Consultative process must be established for Islamic law enactments — G25

Source: The Malay Mail Online

AUGUST 6 — G25 would like to refer to the letter from the Assistant Director, Jakim published in your column on 1 August in which he accused the liberals for not respecting the authority of Islamic scholars. The writer quoted from well-known Muslim scholars, old and new, to explain the personal sins in Islam and proceeded to criticise G25 for allegedly not understanding the concept of sins in Islam.

The most important point for readers to note is that nowhere in Jakim’s long letter was the word constitution mentioned, giving us the impression that the writer has probably forgotten or is not aware that Malaysia is a constitutional democracy, with Islam as the official religion. It was designed with checks and balances to ensure that no Federal or state authority has absolute authority in governing the country. Any law passed by parliament or any state legislature that contravenes the constitutional rights of citizens can be challenged in court and declared invalid.

The constitution, as the supreme law of the country, has spelt out the powers of state religious authorities in the protection, promotion and development of Islam, while ensuring that in exercising their powers, the states cannot go beyond their jurisdiction on matters of criminal justice, as crimes are a Federal responsibility. Religious scholars and institutions that are responsible for the administration of Islam must understand that there are limits in legislating on the personal sins of Muslims, because punishments that are not authorised under the constitution are illegal. Read more

Obama claims positive relationship between Trans-Pacific Partnership and human rights in Malaysia

Source: Politifact
First published on August 5, 2016

Trying to rally support for the oft-criticized Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Barack Obama said it will go a long way to improving human rights conditions across the globe.

Specifically, he said during a press conference with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Loong, it will curb human trafficking in Malaysia.

“The same is true for things like human trafficking, where we’ve got a country like Malaysia taking really serious efforts to crack down on human trafficking,” Obama said. “Why? Because TPP says you need to.”

We’ve rated two other claims from this press conference (a Mostly True on tariff cuts and a Half True on Vietnamese labor rights). Here, we look at the situation on the ground in Malaysia. Read more

Nadira Ilana: Influencing the Malaysian narrative

Source: FMT News

The Sabah-born filmmaker is tired of the racially-blinkered cultural narrative Malaysians are used to hearing, something she says that she 'cannot let fly' anymore.

The Sabah-born filmmaker is tired of the racially-blinkered cultural narrative Malaysians are used to hearing, something she says that she ‘cannot let fly’ anymore.

PETALING JAYA: It’s the perennial East Malaysian struggle: the fight to be recognised as a people beyond the usual Petronas-advertisement platitudes. After all, most Malaysians are only familiar with the general narrative crafted and endorsed by the authorities, one that seems only to focus on the three major races, i.e. the Malays, Chinese and Indians.

All other races – those used to ticking the “lain-lain” (others) box in official forms – are mental footnotes, cultural caricatures of harvest festivals and… something or other about rice. They live in trees, right?

This state of the matter is particularly close to the heart of Sabahan filmmaker Nadira Ilana, and it is something that she, in her own words, “cannot let fly”.

Born of mixed heritage, as are most Sabahans, (“3/5th Dusun. I can sing karaoke well enough.”) Nadira brought in that attitude to her work directing her two latest short films in Ranau, Sabah.

“I really just wanted to understand what being Sabahan is about. I love Southeast Asian cinema, and I wanted to say something that felt very local,” Nadira told FMT in an exclusive interview recently. Read more

Malaysian film awards chief jurist cites Constitution in defence of language segregation policy

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Shanjhey Kumar Perumal’s Jagat was left out of nominations for the main Best Picture at FFM28. — file pic

Shanjhey Kumar Perumal’s Jagat was left out of nominations for the main Best Picture at FFM28. — file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 — The chief jurist for next month’s 28th Malaysia Film Festival Awards (FFM28) defended the language segregation policy for the Best Picture category and urged enthusiasts not to racialise the issue.

Nancie Foo said the use of Bahasa Malaysia as factor in the main Best Picture award category was in line with the Federal Constitution to preserve its identity as the national language.

But she also said FFM had introduced three new categories in recent years to accommodate films in other tongues.

“In 2011, we introduced the Best Picture for non-Bahasa Malaysia category to provide an opportunity for films in languages other than Bahasa Malaysia to compete.

“Now, we have added two more categories that is Best Screenplay and Best Director for non-Bahasa Malaysia films,” she told Malay daily Utusan Malaysia Online yesterday. Read more

Orang asli group out to block TNB’s dam – again

Source: The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: An orang asli group has hauled Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) to court to stop construction of a dam at their village, after blocking a similar dam project in the same location.

The ongoing legal saga between Jeffrey Hassan and 10 other villagers against the national electricity company was over the construction of Telom Hydroelectric Dam that was approved in 2013.

In the court documents sighted by The Star, the villagers claimed the dam would be constructed over ancestral land, located at Kampung Pos Lanai, Kuala Lipis in Pahang.

The 1,500 Semai-tribe orang asli who lived there depended on the land for drinking water, farming and fishing.

In 2012, they were moved to a new village by the Department of Orang Asli Development (JKOA), on the assumption they would still have rights to the land.

In 2013, TNB informed them about the dam project and told the villagers they would not be able to return to the land.

This prompted the villagers to file a suit in 2015, where they claimed they were moved under fraudulent circumstances. Read more

Asean taking ‘baby steps’ on human rights transparency

Source: The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: The Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) is taking baby steps towards greater transparency.

Seven years after the region’s human rights mechanism was set up in 2009, it published an annual report on Aug 1.

However, there are no recommendations in the 18-page 2016 report.

Edmund Bon

Edmund Bon

Edmund Bon, Malaysia’s Representative to AICHR, said in an interview that there were “only two recommendations this year”.

“To make our Annual Report public; and to update and review our Terms of Reference.

“We communicated these recommendations to the AMM (Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting) on July 23. The AMM accepted the first.”

The second was noted by AMM, he said, adding that one of the 10 Asean Member States (AMS) wanted the new Representatives “to fully utilise the existing Terms of Reference before reviewing them.”

Bon is hopeful: “This means the AMM wants AICHR to utilise among others the mandate to obtain information from AMS on the protection of human rights and also to develop common approaches to human rights.”

He added that Malaysia would embark on these in the coming months.

AICHR, which comprises representatives of Asean’s member states, has been the target of criticism from human rights advocacy groups for not doing it so far.

“Civil society organisations rightly criticised AICHR for failing to release our previous reports; we have now met their demand. Read more

Businessman goes to court to unseal 1MDB audit report

Source: The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: In a test case, a businessman is seeking to declassify the final audit report on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) which is under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

He wants the High Court to strike out the decisions made by the Government and two others to classify the report as secret under the Act, and a declaration that the decisions were unconstitutional.

Muhammad Zahid Md Arip, 50, filed an application at the High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) for leave to initiate judicial review proceedings.

In his application, he named Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the Auditor-General and the Government as respondents.

Speaking to reporters, Muhammad Zahid, who claimed that he is still an Umno member and Perkasa supreme council member, said he filed the application as a Malaysian who has constitutional rights to do so and wants “to end all the unhealthy speculation” against the Government and prime minister over the 1MDB issue.

Read more