State vs federal impasse over conditional MCO

From Focus Malaysia

THE federal government has relaxed the Movement Control Order, essentially to allow businesses to operate, subject to certain conditions. This was done through fresh regulations (No 5) under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988. The prohibition for the conduct of certain business activities was removed.

Several state governments have issued their own orders. The effect is to prohibit certain activities that have been allowed under the federal regulations (No 5).

This brings into sharp focus the issue of whether the state governments can issue such orders.

Under the Federal Constitution (Article 81), state governments are obliged to make sure that states comply with federal law, and that their action does “not impede or prejudice” the federal government’s authority.

In short, they must comply with regulations as these are part of federal law, or it will be a violation of the state’s constitutional obligation.

So, any abridgement of the federal law’s reach, or orders that are inconsistent with it, will constitute as non-compliance. Read more

Kenyataan Atas Siasatan Polis Tashny Sukumaran – HAKAM Youth

Pemuda HAKAM merakamkan solidariti untuk wartawan South China Morning Post (SCMP), Tashny Sukumaran yang kini sedang disiasat oleh pihak polis di bawah Seksyen 504 Kanun Keseksaan dan Seksyen 233 Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998 selepas menerbitkan suatu artikel pada 1 Mei 2020. Artikel tersebut adalah berkenaan serbuan yang dijalankan oleh pihak berkuasa ke atas warga migran dan pelarian secara besar-besaran semasa pandemik COVID-19.

Artikel Cik Tashny yang dikatakan “membangkitkan pecah keamanan” merupakan artikel yang penuh berfakta. Operasi serbuan yang dijalankan baru-baru ini telah mengundang pelbagai kritikan kerana tidak mematuhi langkah penjarakan sosial sempena pelaksanaan Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan. Beratus-ratus orang termasuk kanak-kanak telah ditahan dan dibawa ke pusat penahanan yang penuh sesak, maka potensi peningkatan risiko jangkitan virus dan pembentukan kluster baru menjadi tinggi. Ironinya, pihak berkuasa menerangkan bahawa operasi tersebut diperlukan untuk mengelakkan migran yang tidak berdokumen daripada bergerak ke kawasan lain supaya perebakan virus dapat dihentikan. Read more

Statement on Tashny Sukumaran’s Police Investigation – HAKAM Youth Statement

HAKAM Youth expresses solidarity with journalist Tashny Sukumaran who has been called for an investigation with the authorities after publishing an article dated 1 May 2020 on South China Morning Post (SCMP). The article, which reported the mass raids conducted on migrant workers and refugees in Malaysia amidst the COVID-19
pandemic, is alleged to have violated Section 504 of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

Claimed to be “offensive”, Ms. Tashny’s article is nothing short of facts. The recent raids on immigrants have attracted wide criticism for not adhering to social distancing measures despite the Movement Control Order (MCO) being in force. Hundreds of people including children were hauled up and taken away in trucks to overcrowded
detention centres, and this put them at a higher risk of getting infected and forming a new cluster. Ironically, the authorities later clarified that the Labour Day operation is necessary to curb the spreading of the virus by preventing undocumented migrants from travelling to other areas. Read more

HAKAM Reiterates Call for Government to Extend Parliament Sittings on an Urgent Basis – Statement dd 4 May 2020

HAKAM Reiterates Call for Government to Extend Parliament Sittings on an Urgent Basis

HAKAM reiterates its call for the Government to extend Parliamentary sittings beyond the mere 1 day scheduled on 18th May 2020.pdf

This is especially in light of the Government’s recent decision to allow all businesses to operate with full capacity on 4th May 2020, and will even allow for recreational activities like jogging and golfing to take place.

It would be a complete mockery to the august house of Parliament and constitutional democracy in Malaysia if Parliament is deemed less essential than these activities. There is no excuse now for the Government to restrict Parliamentary sittings to 1-day with no further dates in sight. Read more

HAKAM Reiterates Call for Government to Extend Parliament Sittings on an Urgent Basis

HAKAM reiterates its call for the Government to extend Parliamentary sittings beyond the mere 1 day scheduled on 18th May 2020.

This is especially in light of the Government’s recent decision to allow all businesses to operate with full capacity on 4th May 2020, and will even allow for recreational activities like jogging and golfing to take place.

It would be a complete mockery to the august house of Parliament and constitutional democracy in Malaysia if Parliament is deemed less essential than these activities. There is no excuse now for the Government to restrict Parliamentary sittings to 1-day with no further dates in sight.

The law-making function of Parliament is essential to prepare Malaysia for the economic impact of Covid-19. The Minister of Human Resources himself today announced that labour laws must be revised to suit Covid-19’s ‘new normal’ – how else does one do that without convening Parliament for more than 1 day?

Other governments such as in the UK, Australia and Singapore have reportedly faced no difficulty in convening Parliament to transact sessions. Arrangements such as virtual Parliament hearings through tele-conferencing, social distancing and wearing of masks can be arranged. And these countries have indeed passed much needed laws amidst the pandemic to help people in need and support the economy.

HAKAM calls for the Government to put politics aside in these difficult times. Politics must not be a barrier to urgently needed people-centric legislation.

Lim Wei Jiet

HAKAM Secretary-General

Pushing back boat carrying refugees and scurrilous attack wrong – Statement dd 4/28/2020

On 16 April 2020, the Malaysian Navy pushed back to sea a boat carrying Rohingyas. In violation of international law obligations to provide access to asylum seekers. In January this year, the International Court of Justice ruled that the Rohingyas were “extremely vulnerable” to military violence; and faced the threat of genocide. Sending them back to a territory where they would be at risk of such dire human rights violations clearly falls afoul of general international human rights as well as customary international law.pdf

Predictably, there has been a rising chorus of protest against the government’s action. Unfortunately, there have also been vicious attacks against those who have expressed concern. We refer in particular to one such statement by the Ambassador to Malaysia of The European Rohingya Council Tengku Emma Zuriana Bt Tengku Azmi who expressed her organisation’s grave disquiet.

Regretfully, instead of a civil and balanced reasoned discussion or response, her statement was visited upon by a sustained barrage of vitriolic abuse. Which transcended into personal, aggressive, racist and sexist comments. It even incited criminal acts of rape and physical violence against her person. Read more

Parliamentary Session Limited to its Mere Opening is Wrong – Statement dd 4/27/2020

HAKAM notes with concern the Prime Minister’s decision to convene a mere 1- day sitting on 18th May 2020. We also understand that there will not be room for debates on 18th May 2020 as the schedule only accommodates the Royal Address and the first reading of several Government Bills.pdf

The Constitution requires Parliament to be summoned from time to time and in any event within 6 months of the last sitting. This strikes a balance between allowing the government to do things, and holding them to account. So that the peoples’ representatives can scrutinise government actions, ask questions, propose alternatives and force them to reveal information and justify their actions. This will inspire public confidence in any measures taken by the
government.

Summoning Parliament just to allow for its opening by the King without more hence subverts this critical Parliamentary role. It fulfils the letter but not the substance of the Constitutional requirement. Its validity is clearly questionable. Read more

Parliamentary Session Limited to its Mere Opening is Wrong – Statement dd 4/27/2020

HAKAM notes with concern the Prime Minister’s decision to convene a mere 1- day sitting on 18th May 2020. We also understand that there will not be room for debates on 18th May 2020 as the schedule only accommodates the Royal Address and the first reading of several Government Bills.

The Constitution requires Parliament to be summoned from time to time and in any event within 6 months of the last sitting. This strikes a balance between allowing the government to do things, and holding them to account. So that the peoples’ representatives can scrutinise government actions, ask questions, propose alternatives and force them to reveal information and justify their actions. This will inspire public confidence in any measures taken by the
government.

Summoning Parliament just to allow for its opening by the King without more hence subverts this critical Parliamentary role. It fulfils the letter but not the substance of the Constitutional requirement. Its validity is clearly questionable. Read more

The need for a Comprehensive Policy for Migrant Workers during the Covid 19 Pandemic – Statement dd 4/24/2020

HAKAM Media Statement

The need for a Comprehensive Policy for Migrant Workers during the Covid 19 Pandemic

There are at present 2 million documented migrant workers in Malaysia. The number of undocumented migrant workers are estimated to be 1.5 million to 4 million. [1]

Migrant Workers are one of the most vulnerable groups that are disproportionately affected by the Covid 19 Pandemic. Most of them have been left without employment, social and health security. pdf

The lack of decent housing and accommodation prevents the implementation of proactive measures which could further trigger the spread of the virus.

There are at present many barriers facing migrant workers to access the healthcare facilities. These barriers include access, costs, language, fear of arrest and detention. Read more

STATEMENT: The need for a Comprehensive Policy for Migrant Workers during the Covid 19 Pandemic

There are at present 2 million documented migrant workers in Malaysia. The number of undocumented migrant workers are estimated to be 1.5 million to 4 million. [1]

Migrant Workers are one of the most vulnerable groups that are disproportionately affected by the Covid 19 Pandemic. Most of them have been left without employment, social and health security.

The lack of decent housing and accommodation prevents the implementation of proactive measurers which could further trigger the spread of the virus.

There are at present many barriers facing migrant workers to access the healthcare facilities. These barriers include access, costs, language, fear of arrest and detention. Read more