Needing PM’s nod for promotion hurts judiciary’s independence, says Malaysian Bar

Source: The Malay Mail Online

The Bar said the right of veto over promotion creates the perception that the prime minister can abuse his discretion to block the elevation of Judges. File picture shows Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — The Malaysian Bar expressed its concern today over necessary approval from the prime minister before judges may be promoted, after a retired appellate judge alleged he was not promoted as Datuk Seri Najib Razak did not favour the move.

The Bar said the decision is objectionable considering the lack of transparency in the prime minister’s decision-making process, and is a breach of the judiciary branch’s independence.

“It creates the impression or perception that the prime minister can abuse his discretion to block the appointment or elevation of Judges that the Prime Minister considers to be not partial to the government,” Bar president Steven Thiru said in a statement.

“This unbridled power, in the hands of the prime minister — a member of the Executive — is a serious encroachment on the independence of the Judiciary under our constitutional scheme, which vouchsafes the principle of separation of powers.” Read more

Najib to face US corruption inquiry, says New York Times

Source: The Malaysian Insider

A US grand jury is the latest authority to probe Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak over properties purchased there by his stepson Riza Aziz and businessman Low Taek Jho, The New York Times (NYT) reported today.

A unit in the US Justice Department which probes international corruption is conducting the inquiry, NYT quoted anonymous sources with knowledge on the matter. The inquiry is focused on real estate purchases in America in recent years by shell companies.

NYT had reported in February about these purchases using shell companies by various international figures, including Riza and Low, also known as Jho Low. Read more

Why Malaysia’s good grades in an anti-money laundering report don’t matter

Source: The Malay Mail Online

ANALYSIS, Sept 22 ― Malaysia received good grades in an international report on its fight against money laundering, but the news barely caused a ripple and public perception of corruption remains negative.

International newswire Reuters reported last Wednesday a draft report by Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international organisation that monitors how countries combat illicit financial flows, as saying that Malaysia has a “robust policy framework” as well as a “strong political commitment and well-functioning coordination structures” to fight money laundering.

“Improving anti-money laundering laws is only one part of good governance. Equally important, if not more so, is improving accountability of public finances and the management of domestic resources. There is a perception that the former may have improved; the latter has not,” Asian Development Bank lead economist (trade and regional cooperation) Jayant Menon told Malay Mail Online. Read more

Sarawak tribes tell human rights commission ‘no’ to Baram dam

Source: The Malaysian Insider

The tribespeople at Baram with activists near the site of the blockade. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, September 22, 2015.

The tribespeople at Baram with activists near the site of the blockade. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, September 22, 2015.

Tribes in the Sarawak interior are “unanimously against” the proposed Baram hydroelectric dam that would displace thousands of them if it is built, a fact finding mission by the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) earlier this month has found.

The people also expressed their hopes to the six-member Suhakam team that the state government would totally abandon the plan to construct the RM4 billion dam that would submerge 400 square kilometres of their rainforest.

They conveyed this to the team led by Nurul Hassanah Ahmad Hassain Malim, who is Suhakam’s deputy secretary for policy, law and complaints, at a gathering in the Kenyah settlement of Long San on September 4 and 5. Read more