Malaysia: Military Chief’s New Role as Security Council Head May Be Illegal, Critics Say

Source: BenarNews

Zulkifeli Mohd Zin (right), chief of Malaysia’s armed forces, stands next to King Abdul Mu’adzam Shah during an inspection of an honor guard on the king’s official birthday celebration, in Kuala Lumpur, June 8, 2013.

A decision allowing Malaysia’s military chief to run the newly set up National Security Council underscores the government’s seriousness in combating the terrorism threat, officials say, but some experts believe the move violates the constitution and could result in human rights and other abuses.

In a surprise announcement last week, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysian Armed Forces chief Zulkifeli Mohd Zin had taken over as National Security Council director-general as part of tough new security legislation that came into force about two weeks earlier.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, facing resignation calls after being linked to a multi-million dollar corruption scandal, had pushed the National Security Council Act through parliament in December. After legislative approval, the bill did not get the customary royal assent from Malaysia’s king, who had asked for some changes.

The legislation, among other objectives, enables the government to declare virtual martial law in areas deemed to be under “security threat.” Read more

Activist calls on Malaysians to support Paralympic contingent

Source: The Star Online

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians should support the nation’s Paralympics contingent in Rio de Janeiro to see what people with disabilities (PWDs) are capable of, said Malaysian Disabled Development Society president Mohd Faisal Che Yusof.

“It is about awareness among Malaysians towards the potential and abilities of PWDs. This is a very basic and common challenge. Malaysians can be aware of means and ways to support PWDs in every aspect of their lives, including sports and the Paralympics,” said Mohd Faisal.

He said that events like the Paralympics could help Malaysians see the issues faced by PWDs.

“Events like the Paralympics can help Malaysians to ‘wake up’ when it comes to issues faced by people with disabilities. This is a very common, very basic challenge in our society. Only then can we talk about equal treatment for our athletes. The public still isn’t fully aware about the abilities of PWDs,” said Mohd Faisal who also serves as a Bar Council Human Rights Committee member. Read more

Isma chief guilty of sedition, fined RM2,000

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Lawyer Azad Bashir Abdul Karim Bashir and Isma president, Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman (right) are pictured at the Kompleks Mahkamah Kajang in Kajang, Aug 30, 2016, for the trial of Abdullah Zaik’s second sedition charge. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Lawyer Azad Bashir Abdul Karim Bashir and Isma president, Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman (right) are pictured at the Kompleks Mahkamah Kajang in Kajang, Aug 30, 2016, for the trial of Abdullah Zaik’s second sedition charge. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KAJANG, Aug 30 — Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) president Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman today was found guilty of sedition over his remarks in a 2014 article labelling the ethnic Chinese as “intruders” in Malaysia.

“The defence has failed to provide reasonable doubts. OKT is found guilty and convicted under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act,” Sessions Court Judge Noridah Adam said in the courtroom here.

Abdullah Zaik’s lawyer, Salim Bashir, later pleaded on his client’s behalf by saying that this was his first conviction and that he has a family.

Noridah later told the Isma president to pay a RM2,000 fine for his conviction.

The conviction under the alternative sedition charge carries a punishment of up to three years’ jail or a fine of maximum RM5,000 or both. Read more

‘Make human rights the priority in all conservation efforts’ ‘ UN experts urge governments

Source: Malaysia Sun

Pic drawn from Malaysia Sun

29 August 2016 — Ahead of the world”s largest forum for the adoption of conservation policies on protected areas, two United Nations experts on environment and indigenous peoples today highlighted that effective and sustainable conservation requires respect for human rights.

“The escalating incidence of killings of environmentalists, among them many indigenous leaders, underlines the urgency that conservationists and indigenous peoples join forces to protect land and biodiversity from external threats, notably lucrative resource exploitation,” the UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights and the environment, John H. Knox, and on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, said in a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Organised every four years by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Conservation Congress (WCC) brings together heads of States, high-level government officials, business leaders, representatives from indigenous groups and leading civil society organisations along with scientists and academics. This year”s WCC takes place from 1-10 September in the US state of Hawaii ” both UN experts will attend with the aim of advocating a human rights-based approach to conservation and biodiversity.

“Protection of biodiversity is a human rights issue as a healthy ecosystem is important for the full enjoyment of a wide range of human rights,” Mr. Knox said. “The loss of biological diversity has negative impacts on a wide range of human rights including the rights to life, food, housing, health, water and sanitation and culture. At the same time, the exercise of human rights, including rights to information, participation, and remedy, can provide useful tools for the effective protection of biodiversity.” Read more

Bumped off the career path

Source: NST Online

File pic — AFP

File pic — AFP

WOMEN still face challenges and unfair treatment at the workplace when they become pregnant, according to a recent survey by the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO).

The online poll, called the Workplace Discrimination Survey, polled 222 women from across the country to shed light on workplace discrimination against pregnant women.

More than 40 per cent of those polled admitted to having experienced job discrimination due to their pregnancy. The survey also revealed the top five ways employers discriminated against pregnant women. These included measures such as making their positions redundant, denying them promotions, placing them on prolonged probation, demoting them and terminating their jobs.

WAO launched the survey to promote respect, protection and equal rights for women in the workplace, specifically for pregnant women.

A woman should be free to choose if and when to have children says Sumitra Visvanathan, executive director of WAO. Read more

Home Minister ordered to pay damages to The Edge over suspension order

Source: The Malay Mail Online

One of the 1MDB reports that the The Edge Financial Daily had carried. This was on the front page of its July 20, 2015 copy.

One of the 1MDB reports that the The Edge Financial Daily had carried. This was on the front page of its July 20, 2015 copy.

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30— The Court of Appeal today ordered Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and the ministry’s secretary-general to pay damages for the suspension order issued on The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd last year over its 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) reports.

According to news portal Malaysiakini, a three-member bench led by Justice Datuk Mohd Zawawi Mohd Salleh dismissed the appeal by the Home Ministry on the sum of damages in which senior federal counsel Alice Loke had submitted The Edge was not entitled to.

Today’s unanimous decision also saw the court accepting the submission by counsel Darryl Goon representing The Edge that damages can be awarded based on Order 53(5) of the Rules of Court.

“We are not with you (Loke) and we have to dismiss the appeal. The respondents have passed the threshold (in the award of damages) under Order 53(5).

“No order is made as to costs,” Justice Zawawi reportedly said.

Both parties would now need to refer back to High Court for the assessment of damages.

On September 21 last year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court quashed the Home Ministry’s three-month suspension order on The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Weekly over 1MDB reports. Read more

Report on on the “Leverage on Social Media for Impactful Social Change” Workshop — Justine Chew

(all photos courtesy of HAKAM)

Strengthening Civil Society Advocacy through Effective Use of Social Media

“When we change to way we communicate, we change society.” — Clay Shirky

Social Media has over the past 10 years changed communication between individuals, organisations and nations. This ever evolving communication technology continues to transform the way people interact and even the way they think.  That is the reason, Social Media now occupies a vital portion of many successful corporations’ organizational and business strategies. Governments have also recognized the power of social media – to further their causes and goals, construct and deconstruct societies. Government and politics are changed, and some destroyed, through the use of social media.


In other parts of the world, civil society leaders and organizations have long teamed up with technology and social media experts to address community challenges through social media and this partnership had created new interesting solutions for those organisations to better serve their community.

However, Malaysian Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have yet to leverage much on social media tools notwithstanding that (a) the tools are readily available, and (b) social media is a proven potent platform to shape conversations and influence opinions, facilitate speedier and more effective engagement and sharing of information.

“Old ways won’t open new doors.”

CSOs have in the past and still do rely on the usual traditional methods of advocacy through press statements and forum and town hall meetings. Traditional medium like these are limited in its capacity to reach and often offer very limited space or time for any discussion or conversation to take place between the speaker and the audience.

Under these circumstances, and seeing the limited success in advocacy campaigns by Malaysian CSOs in general, HAKAM developed and implemented a How to Leverage on Social Media for Impactful Social Change in Malaysia Workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 16-17 July 2016. HAKAM’s strategy for this capacity building workshop was to engage and partner with social media experts to train human rights activists, CSO representatives and volunteers  in harnessing the tools and potential of social media, covering areas of technology and content for effective advocacy. Read more

Bank Rakyat chairman remanded a week

Source: The Star Online

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) – The Malaysian Insider file pic, December 10, 2015.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) – The Malaysian Insider file pic, December 10, 2015.

PUTRAJAYA: Bank Rakyat chairman Jen (ret) Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Haji Zainal has been remanded for seven days in connection with a graft case involving RM15mil.

The magistrate’s court here granted an order for him to be remanded until Sept 5.

The 65-year-old retired army general is the second person from the same financial institution to be questioned by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over a multi-million-ringgit book publishing contract and a project to upgrade the bank’s system.

The bank’s managing director, 48, was released from remand by MACC together with another three who were also questioned.

They were the bank’s former procurement director and two owners of the publishing company.

It was reported that Abdul Aziz had been detained by the MACC for questioning over the RM15mil case, the second top level person from the bank to be hauled up by the MACC.

The bank’s managing director, Datuk Mustafha Abd Razak, was detained on Thursday. Read more