Democracy fades in Malaysia and Turkey as leaders crack down

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

It’s an unfortunate fact that there are very few successful, secular democracies among Muslim-majority nations. Sadly, two of this rare breed are now in the process of failing.

If Malaysia and Turkey continue sliding towards authoritarianism, it will put democracies in the Islamic world on the list of endangered species. And they are sliding. In the past 10 days, the governments in both countries shut down media outlets that dared report unflattering facts about their leaders.

And when peaceful protesters marched on the weekend to object to the shutdown of Turkey’s biggest opposition newspaper, Zaman, the police turned water cannon and tear gas on them.

<i>Illustration: John Shakespeare.</i>

Illustration: John Shakespeare.

In Malaysia it was the country’s most popular news website, The Malaysian Insider or TMI, that was blocked by the government. The next day Prime Minister Najib Razak tried to justify the blatant censorship by writing that it was “unhealthy journalism” to have news portals that were “constructing their own version of ‘reality'”.

It’s a sure sign of the dictator’s mindset – only one version of reality may be allowed to exist, and that’s the version officially sanctioned by the ruler. Read more

Malaysian Internet Censorship is Going from Bad to Worse — EFF

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

Following our previous articles about increasing political censorship of the Internet in Malaysia, things have quickly gone from bad to worse. In fact since July 2015, the Malaysian government has blocked at least ten websites, including online news portals and private blogs, for reporting about the scandal surrounding Malaysian Prime Minister Najib tun Razak over his mysterious private dealings with $700 million in funds.

Among the latest developments include the state’s blocking of online news portal, The Malaysian Insider, due to their reporting on the scandal—a blatant act of press censorship which drew official comment from the U.S. Department of State. Local activist Fahmi Reza has also come under investigation for his parody clown images depicting the Prime Minister posted to his Twitter account.

And the Malaysian government still clamors for more censorship authority, adding to its existing broad powers under the Penal Code and the Sedition Act. Currently, the government is planning to table the amendments to both the Official Secret Act (OSA) and the Communication & Multimedia Act (CMA) during its upcoming March or May Parliamentary sessions, to strengthen its control over content providers, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and end users. Read more

1MDB audit no longer ‘secret’ once PAC report tabled in Parliament, Hasan says

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Malaysian Parliament - MMO File pic

Malaysian Parliament – MMO File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — The federal audit report on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) will no longer be classified a state secret under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972 once the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) tables its findings on it in Parliament, panel chairman Datuk Hasan Arifin said today.

Hasan said in a statement here that the report by the National Audit Department is only classified an official secret until the PAC’s report on 1MDB is presented to the lower House.

“In today’s meeting, Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, the Auditor-General explained that after the PAC report is tabled in parliament, the 1MDB final audit report will no longer be an official secret document under the Official Secrets Act 1972,” he said.

He added that the decision to classify the report as secret is the A-G’s prerogative, noting that latter is responsible for making sure such documents are not leaked by “irresponsible” bodies to create a negative perception of the agency. Read more

Treat transgender detainees humanely, group tells police

Source: The Malay Mail Online

The Star Online reported Friday that 12 “transvestites” were arrested in George Town for various offences, including gang robbery and cross-dressing. File picture shows a general view of George Town. — Picture by K.E.Ooi

The Star Online reported Friday that 12 “transvestites” were arrested in George Town for various offences, including gang robbery and cross-dressing. File picture shows a general view of George Town. — Picture by K.E.Ooin

KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — A transgender group urged the police today to accord humane treatment to trans women who were recently arrested in Penang.

Justice for Sisters also called for the repeal of laws that criminalise transgender people, after it was reported that six of the dozen trans women arrested last Thursday were investigated under Section 28 of the Penang Shariah Criminal Enactment 1996 for cross-dressing.

“These laws are not only discriminatory and violate fundamental human rights of transgender persons — including right to self-determination, freedom of movement and freedom of expression — but these laws are also open to abuse.

“In this case, although the women were asleep while they were arrested in their hotel rooms, they are still being investigated under Section 28,” Justice for Sisters said in a statement. Read more

Malaysian firms worst in region on women managers, survey shows

Source: The Malay Mail Online

The proportion of women in top management in Malaysia, 26 per cent, was on par with Singapore, but behind the Philippines where 39 per cent of its firms boast women in leadership roles. — Reuters pic

The proportion of women in top management in Malaysia, 26 per cent, was on par with Singapore, but behind the Philippines where 39 per cent of its firms boast women in leadership roles. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — Malaysia has the most firms without any women in senior management roles within Asean, with a study showing that almost one in three was bereft of women in such positions.

According to a report by business consultancy Grant Thornton, the dearth of women in senior management positions was also worsening despite active calls from Putrajaya for increased gender diversity in the corporate arena.

“The number of businesses without women holding senior leadership positions in Malaysia has been on an increase ever since year 2012 (21 per cent to 31 per cent). The survey results show that Malaysia has the highest number of businesses that does not have women in their senior management in the Asean region,” Datuk NK Jasani, Grant Thornton’s country head, said in the report. Read more