Monday, November 28, 2011

An open letter to MPs on Peaceful Assembly Bill.... by Bar Council President Lim Chee Wee

An open letter to MPs on Peaceful Assembly Bill

Lim Chee Wee
3:57PM Nov 28, 2011

Dear Wakil Rakyat,

You may have heard that the Malaysian Bar opposes the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 (“PA 2011”) on the grounds that it imposes unreasonable and disproportionate fetters on the freedom of assembly that is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.
There are provisions in PA 2011 that are far more restrictive than the current law, such as the banning of “street protests” (assemblies in motion or processions) and the unlimited powers vested in the police to dictate the time, date, place and conduct of an assembly. 
There are also provisions in PA 2011 that are simply illogical.  As an example, although police do not need to be notified of a religious assembly, such an assembly cannot be held at a place of worship.
Furthermore, a person living within 50 metres of a kindergarten or school cannot hold an open house for a festival, a funeral procession or a wedding reception.
The Prime Minister, in his Malaysia Day speech on 15 September 2011, promised the Rakyat of the following:

I often opine that long gone is the era in which the government knows everything and claims monopoly over wisdom. . . .
The government will also review Section 27 of the Police Act 1967, taking into consideration Article 10 of the Federal Constitution regarding freedom of assembly and so as to be in line with international norms on the same matter. . . . (emphasis added)

Be confident that it is a strength and not a weakness for us to place our trust in the Malaysian people’s intelligence to make decisions that will shape the path of their own future. . . .
It is absolutely clear that the steps I just announced are none other than early initiatives of an organised and graceful political transformation. 
It stands as a crucial and much needed complement to the initiatives of economic transformation and public presentation which the government has outlined and implemented for over two years in the effort to pioneer a modern and progressive nation. . . .
In closing, I wish to emphasise that free of any suspicion and doubt, the Malaysia that we all dream of and are in the process of creating is a Malaysia that practices [sic] a functional and inclusive democracy where public peace and prosperity is preserved in accordance with the supremacy of the constitution, rule of law and respect for basic human rights and individual rights.

'Outrageous to prohibit processions'
PA 2011 is neither consistent with “international norms”, nor “in accordance with the supremacy of the Constitution, rule of law and respect for basic human rights and individual rights”. 
Instead, the Bill will take us further away from being “a modern and progressive nation”.

It is outrageous that assemblies in motion are prohibited.

Assemblies in motion provide the demonstrators with a wider audience and greater visibility, in order for others to see and hear the cause or grievance giving rise to the gathering. 
Assemblies in motion has been described as “a potent method of expression and is a common phenomenon in democratic societies”[1].  
History is replete with peaceful assemblies in motion, which were agents of change and of good.

Processions led to nation's founding
On 27 February 1946 Onn Jaafar, founding father of Umno and the grandfather of our present Minister for Home Affairs, led a procession of 15,000 individuals to protest the establishment of the Malayan Union, which disregarded the interests of the Malay Rulers and the Malays.
This was the first of a series of processions that successfully opposed the Malayan Union, and later led to our nation’s independence. 
On Feb 27, 2008, the then-Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi led 20,000 people in a one-kilometre procession from the Batu Pahat Umno office to the stadium to commemorate this rally.

There have been other processions calling for the abolition of the Internal Security Act 1960, rights of minorities and electoral reforms.

For the Malaysian Bar, we organised the Walk for Justice, which was held on Sep 26, 2007, to call for a royal commission to investigate the VK Lingam video clip and the establishment of the Judicial Appointments Commission, both of which were subsequently set up by the government.

The present prohibition of procession robs the rakyat of a right that currently exists under Section 27 of the Police Act, which regulates “assemblies, meetings and processions”.

Elsewhere, history is full of various peaceful processions led by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela, to name but a few, which brought an end to oppressive laws, policies and regimes.
It is ironic that the government now wants to prohibit the very processions that led to the founding of our nation, and others that moved the prime minister to promise legislative reforms. 
These promised reforms now strike back at the very demonstrations that catalysed them.

The Malaysian Bar is steadfast in its stand and determination that PA 2011, in its current form, must not become law. 
The Malaysian Bar is resolute that any attempt to regulate a fundamental liberty guaranteed under the Federal Constitution must only be done after due consultation with all stakeholders, including opposition parliamentarians and civil society groups.

No other choice 
To this end, the Malaysian Bar has proposed an alternative bill to be considered, and calls for PA 2011 to be remitted to a parliamentary select committee for consideration. 
At the second reading of PA 2011, we ask that you, as a wakil rakyat, support our call.

It is not an exaggeration to say that tomorrow, you will hold the liberty of the rakyat in your hands.  We ask that you treat it with the deference it deserves. 
Now, more than ever, you must remember that you were elected as a representative of the people, to carry out responsibilities as a 'wakil rakyat'.

Please do not put blind obedience to party and partisanship before your duties as a servant of the people.  The rakyat should not be made to suffer the consequences of party politics.  PA 2011 is an unjust law, being made in undue haste, which has received the condemnation of the Rakyat.  

There can be no other choice.

Do not pass PA 2011.  Support our alternative bill and our call for a Parliamentary Select Committee.

Yours faithfully,
Lim Chee Wee

Malaysian Bar

[1] Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal in Leung Kwok Hung & Ors v Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (FACC Nos. 1 & 2 of 2005, at para. 3).

Monday, November 21, 2011

TMI: Losing the Talent Gap with our Universities... World Bank

Malaysia attractive to businesses but lacks talent, says World Bank

November 21, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 — A World Bank report said today that Malaysia is at risk of developing two sides to its economy as its investment incentives shine but its internal talent lags behind.
This comes as Malaysia rose five spots this year to 18th in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index and was also ranked 21st most-competitive country by the World Economic Forum.
The World Bank report noted that Malaysia greatest advantage is its low-cost base and not its skills which are close to the levels seen in low-income countries.
“Malaysia is a very competitive country in the sense that it can provide businesses with an attractive package with which to compete in global markets,” said the report, noting that the package included infrastructure, regulations, fiscal incentives and political stability.
It added however that Malaysia could realise larger gains by tackling structural reforms to increase competition and competencies in the economy rather than improving the business environment.
The report said the Global Locations Index prepared by global consulting firm A.T. Kearney, which ranked Malaysia third out of 50 countries for offshoring and outsourcing services, revealed “reasons for concern rather than encouragement.”
“What emerges from analysing this index is that Malaysia ranks highly because its business environment, while not at the level of advanced economies, compares very favourably against lower-income countries, while labour costs remain much closer to lower-income countries than advanced economies,” said the World Bank. “Malaysia’s performance in skills is its weak point.”
The report also noted a “worrisome” trend of an increasing gap between the University of Malaya (UM) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), Southeast Asia’s leading university.
“The gap between UM and NUS has been high and generally increasing, especially in the sciences,” said the report.
“There is a need to improve the performance of outcomes of universities,” the World Bank’s senior country economist for Malaysia, Frederico Gil Sander, told The Malaysian Insider in an interview.
Sander (picture) also said that the country needed to put structural reforms as recommended by the New Economic Model (NEM) on the “front burner” with the implementation of projects.
“The strategic reform initiatives need to be implemented in parallel and with the same intensity,” he said.
Since taking office in 2009, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has initiated a reform agenda which included a government and economic transformation programme to be driven by the special purpose performance management unit Pemandu.
Critics say that the lack of radical reforms so far however effectively amounted to policy tinkering that would deliver only lacklustre results.
Umno veteran and former Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said earlier this month that Najib’s reforms appeared to be coming in “dribs and drabs”.
Some analysts say however that the prime minister is constrained by hardliners in his party who would be opposed to widespread economic reforms that could threaten the rice bowls of politically-connected businessmen.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bolehland’s Bunch of No-Nos... By Martin Jalleh

Bolehland’s Bunch of No-Nos
By Martin Jalleh
Najib has no balls
Muhyiddin has no brains
Hishammuddin has no integrity.
Rais Yatim has no sense
Zahid has no defence
Nazri has no consistency.
Palanivel has no merit
Yen Yen has no explanation
Peter Chin has no energy.
Shafie Apdal has no clout
Noh Omar has no answers
Mohamed Yakcop has no transparency.
Shahrizat has no “beef”
Kong Cho Ha has no backbone
Liow Tiong Lai has no sincerity.
Ismail Sabri has no price controls
Ahmad Shabery has no medals
Idris Jala has no sagacity.
Ongkili has no innovation
Douglas Uggah has no enthusiasm
Shaziman has no accountability.
Tsu Koon has no leadership
Dompok has no support
Subramaniam has no empathy.
Rosmah has no self-control 
Ezam has no real issues
Khairy has no decency.
MIC has no voice
MCA has no choice
Gerakan has no stability.
Judiciary has no honour
Police has no independence
AG has no impartiality.
MACC has no results
MCMC has no logic
EC has no credibility.
Parliament has no vibrancy
Speaker has no fairness
Civil service has no quality.
Himpun has no relevance
Jais has no evidence
Perkasa has no respectability.
Utusan Malaysia has no ethics
Umno’s papers have no limits
MSM have no objectivity.
Umno has no shame
It has made no changes
It has no morals and honesty.
BN has no future
A coalition of no principles
The government has no dignity.
Bolehland will have no money    
The country will have no hope
A pariah nation – Asia’s tragedy!
Say “NO!” to Umno
Say “NO!” to BN
Say “NO MORE!”
(31 Oct. 2011)