” – Karpal after his accident in 2005 which left him in a wheelchair.

“There are always people who are insensitive, we just have to take it. There is nothing you can do about it. We cannot be discouraged, as that’s exactly what our enemies would want.” – Karpal in a Sept 2006 interview with The Star.

“Once you are in this situation, you realise how little the disabled have in this country. Governments in many countries make lots of allowances to include them in society. We haven’t reached that stage. I will do what I can to make sure the disabled are given all opportunities in line with other countries.” – Karpal in 2006, commenting on the lack of disabled-friendly infrastructure and legislation in Malaysia.

“We may have our differences with PAS but it is a solid, principled party and an important ally.” – Karpal in 2012. “My parents wanted me to be a doctor but I would have been a lousy doctor!” – Karpal in a 2010 interview with The Star.

“I am not questioning the privileges. I am asking how long they will be implemented.” – Karpal in 2010, asking the Government for a time frame for the gradual removal of special privileges accorded to Malays and other bumiputras, in the spirit of 1Malaysia.

“As long as I am alive, I will continue to struggle to see a non-Malay become prime minister.” – Karpal in 2012, saying the Federal Constitution did not provide that only Malays could be prime minister.

Was Flight 370 remote-hijacked as Boeing has autopilot technology?


Autopilot tech

Boeing has patent for autopilot tech

PETALING JAYA: When it was first speculated that Flight MH370 could have been hijacked via remote control access, many dismissed it as far-fetched science fiction.

But the technology to navigate planes, ships, trains, buses and other vehicles by remote control has been around for about a decade.

The Boeing Company, the world’s leading aerospace company and the largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft, has the technology.

It owns a patent for a system that enables remote controlling of its aircraft to counter hijacking attempts.

Boeing applied for the patent for an “uninterruptible autopilot control system” about 11 years ago, and was awarded it in 2006.

The system can be activated when the security of onboard controls are jeopardised.

“The method and systems of the present invention provide techniques for automatically navigating, flying and landing an air vehicle,” states the report for the US patent number US7142971B2.

Once activated, an aircraft could be automatically navigated, flown and made to land without input from anyone on board.

“Any onboard capability to supercede the automatic control system may be disabled by disconnecting the onboard controls,” states the report.

Power is provided to the automatic control system “from an alternative power control element that is inaccessible (to anyone on board the vehicle)”.

According to the patent report, control commands could be received from a remote location and/or from predetermined control commands stored on board the plane.

Boeing applied for the patent on Feb 19, 2003, barely two years after the Sept 11 attack in which hijacked planes rammed into the World Trade Centre, reducing the gigantic buildings into rubble.

Eric D. Brown, Douglas C. Cameron, Krish R. Krothapalli, Walter von Klein Jr and Todd M. William invented the system for Boeing. The patent was awarded three years later on Nov 28, 2006.

When the automatic control system is activated, no one on board the aircraft would be capable of controlling its flight.

The patent report also states that a signal might be transmitted to at least one remote location from the plane to indicate that the uninterruptible autopilot mode of the air vehicle has been engaged.

The system includes a dedicated communication link between the aircraft and a remote location, distinct from any communication link established for other types of communication.

According to an independent analyst James Corbett, the US Federal Aviation Administration had reported on the Federal Registrar last November that the Boeing 777-200, -300 and –300ER aircraft were equipped with an electronics security system to check unauthorised internal access.

Contributed by Sira Habibu The Star/Asia News Network

 

“Flight 370 Was Remote-Hijacked”

 

Author, barrister and political advisor Matthias Chang
Author, barrister and political advisor Matthias Chang

A high-level Malaysian source has confirmed that missing Flight MH370 must have been hijacked by remote control.

Matthias Chang, a barrister who served as Political Secretary to the Fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, explained why only a remote-hijacking “fly by wire” scenario can explain the plane’s disappearance.

Read Matthias Chang’s MH 370 – A Sinister Tragedy In the Fog of Coincidence?

In an exclusive interview with Truth Jihad Radio, Chang – who remains well-connected with the highest political levels in Malaysia – patiently explained why all of the evidence points to a remote hijacking by one of the handful of countries capable of such a technological feat. He expressed annoyance with Western media criticism of the Malaysian government, arguing that it is Western governments, not Malaysia’s, that are covering up what they know while the media fails to ask the hard questions.

[The audio interview will be posted for Truthjihad.com subscribers by this evening here.]

During our interview on the morning of Friday April 4th (Malaysia time) Matthias Chang told me: “I want to raise a point that has not been much discussed in either the mainstream or alternative media, which is that the technology of autopilot has been in existence for a long time. Since September 11th, more sophisticated systems have been placed in all planes to avoid any hijackings. If there is a hijacking in progress it kicks in and flies to an airport to land safely. The system can be triggered by the pilot himself from the cockpit, or it can be triggered by ground control. And by ‘ground control’ I mean it can be operated from land, an AWAC plane, or a ship, by an entity that has the capability and technology to fly the plane remotely. That technology is out there.”

Chang pointed out that only remote-hijacking can explain the plane’s flight path: “This plane is flying for six hours on its own. Who’s flying the plane? The entity flying the plane must be those with the technology that’s used now to pilot drones. We know drones have been flown in Afghanistan from Florida. We have seen video tapes and news broadcasts about how ‘pilots’ in Florida are flying planes and drones in Afghanistan as if they are playing computer games.”

Chang explained that the Western media’s pilot suicide hypothesis “doesn’t hold water. If you’re a pilot, why turn back, go north to Thailand where there are military exercises going on, and you will know from the radar that other planes are flying, then turn south and fly for six hours? That’s ridiculous. Also, most suicides leave notes explaining why. This is another huge question mark. Why this accusation of the pilot, when the facts are inconsistent with suicide?”

Suggesting that the Western countries have been leading the public on a wild goose chase, Chang explained:

“During the past four weeks, we have heard of various countries providing data. Australia said there were two floating objects west of Perth, but when ships were sent they were not found. France, also, said they discovered two objects. When the search planes went, these too couldn’t be found. The satellite of Thailand (a US client state) found two objects. It was sea rubbish. This was followed by (US occupied) Japan saying they found objects. But those objects were not MH370s. The British firm Inmarsat, using its calculations, said the plane would have crashed in the area where the objects were located. But subsequently Boeing, doing new calculations projecting faster flight at lower altitude, said the plane could have ended somewhere 1000 miles north of the previously projected location.”

Were all of these people ordered to look in all the wrong places – by a military high command that knows perfectly well where the plane is?

Chang continues:

“Given all this information, it’s crystal clear, clear as day, that the one country that has the most sophisticated surveillance technology has remained mute. They may have given sealed evidence – I don’t know. But no public announcement.

As VT Editor Gordon Duff says, a gnat has a hard time disappearing. So how can a 777 vanish?

As VT Editor Gordon Duff says, a gnat has a hard time disappearing. So how can a 777 vanish?

“America has the most advanced satellites in the world…it can detect an object the size of a coin, look at bunkers buried deep underground. NROL 39 (the US National Reconnaissance Office) uses the octopus emblem. It states clearly that enemies of America cannot hide because ‘nothing is beyond our reach.’ The octopus’s tentacles encompass the whole globe. I find it very odd that America has been reticent, conspicuously silent, about what their satellites have shown, if anything.”

What makes it especially odd that the US will not admit it tracked the plane is that the flight path involved some of America’s most sensitive military areas:

“As MH370 reached the airspace of Vietnam it went north toward Thailand where the US-run Cobra Gold and Cope Tiger military exercises were being held. Then, allegedly, the plane ended in the Indian Ocean. But there is no evidence or debris. Now what is conspicuous…is that when a plane goes past Southern Thailand into the Indian Ocean, it has to fly past a very important landmark: Diego Garcia, a secretive US military base. It was from this base that the US launched bombers to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam before that. Surely this base has some of the most sophisticated surveillance technology. Any unidentified plane that flew in the direction of Diego Garcia would certainly be located and identified.”

Chang, the former top political advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, noted that the bizarre disappearance of MH370 coincided with the US-run Cobra Gold and Cope Tiger military exercises – just as previous “disasters” have mirrored suspiciously-timed drills and exercises:

“On 9/11, when planes struck the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, there were military exercises taking place, and NORAD and others were confused about whether the planes were part of the exercise or not.”

Chang was referring to the notorious 46 drills of September 11th 2001, the biggest pre-designated National Security Special Event Day in US history. Those exercises practiced and then mimicked every aspect of the actual attacks, including a live-fly plane-into-building exercise that shut down the National Reconnaissance Office and prevented NRO personnel from seeing satellite images of whatever the alleged attack planes and their military control planes, including the “Flying Pentagon” E-4B Command Center aircraft, were really doing that day.

Chang noted that the 7/7/2005 London bombings – like 9/11– perfectly mirrored drills that were occurring at exactly the same times and places:

“On 7/7 in London, there was a bombing of underground stations, plus the bus in Tavistock Square. Surprise surprise, four Muslim youth were said to be responsible for the deaths and injuries. Yet on that very day, there were terrorist bombing exercises at precisely the same four locations.”

YouTube – Veterans Today –

Chang observed that Christopher Bollyn, whose book Solving 9/11 implicates Israel and its US agents in the worst terrorist attack in US history, has discovered indications that the disappearance of MH370 might be connected with another false-flag plot: “Bollyn exposed how, immediately after the hijacking (of MH370), the Times of Israel put out propaganda that the plane was hijacked by agents of Iran, then landed in Bangladesh to weaponize the plane to carry out a diabolical attack like September 11th.” (Bollyn also discovered a suspicious “evil twin” of MH370 hidden in an Israeli hangar – his article is linked here.)

Chang said that the media’s focus on the search for the MH370′s black box is a deception. “We’ve been diverted to look for the black box. Bullshit! There are plenty of signals.” Chang asserts that both Boeing, a leading US military contractor, and the Rolls-Royce company that makes the plane’s engines, know exactly what happened to MH370, because they are constantly fed signals giving them every significant detail about all of their planes including exactly location, altitude, airspeed, engine function, manual or autopilot, and so on.

Regarding Rolls-Royce, Chang said:

“As long as the engine is running, they monitor it. If anything goes wrong with the engine for any reason, they land the plane and abort the flight. There have been a couple of instances when Rolls-Royce detected malfunctions and told the pilot to land as soon as possible due to the malfunction.

“So for six hours or more, Rolls-Royce would have kept track of the pings. Rolls-Royce would know where the plane’s going. Now I’m told, rightly or wrongly, that in the protocol, Rolls-Royce may be prohibited from disclosing this information.”

Likewise, Malaysia has been prevented from disclosing the sealed evidence it has been provided by one or more unnamed countries – or even the name of that country or countries.

But despite the gag order, Chang thinks the evidence speaks for itself: “There is cyber war between these (larger) countries, and we small countries are caught in the middle. I think the passengers were collateral damage.”

Chang’s conclusion about Flight 370?

“Under the cover of the military exercises, something diabolical, something catastrophic, has happened.”

 Sources Veterans Today Editor:

Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror.

Dr. Barrett has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications.

Dr. Barrett has taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin, where he ran for Congress in 2008. He currently works as a nonprofit organizer, author, and talk radio host.

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Disturbing legal implications on sedition and ‘fatwa’ in Malaysia


Karpal_Kassim AhmadKassim Ahmad & Karpal Singh Two recent cases raise the issue of what amounts to sedition and why one can’t question or challenge a ‘fatwa’.

THE recent conviction of Karpal Singh under the Sedition Act and the charging of Kassim Ahmad under the Federal Territories Syariah offences law raise some disturbing questions with serious implications as to where we are headed as a democratic nation.

First, let us look at the Sedition Act. The trouble with this law, a remnant of British colonialism, is two-fold. First, its basic premise is that criticism of authority should be controlled. This in itself is already an affront to democracy.

Second is its open-ended nature. Just what exactly amounts to sedition, for example. However, up until the Karpal Singh case, I thought there was one defence in the Sedition Act that was pretty strong.

Something is not seditious if you are pointing out that the object of your criticism has done something wrong, especially in the context of their constitutional limitations. This appears so clear to me that it seemed unlikely any court could find a way around it.

Alas, that is exactly what seems to have happened to Karpal. He basically said that the decision made by the Sultan of Perak of choosing a new Mentri Besar for the state in 2009 could be questioned in court.

I can’t for the life of me see what is seditious about that. Is the Sultan limited by the Constitution and the law in the discharge of his powers? Yes, of course he is. And if there is a dispute as to whether he acted lawfully or not, could he not be questioned? Again, of course he should, for we live in a constitutional and not an absolute monarchy.

And lastly, if there is to be a questioning of the acts of a member of the royalty, is there a lawful manner with which this can be done? Again the answer is yes, because we have the Special Court which was designed specifically for the royals and inserted into our Constitution by the Government.

Even within the authoritarian nature of the Sedition Act, there seem to be limits as to what can be deemed seditious. I thought those limits were clear enough. It appears that I am wrong.

What is of concern is that even when an act clearly falls within the allowable limits of a law, this does not appear to make any difference at all. Thus, the reach of a poor law becomes even greater and all that much more oppressive.

The second thing I want to talk about is the charging of Kassim Ahmad. This case raises some serious problems with some of the Syariah laws we have in this country.

According to the Syariah Offences law of the Federal Territories, it is an offence to question and speak in contradiction to a fatwa made by the mufti.

This fatwa need not be gazetted, that is to say made into law, just its mere exclamation is enough to give it weight of law. Needless to say, fatwas which have been gazetted can’t be questioned either.

Firstly, one wonders why one can’t question or challenge a law? If a fatwa is gazetted and made into law, what makes it different from any other law? Why can’t it be challenged? I can criticise the Contracts Act so why can’t I criticise any other thing which affects my life?

But what is really disturbing is the fact that a fatwa, which is after all merely an opinion, can carry the weight of law even without going through the legislative process of debate and voting. This in effect means that one person’s words suddenly become akin to a law for we cannot challenge it and if we do we can face a fine and jail.

This is frightfully undemocratic and can lead to some horrific scenarios. What if a mufti passes a fatwa saying that any sort of dissension against the civil government is wrong?

According to the Federal Territories law, any challenge of fatwa can be punished. What kind of democracy are we living in if a person’s statement by itself can have such authority?

Much has been said about how Malaysia is edging towards a more liberal and open democracy. Laws have been repealed or changed and steps (albeit baby steps) have apparently been taken.

What these two events show is that there are still some very undemocratic laws in existence, they are still being used and any hope that we are becoming more democratic is hopelessly naïve.

Brave New World by Azmi Sharam

> Azmi Sharom (azmisharom@yahoo.co.uk) is a law teacher. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

Stupid fellow ! Dr Ling, former Malaysian Transport Minister slams Attorney-General


Ling Liong SikUTAR Council Chairman Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik speaking to the media regarding UTAR Initiatives and Developments at the Sg Long Campus, Kajang on Tuesday.

KAJANG: There was nothing wrong in the land purchase for the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project, said former transport minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik.

“The Cabinet was correct in deciding on that. It’s only the A-G (attorney-general who) thinks it’s a wrong decision. Stupid fellow,” he said at a press conference here yesterday to announce Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman’s (Utar) latest initiatives and developments.

Dr Ling also said the land was sold to PKFZ at RM21 psf. He added that the land is now valued between RM70 to RM80psf, saying that it was already a profit.

Dr Ling and another former transport minister Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy was charged for cheating the Government over the PKFZ project. Both were later acquitted.

Dr Ling was acquitted on Oct 25 last year on three charges of cheating the Government over the PKFZ land deal. The trial began in August 2011.

Justice Ahmadi Asnawi, in delivering the judgment last year, held that the defence had managed to raise reasonable doubt into the prosecution’s case over the main and two alternative charges against Dr Ling.

Justice Ahmadi added that there was no evidence on who initiated the PKFZ project involving the procurement of the land.

The court found that Dr Ling’s evidence was corroborated by the testimony of former prime minister and then-finance minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Justice Ahmadi added that it was apparent Dr Ling merely signed off documents presented to him by his officers and later made the presentation to the Cabinet.

He said that when the Cabinet decided to approve the purchase of the land by Port Klang Authority (PKA) from Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB), the Cabinet knew that the value of RM25psf did not include the total amount of interest payable and that interest of 7.5% would be payable over and above RM25psf.

Besides that, Justice Ahmadi said that the purchase of the land was not decided over a single Cabinet meeting but rather it was deliberated periodically between March 1999 and Nov 6, 2002.

Utar plans training hospital 

KAJANG: Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) plans to open a specialist training hospital in Perak that will be named the Sultan Azlan Shah Hospital.

Utar council chairman Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik (pic) said the specialist training hospital would be located near the university’s Kampar campus, though he stopped short of mentioning any time frame for construction.

“The hospital will offer treatment using traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as well as Western or conventional medicine,” he told reporters yesterday to announce the university’s latest initiatives and developments.

Dr Ling said the hospital, which would serve the public, would be used to train medical students.

According to the Utar website, the university has been accepting students for its Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programme since May 2010, while it was also the first institution approved to offer a bilingual TCM degree programme in Malaysia from May 2011.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Dr Ling said the land for the hospital had been donated to Utar by Perak ruler, Sultan Azlan Shah.

Utar president Prof Datuk Dr Chuah Hean Teik said the university would help to build and operate the hospital.

Separately, MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai announced that Dr Ling would helm the newly set up MCA Higher Education Institutions Coordination Committee.

The committee is tasked with streamlining the courses offered by the four educational initiatives of MCA: Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TARUC), Tunku Abdul Rahman University (Utar), Kojadi Institute and the Institute Of Childhood Education Studies and Community Education.

Liow noted that they were “overlapping” courses offered by TARUC and Utar, especially after the former was upgraded from a college to university college last year.

Asked on why Dr Ling was picked for the post, Liow said: “He is a veteran who has shown his commitment and contribution to the development of the two institutions.

“Now we want to further develop the MCA higher learning section, and we need a lot of effort to synchronise and synergise to ensure that we can perform better in this area,” he added.

Sources:

The Star/Asia News Network

Old and abandoned by children like trash !


Old discardedThe forgotten: Foong with an elderly inmate of Rumah Kasih in Taman Mutiara Barat.

PETALING JAYA: Each week, at least 10 elderly Malaysians end up in old folks homes and that is just the official average, based on centres registered under the Welfare Department.

According to department director-general Datuk Norani Hashim, an average of 536 elderly persons were placed in registered centres each year between 2009 and 2012.

“The actual number could be much higher as some privately run homes are not registered with the department,” she said.

She said between 1993 and last year, a total of 4,968 senior citizens were placed in 211 centres nationwide.

“Perak has the most number with 1,339 in 56 centres, followed by Selangor with 860 in 45 centres but only nine of the centres are under direct supervision of the department,” she added.

In Kuala Lumpur, Foong Peng Lam, the coordinator of Rumah Kasih, which takes in old folks and patients found abandoned in government hospitals, said at least one person was admitted each week.

He said most of the patients were abandoned because their families claimed they could not afford to take care of them.

“Their family members do not provide any form of financial assistance and do not come over to visit,” he said.

The home has taken in over 600 abandoned individuals since its inception in 2000.

“Weak elderly people who had collapsed by the roadside were also brought in by strangers.

“There were also those who were brought in by family members who never return to visit or take them home,” he said.

Foong said the number of abandoned patients had been increasing steadily – from seven in 2000, to the 60 at present.

Apart from Hospital Kuala Lumpur, the home has been taking in patients from Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Hospital Selayang, Tung Shin Hospital, Hospital Seremban, Hospital Sungai Buloh, University Malaya Medical Centre, Hospital Ampang and Hospital Kajang.

He said the hospitals would first try to contact the families, who would usually promise to take the patient home, but never turn up.

“This can go on for up to two months before they bring a patient in.

“Even when we manage to contact the families they usually refuse to take any responsibility,” he added.

Figures from the National Population and Family Development Board, an agency under the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, show that about 675,000 elderly parents did not receive financial support from their children in 2004 when the Fourth Malaysian Population and Family Survey was conducted.

 Abandoned by loved ones after becoming ‘worthless’ 

KUALA LUMPUR: S.K. Cheng, 65, spent three months at Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL), waiting for his family to take him home.

The diabetic collapsed while walking by the roadside in September last year.

He woke up in the hospital and was told that his left leg would have to be amputated below the knee.

“I did not take care of my children when they were younger. That is why they do not want me now. I could not afford to take care of them well because I did not have enough money,” he lamented at the Rumah Kasih in Cheras, his current home.

Cheng said he used to work in a coffee shop and lived with his wife and three children.

He said his wife passed away 10 years ago and his son and daughters soon moved on with their lives elsewhere.

They came to visit him at the hospital once, but that was the last time he saw them.

Another inmate, also surnamed Cheng, said she was also left at HKL for nearly three months before she was sent to the home.

The woman, in her 70’s, was bedridden after suffering a stroke.

Her son, in his 40s, did not want to take her home because he could not afford the medical bills.

“She used to work odd jobs and was living with her son before she became ill.

“Her son just dumped her, expecting the hospital to care for his mother,” said a caretaker at the home.

While most Rumah Kasih patients are elderly there is also a 36-year old woman known only as Chan.

She spent six weeks in Hospital Selayang without anyone in her family visiting her.

“I used to be happy. I was working as a cashier and was married with three young children.

“When I suffered a stroke and became paralysed, my husband left me at the hospital and left my kids with my father,” she said.

“He said he could not take me. Now that I cannot work anymore I am worthless and they do not want me.”

Contributed by  P Aruna, Farik Zolkepli, Zora Chan, and Vanes Devindran The Star/ANN

Related post:
Go see your parents… or else!

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