Students, activists believe Dr M will unshackle universities

Source: Malay Mail

Placards promoting academic freedom line the road heading into Universiti Malaya on December 12, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 — Students and activists affected by laws curbing academic freedom — a legacy of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s previous administration — expressed faith today that the prime minister will honour his word and free universities from decades of political interference.

Two student leaders who were punished by their universities for dissidence told a forum on academic freedom here that they expect nothing less than total autonomy for universities, and they were optimistic that the man blamed for the laws that fettered academia will respond accordingly.

“He had said he would honour his word,” Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi, one of the leaders that led the Tangkap M01 movement, told a forum organised by Fortify Rights, an advocacy group that documents human rights violations in Malaysian campuses.

“And one of the pledges made by Pakatan Harapan in their manifesto is to amend AUKU,” he added.

AUKU, or the University and Colleges Act, was introduced in 1971 in what critics said was aimed at curbing the rise of student activists critical of the ruling Barisan Nasional government at the time. Read more

End child marriage in Malaysia as promised, UN agencies tell Pakatan government

Source: Malay Mail

A young actress plays the role of Giorgia, 10, forced to marry Paolo, 47, during a happening organised by Amnesty International to denounce child marriage, on October 27, 2016 in Rome. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS

KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government must put a stop to child marriages in Malaysia by introducing laws that will make it illegal for anyone below the age of 18 from marrying, a combined 50 bodies, including several United Nations (UN) agencies, said today.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and 49 groups said it was time for PH to fulfil its promise in its election manifesto to “introduce a law that sets 18 as the minimum age of marriage”.

“Malaysia has the unique opportunity to send a clear message: The law must be amended to set the minimum age for marriage to 18 years for all legal frameworks, including civil, Muslim and native customary law marriages, without exceptions,” the groups said in a joint statement today.

The 50 groups listed four steps that it wanted the PH government to do to end child marriages, including issuing a “statement of commitment” to raise the minimum marriage age to 18 years old. Read more

Nurul Izzah to initiate Bill on prison reforms in next Dewan Rakyat meeting

Source: Malay Mail

Police lock up – file pic taken from The Star

KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 — Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar proposes to bring a private member’s Bill at the next meeting of the Dewan Rakyat in an effort to reform the country’s prison system.

The PKR vice-president said the bill was intended to transform prisons into rehabilitation centres, replacing what she described as the current system of torture and suffering.

“Of course, there will be some arguments and preparations to bring the Bill. But I think the reformation of the prison system will really make a lot of sense. Our prison system is now completely modelled after the British system.

“In fact, in Islam, you are supposed to make people realise their mistakes and make them be someone better, not torture them,” she told reporters after launching the book Tian Chua’s Kajang Diary: A Prison Retreat at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here today. Read more

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

New law needed to protect human rights defenders, reforms committee told

Source: The Malaysian Insight

IN the new Malaysia, the state must recognise the need to protect human rights defenders and stop treating them as troublemakers, activists told the Committee on Institutional Reforms (IRC).

“Human rights defenders face threats from police and non-state actors like companies for speaking up for human rights, doing their job,” Josef Benedict, from Johannesburg-based global non-profit Civicus Alliance, told reporters after a meeting at Ilham Tower in Kuala Lumpur today.

“There is no (legal) protection mechanism for them, unlike in countries in Africa, Latin Africa and parts of Asia, where they are treated with greater respect. Here, they are still seen as troublemakers.”   Read more

Filmmakers call for reform of Film Censorship Act

Source: The Star Online

PETALING JAYA: In line with the new government’s commitment to freedom of speech and expression, a group of filmmakers and human right activists are urging for the Government to reform the Film Censorship Act 2002.

The Freedom Film Network (FFN) has called on Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Minister of Communications and Multimedia Gobind Singh Deo to enable an environment where independent film makers can flourish.

“FFN would also like to see the de-politicisation of film regulating bodies such as Lembaga Penapisan Filem and FINAS, who should be made independent and transparent in all their dealings,” FFN said in a statement on Sunday (June 3).

“We urge the government to assure the Malaysian public that films dealing with human rights issues or matters of public interest will be free from politically motivated censorship,” it said.

FFN said it strongly believes that film making should not be seen as an industry solely for its entertainment or commercial value and should be celebrated for its role in nation building. Read more

Report information on child abuse or face imprisonment, says deputy minister

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — Three groups of individuals with information on child abuse are reminded to report it to the authorities or face imprisonment and fines if they fail to do so, said Deputy Women, Family and Development Minister Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun.

Azizah said the obligation was contained under the Child Act 2001 involving individuals comprising registered medical officers, family members and child minders.

She said under Section 27, 28 and 29 of the amended act, a registered medical practitioner or medical officer, any family members and child minder on reasonable grounds that the child has been physically or emotionally abused as a result of being tortured, neglected, abandoned, exposed or sexually abused must immediately notify the relevant parties.

“If they fail to report, they are liable to be convicted of imprisonment or fine (fine not exceeding RM5,000 or jail not exceeding two years or both),” she said during the question-and-answer session at the Dewan Rakyat sitting here today. Read more

Putrajaya to deliberate self-regulation for media, PPPA amendment post-elections

Source: The Malay Mail Online

PUTRAJAYA, March 13 — The federal government is prepared to engage news editors to discuss the possibility of a self-regulating media body, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today.

He added that the government will also look at improvements to the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) after the 14th general elections.

“We must make sure that the freedom to write and publish is not very restrictive according to current guidelines,” Zahid said during a luncheon with the editors here.

He said he recognised the need to improve provisions of the PPPA as well as adopt changes that address the current climate in the news industry. Read more

Whistleblower Protection Act has gaps, needs revamp, says C4

Source: Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: The Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 is not good enough and needs to be revamped, says civil society group Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4).

The anti-graft watchdog’s director, Cynthia Gabriel, said this following the jailing of Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli, for 30 months, for revealing bank accounts relating to the National Feedlot Corporation’s (NFC) subsidiary companies and that of executive chairman Mohamad Salleh Ismail six years ago.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) call to the public to come forth with information rang hollow, Cynthia said, because the country did not protect whistleblowers who were brave enough to come out and report wrongdoing.

Read more

Fijian woman fails to challenge legality of death penalty

Source: Free Malaysia Today

PUTRAJAYA: A Fijian woman who is facing a drug trafficking charge today failed in her bid to challenge the legality of the mandatory death sentence for the offence.

A three-member Court of Appeal bench, chaired by Mohtarudin Baki, dismissed Christin Nirmal’s appeal to refer the matter to the Federal Court.

Mohtaruddin did not provide grounds for refusing Christin’s appeal to refer the case to the Federal Court under Section 84 of the Courts of Judicature Act (COJA) 1964.

Christin, 30, is claiming that the 1983 amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) 1952 that removed the judge’s discretion to either impose the capital punishment or jail term was unconstitutional.

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