Safeguarding farmers’ seeds – Gurdial Singh Nijar

Source: The Sun Daily

BY GURDIAL SINGH NIJAR
(Deputy President, HAKAM)

FARMERS in developing countries have been responsible for the creation of the global food basket. Over millennia farmers bred plants for food and agriculture. They improved them through their traditional practices. They bred out the unfavourable features and built in the more resilient traits. This was done on the basis of free use and exchange of seeds among themselves. Harvest festivals such as the Gawai in Sarawak, Sabah’s Kaamatan and Kerala’s Onam were, and are, characterised by farmers freely exchanging their most successful seeds of that season. These were created from the seeds exchanged at past annual festivals. The seed thus represents the cumulative genius of farmers over successive generations. Read more

Malaysia government must respect civil society demonstrating against corruption — Transparency International

Source: The Malay Mail Online

AUG 29 — Transparency International, the global anti-corruption movement which is starting its annual meeting today in Putrajaya, calls on the Malaysian government to respect the right of civil society to demonstrate peacefully against corruption.

This is in line with Article 13 of the United Nation Convention against Corruption (UNCAC)  which explicitly calls for civil society participation in anti-corruption efforts: “Each State Party shall take appropriate measures to promote the active participation of individuals and groups outside the public sector, such as civil society, non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations, in the prevention of and the fight against corruption and to raise public awareness regarding the existence, causes and gravity of and the threat posed by corruption.”

“People everywhere should have the right to peacefully demonstrate, without provocation and without fear of reprisal,” said José Ugaz, chair of Transparency International. “The government of Malaysia should listen to the concerns of its people.”  Read more

How many deaths does it take? – Azrul Mohd Khalib

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY AZRUL MOHD KHALIB

Azrul Mohd Khalib – MMO file pic

AUGUST 29 ― Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed’s recent comments regarding the number of deaths of detainees in police custody reflects why the public perceives the government to not be taking this issue seriously. He says that it is “very small.”

Not too long ago, the same attitude was observed in responses to concerns of deaths among National Service trainees.

Let’s take a look at some of these statistics. Royal Malaysian Police statistics indicate that over a 14 year period, 242 detainees died in police custody. This translates to around 17 deaths a year. At least one person loses his or her life in police detention each month. Most were deemed to be as a result of illness or cardiac arrests rather than foul play.

These deaths continue to raise questions specifically about treatment of detainees during and immediately after the initial arrest. Questions which are rarely answered.

When a custodial death occurs, an inquest into the death is mandatory by law. Yet this is often not done. Read more

Home Ministry bans yellow clothing, ‘Bersih 4’ words

Source: The Malaysian Insider

A screengrab of the government gazette banning yellow clothing, as well as clothes with the words 'Bersih 4,' and also printed material connected to the rally that is set to take place tomorrow and Sunday in Kuala Lumpur and other cities. – August 28, 2015.

A screengrab of the government gazette banning yellow clothing, as well as clothes with the words ‘Bersih 4,’ and also printed material connected to the rally that is set to take place tomorrow and Sunday in Kuala Lumpur and other cities. – August 28, 2015.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has banned the use of yellow with the words Bersih 4 in whatever form ahead of the rally in three Malaysian cities tomorrow.

A government gazette signed by the minister yesterday and which came into effect today states that the order was made under the Printing, Presses and Publications Act 1984.

The Printing Presses and Publications (Control of Undesirable Publications) (No. 22) Order 2015 lists as “absolutely prohibited throughout Malaysia” the following items:

“Any yellow coloured clothing and which contains the words ‘Bersih 4′” and “Any other printed material and pamphlet which leads to Bersih 4 rally”.

A copy of the order in a Federal Government Gazette is available online. It was dated August 27 and comes into force today. Read more

Stop misusing Section 124B, Malaysian Bar tells cops after #OccupyParliament clampdown

Source: The Malay Mail Online

President of the Malaysian Bar Steven Thiru - Picture by MMO/Saw Siow Feng

President of the Malaysian Bar Steven Thiru – Picture by MMO/Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 — The Malaysian Bar questioned today the constitutionality of a Penal Code law governing parliamentary democracy after taking issue with what it said was an abuse of the provision by local enforcers.

In a statement, Bar Council president Steven Thiru cited the case of the arrest and subsequent remand earlier this week of 16 student participants of the #OccupyParliament sit-in protest, and said the police had erred when they applied to have the youths placed in lock-up for seven days.

“The duration sought was excessive, and lends to the widely held perception that the police are freely seeking remand orders to punish persons involved in peaceful assemblies, even before any finding of guilt by a court of law, as well as to further intimidate others who may wish to participate in any public assembly,” Steven said.

“The Malaysian Bar strongly urges the police to cease misusing Section 124B, and to respect the right of all Malaysians to assemble peaceably.

“Democracy is strengthened — not threatened — when Malaysians who wish to assemble in peace may do so without threats of reprisal or unjustified arrest,” he added. Read more

Can you sue for sexual harassment? Federal Court to decide today

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Honey Tan of rights group Empower labels sexual harassment a ‘gender-based crime’, claiming it affects women disproportionately more than men. ― File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 ― A victim of sexual harassment will find out today if she can sue her alleged perpetrator for compensation under common law, amid limited avenue for redress currently available to victims nationwide under the Employment Act 1955.

Should the Federal Court decide in favour of the victim, women’s rights activists say it would be “a big step forward” for others in similar disputes, especially as existing laws offer little relief to those seeking retribution in such cases.

“It’s important to understand the problems of sexual harassment. We know it’s prevalent, but it’s very difficult to bring a claim for harassment [to court].

“I believe [today’s case] is important because it’s asking the Federal Court to consider whether there is a right for victim to claim for damages under the law of tort, under common law.

“The reason why the victim has to go to common law, it is because there is no existing legislation that can fully protect women from harassment,” Sumitra Visvanathan, the executive director of Women’s Aid Organisation, told Malay Mail Online over phone. Read more

The laws of peaceful assembly – Syahredzan Johan

Source: The Star Online

Syahredzan Johan - file pic

Syahredzan Johan – file pic

BY SYAHREDZAN JOHAN

According to the Federal Constitution, the right to assembly peacefully may be restricted by Parliament. Parliament enacts laws that impose restrictions, as Parliament deems necessary or expedient in the interest of the security of the Federation or public order.

However, whatever restrictions imposed by Parliament must be reasonable as well as proportionate to the purpose the restriction was imposed in the first place.

There must be a nexus between the restriction and national security or public order. It also follows that arguments that peaceful assembly should not be allowed because it will inconvenience others is not a good reason to restrict freedom of assembly. Read more

Suhakam risks downgrade after Putrajaya shuns proposals to strengthen it

Source: The Malaysian Insider

Suhakam vice-chairman Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee says she did not receive a favourable response in her meeting with the Attorney-General, police and PM’s Department legal representative over the expansion of the human rights commission’s role. – The Malaysian Insider pic, August 24, 2015.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia’s (Suhakam) attempt to give itself more bite has hit a roadblock, with Putrajaya reacting “very unfavourably” to its proposals to amend the law that governed it.

This could see Suhakam risk a potential downgrade of its international accreditation, its vice-chairman Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee said today.

Khaw said Suhakam had submitted nine recommendations to Putrajaya to strengthen the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act which was last amended in 2009. Read more

Death in custody cases ‘very small’ compared to number of cops, new deputy home minister says

Source: The Malay Mail Online

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 24 — The proportion of death in custody cases that reportedly numbered more than 200 in the past four years is “very small” compared to the size of the police force that is 120,000 strong, the Home Ministry’s newly appointed deputy Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said.

Critics have accused the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), which oversees the police among 19 government agencies, of not doing enough to check police abuse.

“I’m not giving excuses on behalf of the police, but the fact is, we have to work on statistics,” Nur Jazlan told Malay Mail Online in a recent interview. Read more

Terengganu’s fishermen caught between dwindling catch and corruption

Source: The Malaysian Insider

The fishermen on a boat returning to shore with their catch, near Marang in Terengganu. Their livelihoods have been impacted in a negative way by various factors in recent years. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, August 23, 2015.

Already struggling to make ends meet, the lives of Terengganu’s weather-beaten small-time fishermen are being made harder by competition from huge trawlers encroaching their waters, and corruption in local cartels that leaves them at the mercy of foreign fishing boats.

The Malaysian Insider’s recent visit to the fishing community at the seaside village of Marang found fishermen already struggling with the fact that they will have no familial successors, for the young find the job hard and the money too little.

A fibreglass boat now costs RM1,500, but the returns are little these days.

There is also competition from those who are more well-off in the trade and who own trawlers which catch almost every living being in the waters – squid, fish, prawns and crabs.

The small fisherman cannot compete. All he has is the camaraderie of his fellow fishermen on board and a net that has battled the elements, and can only haul in a much smaller yield. Read more