NGOs want autonomy for NRD Sarawak

Source: FMT

NGOs say many have no personal documents because Putrajaya has been non-compliant on the Native Court Ordinance 1992.

KUCHING: Two NGOs have called for the National Registration Department (NRD) in Sarawak to have autonomy. This is expected to help bring down the number of people having no personal documents as a result of non-compliance on Adat.

The Federal Government is either ignorant on Adat or attempting to block its implementation, they said. “Sabah and Sarawak must have the right to determine its own citizens and to deal with them.”

The NRD at present ignores the peculiar situation on the ground in Sarawak, added Sarawak 4 Sarawakians (S4S) and the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) in a statement.

NRD also does not comply with the International Convention on Human Rights, continued the two NGOs in the statement signed by S4S Chief Peter John Jaban.

The NGOs were taking their cue from a statement by Sarawak Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing Minister Fatimah Abdullah on “disorderly marriages”.

As a result, many children of local fathers and mothers from across the border in Kalimantan, for example, are left stateless. Read more

Panel proposes new political funding law in Malaysia

Source: The Straits Times

A government-appointed committee yesterday proposed a new law in Malaysia to regulate political financing, and that would include a ban on donations from foreign sources.

Mr Paul Low, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who heads the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing, said it will submit its proposal to the Cabinet in two weeks’ time.

This is the first step towards regulating political donations following an uproar over revelations of a massive cash transfer made to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts in the run-up to the last general election in 2013.

Key among the recommendations for the new Political Donations and Expenditure Act is the ban on cash donations from foreign sources to a political party or politician. “We do not want outside influence on local political institutions as a means to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty,” said Datuk Low.

Datuk Seri Najib was found to have received US$700 million (S$954 million) in his bank accounts in early 2013. The Wall Street Journal has alleged that the money was from debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

But Malaysia’s Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared the Prime Minister of wrongdoing in January, saying the money was a donation from the Saudi royal family.

Another recommendation by the committee is for political donations worth more than RM3,000 (S$990) per year to be declared. The funds must be deposited into specially designated bank accounts with the party’s records audited. 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

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

Selangor’s efforts to stamp out begging hampered by generous Malaysians

Source: NST Online

KLANG: Generous Malaysians fish out from their pockets an average of RM5 per person when approached by beggars, and this has driven many, especially foreigners, to not stop soliciting for cash on the streets.

This has resulted in a higher number of foreign beggars compared to locals, said the Selangor Welfare Department.

From Jan to Aug this year, 130 foreigners, including 56 children, were picked up from the streets in the state.

The numbers are about four times higher than local beggars, which come to 29 adults and 12 children, in the same period.

Topping the list of foreign beggars are Myanmars, who are mostly United Nations High Commissioner for Refugess (UNHCR) card holders, at 87, followed by Cambodians at 31, and Thais at 30.

Department deputy director Wan Zarina Wan Salleh said Myanmars, for example, come out to beg because UNHCR card holders are not allowed to work in Malaysia. Read more

Najib, Mahathir and the timing of Malaysia’s polls — Ooi Kee Beng

Source: The Straits Times

BY OOI KEE BENG

Mr Najib (centre) and his fellow BN members celebrating their election victory on May 6, 2013. The next general election is not due until August 2018, but rumours of early elections persist. ST FILE PHOTO

According to its Constitution, Malaysia has to hold its next general election by Aug 24, 2018. That is still almost two years away. And yet, rumours of early elections persist, both at the state and federal levels.

This needs some explaining, given how Prime Minister Najib Razak waited until almost the last minute to go to the polls back in 2013.

The exercise to delineate constituency boundaries now being concluded heightens speculation that early polls are coming. Having lost its two-third majority since 2008, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) has not been able to increase the number of parliamentary constituencies; it is now able only to realign the existing ones – or rename them. And that, it is doing.

That in itself is a substantive exercise of power, especially with the independence of the Election Commission that is in charge of the delineation being in serious doubt.

The major argument for those predicting that elections will be held by mid-2017 is that the opposition is in a confused state, if not in disarray. And so, before they can get their act together, the chances of Datuk Seri Najib holding his ground and maintaining at least the same voter support that he had in 2013 are good. Read more

Change rules to ensure racially-mixed seats, says academic

Source: FMT

UKM’s Associate Prof Faisal Hazis says Election Commission must de-ethnicise constituencies to curb racial politics, for long-term good of country.

KUALA LUMPUR: A Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia lecturer said the proposed redelineation by the Election Commission recently has strengthened further the ethnic politics that has always existed in the country.

Associate Prof Faisal Hazis said the move was damaging to the country in the long run as it was holding the country back from progress, but he stopped short of calling for a ban to ethnic-based parties.

In his speech at the Liberalism Conference 2016 yesterday, Faisal called for the EC to “de-ethnicise” constituencies, in order to curb the spread of racial politics.

“There is a need to deconstruct the election rules. The proposed redelineation by the Election Commission recently, just strengthened ethnic politics,” he said here at the event organised by think tank, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas).

“However, there is no need to ban ethnic-based political parties. Part of a democracy is this (ethnic-based parties’) fundamental right to be in existence. But you need to reform the election rules to de-ethnicise constituencies,” he said.

He also suggested that one way of improving representation in mixed constituencies was by having several representatives, instead of just one, so that minority views are not ignored.

The EC had proposed amendments to 12 parliamentary and 34 state constituencies in the peninsula and proposed to create 13 new state seats in Sabah. The move has been objected to by both the Barisan Nasional coalition, including MCA, Gerakan and SUPP and the Opposition, who are concerned over the apparent segregation of voters along ethnic lines.

Sense and sensibility must prevail — Wong Chun Wai

Source: The Star Online

BY WONG CHUN WAI

The EC must serve the interest of Malaysians of all races, certainly not politicians as they come and go.

IT’S a good way out with the Barisan Nasional setting up a panel to assess and consolidate different views among the ruling coalition on the Election Commission’s proposed redelineation of electoral constituencies.

The objection from the MCA, MIC and Gerakan against the proposal is clear but Umno has also put on record that it is not happy with the proposed changes.

The proposal, had it been allowed to be implemented in the planned form, would have turned the clock back for Malaysia.

The last time Malaysia had a redelineation exercise was in 2002 after the 1999 general election which saw Umno politicians holding on to their seats because of the decisive Chinese votes.

In that elections, the old electoral logic of Malay voters in rural constituencies faithfully supporting Umno, was rudely chucked out. Read more

NGOs urge govt to ratify UN’s convention against torture

Source: FMT News

NGOs lament that country still practises a punitive system as opposed to a rehabilitative one. Pic taken from FMT News

NGOs lament that country still practises a punitive system as opposed to a rehabilitative one. Pic taken from FMT News

Sep 24 — PETALING JAYA: Human rights NGOs are urging the government to ratify the United Nation’s convention against torture.

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioner Jerald Joseph said that according to research his NGO conducted two years ago covering 15 years of torture in the country, 255 deaths in custody were recorded.

However according to official police records only two were due to police misconduct.

“Other reasons given were due to health reasons, brain damage, and suicide among others,” he said at a forum on the United Nation’s convention against torture at The School in Jaya One here today.

“Do you expect us to believe that 30 of these gangsters and hardened criminals committed suicide while in custody?”

According to Jerald, some of the reasons given as to why the government was still reluctant to ratify the convention was because the country still implemented whipping as a form of punishment and caning of students in schools. Read more