American Bar wants Putrajaya to reconsider changes to LPA

Source: FMT News

It wants the Malaysian government to meet the Malaysian Bar to get feedback and ensure the independence of the legal profession. Pic taken from FMT News.

It wants the Malaysian government to meet the Malaysian Bar to get feedback and ensure the independence of the legal profession. Pic taken from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: The American Bar Association has written to the Malaysian prime minister to voice its opposition to a proposal to appoint two government nominees to the Bar Council.

Its president Linda Klein in a letter to Najib Razak last week, said there was no justification for mandating government appointments.

“It is unclear what legitimate purpose the government is seeking to fulfill, by mandating government appointment of bar leadership,” she said in the letter dated Sept 23.

The letter has since been published on the Malaysian Bar website.

She said such appointments would inherently undermine the independence of the Bar.

“The proposed law would therefore create an unjustified infringement upon the right of association of members of the legal profession as enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution, international law and required by the UN Basic Principles,” she said. Read more

Ban foreign donors, political funding panel says

Source: The Malay Mail Online

The bi-partisan panel on political funding says cash donations from foreign sources to a political party or politician should be banned. — AFP pic

The bi-partisan panel on political funding says cash donations from foreign sources to a political party or politician should be banned. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 ― The bi-partisan panel on political funding wants all forms of foreign donations banned under a proposed law to regulate political financing.

The proposal was part of the 32 recommendations in a report prepared and released by the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing today.

“Cash donations from foreign sources to a political party or politician should be banned.

“This includes donations from individuals, companies, foundations, organisations, associations or any registered or non-registered entities that are not domiciled in Malaysia,” the panel said in its report. Read more

Panel proposes RM3,000 ceiling before political donors must be named

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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The National Consultative Committee on Political Financing proposes 32 recommendations on political funding reforms. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — The special panel on political funding has proposed a new law on the matter to curb abuses, but suggested that this may not be in place before the general election after the next.

Among the proposals listed in the Political Donations and Expenditure Act (PDEA) is the formation of an independent oversight body with the power, to among others, confiscate money from unknown sources.

The body, to be overseen by a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Political Financing, will be called the Controller of Political Donations and Expenditure (Controller).

“We need to regulate political financing. Not to say that there is no need for money … there is a need to manage it to reduce abuses,” Minister in the Prime Minister Department Senator Datuk Paul Low told reporters here. Read more

The inevitability of race-based politics — Boo Su-Lyn

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY BOO SU-LYN

A Creative Commons image

A Creative Commons image

SEPTEMBER 30 ― So it has come to this ― we now face the possibility of an utterly polarised country after over half a century of race-based politics.

Both the opposition and Barisan Nasional’s (BN) predominantly Chinese component parties ― MCA, Gerakan and SUPP ― have expressed concern that the electoral redelineation exercise apparently promotes racial segregation.

According to news portal Malaysiakini who analysed the change of racial composition in Selangor state seats, the redelineation exercise will lead to a drop in racially mixed seats as there will be an increase in seats where Malays either form a “large majority” (60 to 79.9 per cent) or a “small minority” (less than 20 per cent). The same goes for the Chinese. But the representation of Indian voters reportedly remains more or less the same.

Although both Malay and Chinese voters will be polarised, Malaysiakini reported that Malay representation would be increased overall as they would mostly now comprise the “large majority” in seats, while the Chinese would now generally comprise the “small minority.”

It’s no wonder then that BN’s component parties are worried about the redelineation exercise ― they fear getting less seats to contest, besides losing the ones with a large Chinese majority based on voting patterns in the 13th general election. It’s unlikely that the Chinese voters’ anti-establishment sentiment will change much in the next elections. Read more

Malaysia’s Dangerous Path — Daniel Wagner

Source: The Huffington Post

BY DANIEL WAGNER

Muslims from around the world have long chosen Malaysia as a holiday destination, being widely viewed as a moderate Muslim country, where people of diverse ethnicity and religion live in harmony. Muslims account for approximately 60 percent of the population (most of them being ethnic Malay), with Chinese and Indian minorities accounting for most of the rest, practicing Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism as they please. That is part of what makes Malaysia unique. Its tranquility is now under threat, however, a combination of simmering ethnic tension and government action that is taking the country down a dangerous path.

For decades, Malaysia’s main opposition party – the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) – has promoted the adoption of Islamic law, and for decades the government has objected to such law, until now. Prime Minister Najib Razak has for many months been embroiled in a corruption scandal, in which he has admitted accepting nearly $700 million as a “donation” to him. Moreover, his government is in trouble, as urban voters are increasingly rejecting the ruling United Malay National Organization (UMNO) and it policies. Many Malaysians have had enough of Mr. Najib, UMNO, and the current government.

Mr. Najib and UMNO have therefore decided to court rural Malays, who tend to be more conservative and who support PAS in greater numbers than their urban counterparts. In May of this year, UMNO fast-tracked the reading of a bill drafted by PAS which sought to increase the punishment courts may impose on those Muslims convicted of religious offenses through existing Islamic courts. Opening that Pandora’s Box has naturally created an uproar among moderate Muslims in the country.

Islamic law is already enforced in some capacity in the more conservative parts of the country, where, for example, religious authorities already check patrons’ religion in hotels and bars. The authorities may already jail those who do not practice official interpretations of the law. Some PAS members want Muslims convicted of drinking alcohol to receive up to 80 lashes of the rattan cane, and for adulterers to receive up to 100 lashes of the cane, in ominous echoes of the punishment already dispensed in countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. Is the next step amputations for stealing and hangings for being gay? Moderate Muslims know that such a pivot toward the imposition of Islamic law usually only leads in one direction: more of the same.

Read more

Battleground in Gua Musang jungle

Source: The Star Online

GUA MUSANG: A logging area in the jungle near here has become a battleground between the orang asli community and loggers.

The orang asli claim the tract of land between Pos Tohoi and Pos Simpor, some two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Gua Musang town, is their ancestral land. The loggers claim they have been given a concession to cut down the trees there.

On Wednesday, there was a violent confrontation between the orang asli and the loggers, with three orang asli being “arrested” by men claiming to be policemen.

They were released soon after as there were no police officers in uniform or police vehicles nearby.

While the loggers, armed with chainsaws and one with a shotgun, managed to breach a barricade and dismantle it, the orang asli have since regrouped and replaced the barricade. And no end seems to be in sight for the conflict.

Read more

Comparing M’sia’s malapportionment with other countries — Ong Kian Ming

Source: Malaysiakini

BY ONG KIAN MING

A Creative Commons image

A Creative Commons image

Two weeks after the national redelineation exercise since 13 years was announced, the Election Commission (EC) has come under fire for malapportionment.

Malapportionment entails having vast differences between the number of voters from one constituency to another.

This is unfair because it dilutes the value of votes in larger constituencies compared to smaller constituencies.

For example, after the redelineation, the parliamentary seat of Damansara (formerly Petaling Jaya Utara) which has 150,439 voters will only get to elect one MP to Parliament whereas Putrajaya, which only has 17,627 voters, will also get one MP.

While this example has been repeated often, it does not reflect the overall malapportionment as it is only a comparison between two extreme cases in a total of 222 parliamentary seats.

However, there is a formula that can explain the overall severity of malapportionment with a single value.

The higher this value is, the worse the malapportionment. The lower the value, the more equal the respective parliamentary seats are. Read more

EC chalks highest level of malapportionment since 1974 — Ong Kian Ming

Source: Malaysiakini

BY ONG KIAN MING

It has been two weeks since the controversial release by the Election Commission (EC) of the 2016 delimitation (redelineation) exercise.

Many individuals, political parties (including BN component parties) and NGOs have criticised the unfairness of this delimitation exercise on a number of grounds, including worsening the gap between the largest and smallest parliamentary seats and gerrymandering boundaries in order to help Umno win back marginal seats.

I have spent all my time analysing the detailed political impact of this delimitation exercise on each state and parliament seat in peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.

It is my intention to share my analysis to the public in a systematic manner so that public awareness on this delimitation exercise can be raised.

At the same time, I hope that this series of articles on the 2016 delimitation exercise can be used as reference material for academics and researchers, not just in Malaysia but also from abroad, who are interested in electoral gerrymandering and malapportionment.

In addition, I hope that some of this analysis can be referred to if anyone decides to take up a legal challenge against this delimitation exercise. Read more