Ambiga: Brake on MPs’ freedom of speech erodes democracy

Source: FMT News

HAKAM President Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan – The Malaysian Insider file pic, October 15, 2015.

HAKAM President Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan – The Malaysian Insider file pic, October 15, 2015.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Human Rights Society has expressed concern that certain parties are explicit that non-Muslims MPs should not debate the hudud Bill while Muslim lawmakers must vote ‘aye’ for the law.

“These two statements undermine our parliamentary democracy,” its president Ambiga Sreenevasan said.

The lawyer made the remarks when she took to the podium at the inaugural lecture “Reclaiming our Federal Constitution – Preserve, Protect & Defend” at the University of Malaya Thursday.

Saying she would not go into the merits of the Bill, which is scheduled to be tabled by PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang when Parliament begins its session next week, Ambiga lamented:

“They are saying that non-Muslim MPs cannot discuss the legislation that is coming before Parliament. They are also saying that Muslim MPs have no choice but to vote.

“And we never had such a situation in the past. Of course, when it comes to the (party) whip, that is a different thing. So those are the things that worry me.” Read more

Hormati Hak Orang Asli — Bar Malaysia

Sumber: Bar Malaysia

Logo-majlis-peguam-malaysia-malaysian-bar-councilBar Malaysia terkejut dengan laporan mengenai tindakan terhadap lebih kurang 200 Orang Asli Temiar yang telah menaikkan sekatan semasa proses bantahan terhadap aktiviti pembalakan di kawasan hutan simpan Balah berdekatan dengan Gua Musang, Kelantan. Aktiviti pembalakan ini telah menceroboh masuk ke tanah yang dianggap oleh masyarakat Temiar sebagai tanah adat mereka.

Orang Asli yang terjejas terdesak membuat laporan polis terhadap ejen syarikat pembalakan atas dakwaan intimidasi jenayah dalam bentuk ugutan lisan, penggunaan senjata api dan penggunaan mesin gergaji untuk meruntuhkan sekatan tersebut, dan untuk dakwaan penyamaran sebagai anggota polis dan pegawai penguatkuasa.

Bar Malaysia menuntut pihak berkuasa yang berkaitan untuk menjalankan siasatan penuh terhadap perkara ini, dan membawa ke muka pengadilan semua pihak yang bertanggungjawab ke atas tindakan yang menyalahi undang-undang atau perlanggaran ke atas apa-apa hak.

Bar Malaysia juga memandang berat pendirian yang diambil oleh Kerajaan Negeri dan Kerajaan Persekutuan berhubung dengan hak Orang Asli Temiar terhadap tanah tersebut dan secara amnya hak Orang Asli terhadap kawasan tanah adat dan tradisinya.  Laporan mengenai tindakan yang diambil oleh Kerajaan Negeri Kelantan terhadap sekatan tersebut menunjukkan bahawa mereka memperlihatkan hak mutlak mereka untuk memberi lesen pembalakan yang termasuk kawasan yang bertindih dengan tanah adat Orang Asli.  Kerajaan Persekutuan mendakwa bahawa ia tidak mempunyai kuasa undang-undang untuk mendesak Kerajaan Negeri Kelantan, atas alasan bahawa perkara berkenaan tanah adalah di bawah bidang kuasa eksklusif perlembagaan Kerajaan Negeri.
Read more

Respect the legal rights of the Orang Asli — ​​Steven Thiru

Source: Malaysian Bar | Malay Mail Online

Malaysian Bar Council president Steven Thiru - Pic by Malaysiakini/Loh Jun Lin

Malaysian Bar Council president Steven Thiru – Pic by Malaysiakini/Loh Jun Lin

OCTOBER 14 — The Malaysian Bar is appalled at the recent reported treatment of approximately 200 Temiar Orang Asli who had erected a blockade in protest against logging activities carried out within the Balah forest reserve near Gua Musang, Kelantan. These logging activities encroached upon lands claimed by the local Temiar community to be their customary lands.

The affected Orang Asli were compelled to lodge police reports against the agents of the logging companies for alleged criminal intimidation in the form of verbal threats, the discharge of firearms and the use of chainsaws to disrupt the blockade, and for the alleged impersonation of police and enforcement officers.

The Malaysian Bar demands that the relevant authorities conduct a full investigation into these matters, and bring to justice all parties responsible for any illegal conduct or the violation of any rights.

The Malaysian Bar also views with concern the position taken by the State and Federal Governments regarding the rights of the affected Temiar Orang Asli over the lands in question and, more generally, Orang Asli rights in and over their customary and traditional areas. Read more

It’s wrong, unconstitutional says LFL of Orang Asli treatment

Source: FMT News

The restriction on Siti Kasim and other ‘outsiders’ helping the Orang Asli defend their customary lands is in bad faith, says Lawyers for Liberty.

The restriction on Siti Kasim and other ‘outsiders’ helping the Orang Asli defend their customary lands is in bad faith, says Lawyers for Liberty.

KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) wants the Malaysian and Kelantan governments to acknowledge that the Orang Asli have rights over their customary lands.

“This right is recognised by the highest courts in the land,” said LFL Executive Director Eric Paulsen in a statement.

The Constitution guaranteed all citizens the right to life, equality and property, he added. “Both state and federal governments have a duty to protect and promote these rights.”

He expressed “extreme concern” at the Kelantan Forestry Department’s blocking of lawyer Siti Kasim from the Balah forest reserve on Oct 12 and 13. “She has the right to meet her Temiar Orang Asli clients,” said Paulsen. Read more

Lawyer: As human rights decline, Malaysia can be next Myanmar

Source: The Malay Mail Online

awyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said that the local authorities practise double standards in charging anyone who is seen as a threat to them. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa - Taken from the Malay Mail Online

Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said that the local authorities practise double standards in charging anyone who is seen as a threat to them. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa – Taken from the Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 — The erosion of human rights in Malaysia for the past year has put the country in the same boat as Myanmar, lawyer Eric Paulsen alleged today.

The Lawyers For Liberty (LFL) executive director reasoned that if the government continues to silence dissenters through various laws, the situation here would worsen like in Myanmar, where citizens can be incarcerated for social media postings.

“It is sad but I’m constantly thinking of Myanmar. I have no doubt that the way Malaysia is going down the road, we would be mentioned next to Myanmar.

“Someone in Myanmar was recently charged for Facebook comments and was jailed. We can see a trend here that if Myanmar does this, we also do something similar. It is vice versa,” he told reporters at the launch of this year’s Human Rights Watch (HRW) report. Read more

UPDATE 1-Malaysia “trying to put internet genie back in bottle” with planned curbs

Source: Reuters 

Oct 13 Human Rights Watch on Thursday expressed concern over planned amendments to Malaysian media law that would give broader powers to the authorities to stifle online dissent amid a wider crackdown on free speech and assembly.

The U.S.-based rights group’s report comes as Prime Minister Najib Razak battles criticism over his handling of a multi-billion dollar financial scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

“What Malaysia is trying to do is put the internet genie back in the bottle, back to a time when the government had greater control over information received by its citizens,” HRW Asia deputy director Phil Robertson told reporters. Read more

Varsities hit hard by budget cuts

Source: NST

KUALA LUMPUR: Public universities are crying out for help as they struggle to sustain their operations.

Citing significant cuts to their operational budgets as the main source of their current woes, they are pleading against any more slashes to the government’s allocation for public universities in the 2017 Budget, as further cuts would pose a systemic threat to the institutions and their core functions.

University heads whom the New Straits Times spoke to, some on record, others choosing to present their case “off-the-record”, said the cuts that they were slapped with last year alone had led to a host of problems, which caused massive adverse cascading effects.

Their cases were supported by the Malaysian Academic Associations Congress (MAAC), which said many faculties had seen scores of their researchers abandoning their studies.

This, the congress said, was not only because of the tight university budgets currently available to them, but there was also not enough financial incentives for research assistants.

MAAC president Professor Dr Mohd Idrus Mohd Masirin said the escalating cost of materials that universities depended on for their research was also compounding the problem.

“With cuts made to the universities’ budgets, some (universities) are even forced to halt entirely their allocations for research. Read more

Reclaiming our Federal Constitution — Tunku Zain Al-’Abidin

Source: The Malay Mail Online

constilawlectureseries-inaugural

OCTOBER 14 — Among our citizens, vastly different interpretations of our Constitution exist. Each formed from different worldviews, each proclaiming legitimacy. If this trend continues unabated, greater polarisation will occur.

That is why steps need to be taken to ensure the vast majority of Malaysians accept a common understanding of the supreme law of the land.

To reclaim it, we need to understand how it came into being. Those who possessed sovereignty and political power agreed our new nation required a constitution, and one was duly drafted and approved. But when was their understanding of this document contested to the extent it became necessary to say we need to reclaim it?

Early opponents of our Constitution were easy to identify since they rejected it outright; but later, the tools of reinterpretation and amendment were used to slowly change its character. This was a political process, often using racial or religious language, accompanied by the centralisation of power. Read more