YBs, please lend us your ears


Some of our lawmakers should re-focus their attention and find ways to help ease the cost of living.

IT’S disturbing, to say the least. We have economic issues that Malaysia needs to deal with seriously like the continuing uncertainty in the price of oil, market slowdown and slide in the value of our ringgit which is affecting our country’s coffers.

The cost of doing business has shot up against the backdrop of declining revenue and profits, which worries most Malaysians.

All of us, especially those in the middle and lower income groups, are grappling with the increasing cost of living. The worst hit are the wage earners living in major cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru and Penang.

If our elected lawmakers have any idea of what the rakyat is going through, they should be focusing on ways to help ease the cost of living.

Never mind if they have to talk in the Dewan Rakyat till 5am. And to our Yang Berhormats, don’t expect us to sympathise with you, because get this – no one pressured you to be a Member of Parliament. You chose to stand for elections yourself.

But sadly for us, instead of having the chance to listen to top quality debates on ways to help Malaysia find new sources of revenue and not just depend on oil and palm oil, again, we find some of our legislators preferring to channel their energy into religious matters.

Not that religion isn’t a priority for us. It is, but the reality is this: we will never reach common ground.

So, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has managed to table the controversial Private Member’s Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act or RUU355, but the debate on it has been deferred. That’s the furthest he gets.

He can keep saying that it will not affect non-Muslims, but the majority of non-Muslims know this to be untrue.

We are a plural society and no one community lives in isolation. Our lives are intertwined and entangled as Malaysians. There’s no such thing as laws that do not affect the entire community.

Abdul Hadi says it isn’t hudud, but hudud is written all over the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (II) Enactment (1993) (Amended 2015) and if Abdul Hadi’s Bill is passed, it will only give life to such laws on a national level.

Remember, even a poster of a Bollywood actress pinned up at a watch shop in Kelantan resulted in a non-Muslim shopkeeper being fined because the authorities thought the photograph was sexy. And not to mention the unisex hair salons which have long been penalised.

Abdul Hadi expects us to believe him when he says that non-Muslims will not be affected. And if we go by his “logic”, non-Muslims have no say over the matter.

The majority of Barisan Nasional component parties do not want this Bill – it is that simple – and we are glad that the Prime Minister understands that the coalition operates on consensus.

The fact is that the MCA and MIC have stood by Umno, even when it was at its lowest, since our independence. These are proven friends of more than six decades and not newfound pals who got together because of common political expediency.

Let’s get real. Umno isn’t going to move aside and allow PAS to contest in any constituency in the general election, nor will PAS allow the same for Umno.

Malaysia is a multicultural country founded on the principles of moderation. This is not a Middle East nation, even though the Muslims make up the majority of the population. We should be proud of our unique Malaysian way of life.

I studied Malay Literature for two years in the Sixth Form, sat for the examination (and passed) and when I entered university, I signed up for the Malay Letters Department courses at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

I wanted to deepen my understanding and appreciation of the Malay arts. Not Arab arts. Malays are Muslims, not Arabs.

Over at the august House, even as Abdul Hadi became the focus of attention after tabling the Bill, we had to put up with Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shabudin Yahaya, who at one point suggested that rapists be allowed to marry their child victims as a solution to social problems.

He can keep blaming the press, claiming that he was quoted out of context, but there are certain basic remarks he made that he cannot run away from.

You can watch the video recording of what he said a few times and pause at certain parts of the video. It is pretty clear.

A girl who is nine years old may have reached puberty, but is she old enough to have sexual intercourse after she marries? A rational person would say that she is a child and should be in school or the playground with her friends.

This YB has put Malaysia in the international news for the wrong reason yet again (shame, shame) …. and so soon after the Beauty and The Beast fiasco too.

We can only cringe when we imagine what the world thinks of Malaysia. This is not to say that we wouldn’t readily refute any suggestion that our beautiful country is swamped by paedophiles or nutty lawmakers who are apologists for child marriages.

So, in the end, when Parliament found itself running out of time, we will remember this meeting as one where religious issues were the main concern.

As far as I recall, at least from media reports, no one talked about how we could take advantage of our weak ringgit to get more tourists to come visit us and how we could carry this out with limited funds for international promotions. We also didn’t hear how we could boost the soft economy after two years.

Maybe financial and economic matters are just too complicated for some of these MPs, with their limited knowledge. And these are YBs we have entrusted to speak up for us. After all, we put the future of Malaysia in their hands.

by Wong chun wai On the beat The Star/ANN

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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Video of Shabudin’s remarks on child marriage goes viral

//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5390711051001
https://players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5390711051001
https://right-waystan.blogspot.my/2017/04/ybs-please-lend-us-your-ears.html

PETALING JAYA: A video of Datuk Shabudin Yahaya’s controversial statement about child marriages in Parliament has gone viral, which appears to raise questions on his claim that his remarks were taken out of context.

After coming under fire for suggesting in the Dewan Rakyat on Tues­day that it is all right for rapists to marry their child victims, the Te­­luk Gelugor MP issued a statement the next day to say that his words had been taken out of context.

In a three-page statement yesterday, Sha­budin continued to blame the media for the outcry over his re­­marks, even saying that their reports bordered on fake news.

In the Parliament recording, Sha­budin argued that it is not a pro­blem for children under 16 years old to marry as their body are phy­sically mature enough for marriage

He said a child who has reached puberty, even at nine years old, could be considered mature.

In some cases, he said, someone aged 12 and 15 could physically look like they were 18, and thus would be ready for marriage.

“In some instances, it is not im­­possible that they get married if they have reached puberty at the age of nine. A 12-year-old may have the body of an 18-year-old which means some girls are ‘physically and spiri­tually’ ready for marriage,” he said.

The former Syariah Court judge is mulling over legal action against the media.

In yesterday’s statement, Shabu­din said his remarks during the debate on the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017 on Tues­day led to an unnecessary outcry after they were inaccurately interpreted in reports by both local and international news organisations.

“In their reports and headlines, both the local and international media gave the perception that I had condoned rapists being allowed to marry underage victims to avoid punishment.

“This is inaccurate and misleading and borders on fake news,” he said.

The Barisan Nasional MP said he had stressed during the debate that rape is a crime whether consensual or otherwise.

“At no point in time did I suggest that the rapists are forced to marry the victims nor did I say that the crime of rape is automatically dropped after marriage.

Shabudin explained that he had given his opinion that the courts should be allowed to rule on cases of statutory rape involving consenting partners, and treat such cases diffe­rently from non-consensual rape, as opposed to an outright ban on underage marriages.

He made the remarks in response to the suggestion by Kulai DAP MP Teo Nie Ching to include child marriage as an offence in the proposed law.

The legal age for marriage in Malaysia is 21 without parental consent, and 18 with parental consent, while the legal age of consent is 16.

However, in certain cases, those below the legal age can marry if given a special marriage licence from the head of their state government or approved by the court.

In a related development, Women, Family and Community Develop­ment Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim defended Shabudin, saying that being a former Syariah Court judge, he had encountered all these scenarios.

“He was not implying that a nine-year-old girl can get married, but rather, he was being detailed in his explanation,” Rohani told reporters at a function yesterday.

She said Shabudin has been “very supportive” of the Bill as he himself had presided over cases of sexual crimes against children.

In Ipoh, Gerakan adviser Tan Sri Chang Ko Youn urged Shabudin to do the right thing and apologise.

“What he said is outrageous. No matter what he tries to say now, the damage has already been done. He should apologise,” he said.

“Otherwise he would present himself as a subject of ridicule and be a liability to Barisan Nasional in the next general election.

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 a

Year in review 2016 – MACC makes record haul in 49 years from top officers of Sabah Water dept


Azam Baki (L4) and other MACC officials with the cash and jewelry seized, at a press conference on Oct 5, 2016. — BBX

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) landed its biggest haul since it was set up 49 years ago when it seized RM114.5 million from two senior officers from the Sabah Water Department (SWD) in October.

In a year when MACC bared its fangs, the commission detained the director and deputy director of SWD, which is a government department.

The top officials were alleged to have misused their power in handling infrastructure projects valued at RM3.3 billion. MACC also seized some RM53.7 million in cash.

A total of 19 engineers from the department were also arrested for allegedly receiving kickbacks of between 27% and 30% of the value of SWD projects and emergency response work awarded to contractors.

Meanwhile at MACC, Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad was appointed the new chief commissioner and took his oath of office on Aug 23.

Dzulkifli, the former national revenue recovery enforcement team director from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, succeeded Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed who stepped down as MACC chief commissioner on Aug 1 after being appointed to the Austrian-based International Anti-Corruption Academy as a board member and visiting expert.

MACC director of investigations Datuk Azam Baki was also promoted as deputy chief commissioner (operations), while its community education division director Datuk Shamshun Baharin Mohd Jamil was appointed deputy chief commissioner (prevention).

Meanwhile, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was investigated by MACC following complaints that he had corruptly purchased a bungalow for a “below market price” of RM2.8 million.

The actual value of the bungalow that Lim bought from a businesswoman Phang Li Koon, was said to be RM4.27 million. He was arrested on June 29 and charged with corruption at the Penang High Court on June 30 but claimed trial.

Statistics revealed that the number of people arrested for corruption from January to September, this year, was 727. This is an increase from 688 in the same period last year.

Other notable corruption cases this year include:

* Jan 18: MACC arrested 14 people, including three Road Transport Department officers, to facilitate investigations into the “sale” of driving licences for between RM2,500 and RM2,800 each in Sarawak. The suspects, aged between 19 and 50, were picked up in an operation in Limbang, Miri, Bintulu and Sibu since Jan 11. They were found to be trying to obtain the licences by submitting false documents to change Brunei driving licences into Malaysian ones.

* Aug 30: The chairman of a bank with the title of “Tan Sri” was remanded for seven days until Sept 5 to assist in the investigation into misappropriation of funds in a RM15 million book publishing contract. Four others, namely the managing director of the same bank with the title of “Datuk”, the bank’s former director of procurement and two publishing company owners were released by MACC on completion of investigations. A total of seven individuals had been arrested by the MACC to assist in investigations in the case. The chairman was charged in the sessions court with criminal breach of trust.

* Sept 20: MACC detained a 55-year-old doctor and 30-year-old general clerk from a district health department for allegedly being involved in fraudulent claims amounting to RM900,000. Johor MACC director Datuk Simi Abd Ghani had stated the suspects were allegedly involved in making 59 payment vouchers for some materials, amounting to RM900,000, between 2015 and 2016. However, the materials never reached the department and the vouchers involved six services’ companies.

*Oct 10: A Datuk Seri and his accomplice were arrested by the MACC for allegedly duping a 58-year-old woman into paying RM125,000 to make changes to erroneous entries in her husband’s death certificate.

The duo had supposedly offered to assist the woman and demanded the huge sum of money from the victim. They had supposedly claimed that the funds were to pay off an officer at the National Registration Department at Putrajaya.

This year, there were a number of charges involving high ranking officers by the MACC.

They included the cases of Kuala Lumpur City Hall project management executive director Datuk Seri Syed Affendy Ali charged with 18 counts of corruption and money laundering involving RM4 million; Kota Baru Tenaga Nasional Berhad manager Arman Che Othman charged with 13 counts corruption and money laundering amounting to RM125,200; and Malacca Public Works Department director Datuk Khalid Omar charged with two counts of corruption and money laundering amounting to RM4 million.

Source: Charles Ramendran newsdesk@thesundaily.com

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Trio slapped with 34 money laundering charges involving more than RM61mil

KOTA KINABALU: A former Sabah Water Department director, his wife and his former deputy were slapped with 34 money laundering charges involving RM61.4mil in what the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission is calling the nation’s biggest graft probe so far.

The former director Ag Mohd Tahir Ag Mohd Talib, 54, was hit with 12 charges for a sum totalling RM56.9mil while his wife Fauziah Piut, 51, faced 19 similar charges involving cash and properties totalling RM2.2mil.

Ag Mohd Tahir’s former deputy Lim Lam Beng, 64, faced four charges involving property and cash totalling RM2.3mil.

All three claimed trial to the charges in the Special Corruption Court after being produced before Sessions Court judge Ummu Kalthom Abdul Samad.

Ag Mohd Tahir was the first to be charged when the hearing began at 10.15am.

Ag Mohd Tahir Ag Mohd Talib, 54 (former Sabah Water Department director) 12 charges involving RM56.9mil.

He faced eight charges of being in possession of RM56.9mil cash and in four bank accounts, two charges of owning six luxury vehicles and a charge of owning 86 types of branded watches.

He also faced another charge of being directly involved in handing over RM14,000 to an individual, Cristine Fiona M. Ponsoi.

The charges were framed under Section 4(1) (b) and Section 4(1) (a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLA).

Fauziah faced 18 charges for being in possession of more than RM2.2mil in 18 bank accounts. She was also accused of using proceeds from illegal activities to own 93 branded hand bags.

Ag Mohd Tahir and Fauziah were also jointly charged with owning 575 pieces of gold jewellery and another charge of being in possession of 376 other types of jewellery acquired through illegal means.

They were represented by counsel Hairul Vairon Othman and Ariel C. Dasan who were acting for P. J. Pareira.

Fauziah Piut, 51 (Ag Mohd Tahir’s wife) 18 charges involving RM2.2mil.

Lim, who has been suspended as state Finance Ministry advisor, who was represented by counsel Chin Teck Ming, was accused of being in possession of more than RM2.38mil that was allegedly from the proceeds of illegal activities.

Ummu Kalthom subsequently allowed Ag Mohd Tahir to be released on a RM10mil bail – one of the country’s biggest bail amounts set in the country.

She also allowed Fauziah to be released on a RM2mil bail while Lim’s bail was set at RM1mil with the case management to be heard on Feb 28.

Ummu Kalthom also ordered their travel documents to be surrendered to the court.

Lim Lam Beng, 64 (Technical and Engineering advisor, Ag Mohd Tahir’s former deputy) 4 charges involving RM2.38mil

In arguing for the RM10mil bail for Ag Mohd Tahir, Deputy Public Prosecutor of the MACC Husmamuddin Hussin said the property seizures in the case were the largest so far made by the MACC and any other enforcement agency.

The offence is related to the corrupt act by a civil servant entrusted to manage an important resource – water, Husmamuddin said.

Hairul in arguing for Ag Mohd Tahir’s bail to be fixed at RM10,000 for each charge, said bail should not be excessive to the point of penalising his clients.

By Muguntan Vanar, ruben sario, Stephanie Lee The Star

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Hopelessness among public after rampant fraud & corruption cases, says Auditor-General


RM2bil recovered from audits

The Government seldom receives dividends and whenever loans are given to these GLCs, they keep piling up’, says Tan Sri Ambrin Buang

KUANTAN: Government agencies have recovered an estimated RM2bil in follow-up actions after the recent audits, said Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang.

Ambrin said this was just based on a small sample size of agencies audited, so cases of misappropriated funds could have been a lot larger.

“If there had not been audits, the RM2bil would have been lost. People always ask me the extent of leakages in this country but I do not know because we only carry out audits on a limited sample size.

“For example, we did an audit on security in schools. The sample size is only 46 schools out of some 10,000 schools nationwide.

“Within that sample, there are already all kinds of weaknesses and leakages so imagine how widespread it is,” Ambrin said at an integrity talk programme here yesterday.

He said there was a feeling of hopelessness among the public when they kept reading about cases of fraud and corruption in the Auditor-General’s reports.

“There was a case where a 300m to 400m road construction contract was given to four contractors.

“Then there’s that incident at the Youth and Sports Ministry and that one at the Sabah Water Department.

“People are questioning how these things can happen and what kind of country we are living in where corruption like this can take place.

“Almost every day there are reports of government officials getting caught for corruption.

“I can’t deny there are officials with integrity but a few rotten apples destroy everything,” he said.

He also spoke about government-linked companies (GLCs) that were draining the Government’s resources without giving anything back in return.

“GLCs get all sorts of aid like projects, grants and financial assistance but what does the Government get out of it?

“The Government seldom receives dividends and whenever loans are given to these GLCs, they keep piling up.

“These GLCs burden the Government, so we must examine the cause. Those with experience should run a company but look at who are on the board of directors.

“I am sorry to say government officials cannot succeed in business because they have a different mindset,” he said.

Ambrin added that management could not be left as the dominant force without the supervision of the board of directors, but this would not be effective if the directors themselves did not contribute anything.

In his conclusion, Ambrin proposed that excellent work be made a culture in government service to repair the damaged public perception.

To achieve it, he said four aspects had to be looked into, which were attitude, skills, knowledge and integrity.

“Continuous improvement is humanly possible to achieve. The question is whether we want to improve or not,” he said.

By Ong Han Sean The Star/Asian News Network

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Perak Ruler warns against corruption committed by high-ranking individuals

TANJUNG MALIM: The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, is concerned about the corruption and criminal breach of trust committed wantonly by highly-educated and high-ranking individuals and on a large scale.

“Allah has stressed that humans should not take for themselves the property of others through methods disallowed by Islamic law.

“It is equally wrong for one to hire false witnesses or give bribes to judges with the intention of influencing a decision to enrich oneself.

“Property acquired through such methods is tantamount to cruelty and oppression of others,” he said at the state-level Maulidur Rasul 1438H celebration here.

On judges, Sultan Nazrin said that a human being, conscious and fearful of God, would realise that his duty was entrusted to him by God.

“A judge should not be so bold as to change the law in his judgment to wrong what is right and to right what is wrong because it is a sin in Allah’s eyes to do so.”

Sultan Nazrin said history had shown many a government and civilisation collapse because of acts of embezzlement and corruption, greed for material possessions and abuse of power.

“In the history of Islamic governments, many among the leaders of the Bani Umaiyyah (Umayyad Caliphate) and Bani Abbas (Abbasid Caliphate) were preoccupied with worldly pleasures and willing to use their wealth to remain in power.”

He said that as followers of Prophet Muhammad, every Muslim should instil in themselves the determination and willpower to be incorruptible and trustworthy.

In Kuala Terengganu, the Sultan of Terengganu, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, urged Muslims to avoid quarrelling among themselves and forming factions, reports Bernama.

He said Muslims should have an open attitude and practise tolerance so they can live in peace with each other, hence receiving the blessings of Allah.

“With the theme of the Maulidur Rasul celebration this year being ‘Islamic Solidarity: The Foundation of Muslim Unity’, it is only apt to use Prophet Muhammad as the best example.

“The Prophet did not use force, but changed people by being exemplary and with the spirit of brotherhood, love and care for the welfare of the community, which led to the formation of a sovereign Islamic community in Madinah.”

He said Prophet Muhammad had left mankind two legacies, namely the Quran and the Sunnah (sayings and teachings of the prophet).

Source: The Star/ANN

Graft probe in Sabah almost done

KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is one step closer to completing its probe on the suspected graft and abuse of power in the Sabah Water Department.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said investigators had pored over nearly 12 tonnes of documents and would be submitting the investigation papers to the Attorney-General’s Chambers soon.

He said MACC officials had spent nearly a month analysing 8,000 payment vouchers between 2008 and 2016 from tens of thousands of documents.

The documents were seized from 30 locations around Sabah, including Kota Kinabalu, Tawau, Sandakan and Lahad Datu.

Azam said 28 people including the department’s director and two of his deputies were detained during the course of their investigations since early October.

Also detained were 23 divisional and district engineers and two more individuals who are involved in the case.

MACC also recorded statements from 200 witnesses, Azam added.

He said MACC also seized properties and cash and froze bank accounts, unit trusts and other assets totalling some RM114.5mil within and outside the country.

Azam said 137 MACC officers from headquarters as well as various divisions and states were involved in the investigations.

In the scandal, several Sabah Water Department officials are being investigated over allegations that they abused their power by awarding contracts to 38 companies owned by their families or cronies to siphon off federal funds.

MACC investigators have implicated top department officials in connection with the siphoning of RM3.3bil worth of federal allocations for state rural water projects since 2010.

Azam had been reported as saying that certain individuals in the department may have collected as much as 27% to 30% in kickbacks from the contracts awarded.

MACC investigators are also looking into suspected money laundering activities in their bid to recover some of the RM30mil that has reportedly been stashed in overseas accounts.

By Ruben Sario The Star/ANN

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Let us do more against graft, bring corrupt culprits to court fast !


BY now, it’s clear that many ordinary Malaysians have the perception that corruption in this country has degenerated into a hugely disturbing situation.

To many of us, rightly or wrongly, corruption has become an entrenched culture involving many in the political and government circle.

But who would have suspected that a seemingly innocent department like the Sabah Water Department could end up being investigated for such a staggering amount of money, in what is now known as our very own Watergate scandal.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) seized RM114mil worth of assets – RM53.7mil in cold cash stashed in the houses and offices of two senior Sabah Water Department officials on Oct 4.

Many of the department’s staff, apart from the top two officials, are also being investigated for alleged abuse of power and money laundering linked to contracts for RM3.3bil federal-funded projects channelled to the department since 2010.

MACC has traced RM30mil stashed in foreign banks and another RM30mil in 127 land titles for housing, agriculture and commercial purposes.

That’s not all. MACC also seized nine vehicles worth RM2.7mil, an assortment of jewellery worth RM3.64mil and designer handbags with a value of RM500,000.

To many Malaysians, when the topic is corruption, they would think of the police, customs, immigration, council enforcement officers and authorities with the power to arrest someone, to issue approvals or permits.

These authorities have earned such notoriety through mere generalisation or plain prejudice as there are surely many good and honest officials.

And of course, many Malaysians think lowly of high-level politicians, sniggering over their purported wealth even if they have little evidence and information.

The MACC must be commended for its successful investigations into the Sabah Water Department.

It has, in fact, led to loose talk among Sabahans that the MACC need only check the Facebook postings of some staff, even the low ranking ones, of another government department in the state to see the kind of lifestyle led by some of the workers.

There might not be sufficient evidence but the raid on the department will surely encourage more whistle blowers to tip off the MACC.

Malaysia ranked 54 among 168 countries in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2015 with a score of 50 out of 100.

This is a drop from 50 out of 175 countries in the CPI 2014 with a score of 52 out of 100. High scores indicate a less corrupt perception.

Obviously, the 1MDB issue is a major perception issue and has affected the minds of many Malaysians, contributing to the slide in ranking.

In a 2014 news report, it said that the international accounting firm KPMG’s Fraud, Bribery and Corruption Survey 2013 revealed that an overwhelming 90% of business organisations feel that bribery and corruption is necessary to do business in Malaysia at the moment.

Transparency International- Malay­sia’s first ever Malaysian Corruption Barometer (MCB) 2014 recorded that as many as 45% of Malaysians feel political parties are the most corrupt, followed by the police force, then the public and civil servants, the report added.

It is safe to say that such perception among Malaysians have not changed much over the past few years. It has probably gone worse.

There is little doubt that many Malaysians feel, even with the current blitz on corruption, that the actions against the corrupt have not been sufficiently effective.

The tentacles of corruption, to many, has become so prevalent that no sector in government has become immune – that’s the scary perception even if the reality is otherwise.

It has tarnished the image of our institutions and must have affected investors who want to put money in Malaysia, even if we are seen as a country that is business-friendly.

To be fair, much efforts have been taken such as enacting the Whistle Blower’s Act in 2012 and increasing corruption arrests, as well as publishing the names of more than 1,000 corruption offenders on the MACC website.

There has also been a sharp decrease in business licenses and online publication of government contracts.

But one does not need another survey, although the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) has actually carried out one, which showed that a large segment of Malaysians do not believe that enough has been done to combat corruption.

That’s simply because the perception is that actions have only been taken against those at the lower and middle rungs of government.

If the fat cats – or big fishes – are left untouched, it may actually encouraged the bottom to be corrupt as they may think their bosses are dirty anyway, so why shouldn’t they, too, grease their hands to just pay the bills.

It is incredulous that a country like Malaysia, which has becoming more conservatively religious, are not seeing a corresponding decline in corruption.

Our religious leaders, regardless of their faith, seems to be more preoccupied with religious forms and theological aspects, and forgetting that they can be effective tools in the fight against corruption – not just against the takers but givers.

They should spend more time at their sermons, services and prayers to talk about the ills of corruption, among others – and not be too preoccupied with just politics.

More often than not, we hear the open grumbling of businessmen who lament the corrupt practices, which adds to their cost of doing business but if there are no givers, then, there will be no takers.

Never mind, if others want to give.

Let the policeman issue summons instead of offering a bribe to “settle it”.

If we give, why then are we still complaining about dirty cops?

If we do not do something more resolute now, the young will soon see corruption as an acceptable culture.

If we remember, in 2007, the majority of 1,800 university students interviewed felt it was acceptable to give or take bribes.

Surely, this is troubling. Have we come to this level where many of us can no longer differentiate between right and wrong?

It’s time to wake up, don’t let our beloved Malaysia go down the drain.

On The Beat 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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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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Liberating Malay mind: Shed ‘excess baggage’ of privileges !


  Malays must shed ‘excess baggage’ of privileges, says Rafidah 

 

SHAH ALAM: The Malays should drop the “excess baggage” hobbling them, such as the thinking that they are “special” and deserving of certain privileges, says Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.

Instead, she said they should move forward by nurturing themselves with a recalibrated mindset.

Speaking at the launch of a book titled Liberating The Malay Mind by author Dr M. Bakri Musa, Rafidah said that the excess baggage of the Malays included the obsession that the community was special and more privileged than the others, in an ideal that was bolstered since the formation of the New Economic Policy (NEP).

“We (Malays) have been taught that we are special and privileged. But, we must know that the NEP was introduced because we were so far behind in knowledge and economy, and we needed assistance.

“It was not because we deserved it, nor was it that we must have it because the Malays were special,” she said in her speech.

Rafidah said it was a shame that after all these years, the Malays were still imprisoned by the thinking that they were special and deserving of certain privileges.

“It is shameful that we still want the “crutches” although our legs are fine, or still want to depend on the special status when we are able. It is our mindset that is stopping us from moving forward.”

Rafidah called on the Malays to face the future by eradicating the narrow thinking as well as their over admiration on foreign culture.

“All Malays are Muslims in Malay­sia. So, be a Malaysian Muslim. We are not Arabian, we are Malaysian first.

“We must realise that we are an integral component in Malaysia.

“It is necessary for us to nurture the younger generation with good universal values, such as integrity, trustworthiness, responsibility, accountability, discipline and respect for others.

Otherwise, we will be stuck in a time warp and end up going nowhere, she added.

Sources: The Star/Asia News Network

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