Transboundary haze: What to do? – Gurdial Singh Nijar

Source: The Sun Daily

(Deputy President, HAKAM)

Thick smoke rising from over the Ogan Komering Ilir area in South Sumatra on Saturday. Indonesia has launched its biggest operation ever to combat fires blanketing Southeast Asia in smoke, but experts say the poor air quality could continue into next year. – AFP pic, October 19, 2015. Drawn from TMI.

THE haze (or smog) that envelopes us every year is becoming intolerable. It has continued for almost 13 years. Each time we are assured that the levels are acceptable, not that dangerous and a solution is coming. Recently, a deputy minister promised that a “haze free region” will soon be achieved.

The Indonesian government says it’s getting tough – “no more dragging of feet”. True to word 140 suspects were rounded up last month including some corporate figures.

More recently an Indonesian and a Malaysian palm oil company were dealt with rather severely; the former an unprecedented record fine of RM107 million; the latter’s manager jailed for a year as well.

Heavy penalties are rare. Although, to be fair, under the new president Joko Widodo, the Indonesian government has revoked (on Oct 7) the licences of four plantations identified as being the culprits.

But green groups and others are sceptical. Several cases dating back to 2012-2013 remain in limbo with no conviction. Remember, that was when Malaysia had to declare a “haze emergency” because air pollution was at a record high. Read more

Bank Negara can act against 1MDB under Financial Services Act

Source: The Malaysian Insider

As the financial regulator, Bank Negara Malaysia says the imposition of monetary penalties against any party that breaches local financial laws is within its sole purview, outside of any criminal charges that may be sought through the Attorney-General’s Chambers. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, October 19, 2015.

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) are empowered to take enforcement action, also known as administrative action, on parties that are found to have transgressed or have not complied with rules and regulations issued under the Financial Services Act.

“These actions may be taken concurrently with, and are separate and distinct from, criminal proceedings that are under the sole purview of the Attorney-General.”

The central bank said this in a statement to provide clarity regarding its powers to enforce in compliance with the regulatory laws that are administered by the central bank.

Hence, separate from any decision on criminal proceedings, the central bank is authorised under the Financial Services Act 2013 and Islamic Financial Services Act 2013 to pursue administrative actions.

“This would include the imposition of monetary penalties, issuance of an order to comply, making restitution to any person aggrieved by a breach, public and private reprimands and an order to take steps to mitigate or remedy a breach.

“This is to ensure the integrity of, and confidence, in the financial system,” the central bank said. Read more

High court refers Khairuddin and Chang’s Sosma case to Apex Court

Source: TheSunDaily

Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan and Matthias Chang, outside the magistrate’s court in Kuala Lumpur, after being charged with sabotaging the economy over their police reports on 1MDB. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, October 12, 2015.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today has referred former Batu Kawan Umno division vice chief Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan and lawyer Matthias Chang Wen Chieh’s case to the Federal Court to determine whether the charges they faced are triable under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).

Judge Datuk Mohd Azman Husin said the court will forward three questions on constitutional issues to the Apex Court soon, among others, does the charge against the accused persons as tendered before this court under Section 124L of Penal Code, fall outside the constitutional ambit of Sosma?

“If the answer to the first question is in affirmative, do the accused persons have the right to be released on bail forthwith?

“If the answer to the first question is in negative, should the trial against the two accused, be conducted in the Sessions Court taking into account the sentencing provision under Section 124L of Penal Code?” he said.

The judge made the ruling after hearing submissions from defence lawyers Mohamed Hanif Khatri Abdulla and Zainur Zakaria and Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Masri Daud and Mohamad Abazafree Mohd Abbas. Read more

Orang Asli families need financial aid to bury their children, says activist

Source: The Malaysian Insider

Two members of the Orang Asli community being interviewed by activist Siti Zabedah Kasim, ahead of funeral rites to bury four children who were found dead in the jungles of Kelantan this month. – YouTube pic via Siti Kasim Facebook, October 19, 2015.

An activist has appealed the public to help with funeral expenses for the four Orang Asli children who were found dead after they went missing in the jungles of Kelantan.

Lawyer Siti Zabedah Kasim, who is a member of the Malaysian Bar’s Human Rights and Orang Asli Rights committees, announced the request in a Facebook posting this morning, and furnished her bank account details.

“After discussing with the villagers in Kampung Penad and Kampung Gawin yesterday, the funds required is estimated around RM10,000.

“This is to cover the expenses of putting up tents, tarpaulin and food for seven days of the Temiyar funeral rites in both villages,” Siti Kasim told The Malaysian Insider. Read more

PM: New National Security Council Bill to tackle terrorism will be tabled soon

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 — A new National Security Council Bill will soon be tabled in the current Parliament sitting to enhance Malaysia’s security measures amid terrorism threats both from within and outside the country, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.

Najib said this was aimed at strengthening the National Security Council (NSC) so that it would be on par with similar agencies in other countries like the US and UK.

“In line with the changing geopolitical landscape and the type of threats from non-state actors, regardless of whether from overseas or from within, violent extremism in Malaysia is real and the government has given due attention to combat it.

“Therefore, the government is now in the process of strengthening the NSC to make it more efficient and effective in streamlining the policies as well as the country’s security strategies,” Najib told Parliament during question time. Read more

When an accused should be released on bail – Syahredzan Johan

Source: The Star Online

Syahredzan Johan - file pic

Syahredzan Johan – file pic


It was recently reported that Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) activist Khalid Ismath was slapped with 11 charges under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) and three under the Sedition Act – a total of 14 charges in relation to a Facebook posting he made recently.

Even more worrying was that Khalid was not granted bail by the Johor Baru Sessions Court, which means he will remain in detention until his trial.

The denial of bail for charges under these two Acts are almost unheard of – for all cases in recent memory, the accused would be granted bail with at least one surety.

Bail is not something that should be taken lightly. By not granting bail and detaining the accused until the conclusion of the trial, the personal liberty of the accused is denied and his freedom of movement restricted.

He is essentially incarcerated even before he is convicted.

The cornerstone of the criminal justice system – that a person is innocent until proven guilty – means that a person should not be denied his liberty before charges against him are proven. Read more

Vote rather than protest, EC tells 4 million unregistered youths

Source: The Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 — Malaysian youths should express their sentiments through the ballot box instead of street demonstrations, said Election Commission chief Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof.

Abdul Aziz noted that the latest electoral roll from the second quarter showed that 13.4 million out of over 17 million Malaysians over the age of 21 were registered as voters, which meant that around four million more have yet to do so.

He noted that a joint study by the EC and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia before Election 2013 had shown that a certain segment cutting across all races had neglected to register as voters as they lack interest in politics, adding that some said they had no time and appeared indifferent about their responsibility to vote.

“The odd thing is, many of the youths prefer street demonstrations. When we ask if they have registered as voters, many say that they have yet to do so.

“Shouting here and there, saything that all is not right. That means, they prefer voicing out through demonstrations and not through voting.

“What for? It is better if they register as voters. Then they can say which leaders are liked or otherwise. Any groups that demonstrate, yellow or red, are the same,” he was quoted saying in an interview with Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia. Read more

Zahid defends use of Sosma

Source: The Star Online

bars and handKUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has defended the use of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) 2012 on certain individuals as it facilitates investigations involving national security.

Zahid, who is also the Home Minister, said Sosma was a procedural law which allowed for the use of special measures to assist probes on any acts deemed a threat to national security.

“The offences can also be listed under Chapter 6 of the Penal Code that involves offences against the state and Chapter 6A, offences relating to terrorism,” he said in a reply to Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah (BN-Lenggong) during question time on Monday.

Shamsul Anuar had asked the Home Ministry to respond to allegations that Sosma has been abused when arresting certain individuals, including Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan.

Zahid also revealed a total of 123 individuals had been detained for links to suspected terrorism activities. Read more