Speaker seeks to pass parliamentary reforms by session’s end

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Malaysian Parliament - MMO File pic

Malaysian Parliament – MMO File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 ― Establishing a special chamber to discuss matters of public importance, dedicated time to question ministers and shortening a notice period to 10 days to ask additional questions are among several parliamentary reforms the government hopes to pass by the end of the Dewan Rakyat’s third session.

The Lower House Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia said the Cabinet has already greenlighted the first phase of reforms to be carried out in an effort to expedite the passage of legislations.

“By this parliamentary session, my committee would be meeting and we will implement it soon,” he told a news conference on efforts to transform Parliament.

Pandikar said the federal Cabinet has agreed to three out of four amendments suggested for the first phase; adding that the fourth is still being studied. Read more

Decision on PKR MP’s third challenge against sedition charge on April 14

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Sedition Act 1948

Sedition Act 1948

KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 ― The High Court today set April 14 for its decision on PKR MP N. Surendran’s application to challenge the constitutionality of the Sedition Act under which he was charged over a comment he had posted on video-sharing website YouTube last year.

Judge Ab Karim Ab Rahman set the date after listening to arguments from both the defence and prosecution on the matter of intent in Surendran’s action.

Surendran’s lawyer, Latheefah Koya, argued that Surendran committed no offence as his actions were consistent with his constitutional right to free speech as he did not intend to create public discord.

Section 3 (3) of the Sedition Act states that intent is not a requirement for an act to be seditious. Read more

Crackdown on dissent obscures women’s rights

Source: UCAnews.com

As rollback on rights gains headlines, Malaysian gender equality loses ground

Crackdown on dissent obscures women's rights

Malaysian gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi came under fire last year for wearing a leotard at the Southeast Asia Games. Women’s rights have eroded in Malaysia amid a wider crackdown on rights and freedom. (Photo by AFP)

March 8, 2016 — The promise of gender equality in Malaysia was closer in 2006 than it is now.

A World Economic Forum chart shows that over the last decade the country’s ranking dropped from 72 in 2006 to 111 in 2015, a fall of 39 places.

An ongoing crackdown on all forms of dissent in the country has pushed women’s issues into the background.

Prominent women activists have all been targeted for their outspokenness.

Among them are Jannie Lasimbang, a former commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, Maria Chin Abdullah, a civil rights leader, and Ambiga Sreenevasan, a former Malaysian Bar Council president.

All have spoken out against sexism, at times taking their case directly to the public.

But change is coming at glacial speeds. Read more

Minister pledges commitment to end interfaith disputes, says doesn’t want Islam misused

Source: The Malay Mail Online

dewan_rakyat_signpost_2015_-_parliament_reportKUALA LUMPUR, March 9 ― As debate reignites over unilateral child conversions and interfaith custody disputes, Muslim minister Nancy Shukri expressed today her personal commitment to carry out law reforms, saying she does not want her religion misused by individuals for their own ends.

The de facto law minister was responding to a DAP MP who pressed the government on its commitment to a 2009 Cabinet decision that affirmed a child would not be unilaterally converted to another religion when one parent does.

“What has become your worry ― seven years, I am also worried, because this has already become my responsibility here to ensure that we solve this problem.

“And this is not just for politics, because I as a Muslim, I also do not want our religion to be toyed with, don’t want people to misuse religion as an excuse to achieve their desires. So this has become our joint responsibility in this House, so if there are good suggestions, we are ready to carry it,” the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department told Parliament during Question Time. Read more

Minister: Unilateral child conversion law drafts ready, waiting for Shariah feedback

Source: The Malay Mail Online

dewan_rakyat_signpost_2015_-_parliament_reportKUALA LUMPUR, March 9 ― The federal government has drafted new laws to address the controversial unilateral religious conversion of children but is waiting for feedback on Shariah issues, de facto law minister Nancy Shukri said today.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department added that the wait was because Islamic issues were governed separately by each state, and as such, their respective views needed to be taken into account before reform could proceed at the federal level.

“For the information of this House, a few series of discussions and consultations with the states have already been held by my colleague, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic affairs.

“Because for us, in civil, we don’t have much problem; but it has to do with Shariah,” the Batang Sadong MP told Parliament today. Read more

Malaysia 50-50 by 2030: How do we get there? — Michelle Gyles-McDonnough

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY MICHELLE GYLES-McDONNOUGH

MARCH 9 — This year’s International Women’s Day marks the first after UN member states ushered in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015. The new agenda is based on 17 goals, including a stand-alone goal to empower women and girls and achieve gender equality (SDG 5) by 2030.

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate advances in the gender landscape in Malaysia and chart a path for further progress as we look to 2030, building on current achievements.  Malaysia performed well against Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets, achieving gender parity in primary, secondary and tertiary education by the 2015 deadline. Literacy rates, based on school attendance, for males and females are also close to 100 per cent.

Having assumed now more ambitious gender equality targets under the SDGs and Vision 2020, it is time to step up the effort for a Malaysia 50-50, where women and girls are empowered and we put an end to all forms of discrimination against women and girls.  Read more

Minister: We don’t need laws to achieve gender equality

Source: The Star Online

KUCHING: Malaysia will continue to use persuasion rather than law or quotas to improve gender equality, says Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim.

For instance, she said there were policies to increase women’s involvement in the workplace and had at least 30% women in decision-making positions.

“For us, persuasive methods are more effective in the long run as we prefer to achieve our aims through cooperation and collaboration.

“We can have laws but I see that what we are doing now through our policies and programmes are proceeding well,” she said at the International Women’s Day celebration at The Spring shopping mall here yesterday. Read more

Info leaked too often, minister says AGC wants review of OSA penalties

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 ― The Attorney-General’s Chambers believes that punishments under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) should be reviewed as information confidential to the government have been frequently leaked, de facto law minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said has said.

However, Azalina also said that government lawyers tasked with drafting the proposed amendments will only act after getting the greenlight from the executive.

“Any proposals for amendments to the Official Secrets Act 1972 (Act 88) is subject to policy decisions that have to be decided by the Executive. The Attorney-General’s Chambers will take the next step after policy decisions by the Executive. Read more