Retaining chief justice beyond retirement age illegal, says Bar

Source: FMT News

Raus Sharif’s contributions to the judiciary are well known and it is unfair to him should he become embroiled in controversy, says George Varughese. Pic from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar has joined the chorus of critics protesting the likelihood of the authorities extending the tenure of Chief Justice Raus Sharif.

The Bar, which represents the voice of some 18,000 lawyers in the peninsula, said it would be unconstitutional to extend Raus’ term beyond the prescribed age limit.

“It is our considered view that such an extension, if it is carried out, would be unconstitutional,” its president George Varughese said in a statement today.

Varughese said this in response to a recent report in the The Malaysian Insight, which quoted a Putrajaya source as saying the tenure of Raus and national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar was expected to be extended up to two years to ensure continuity as the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) faces the general election by August 2018. Read more

Researcher wants Orang Asli gazetted as ‘national heritage’

Source: FMT News

Genetic researcher Dr Zafarina Zainuddin says new approaches must be taken to ensure the survival of the Orang Asli community. Pic from FMT News.

SUNGAI PETANI: A genetic researcher says the Semang Orang Asli group should be protected and gazetted as a national heritage as they are at risk of extinction.

According to Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) associate professor Dr Zafarina Zainuddin, the Semang Orang Asli are one of the world’s oldest populations at over 60,000 years old.

Zafarina, who is director of USM’s Biochemical Analysis Centre, said a genetic study using multiple DNA markers had recovered much older DNA from the Orang Asli of Bateq, Kensui and Lanoh tribes as compared with aboriginal groups found in Australia and Irian Jaya.

“Based on the study, it was found that their genetic makeup differs from modern society, which causes them to be less adaptable to today’s environment,” she said. Read more

Suhakam wants UN treaty on civil, political rights ratified

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said in a statement today in conjunction with World Press Freedom Day that the right to exercise freedom of expression and opinion was imperative for the holistic development of an individual and it was the foundation of every democratic society. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng for the MMO.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 — The National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) called today for Malaysia to accede to the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said in a statement today in conjunction with World Press Freedom Day that the right to exercise freedom of expression and opinion was imperative for the holistic development of an individual and it was the foundation of every democratic society.

“Suhakam has always regarded the media as an essential instrument that has the potential to contribute immensely to the promotion and protection of human rights.

“The media does not only act as a conveyor of information but it also, either intentionally or indirectly, shapes public perception and opinion,” he said.

Razali noted that Article 19 of the ICCPR provides that everyone has the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”. Read more

Malaysians need access to free and fair media — Bersih Statement

Dated 3 May 2017

On World Press Freedom Day today, BERSIH 2.0 would like to remind all Malaysians of the need to speak up for and defend this important freedom without which we would not be able to hold the powerful to account, expose corruption and resolve social issues.

Media freedom is not the freedom to report lies, as frequently alleged by certain critics with vested interests against it. Media freedom is the freedom of journalists to do their job well by upholding the principles and practice of good journalism.[1]

Specifically, it is the freedom of journalists to:

  • fulfil their first obligation, which is to the truth, and their first loyalty, which is to the citizen
  • adhere to a discipline of verification, which requires freedom of expression and information
  • maintain an independence from those they cover
  • serve as an independent monitor of power
  • provide a forum for public criticism and compromise
  • strive to keep the significant interesting and relevant
  • keep the news comprehensive and proportional
  • exercise their personal conscience.

Read more

Amnesty’s concerns over ‘diyat’ for death row convicts

Source: FMT News

Human rights body says ‘diyat’ inconsistent with international human rights laws and is discriminatory as it puts the poor at a disadvantage. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Amnesty International Malaysia says it has several concerns over the Pahang Pardons Board’s plans to adopt the Islamic law of “diyat” as an alternative to granting pardons to convicts awaiting the death sentence.

AI Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said these concerns included the “diyat” not being consistent with international human rights laws, giving a private individual the power to decide on a person’s life and the “discriminatory nature” of the “diyat”, which puts the poor at a disadvantage.

“Any alternative to hanging a human being is a welcome move. However, we need to consider the roles of the pardons board and the state in deciding whether to preserve or end human life.

“Amnesty International Malaysia believes that power to end life should never lie in the hands of the state as much as it should not lie in the hands of private individuals,” she said, adding it was the discretion of state pardons boards to offer clemency. Read more