Why RM2.6b not probed under Section 124C, asks Ambiga

Source: Malaysiakini

Ambiga Sreenevasan - MMO file pic.

Ambiga Sreenevasan – MMO file pic.

With the spotlight now on foreign funding, former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan has demanded Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed to provide an explanation on the RM2.6 billion donation issue.

Speaking to Malaysiakini, Ambiga said it was outrageous that NGOs are being hounded over their funding when there is an admission that the RM2.6 billion in Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s accounts was used for the last general election.

“If anything, this is the direct interference in our parliamentary democracy, not the work of NGOs fighting for our democratic institutions.

“The deputy minister owes the public an explanation as to why this RM2.6 billion is not being investigated as an activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy under Section 124C of the Penal Code since, there is a spotlight on foreign funding,” Ambiga added. Read more

Wrong to criminalise groups for receiving foreign funding, UN rep says

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly, speaking at Institut Integriti Malaysia (IIM) in Kuala Lumpur, December 5, 2016. — Picture by Choo Choy May

Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly, speaking at Institut Integriti Malaysia (IIM) in Kuala Lumpur, December 5, 2016. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — Putrajaya should not criminalise civil society groups for receiving foreign funding when even governments around the world do so as well, a United Nations (UN) representative said today.

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly and association Maina Kiai pointed out that there should only be one international standard to regulate the foreign funding.

“So why is it a problem when NGO gets foreign fundings and not businesses or government?

“If everybody in the world gets foreign funding, why do they pick on one and says its wrong but another one is okay?” Kiai said at a special lecture session titled ‘Freedom of Assembly: Trends and Challenges in International Human Rights’ at the Malaysian Integrity Institute here.

Kiai stressed that no one should be criminalised simply for receiving funds from organisations like the Open Society Foundation (OSF), which is owned by billionaire George Soros. Read more

No proof Soros foundation funding anti-government agenda, deputy home minister says

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Billionaire investor George Soros of Soros Fund Management, January 26, 2013. — Reuters pic

Billionaire investor George Soros of Soros Fund Management, January 26, 2013. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 ― The police have not found any evidence to support allegations that American billionaire George Soros was funding Malaysian civil societies to undermine Putrajaya.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the Open Society Foundations (OSF) founded by Soros has been supporting environment-related programmes here for the past decade, The Star Online reported this evening.

“Police have not found any proof to show that OSF or NGOs in Malaysia are using foreign funds to organise activities that threaten the nation’s peace,” Nur Jazlan was quoted saying in Johor Baru.

However, the Pulai MP said the police will continue their investigations, adding that action would be taken against non-governmental organisations found to misuse the funds for political purposes. Read more

No strings attached for our foreign funds too, Malaysian Bar president tells Khairy

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru asserted that Malaysian laws do not forbid non-governmental organisations from using foreign funds for research purposes. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru asserted that Malaysian laws do not forbid non-governmental organisations from using foreign funds for research purposes. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 6 — The grant from US-based Open Society Foundations (OSF) was given to the Bar Council without any conditions attached, Steven Thiru who heads the Malaysian Bar’s executive council said today.

The lawyer also asserted that Malaysian laws do not forbid non-governmental organisations from using foreign funds for research purposes, adding that the Bar Council goes a step further to ensure the money doesn’t originate from a forbidden source.

“We would check to ensure it does not emanate from a proscribed organisation/ individual,” he told Malay Mail Online in a text message on the WhatsApp platform.

“We would insist that no conditions are attached. This grant came with no strings/conditions attached and we could independently use it for the research work,” he added.

Steven was responding to Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who had earlier today described the lawyer’s remarks earlier as irresponsible for allegedly making light of the Bar Council’s funding from the OSF, founded by American business magnate George Soros, whom some Malaysians have accused of having an agenda to topple the Malaysian government. Read more

Report: Bar Council probed under security law over Soros funding

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 ― Police are investigating the Bar Council for allegedly attempting to undermine parliamentary democracy because it purportedly received a grant from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF) for a research study.

News portal Malaysiakini reported Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar as saying that the Bukit Aman five-member special team that is investigating polls reform group Bersih 2.0 and Malaysiakini under the same law ― Section 124C of the Penal Code ― is also responsible with probing the decision-making body of the Malaysian Bar.

“Once investigations are completed, we will submit our findings to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for further action,” Khalid was quoted saying. Read more

Media freedom on back foot in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Bangkok: A journalist has been sacked from a key Myanmar newspaper after writing about security forces allegedly mass raping villagers, as press freedom comes under increasing attack across south-east Asia.

The English-language Myanmar Times dismissed Scottish-born Fiona MacGregor, the paper’s special investigations editor, after public condemnation of her reporting on Myanmar’s western Rakhine State by the President’s Office and a complaint from the Ministry of Information.

The state is under military lock-down following deadly attacks last month on police border posts which have been blamed on Muslim Rohingya insurgents. Read more

Strong police presence as Red Shirts protest at Malaysiakini

Source: The Star Online

Police maintaining watch outside the Malaysiakini office where Red Shirts supporters had gathered to protest. Pic taken from The Star Online.

Police maintaining watch outside the Malaysiakini office where Red Shirts supporters had gathered to protest. Pic taken from The Star Online.

PETALING JAYA: There is a strong police presence outside the Malaysiakini office off Jalan Tandang where Red Shirts have gathered to protest.

Police were seen on standby in and around the area before protesters began turning up at 1.30pm, Saturday.

The crowd built up significantly at 2pm, with more Red Shirts arriving. Read more

Lawyers: Vague law used against Bersih, Malaysiakini as foreign funding not a crime

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 ― The authorities are just using a so-called vague law to investigate electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 and media outlet Malaysiakini as receiving foreign funds by itself is not a crime, lawyers have said.

Lawyer New Sin Yew said there is no law prohibiting anyone from receiving funds from overseas, adding that this is also not barred under Section 124C of the Penal Code which is being used to probe Malaysiakini and Bersih 2.0 chair Maria Chin Abdullah.

“If there is no law against receiving funds from overseas, there is nothing for the police to enforce.

“Section 124C is vague and vague laws are prone to abuse. But even with its vague wordings, it does not prohibit receiving foreign funds. The police cannot use 124C as a catch-all and to create an offence when there is none,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday. Read more

Set up Charities Commission to ​regulate NGO funding — IDEAS

Source: IDEAS

IDEAS MEDIA STATEMENT

Set up Charities Commission to regulate NGO funding

Kuala Lumpur, 4 November 2016 – Commenting on calls by Minister Datuk Paul Low and Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman to ban foreign funding and for greater scrutiny over ‘political’ non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Chief Executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), Wan Saiful Wan Jan said, “A ban on foreign funding is unnecessary but I fully support the spirit behind these suggestions – that is to promote and enhance transparency and accountability among NGOs”.

“If NGOs call for greater transparency and accountability in government, then they should also apply those principles to themselves and lead by example. I am particularly pleased that Azalina suggested for the proposed Political Donations and Expenditure Act (PDEA) to be the basis for regulating NGO funding. This law does not yet exist as it was proposed as part of the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing’s recommendations. I was a member of that Committee chaired by Datuk Paul Low and I am elated that another Cabinet member has now shown open support for the Committee’s ideas.”

“Many of the Committee’s recommendations can also be used to regulate funding for civil society as the principles of transparency and accountability envisioned by the Committee’s proposal should be applicable to everyone. However, I wonder what is meant by the term ‘politically-interested’ NGOs. Does this mean that any organisation interested in pursuing matters such as transparency and good governance is also deemed politically inclined? What about local chapters of international bodies like Transparency International or Amnesty International? Will they no longer be able to receive foreign funds from their headquarters?”, asked Wan Saiful. Read more

Ban on foreign funding sparks fear of Putrajaya’s meddling among NGOs

Source: The Malay Mail Online

The bi-partisan panel on political funding says cash donations from foreign sources to a political party or politician should be banned. — AFP pic

Will Putrajaya meddle in funding for NGOs? — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 ― A ban on foreign funding for civil society groups deemed “political” will eventually lead to direct interference by the government in their daily operations, several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have claimed.

The civil society groups polled by Malay Mail Online also explained they have no problems with revealing the sources of their funding, pointing out that the information is publicly available as they are officially registered under the Registrar of Societies (RoS).

“My fear is that, does this mean the government from now onwards is going to interfere in the operation and independent of NGOs, including those who are non-political?” local HIV and Aids advocacy group PT Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer Raymond Tai told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

“It’s not a secret, it’s all in our audited report, we have been practising transparency for a long time, so anyone is welcome to look at our account which is published on our website,” Tai added. Read more