IGP: Malaysia will never be a police state

Source: The Star Online

SINTOK: The laws and regulations in the country that have been around for a long time will not make it possible for Malaysia to become a police state as claimed by DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said such a claim was baseless as the police were also subjected to the laws and regulations as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“Our country can never be a police state because if we flout the laws, action will be taken against us. How can this country be a police state when we are also subjected to the laws and regulations under the Constitution?” he said. Read more

Justice for women still a challenge, says SIS co-founder

Source: The Star Online

Zainah Anwar, co-founder of Sisters in Islam. Pic taken from The Star Online.

Zainah Anwar, co-founder of Sisters in Islam. Pic taken from The Star Online.

KUALA LUMPUR: It’s not rocket science! said Zainah Anwar (pic), co-founder of Sisters in Islam.

Or is it, since the idea that women do have a voice and a say in how religion is interpreted and practiced in a country that uses Islam as a source of law and public policy, remains a radical notion, lamented the women’s activist and former Suhakam commissioner?

“The issue is not that there cannot be reform and there cannot be equality and justice for women in Islam; the issue is whether governments and those in religious authority have the political will to end discrimination against women.

“The arguments for reform are there – within Islam, within our Constitutional guarantees of equality and non-discrimination on the basis of gender, within the human rights principles we subscribe to when we agree to be part of the international system, and not least in the realities of women’s lives today and what it means to build and sustain the well-being of the family, all members of the family, not just one.”

She said this in her lecture titled “In Search Of Common Ground: Reconciling Islam And Human Rights” at the 4th Raja Aziz Addruse Memorial Lecture here on the first day of the Malaysian Bar’s International Malaysia Law Conference.

Chuffed to have been invited, Zainah said she had always admired the late Raja Aziz who was “a man of integrity and honour, who upheld the rule of law, was passionate about human rights, had the courage of his convictions” and never gave up no matter how tough the battle was. Read more

Suhakam: Police must not be ‘face of intimidation’

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Suhakam chief Tan Sri Razali Ismail said police should be defenders of civil liberties rather than a force that represses human rights. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — Police should be defenders of civil liberties in Malaysia rather than a force that represses the exercise of human rights, said Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) chief Tan Sri Razali Ismail today.

He stressed that security personnel must understand that upholding human rights in the country would help improve its security and mitigate the draw of militancy and extremism.

“In essence, the police should be the face of human rights, and not a face of intimidation, even as the police needs to be the bulwark of the country’s security,” Razali said during his speech at the Malaysian Bar’s International Law Conference here today.

“Regulations are being promulgated in a sweeping fashion that will have the effect of threatening democratic practice and undermine the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Federal Constitution,” he said.

The Suhakam chief also described his commission’s programme to train the country’s law enforcement on human rights as a “mammoth task”, and expressed concern that it would be for nought unless the lessons taught are reinforced and put into practice.

Police action against public opinions are again under the spotlight after at least five people were arrested over social media posts on late PAS spiritual leader Datuk Haron Din, which authorities deemed to be insulting to Islam.

Suhakam: Independent judiciary will protect human rights

Source: FMT

The 1988 crisis is a black mark and no attempt should ever be made again to emasculate the independent power base of the judiciary, says Suhakam chairman Razali Ismail.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government must ensure there is an independent judiciary to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) chairman Razali Ismail said.

“This is by implementing adequate strategies and measures to maintain the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, and to ensure the moral integrity and accountability of the members of the judiciary,” he said in his key note address at the International Malaysia Law Conference here today.

The former diplomat said the rule of law needs an independent judiciary to provide proper checks and balances on the effectiveness of the government in protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Razali recalled that prior to 1988, the Malaysian judiciary was considered as one of the most independent internationally.

He said the judiciary went through a turbulent time during the crisis which resulted in the sacking of the then Lord President of the Supreme Court, and five other judges met the same fate. Read more

Malaysian Bar to receive ‘Rule of Law’ award for promoting human rights

Source: NST Online

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru delivers his welcoming address at the International Malaysia Law Conference 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, September 21, 2016. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 ― The Malaysian Bar will be the first recipient of the inaugural Rule of Law Award by the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) that will be presented during UIA’s 60th Congress in Budapest next month.

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru today read out the letter from UIA, which is based in Paris, to the Malaysian Bar announcing the latter as the winner of the award, which is being held in cooperation with Lexis Nexis, the global pioneer of electronic accessibility of legal documents.

The letter, read at the Bar’s International Law Conference, commended the Malaysian Bar for its “strong and unfailing commitment to the defence and promotion of human rights and the rule of law.”

UIA said that with the award, it intends to “support and encourage” the Malaysian Bar.

“The Malaysian Bar is truly humbled and honoured by this generous recognition by the UIA, particularly at this critical time for us,” Steven said.

“It will certainly serve to further strengthen our resolve and galvanise us in our efforts to repulse the attempts to interfere with our independence,” he added.

The award comes as the Malaysian Bar is vehemently opposing the government’s proposed amendments to the Legal Profession Act 1976, which lawyers allege would curtail the freedom of the Bar and are tantamount to state intervention in its affairs. Read more

With ‘Hasut’, filmmaker seeks to show why Sedition Act must go

Source: The Malay Mail Online

In her latest political documentary ‘Hasut’, self-taught film maker Wong Siew Ki casts the spotlight on the now defunct Internal Security Act 1960’s ties with the government’s increased use of the Sedition Act 1948. — Picture by Choo Choy May

In her latest political documentary ‘Hasut’, self-taught film maker Wong Siew Ki casts the spotlight on the now defunct Internal Security Act 1960’s ties with the government’s increased use of the Sedition Act 1948. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — In support of abolishing the Sedition Act 1948, self-taught filmmaker Wong Siew Ki has come up with a 30-minute documentary that highlights archaic provisions of law she believes must be removed for the country to progress.

The 30-year-old who took nearly a year to make Hasut explained that her documentary draws parallels with the now defunct Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960 because the root of the problem persists in the older Sedition Act and which she believes will continue to plague Malaysia in future, regardless of which political coalition is in power, unless addressed now.

The Sedition Act — which critics maintain has been used to quell dissent against the government as it effectively criminalises free speech regardless of intent — cannot be viewed in isolation, Wong said.

“That’s why I have to link ISA with the Sedition Act, because to me, the Sedition Act is not an Act that becomes popular suddenly; there are reasons why it becomes popular, it became popular after ISA was abolished, that’s the reason I want to link it with ISA,” she said at Hasut’s launch here last night. Read more

Beyond the severity of hudud punishments — Dr Shahrul Mizan Ismail

Source: NST Online

BY DR SHAHRUL MIZAN ISMAIL

THE polemic in relation to the implementation of hudud and how it clashes with several aspects of human rights is not a new quandary. In fact, it very much goes back to the bigger debate between Islam and international human rights law, and the ever irresolvable dilemma of drawing an effective reconciliation between the theocentric essentials of Islamic law and the demands of international human rights law.

This problem is further exacerbated in the case of hudud punishments, since syariah is so explicitly clear as to its crimes and punishments, lessening any manoeuvring space between the two.

But arguing merely on this basis, focusing only on the severity of hudud punishments and how barbaric they are as a justification for them to be denunciated altogether is, in itself, counterproductive. The act of lashing 100 times or stoning till death a human being will, of course, be inconsistent with modern penological principles and contemporary norms of international human rights law.

Nevertheless, demanding Muslims categorically forsake them on these grounds is ineffective since it insensitively neglects a number of decisive realities of Islam and Muslims in general. To pragmatically resolve the issue, one must go back to listening, constructively comparing, and sincerely appreciating the vast divergences between Islamic law and human rights law. Read more

Orang Asli to block roads to stop Gua Musang loggers

Source: FMT

They are angry over excessive logging in ancestral land in Kelantan and plan to block roads on Sept 27.

KUALA LUMPUR: Dismayed by excessive logging, Orang Asli in Kelantan plan to confront loggers by blocking roads leading up to their ancestral land near Kuala Betis, a rural village located in Gua Musang, on Sept 27.

Revealing this, Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Kelantan (JKOAK) Secretary Mustafa Along told reporters that logging in the state had badly affected the livelihood of every villager, pointing out that it had caused immense environmental pollution.

Earlier, Mustafa, along with members of JKOAK, handed over a memorandum to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), touching on excessive logging in areas they considered their ancestral land.

“We are not asking for a large piece of land, just enough for us to live.”

Mustafa said the community was also upset that loggers did not engage the Orang Asli community prior to clearing the forest in the past.

The matter is made even more unfortunate, he added, considering that the Kelantan Forestry Department is reputed to be the best when it comes to forest management.

He said JKOAK had sent letters to several logging companies in Kelantan to demand their exit on Sept 13. Read more

In search of common ground: Reconciling religion and human rights — Zainah Anwar

Source: The Malaysian Bar

SEPTEMBER 21 — Speech by Zainah Anwar at the 4th Raja Aziz Addruse Memorial Lecture entitled In Search of Common Ground: Reconciling Religion and Human Rights:

Zainah Anwar, co-founder of Sisters in Islam. Pic taken from The Star Online.

Zainah Anwar, co-founder of Sisters in Islam. Pic taken from The Star Online.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am really honoured to be standing here today to give the 4th Raja Aziz Addruse Memorial Lecture. Thank you to the Bar Council and Steven Thiru for this brave invitation. I give talks and lectures all over the world, but it is not often that I get invited to give such a public lecture to a big and particularly important audience in Malaysia. So thank you for this honour, not least because it is in the name of a man I have always admired, the late Raja Aziz Addruse — a man of integrity and honour, a man who upheld the rule of law, who was passionate about human rights, who had the courage of his convictions.  And not least, a man who believed that no matter how tough the battle is, we must never give up — to stand up and speak out for what is right and what is just. So thank you once again for this honour.

Ladies and gentlemen, when I began to speak publicly of finding equality and justice in Islam over  25 years ago, a common response was, “Why bother?” Muslim feminists told me it was a waste of time, a losing battle because Islam, in fact, all religions are inherently unjust and patriarchal: for every alternative interpretation I could offer to justify equality, the ulama could counter with 100 others. And it is their voice that is recognised as the voice of authority on matters of faith, not mine.

The secularists said it was a dangerous enterprise, as I was giving legitimacy to the position of religion in the public square. Religion is private between you and God and should have no role to play in public life, let alone in public law and policy. To argue that religion can be a source of good and a source of justice is to give strength to the place of religion in public life. Religion must remain personal, and be delegitimised in the public sphere.

And the human rights activists felt it was wrong to engage with religion as the fight for justice and equality can only and should only be fought through a human rights framework, through UN conventions and universal principles. This is our area of strength that the ulama and Islamist activists do not have, and we should focus our struggle within only this universal framework. Read more

Police should be the face of human rights, says Suhakam chairman

Source: NST Online

Suhakam chief Tan Sri Razali Ismail — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

Suhakam chief Tan Sri Razali Ismail — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR: In exercising their powers, police should be the face of human rights, said Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail.

“It is vital that the police and other uniformed bodies from the lowest to the highest personnel understand the value of human rights because of the country’s needs in enhancing security and dealing with terrorism.

“Regulations are being promulgated in a sweeping fashion that will have the effect of threatening democratic practice and undermine the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“In essence, the police should be the face of human rights, and not a face to intimidate, even as the police need to be the bulwark of the country’s security,” he said in his address at the International Malaysian Law Conference – “Challenges of an Asean Community: Rule of Law, Business and Being People-Oriented” today. Read more