Political VCs and free speech problem at universities

Source: FreeMalaysiaToday

Law lecturer Azmi Sharom says education minister’s order for open forums provide only a short-term solution, and calls for vice-chancellors who are independent of the ministry. Pic taken from FMT News.

GEORGE TOWN: Education Minister Maszlee Malik’s order for public universities to freely organise forums and other such events has been generally welcomed but one academic views it as only a short-term solution for free speech on campus.

Associate professor Azmi Sharom of Universiti Malaya believes the crux of the problem lies in the political appointment of vice-chancellors, who are heads of universities.

Maszlee has directed universities to allow open participation in academic programmes such as debates, forums and other forms of intellectual discourse, in line with worldwide practices.

While agreeing with Maszlee’s order, Azmi said “you still do not want the minister telling you what to do” and that universities should have allowed for free debates and forums on their own without having to wait for a minister to tell them.

“As long as the vice-chancellors are politically appointed, as they used to be, this becomes an issue,” he said. What was required was for amendments to the Universities and University Colleges Act, a full review of all university rules, and the appointment of vice-chancellors who are independent of the ministry. Read more

The independence of the Malaysian Bar must not be curtailed — Steven Thiru

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY STEVEN THIRU

SEPTEMBER 7 — The Malaysian Bar refers to the comments made by the Minister of Tourism and Culture Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri bin Abdul Aziz (“Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz”) in The Star Online on September 3, 2016,   and Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs Chief Executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan in Malaysiakini on September 6, 2016, [ii] concerning the proposed amendments to the Legal Profession Act 1976 (“LPA”).

The views expressed by Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz — a senior member of the Cabinet and formerly the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of legal affairs — and Wan Saiful Wan Jan are consistent with the stand taken by the Malaysian Bar in opposing the proposals. The Malaysian Bar appreciates their support.

There can be no doubt that, contrary to the stated purpose, the proposed amendments are explicitly designed to curtail the independence of the Malaysian Bar and interfere with the internal management of the Malaysian Bar. Read more

‘Is bid to rein in Malaysian Bar a retaliatory action by AG?’

Source: Malaysiakini

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) today questioned if the planned amendments to the Legal Profession Act 1976 is attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali’s way of retaliating against the Malaysian Bar for criticising him.

The think tank’s chief executive director, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, said the proposed amendments, which would, among others, introduce government representatives in the Bar, did not appear to be a cabinet initiative.

He cited as proof Tourism Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz’s criticism against the amendments.

By speaking up, Nazri indicates that this was not a cabinet decision, which means it must have been the action of one agency only. Read more

Malaysian Bar raises doubt over seriousness to reform anti-graft body

Source: The Malaysian Insider

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru has raised concerns over the recommendations to reform MACC. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, December 16, 2015.

The Parliament’s reaction to the proposed recommendations to reform the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) reflected how serious those in power were in tackling graft in the country, participants in a seminar were told today.

Steven Thiru, the president of the Malaysian Bar, said the way the recommendations were pitched would determine if they would survive the passage in Parliament.

He, however, admitted that “we may not get all that we ask for”.

Steven was answering a question raised by a participant in the seminar on reforming the anti-graft watchdog in Kuching, Sarawak.

What the Bar, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) and Citizens Network for a Better Malaysia were asking for was the creation of the Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (IACC), expanding the definition of gratification and the power to investigate individuals living beyond their means, amending legislations such as the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, the Witness Protection Act 2009, adoption of a Freedom of Information Act and an Asset Declaration Act. Read more

KENYATAAN: Berkenaan keputusan Ketua Polis Negara menyoal-siasat peguam Americk Sidhu

KENYATAAN BERTARIKH 1 DISEMBER 2015
BERKENAAN KEPUTUSAN KETUA POLIS NEGARA MENYOALSIASAT AMERICK SIDHU

SIASATAN POLIS MESTI MENCERMINKAN TANGGUNGJAWAB YANG TIDAK BERAT SEBELAH

Americk Sidhu, the lawyer of Charles Morais, is protected by the principle of effective legal representation, says Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan in hitting out at Inspector-General Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar for harassing the lawyer. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, December 1, 2015.

HAKAM mengecam keras keputusan Ketua Polis Negara untuk menyoalsiasat peguam Americk Sidhu berdasarkan surat akuan yang diikrar oleh anak guamnya, Charles Suresh Morais. Keputusan ini merupakan satu pelanggaran prinsip asas “solicitor-client privilege” di mana komunikasi di antara peguam dan anak guamannya adalah dilindungi dan tidak seharusnya didedahkan tanpa kebenaran anak guaman tersebut. Selanjutnya, seruan Ketua Polis Negara yang diiringi dengan kenyataan berunsur fitnah terhadap Americk Sidhu merupakan satu ugutan terhadap seorang peguam yang bertugas melaksanakan tanggungjawab profesionalnya.

Sebagai seorang ahli pasukan polis, agen kerajaan dan sebagai seorang anggota penguatkuasa undang-undang, Ketua Polis Negara mempunyai tanggungjawab positif untuk menghormati dan melindungi martabat manusia serta mempertahankan hak-hak asasi manusia semua insan yang melaksanakan tugas profesionalnya. Tanggungjawab ini adalah termaktub dalam Artikel 2, Kod Etika Pegawai Penguatkuasaan Undang-Undang 1979, Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu. Read more

STATEMENT: On the IGP questioning lawyer Americk Sidhu

pdfSTATEMENT DATED 1 DECEMBER 2015

ON THE IGP QUESTIONING AMERICK SIDHU
INVESTIGATIONS MUST REFLECT THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE POLICE FORCE

HAKAM strongly condemns the IGP’s call to question lawyer Americk Sidhu on the Statutory Declaration affirmed by his client Charles Suresh Morais which is a violation of the fundamental principle of solicitor-client privilege. This coupled with the IGP’s uncalled for defamatory remarks against Sidhu smacks of harassment of a lawyer in the course of his professional duties.

As a member of the police force, an agent of the government and as a law enforcement officer, the IGP has a positive obligation to respect and protect human dignity and uphold the human rights of all persons in the performance of his professional duty. This is clearly stated in Article 2 of the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officers 1979.

A law enforcement officer cannot violate the basic principles of effective legal representation as it is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Federal Constitution. An essential aspect of the exercise of this right is privileged communication. There cannot be effective legal representation if there is no privileged communication. This means every police officer has a duty to protect this inherent right. Read more

STATEMENT: On the IGP questioning lawyer Americk Sidhu

STATEMENT DATED 1 DECEMBER 2015

ON THE IGP QUESTIONING AMERICK SIDHU
INVESTIGATIONS MUST REFLECT THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE POLICE FORCE

HAKAM strongly condemns the IGP’s call to question lawyer Americk Sidhu on the Statutory Declaration affirmed by his client Charles Suresh Morais which is a violation of the fundamental principle of solicitor-client privilege. This coupled with the IGP’s uncalled for defamatory remarks against Sidhu smacks of harassment of a lawyer in the course of his professional duties.

As a member of the police force, an agent of the government and as a law enforcement officer, the IGP has a positive obligation to respect and protect human dignity and uphold the human rights of all persons in the performance of his professional duty. This is clearly stated in Article 2 of the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officers 1979.

A law enforcement officer cannot violate the basic principles of effective legal representation as it is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Federal Constitution. An essential aspect of the exercise of this right is privileged communication. There cannot be effective legal representation if there is no privileged communication. This means every police officer has a duty to protect this inherent right. Read more

Strip AG of prosecutorial powers, says G25

Source: Malaysiakini

The prosecutorial powers of the attorney-general should be transferred to an independent office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the G25 Group of Eminent Malays recommends.

It said the office of the attorney-general should not combine the roles of adviser to the government and public prosecutor.

“There is a fundamental conflict of interest in the functions and powers of the AG, which enables him to take action against national interests.

“It is poor governance that the AG is the legal adviser for the government of Malaysia and also the final arbiter on decisions to prosecute,” G25 said in a statement today. Read more

Paul Low: MACC to be removed from civil service, made answerable to Parliament

Source: The Malay Mail Online

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) – The Malaysian Insider file pic, December 10, 2015.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) – The Malaysian Insider file pic, December 10, 2015.

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 2 — Plans are being considered to take the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) out of the civil service and Prime Minister’s Department, and make it answerable to Parliament.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan said a special committee had been set up to look into the plans.

“Making the MACC a separate service will require an amendment to the constitution for which two-thirds majority support in Parliament is necessary,” he told reporters after opening the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) 2015, here, today. Read more

58th Merdeka Day

Happy 58th Merdeka Day, Malaysia!

HAKAM mengucapkan selamat menyambut ulangtahun Hari Kemerdekaan ke-58 kepada semua warganegara Malaysia!