The Malaysian Bar is outraged over the detention of Matthias Chang — a Member of the Malaysian Bar and one of the lawyers representing Dato’ Sri Khairuddin Abu Hassan (“Dato’ Sri Khairuddin”), a politician and vocal critic of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MDB”) — under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (“SOSMA”). The detention is reportedly for investigations into allegations of having committed offences under Sections 124K (sabotage) and Section 124L (attempt to commit sabotage), both under the Penal Code.
Matthias Chang was arrested by the police yesterday after visiting his client, who is currently being detained at the Dang Wangi District Police Station. It has been reported that Matthias Chang is now to be detained for up to 28 days.
It had been earlier reported that Matthias Chang and his client had both been barred from travelling outside Malaysia on 18 September 2015, and that they were about to travel to New York for the purpose of meeting with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in relation to allegations of financial impropriety concerning 1MDB. Subsequently, Matthias Chang was questioned by the police on 28 September 2015 and 2 October 2015, as a witness in respect of the allegations levelled against his client.
It is inexplicable that the police have now detained Matthias Chang under SOSMA, as he has been cooperative in presenting himself for questioning by the police thus far. His arrest is an absolute misuse of the power of arrest and detention under Section 4 of SOSMA. Read more →
1MDB has been ordered by Bank Negara to repatriate its overseas investments totalling US$1.83 billion. – The Malaysian Insider filepic, October 9, 2015.
Bank Negara Malaysia today said that its investigations showed troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) had secured permissions for investments abroad based on inaccurate or incomplete disclosure of information.
In a statement, the central bank said it had revoked three permissions granted to 1MDB for investments abroad totalling US$1.83 billion (RM7.53 billion) and directed the company to repatriate the funds to Malaysia.
Bank Negara had recommended to the attorney-general (A-G) to initiate criminal prosecution against 1MDB for breaches under the Exchange Control Act 1953 (ECA) and added that the decision lay solely with the A-G.
“On its part, the bank concluded that permissions required under the ECA for 1MDB’s investments abroad were obtained based on inaccurate or without complete disclosure of material information relevant to the bank’s assessment of 1MDB’s applications,” the statement said.
Bank Negara also requested 1MDB to submit a plan detailing the repatriation of funds.
The statement comes a day after the A-G said it had reviewed the report of a central bank investigation into 1MDB and decided that fund officials had not committed any offence. Read more →
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—A prominent lawyer was arrested Thursday on charges of sabotage, his attorney said, after earlier planning to travel to the U.S. to help urge authorities there to investigate money transfers into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s alleged personal accounts.
The lawyer, Matthias Chang, was arrested after visiting a police lockup facility to see Khairuddin Abu Hassan, who was arrested and detained last month on the same charge. The two men had planned to fly together to the U.S., where Mr. Chang previously said Mr. Khairuddin aimed to try to persuade U.S. authorities to investigate transfers into Mr. Najib’s alleged accounts. Mr. Chang was acting as Mr. Khairuddin’s personal lawyer to make sure he complied with legal processes and laws oversees, Mr. Chang’s attorney Zainur Zakaria said.
Both men are being held under Malaysia’s sweeping Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act, which allows for them to be detained for 28 days, another lawyer acting for Mr. Chang said. Read more →
‘Oppressive and Inhuman’ Cross-Dressing Ban Restored
(Washington, DC) – In overturning a landmark ruling, Malaysia’s highest court has undermined the rights of transgender people in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. On October 8, 2015, the Federal Court reversed a lower court ruling that a state’s prohibition on “cross-dressing” was unconstitutional. On wholly procedural grounds, the Federal Court upheld Sharia laws prohibiting “a male person posing as a woman.”
The judicial decision is a serious setback in a four-year struggle by transgender activists to end arbitrary arrests of transgender women on the basis of discriminatory laws, Human Rights Watch said. Read more →
“The negative impact of the TPP on public health will be enormous.” Doctors Without Borders warns that half a billion people will be unable to access medicines once the TPP takes effect—especially in developing countries.
8 OCT 2015. UNITED NATIONS – “The TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] will…go down in history as the worst trade agreement for access to medicines in developing countries,” said Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in a statement following the signing of the TPP trade deal.
The controversial agreement is the largest trade deal in a generation, bringing together 12 countries around the world including the United States to govern 40 percent of the world’s economy.
Negotiations on the TPP deal, initiated in 2008, finally came to a conclusion on Oct. 5 in the southern US city of Atlanta. It includes a range of economic policies including lowered tariffs as well as standards for labor law, environmental regulation, and international investments.
“This partnership levels the playing field for our farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers by eliminating more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on our products,” said US President Barack Obama in a statement following the end of negotiations. He also noted that the deal has the “strongest” commitments on labor and the environment of any trade agreement in history.
Though the deal has yet to be formally adopted by the signatories’ legislative bodies, it has already received criticism from numerous civil society members, including MSF, whose main concern arises from the deal’s provisions on data protection for biologic drugs. Read more →
The site of an abandoned human trafficking camp in Wang Kelian, Perlis. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, October 9, 2015.
US-based activists Friends of the Earth (FOE) are alleging political interference in Malaysia’s upgrade in this year’s human trafficking report and have filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) demanding the immediate release of all communications by the US State Department in the last two years on the matter.
The global social and environmental lobby group has also filed a request under the law for the all communications by Undersecretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human rights, Sarah Sewall, over the same issue, which saw Malaysia being upgraded from Tier 3 to Tier 2 in the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report.
The upgrade has removed a significant barrier to President Barack Obama’s pursuit of the 12-nation trade pact, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the text of which was agreed upon four days ago.
FOE said recent reports indicated that political appointees had meddled in the compilation of the 2015 report by challenging State Department human rights experts’ rating recommendations for 17 politically-strategic countries and inflating the assessment of 14 of them.
The report ranks 188 countries on their efforts to combat human trafficking.
Friends of the Earth, in their statement, said Malaysia’s unsubstantiated upgrade was particularly alarming because of its overt importance to the trade deal. Read more →