Thursday, July 24, 2014

Negara-Ku to spread message of peace and hope in Sabah and Sarawak

Friday, July 18, 2014

MH17 was flying only 300m above restricted airspace, say reports

Published: 18 July 2014

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was flying 300m above restricted airspace when it was shot down over Ukraine, the Guardian reported today. There were 298 people on board the Boeing 777-200.
Citing the European air traffic control body – Eurocontrol – the British paper said the Ukrainian authorities had barred aircraft from ground level to 9,700m but MH17 was cruising at 10,000m when it was hit by a ground-to-air missile in the Ukraine.
All flights in eastern Ukraine have now been barred from the area, Eurocontrol said.
"The aircraft was flying at Flight Level 330 (about 10,000m or 33,000 feet) when it disappeared from the radar," Eurocontrol was quoted as saying.
"This route had been closed by the Ukrainian authorities from ground to flight level 320 (9,700m, or 32,000 feet) but was open at the level at which the aircraft was flying."
The Daily Mail reported that the airspace flight MH17 was flying in when it was shot down was not restricted.
But, the UK daily’s website said airlines had been warned about the potential dangers.
Quoting the International Transport Association, it said the Geneva-based group’s initial assessment was that the airspace MH17 was travelling through was “not subject to restrictions”.
The Daily Mail said it was believed the MAS pilots had ignored several warnings to avoid the airspace over Ukraine because it was a shorter route and flying over the Ukraine instead of diverting north or south would save fuel.
The Guardian said airlines had been advised by the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) “not to overfly Crimea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov due to the potential for conflicting air traffic control instructions between Ukrainian and Russian authorities”.
The CAA memo, according to the Guardian, contained similar advice issued by the American regulators in June.
Noting that on every long-haul flight pilots were given clearance by air traffic control bodies along their route, the Guardian said flights could still be rerouted for safety reasons as they entered a country's airspace.
The pilots of flight MH17 could have been warned by Ukrainian air traffic control of a threat from military forces on the ground more than 9,100m below.
The CAA said airlines had now been told by the European air traffic control body to avoid the region.
"The Ukrainian authorities are responsible for managing their airspace and the UK or other countries cannot enforce airspace restrictions in the area. However, the CAA has previously issued advice to UK airlines on operating in this area and following this incident, Eurocontrol has issued advice to airlines to plan routes that avoid the area,” the CAA said on its website.
Flight MH17 with 298 people on board, including three infants, was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when the Boeing 777 came down near the city of Donetsk, a stronghold of pro-Russian rebels.
Citing an unnamed pilot for a major European airline, the Guardian said it was normal practice for airlines to fly over conflict zones.
The pilot also said airlines flew over conflict zones, where groups might be in possession of ground-to-air missiles, “(because) the weapons (are) based on the ground (and) when you are at 30,000 feet that is far up in the air. There are not many missile systems that can be so accurate." – July 18, 2014.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Courts do not have the final say on the Allah issue, says academic

Published: 14 July 2014
The courts do not have the final word in the Allah case, this contest will go beyond the Federal Court, a law lecturer from the Australian National University said today.
Speaking in an academic seminar titled "The Name of God on Trial: Narratives of Law, Religion and State in Malaysia", Joshua Neoh said that given this scenario, dissenting judgments were important because it appeals to the people and builds a counter-current of opinion.
"All decisions could be revisited and challenged judicially, the losing side in a judicial battle can always live to fight another day. That is the very nature of Constitutional interpretation," he said in Petaling Jaya today.
Neoh said that Malaysia's Federal Constitution contained an arsenal of weapons for both sides of the ideological divide, be it for proponents of a pro-Islamic state or secular state.
He added there was a silver lining in the Allah case, given that the challenge was happening within the framework of the Constitution.
"The contest is happening in the courts, this ideological battle is a constitutional battle and is an achievement of sorts for constitutionalism in Malaysia," he said.
Neoh, who stressed that he was speaking from a purely academic and legal interpretation, said that in the Court of Appeal judgment, Datuk Seri Mohamad Apandi Ali had switched from legal analysis to theological exposition, when he said that due recognition must be given to the names of respective Gods in respective holy books such as Yahweh, the God of the Holy Bible, Allah the god of of the Holy Quran and Vishnu, the god of the Holy Vedas.
"Justice Apandi deemed it appropriate and within his area of judicial competence to go around categorising and naming gods, including the gods of religions other than of his own," he said.
Neoh added that Datuk Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim, another judge on the three-man Court of Appeal bench, went a step further and said that Allah refers to "oneness" and cannot be a concept of Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
"Clearly he has not gone to a good Catholic school, because if he went to a good La Salle school, he would have learnt that the Trinity refers to oneness in as much as Allah refers to oneness," Neoh said.
He further added that there was the recurrent theme of confusion, adding "we already know how Allah can confuse Muslims".
"It is an argument we have heard over and over again but Justice Zawawi Salleh went further and said that if Allah is used by Christians, the confusion was not limited to Muslims, but Christians would also be confused.
"This ‘potential for confusion’ is akin to the following scenario: if I call my father Papa, and you call your father Papa, there is a risk that you will be confused that my Papa is your Papa, and your Papa is my Papa, or that we have the same Papa," Neoh added.
He added that the Islamic theology presented by these three Court of Appeal judges was not classical or even orthodox Islamic theology.
He also said that the ban on the word Allah did not exist anywhere but in Malaysia.
Neoh added that there was also the question on the scope of the judgment, where the Court of Appeal couched its judgment as if there was a blanket ban when the case was about the use of the word in the Bahasa Malaysia section within the Catholic weekly, Herald.
"It is a judicial hybrid of Malaysian constitutional politics and Islam," he said.
He added, however, that even when the judges were rewriting the constitution through reinterpretation, they had at least tried to couch what they were doing in terms of constitutional law.
Neoh pointed out that the Malaysian post-colonial constitutional settlement was precarious – not only because the constitution is an incompletely theorised agreement, but because it presented two conflicting visions on issues of law, religion and state.
The effect of this, he added, was that there were two constitutions embedded in the one constitutional text which engages in double speak.
"This bifurcation in the constitutional text makes the post-colonial constitutional settlement a precarious arrangement because its meaning is internally incoherent and inherently unstable.
"While it may not have the benefit of stability, ironically, it may have the benefit of longevity," he said.
He added that this was the reason that enabled proponents of both sides of the ideological divide to find their voices and visions in the same constitutional context.
"They could both draw on the same document for support and could construct their own narratives and counter-narratives from the available constitutional materials," he added.
Neoh went on to explain that this was the reason why the contestation on the use of the word Allah will continue beyond the Federal Court, adding that it was a symptom of a larger contest about the meaning of the Constitution.
"It is  a contest about the origin of our state and the future of Malaysia. The court does not have the final word, the courts never have the final word in any Constitutional matter," he said. – July 14, 2014.

Monday, July 14, 2014

EC impartiality hinges on judiciary, media and civil society, says political scientist Dr. Sarah Birch

Published: 13 July 2014
The Election Commission’s (EC) appointment methods and membership are practically irrelevant when it comes to ensuring free and fair elections, a political scientist said today.
Professor Dr Sarah Birch from the University of Glasgow said what was more important was that the media, the judiciary and the civil society hold the EC to account.
“The qualification and mode of appointment of the EC are less important than the accountability measures. The formal mode (of appointment) doesn’t seem to matter much.
“The EC can even be run by a branch of the government. That’s fine,” said Birch, pointing to Sweden’s EC, which was once run by the tax board.
Birch, who has a Masters and a doctorate in quantitative political science, said that even if some countries ran elaborate measures to ensure the EC members were impartial, the government could always find ways to get the EC to do as they wished.
“So it is up to the judiciary, civil society and the media to hold the EC to account. They are like other civil servants – unlikely to do a good job unless someone is watching. They’ll behave if people monitor them,” said Birch.
Birch was speaking at a public lecture titled “Retaining power through elections: When democracy enables autocracy” at the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH). The lecture was organised by Prohamm, Bersih 2.0, and the Civil Rights Committee of KLSCAH.
The EC has come under intense criticism from the opposition and electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0, who have accused the commission as well as its chairman of being biased towards the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
But calls for the EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof to resign have been ignored.
The EC similarly dismissed accredited election observers Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) and the Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) findings that the 2013 general election was partially free but not fair.
Birch said that the electoral system in any country would usually get worse before it finally improved, and called this phenomenon an “election tango”.
“In the contemporary world, significant electoral reform, leading to a genuine improvement in election quality, tends to come about following popular protests against electoral malpractice.
“When people periodically and episodically get cheated during election, they get angry. They tend to go out on the streets and protest at the time of elections.
“Then there is mass mobilisation so strong that the government is forced to conduct clean and fair elections. This is what happened with the Orange Revolution in Ukraine 2004, and Georgia in 2003,” said Birch.
She said democratic leaders would also feel compelled to hold free and fair elections if they felt they would garner more support in their country and internationally.
“Take Mexico as an example. Every time after elections, the people protested against electoral fraud and malpractice. And then eventually, after one particularly bad election in 1998, there was top-down reform.
“The government decided they were losing too much legitimacy. They thought they would have more popular support if they had fair elections.
“They won the first time after that, then they lost, then they won again. That’s what happens when you have fair elections,” said Birch.
Last year’s general election in Malaysia sparked off a string of mass rallies protesting the election results and the EC’s seemingly biased conduct.
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) supporters were unhappy that the opposition pact won the popular vote, but still lost to Putrajaya due to alleged gerrymandering and malapportionment.
The rallies, organised by PR and civil society, attracted thousands of Malaysians, but the assemblies eventually died down once the new lawmakers were sworn into Parliament.
Birch said that the first-past-the-post system practised in Malaysia was the easiest electoral system to manipulate because it allows gerrymandering, malapportionment, and manipulation of the eligible population.
“It’s easier to manipulate because of the winner-take-all system that magnifies the power at the constituency level and often also at the aggregate level,” said Birch.
She also said the system invited boundary manipulation, which could enable a party to retain power for long periods with only minority support.
“You only have to shift a few votes. Electoral manipulation is more efficient in first past the post, because you only have to shift a few votes if you do it properly.
“It also allows the manipulation of the eligible population – giving out citizenship to those who support the government,” said Birch, prompting cynical chuckles from the audience.
The government has long been accused of awarding citizenship to Sabah and Sarawak’s illegal immigrants to allow them to vote for Barisan Nasional (BN) in the elections.
Earlier this week, Sabah opposition lawmakers demanded that Putrajaya make public the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) report on illegal immigrants in the state that was submitted to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong two months ago.
They said that the restructuring of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom), as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on July 8 was not enough without a solution to the problem of illegal immigrants in the state.
"We want Najib to make known the content of the RCI report to the public. We have been waiting for two months," Bingkor assemblyman Jeffrey Kitingan told The Malaysian Insider.
Kitingan, who is also Sabah Star party chief, said the RCI would be meaningless without action and a solution to the "Project IC" problem.
The Commission which was set up on September 21, 2012, called 211 witnesses in the proceedings which ended on September 20 last year.
Among the notable witnesses were former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and former Sabah chief ministers, including Datuk Harris Salleh and Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.
Najib announced on June 1, 2012, that Putrajaya had agreed to set up the RCI to investigate problems related to illegal immigrants in Sabah, including the issuance of Malaysian documents to Muslim illegal immigrants under a scheme known as Project IC. – July 13, 2014.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Yes, Negara-Ku has an Agenda, Ambiga tells Utusan

Published: 13 July 2014
Newly formed Negara-Ku’s agenda is to promote unity, peace and harmony, and those who criticise it are trying to deflect Malaysians from issues of racism and extremism, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said today.
“Of course, Negara-Ku has an agenda. It is an agenda for unity, peace and harmony,” Ambiga told The Malaysian Insider in a text message.
“Everyone who loves this country should support this agenda. Those who criticise it are merely trying to deflect from the pressing issues of racism and extremism that threaten the fabric of our nation. What is their agenda, I wonder?”
The former Bersih co-chairperson was responding to Awang Selamat’s column in Utusan Malaysia today slamming the newly formed non-governmental organisation (NGO) as a smokescreen to further Ambiga’s political ambition.
Awang, a pseudonym for Utusan’s collective editors, had demanded that the Registrar of Societies (RoS) reject any formal application from Negara-Ku unless its name was changed to “AgendaKu”.
"Let it remain an illegal body, unless the name is changed to AgendaKu. That is more befitting Ambiga's record and reputation," said Awang today in Mingguan Malaysia, the Sunday edition of Utusan Malaysia.
Ambiga said she and national laureate Datuk A Samad Said were only patrons of the movement, and that she had never claimed it was her own personal initiative.
“It is a movement of the people set up by concerned citizens and NGOs and chaired by the respected Zaid Kamaruddin.
“We accepted the honour of being patrons because the cause is timely and most worthy.”
The former Bar Council president said any action taken by RoS must be within the boundaries of the law.
She said checks by Negara-Ku’s members found there was nothing unlawful in adopting such a name.
“We have examined it ourselves and can see no legal impediment to our use of the name Negara-Ku (not Negaraku).
“Nevertheless, we continue to be inspired by our beautiful national anthem that unites all Malaysians.”
She said Negara-Ku was an initiative by concerned citizens unable to remain on the sidelines while leaders did nothing to stop certain quarters from destroying the nation’s harmony.

The new movement was launched on Thursday to heal Malaysia and restore hope, given the recent challenges that continue to threaten the peace and harmony of its multi-ethnic and multi-faith society.
Touted as the "people's movement to reclaim our nation", it is chaired by Zaid, the secretary-general of Ikram, and its patrons are Ambiga and Samad.
Some 68 civil society groups and NGOs have endorsed Negara-Ku, which is aimed at mobilising and empowering people to return to the basics of the Federal Constitution, Malaysia Agreement and Rukunegara.
Ambiga had previously said the movement sought to provide the correct information to meet the challenges facing Malaysian society.
This would be done through videos, social media and forums and talks “to get people to listen, to question and to think," she said recently.

Awang Selamat today said Negara-Ku was a desperate platform to restore the image of the opposition pact, namely PKR and DAP.
It said that after failing many times to garner the support of the rakyat, including through the Bersih rallies, Ambiga was now hiding behind the name Negara-Ku, which was similar to the national anthem.
"The excuse that this NGO supposedly wants to encourage harmony, tackle extremism and racism is just a smokescreen. It is disgusting.
"In Malaysia, anybody can form an NGO but do not use the name Negaraku, especially for political purposes. Do not think you are so honourable, for I worry that this will attract extremism.

"Many know who Ambiga is. The anger of Malaysians, particularly Muslims, over numerous issues has yet to die down," he said in the column titled "Agenda Ambiga?" – July 13, 2014.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Why the Migration Business in Malaysia is Booming?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

New Movement to "reclaim Malaysia" launched

Monday, July 7, 2014

After Muhyiddin’s May 13 caution, Penang DCM says ‘Bring it’

BY BOO SU-LYNJuly 7, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 — Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy has challenged Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to “bring May 13”  after the deputy prime minister reportedly warned that a repeat of the 1969 race riots could not be ruled out. 

Saying that Malaysians in general did not wish to see a recurrence of the deadly inter-ethnic clashes, the Penang lawmaker criticised “irresponsible” leaders for fomenting the religious and racial tension currently stewing in the country.
“MIC might be scared, Gerakan might be scared, MCA might be scared, but I tell you, if you want to bring May 13, you bring it,” Ramasamy told a press conference here yesterday.
“Don’t talk. All the time talking May 13, May 13. Bring-lah May 13. You start May 13. This will be the first time the government starts May 13. You think what? You think we’re scared ah?” he added.
Muhyiddin, who is also Umno deputy president, reportedly said on Friday that a repeat of the May 13 race riots could occur if the country’s ethnic communities continue to criticise one another.
Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia reported Muhyiddin as saying in Johor that ethnic tensions that were allowed to simmer would lead to unrest when the various communities start to eye each other with suspicion.
“Because of that, there exists all kinds of assumptions when ethnic ties become strained and unhealthy. This can cause that event and I do not want to mention the particular date,” he was quoted as saying.
Muhyiddin did not mention the date specifically but Utusan Malaysia inserted May 13, 1969 to his quote in parentheses.
The Umno deputy president also said he has been receiving text messages from those expressing concern about the welfare of the Malays, the country’s dominant racial group, and Islam.
Muslims and Christians have been pitted against one another due to the government’s decision to prohibit the Catholic Church from using “Allah”, the Arabic word for God, in its weekly newsletter.
Malay concerns over the Bumiputera special privileges have also bubbled to the surface in recent months after Putrajaya’s National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) proposed three draft bills to replace the Sedition Act.
Among others, the laws and the members of the NUCC responsible for drafting them have been accused of being anti-Malay.
Hundreds of Malaysians are believed to have died during the May 13, 1969 clashes between the Malays and the Chinese. Although ostensibly triggered by the results of Election 1969, it was rooted in ethnic tensions between the two communities.

Indonesia paper accuses Bernama news agency of plagiarism

July 7, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 — Indonesian newspaper Jakarta Globe is accusing Malaysia’s Bernama of plagiarism, claiming the state-run news agency lifted two articles wholesale and passed them off as their own.

In a report on its website today, Jakarta Globe said it first discovered the alleged plagiarism when it found the contents of its article on the Indonesian presidential election reproduced and credited to Bernama.
The Indonesian paper compared its own piece—“In Closing Debate, Joko Promises Bureaucratic ‘Breakthrough,’ While Prabowo Strives for A Dignified Nation” — to Bernama’s version, “Joko Promises Bureaucratic ‘Breakthrough,’ While Prabowo Strives for ‘A Dignified Nation.’”
It said the two articles were found to near-identical, save for one line crediting a quote to the Jakarta-based daily. The Bernama version was then republished by a third party, and credited to the Malaysian outlet.
“Bernama also removed the names of Globe reporters Josua Gantan and Andrea Wijaya, the original authors of the story, replacing the byline with what is assumed to be the name of a Bernama journalist, Elmi Rizal Alias,” it added.
The discovery prompted Jakarta Globe to scrutinise Bernama’s pieces for further instances of plagiarism, which it said it found in another of its articles, “Hatta Says Indonesia Should Take Advantage of its ‘Demographic Bonus’”, being the source of Elmi Rizal Alias’s “inspiration”.
“The same story was found on Bernama’s website with the slightly altered title ‘Indonesia Should Take Advantage of Its Demographic Bonus —Hatta.’”
Jakarta Globe said Bernama did not respond to its requests for clarification over the weekend.
Indonesian lawmaker Ruhut Sitompul, which the paper listed as a member of the legal affairs commission at the Indonesian House of Representatives, suggested that it sue the Malaysian agency.
“Legal action should be taken against its representative in Indonesia,” he was quoted as saying by the daily.
A member of Indonesia’s Press Council, when contacted by the Jakarta Globe, denounced the alleged plagiarism as “a serious violation of copyright laws” and said the Malaysian writer could be jailed for the offence.
Bernama, Malaysia’s national news agency, began operations in 1968 after its formation was legislated in Parliament the year before. It is a unit under the Ministry of Multimedia and Communications.