The Temuans of Damansara Perdana — Emily Ding

Source: Malaysia.my

BY EMILY DING

Before the buildings came up, Damansara Perdana used to be home to the Temuan people who tended to durian farms as one way to make a living. We find out how life is like for them after relocating from the land.

The 70-year-old Ismael Chat, headman of the Desa Temuan orang asli settlement in Damansara Perdana just outside Kuala Lumpur, is leading us up a hill, parang in hand to clear a path through the thick forest and the swarms of mosquitoes. “We haven’t come up here for a while,” he says. “We usually come during the durian season, but this year the trees have not borne much fruit. We don’t get as many as we used to.”

Later, we come to a small, overgrown clearing. “Here’s where our old kebun used to be,” he says. He pointed out the durian trees and remnants of the fruit, split open and decayed to black, littering the ground. Through the trees, we can see the gleaming, geometric outlines of high-rises. Read more

Political Intimidation of the Malaysian Bar Has No Place under the Rule of Law — Malaysian Bar

Source: Malaysian Bar

Logo-majlis-peguam-malaysia-malaysian-bar-councilPress Release

Political Intimidation of the Malaysian Bar Has No Place under the Rule of Law

The Malaysian Bar is outraged by statements reportedly made on 23 and 24 October 2016 by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan (“Minister”), that the Government is looking at blacklisting companies that support the pro-democracy movement BERSIH.[1]

The Minister is further reported to have said that “[w]e will also (blacklist) the law firms [who have contracts with government-linked companies, who support BERSIH].… I urge government-linked companies not to directly engage the services of these law firms”, and that the Government “would also look at lawyers who are involved in the movement”.[2]

The comments attributed to the Minister are shocking, and are a manifestation of a further decline in the level of understanding of the rule of law.  To advocate that law firms and Members of the Bar be punished for professing and practising the principle of the independence of the legal profession is to hold the legal profession to ransom and to blatantly disregard the rule of law.

The action proposed by the Minister is clearly unconstitutional, as it reeks of prejudice and would contravene the protection against discrimination set out in Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.  In addition, Article 5 protects the right to life, which includes the right to a livelihood.  Any attempt to victimise lawyers or law firms would impinge upon this fundamental right.  Read more

Information freedom in Malaysia: Why we must empower the media and whistleblowers — Anas Alam Faizli

Source: Astro Awani

BY ANAS ALAM FAIZLI

In the current state, can the media in Malaysia be recognised as the fourth estate? Pic taken from Astro Awani

In the current state, can the media in Malaysia be recognised as the fourth estate? Pic taken from Astro Awani

Back in 2009, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak launched the New Economic Model (NEM), intended to spur the shift of a Government-led economy to the private sector.

He proclaimed that “the era where the Government knows best is over.”Subsequently, in a 2014 interview at UMNO’s 68th anniversary, he reiterated, “And, with all sense of humility, we consider ourselves not as know-alls. I have said that the era of the Government knows best is over.”

What the Prime Minister said is perfectly accurate and must be applauded.

While the context might have been with regards to giving the lead to the private sector or receiving criticism from the general public, his statement will be meaningful only if public participation is included in the Government’s operations and policies.

This can only be achieved if the public is given access to government documents; in order to pave the way or provide constructive criticism.

There are two ways to do this effectively; periodical release of data for the general public to consume, analyse, and scrutinise and secondly, the granting of rights for the public to request government documents and information. Read more

Professor, speak up and make a difference — Kris Hartley

Source: New Mandala

Kris Hartley is lecturer at Cornell University, a Faculty Fellow at Cornell’s Atkinson Centre and a Nonresident Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Kris Hartley is lecturer at Cornell University, a Faculty Fellow at Cornell’s Atkinson Centre and a Nonresident Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Scholars should allocate a portion of their time to addressing social injustice, Kris Hartley writes, and academics of all disciplines have a crucial role to play.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s draconian crackdown on university professors and deans has sent a chill through global academia. While Turkey’s oppressive political climate appears uniquely hopeless, free speech is under assault around the world as a wave of authoritarianism crashes ashore. Politically opportunistic ‘strong-men’ such as Erdoğan, Vladimir Putin, Rodrigo Duterte, and potentially Donald Trump are taking advantage of fears about terrorism and globalisation while ridiculing opponents as weak and traitorous.

Sadly, their actions do not end there. Stifling freedom of thought has priority status in the dictator’s playbook and limited press freedom in many countries is an unsettling bellwether. Scholars may be next in line at the figurative guillotine, but does the academic system encourage them to fight back? Read more