SOSMA powers can be tacked on to any security law, lawyer says

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Syahredzan Johan — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Syahredzan Johan — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 — Preventive detention from an anti-terrorism law may be applied to any offence that authorities deem to be against national security, said a lawyer when explaining its broad powers.

Civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan explained that Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA) is unlike usual laws in that it prescribes procedures for arrests and detentions that may be used with other legislation dealing with threats to national security.

“SOSMA doesn’t provide or predicate offences. So you don’t commit an offence under SOSMA,” he said in a text message to Malay Mail Online.

“So if a person is charged under S.124B for example, the prosecution can invoke SOSMA. If invoked, the procedures and rules will differ from normal criminal trials under the Criminal Procedure Code,” he added.

Section 124B of the Penal Code criminalises activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy, although what such activities are is not specifically stated in the law.

Although introduced ostensibly to provide Putrajaya powers to counteract terrorism, which it lost when it repealed the Internal Security Act (ISA), Syahredzan explained that the way SOSMA was framed allowed it to be used in instances beyond terrorism. Read more

EC chief gives e-voting the thumbs down

Source: The Star Online

SEREMBAN: Malaysia may be one of the leaders among nations that embraced the digital revolution but it is likely to say a resounding “no” to electronic voting or e-voting.

Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said it was better for the country to stick to the conventional method of voters having to physically cast paper ballots at polling stations nationwide.

He said the system used in Malaysia had been time tested and there was no reason for the country to follow in the steps of nations that had introduced e-voting.

“There is no concrete evidence as yet to suggest that e-voting is a fool-proof system and cannot be manipulated.

“The current system is still the best. There is no need for us to go e-voting because it is not only unnecessary but highly risky in terms of security,” he told The Star. Read more

Lawyers raise eyebrows at 1MDB critic’s arrest under anti-terror law

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Syahredzan Johan addresses the audience during the Projek Dialog forum titled ‘Melayu dan makna-maknanya’ in Petaling Jaya, June 6, 2015. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — Despite previous assurances, Putrajaya’s use of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA) on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) critic Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan has revived old fears of power abuse against dissenters.

Several civil rights lawyers contacted by Malay Mail Online pointed out that Khairuddin’s action of filing reports abroad against the state-owned strategic development firm hardly constituted a criminal offence or one risking parliamentary democracy, let alone an activity that could inspire terror against the government.

“The question that should be answered by the authorities is this- how is this a crime?

“Lodging reports against individuals or a company is not detrimental to Parliamentary democracy, contrary to the initial investigations conducted on Khairuddin and which resulted in his initial remand for six days,” Syahredzan Johan said in a text message to Malay Mail Online. Read more

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

Cease government action against The Edge — Institute of Journalists Malaysia

Source: The Malay Mail Online

SEPTEMBER 21 — The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) welcomes the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision today to quash the government’s suspension of the publishing licences of The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily.

High Court judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad ruled that the Home Ministry acted illegally and irrationally in issuing the three-month suspension order. She noted that the Home Ministry’s show cause letter to The Edge publisher did not specify which articles the government found to be undesirable.

The IoJ urges the government not to appeal against the High Court ruling in the interest of press freedom, transparency and public accountability.

The government should, instead, exercise its right of reply and explain its side of the story on any issue in order to meet its obligations to the public interest, especially when it concerns public funds.

The press can only function in the public interest if it has the independence to report without fear or favour. The government has no right to license the press and should abolish its licensing regime with immediate effect.

Is lodging a report a crime now?

Source: Berita Daily

whistleblower-590KUALA LUMPUR: Former Umno man Khairuddin Abu Hassan’s intention to lodge a report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fiasco is not an offence, said National Young Lawyers Committee chairman Syahredzan Johan.

Saying that the remand order of Khairuddin was excessive, Syahredzan questioned the police’s real intention in the arrest of the former Batu Kawan Umno vice chief.

“Certainly there is no criminal offence in the first place. How can someone be arrested for wanting to lodge a report and how can it be deemed as an act to topple a government or sabotaging the economy?

“The six day remand is excessive. What are the police trying to investigate? What else do you want to investigate for six days?,” he said when contacted. Read more

Court reverses three-month ban on The Edge

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Asmabi ruled that the Home Ministry acted irrationally and illegally by issuing the suspension order. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd today successfully contested Putrajaya’s three-month suspension of its two publications, after the High Court here quashed the Home Ministry order issued over reports on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

High Court Judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad ruled that the Home Ministry acted irrationally and illegally by issuing the suspension order, also ruling that the latter had breached procedural fairness when issuing a show-cause letter.

Asmabi ruled that the ministry’s suspension order be quashed and said damages will be awarded to The Edge after assessment.

“The conclusion, on totality of evidence before the court and relevant law and as discussed earlier, I am satisfied that the decision of the respondent in this case had suffered or is tainted with illegality,” she said when delivering her decision at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

Asmabi said the Home Ministry’s suspension was made ultra vires or beyond the powers granted under Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses Publications Act (PPPA). Read more