Friday, June 1, 2012

Hiu Woong Sin's reply to UMNO Youth

An open reply to Umno Youth’s challenge to a debate published inThe Star over my 'heckling' of PM Najib Razak in London:

Dear Khairun Aseh,

There is enough evidence on YouTube to substantiate my act of chanting "Bersih" (during Najib's event in London). I do not know what other evidence you require from me to substantiate what I did. 

If you wish to understand what Bersih is all about, there's plenty of information and evidence provided by the organisation's steering committee online. 
Rather than debate with me about Bersih wouldn't it make more sense for you to publicly engage with its steering committee? A principled government will engage with civil society groups like Bersih instead of using the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 to suppress civil dissent.
I am aware that my actions have attracted numerous responses through media and social network.
Your challenge to me is but an act of redemption for your president and an act that avoids a loss of face for Umno.
In other words, your challenge is just another public relations stunt for that party and it will not benefit the Malaysian taxpayers who had already paid for the PM's promotional stunt in London
My actions were grounded on the moral conviction that, in a democracy I am entitled to freedom of expression. I acted upon my obligation as a Malaysian citizen to make reasonable demands for a free and fair electoral system. 

The Rakyat are well aware that all legitimate channels for demanding free and fair eections have been exhausted.         

Yet the government continues to use the mainstream media to manipulate the Rakyat in claiming that it has addressed Bersih's demands. 

If the government has shown any sincerity in addressing its demands, the political blunder on the amendment to the Election Offences Act would not have happened in the first place. 

Needless to say, the government under Najib's watch has again failed to protect the welfare of Malaysian citizens when our heartfelt request for ‘duduk bantah' at Dataran Merdeka was met with extreme police brutality. 

The London 02 protest was a legitimate act of citizenship because chanting Bersih was the only way left to get the message across to a prime minister who shies away from dialogue, yet continues to intimidate dissenting voices. 

Civil disobedience is a non-violent act of protest and was not intended to insult or humiliate the PM. On the question of what is Malaysian and un-Malaysian, Umno cannot claim it is on a moral high ground on the subject of ethical conduct.         

Ethical conduct involves a fundamental respect for the law, and our conduct at the London O2 did not contravene the legal codes in the UK or even in Malaysia. 

We voiced our discontent and it stopped there. Whereas the acts of public humiliation that Umno and Perkasa undertook in mounting personal attacks against other public figures of the opposition, undermines fundamental ethics of political conduct, going as far as invading an individual's right to privacy.        

If such public intimidation can be engineered against public figures, what's going to stop Umno from bullying an ordinary fellow like me?
Democracy allows dissenting voices to be heard and when we express our discontent within the remit of the law, it becomes very undemocratic of Umno to use the machinery of the government to bully individual citizens.         

This clearly contradicts Najib's slogan of ‘Rakyat Didahulukan'. Umno no longer has the moral credentials to have any say about ‘mannerisms'. 

After more than five decades in power, the ruling party has choked freedom with the politics of fear. On a final note, Najib offered to speak to me after the event. Hence I do not want to waste my time debating with Umno Youth. 

Najib can hide behind Umno Youth; unleash his institutional prowess through the might of youthful minions. But how long is Najib going to hide? The prime minister needs to answer the call of Bersih and to be sincere about this subject.

I am prepared to face the court of public opinion for my conduct, and I leave it to the public to reflect upon the political conduct and aims of Umno Youth for instigating an unwarranted challenge. Thank you for listening to me.

"You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind" – M. Gandhi

Thursday, May 31, 2012

MACC: Sharizat not involved in NFC corruption debacle. Why are we not surprised?

Here’s a question for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). Who accused Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil of being involved in the process of awarding the RM250 million government soft loan to the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) operated by her family?

Short answer, no one. Long answer, not one person ever did.
So, clearing the Wanita Umno chief of any involvement in the scandal is not even news because she wasn’t accused of that. And if MACC and Shahrizat are crowing about this, they have as much cow sense as the cattle in the Gemas farm.
Let’s be clear why Shahrizat’s name has been dragged into this and the government had to drop her from the Cabinet by not extending her tenure as senator.
Her family is accused of abusing public funds meant for a cattle-rearing project for their own shopping spree of luxury properties in Malaysia and abroad. They had admitted as much, saying the funds were being put to some use while waiting for the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries to do its part of the deal.
Of course, it begs the question whether public funds meant for one project can be used in other ways while waiting for something else to happen. The short answer, no. The long answer, of course not.
MACC operations evaluation panel (PPO) chairman Tan Sri Dr Hadenan Abdul Jalil was stating the obvious today when he said that investigations into Shahrizat’s involvement in NFC were now closed.
“We have found she was not involved in the process of awarding the loan,” Hadenan told reporters at a press conference today.
“The decision to award the contract to the company and to award the loan does not involve her,” he added.
Malaysians are just outraged that a company with no experience in cattle farming got the money and instead of working on the project, it used the funds for something else. Because there are farmers out there in Malaysia who could use a bit of that money for their own cattle farms.
Because there are Malaysians out there who get their loan applications rejected even if it is not a government soft loan.
Because it looked like the financial records of the company showed Shahrizat’s family was living the high life from the company that was funded by public money. Perhaps she might have benefitted? We don’t know. Because the MACC didn’t look into that.
They just investigated if she had a role in approving the loan. Why would she be involved? Was she in the particular ministry? Was she in the treasury? Did the matter even come up at any Cabinet meeting where she attended?
Why is the MACC pulling wool over our eyes? Why are they even investigating this aspect which is not even a complaint from anyone?
Why is the MACC spending public funds to get its officers to investigate a non-story?
Why do they have cow sense instead of common sense?
What is the MACC supposed to do? Will they ever do it?
Today’s conclusion by the MACC just shows how little transformation has happened since the anti-graft agency was upgraded into a commission. They should have been a lot smarter than they revealed themselves to be today.
Is there a wonder that people have little faith in the MACC?
[Source: The MI]

Ambiga speaks to Patrick Teoh

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The latest on the Scorpene scandal

Human rights NGO Suaram will expose more details on its Scorpene legal suit in Bangkok, Thailand tomorrow [May 30], as its lawyer from France has to date failed to obtain permission to enter Malaysia.

It remains uncertain when Suaram's France-based lawyer Joseph Breham will be issued with a work visa to enter Malaysia, and as such the NGO's leaders decided to travel to Thailand to meet with him.

NONEBrehem (left) and the Suaram team led by director Cynthia Gabriel and legal representative Fadiah Nadwa Fikri will later hold a press conference on new developments in the Scorpene submarine case the human rights group has filed in Paris.

Gabriel said the press event - at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand tomorrow - is planned to "reveal further damning details from the initial findings of the prosecutors and to announce the latest developments surrounding the case".

Breham was to visit Malaysia this week, but his application for aworking visa to enter the country has yet to be approved by the Malaysian authorities, leading to the decision by him and Suaram to meet in Bangkok.

His colleague, William Bourdon, was deported from Malaysia after he attended a Suaram fundraising dinner in Penang last year.

Battle royal of sorts

Gabriel said the press conference would help fill in the vacuum of information on gross corrupt and illegal practices involved in arms procurement in the name of Malaysia's national security.

She said that as Malaysia inched closer toward what is expected to be its most challenging general election ever, the "political temperature has escalated to an unprecedented level".

human rights defender report 020407 cynthiaThis, she said, would culminate in a "battle royale" of sorts as Malaysians were gearing for change and prepare to welcome the long overdue two-party system.

"Climaxing with this heightened scenario is the sudden commencement of an inquiry on Malaysia, 3,000km across the seas in France," Gabriel (left) said.

She was referring to the RM7.3 billion purchase of two Scorpene-class submarines in 2002; the decision of the French court to hear evidence of alleged bribery of top Malaysian officials in connection with the submarine purchase; and the grisly murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu with C4 military-grade explosives in 2006.

Case blackout in the media

Two of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's former bodyguards have been convicted for the murder of Altantuya and they are now awaiting their appeal, which is slated to be heard in August.

Najib's close ally and political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, who was charged with abetting in her murder, was acquitted without his defence being called.

NONENajib (right), who has refused to comment on the matter, was defence minister when the submarine deal was inked, but has denied any involvement in the case.

"The growing links among the three parties spell big headaches for the ruling administration, and especially for Najib, whose role in the entire scandal could bring a damning outcome to his political future," Gabriel said in an advisory sent out to the press yesterday.

"Despite an almost 100 percent blackout in Malaysia's mainstream media, the Internet is running riot with the story, and at full throttle," she added.

"It is piling up the challenges for Najib and his men as they face one of the fiercest electoral battles in Malaysia's history."

[Source: Mkini]

The Scorpene scandal and the long arm of the law

WHEN it comes to an issue like corruption, nations have long since accepted that it cannot be combated single-handedly.  A significant milestone in cooperation was when the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) in New York passed the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) on 31 Oct 2003. Shortly after, Malaysia signed the UNCAC on 9 Dec 2003.  The UNCAC came into force on 14 Dec 2005. We then ratified it on 24 Sept 2008.
As a party to the UNCAC, how well do our government ministers understand Malaysia’s obligations under this international treaty and local laws on international cooperation on criminal matters? Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s recent snubbing of the inquiry by a French court into the Scorpene submarines scandal suggest ignorance, at the very least.
Scorpène Class Malaysian Navy submarine "Tun Razak" in the shipyard of Navantia-Cartagena (Spain) few days prior to its delivery. (© Outissnn | Wiki Commons)
How UNCAC works
Under the UNCAC, state parties agree to cooperate with one another in every aspect of the fight against corruption, including prevention, investigation, and the prosecution of offenders. State parties are bound to render specific forms of mutual legal assistance in gathering and transferring evidence for use in court and to extradite offenders. There is a provision whereby state parties that do not have extradition treaties with each other may use their common membership of the UNCAC as the basis for any extradition request. They are also required to undertake measures which will support the tracing, freezing, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of corruption.
Another over-arching trend in the international fight against transboundary issues is universal jurisdiction. A country can bring to trial and prosecute in that country, those accused of having committed a crime in another country. An area relatively new to Malaysia, we are only beginning to adopt universal jurisdiction through recent amendments to Section 4 of the Penal Code. This expands the scope of extraterritorial offences to include damage to property belonging to, or operated, or controlled, not just by a Malaysian federal or state government, but also to a Malaysian company or individual located outside Malaysia. This addresses our lack of laws to prosecute offences such as the hijacking of a Malaysian privately-owned (but foreign-flagged) ship by Somali pirates in international waters.
Ignorance or lack of political will?
Image of Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi
Zahid Hamidi (source:
Bearing this in mind, Ahmad Zahid’s response to the possibility of being subpoenaed to appear in a French court to answer questions about the Scorpene affair is surprising for a number of reasons. France is also a signatory to the UNCAC, having signed it on 9 Dec 2003, and ratifying it on 11 July 2005.
The investigation by the French courts into allegations of transboundary corruption in the purchase of two Scorpene submarines by Malaysia would be precisely the kind of issue that UNCAC and universal jurisdiction are intended to address. By ratifying the treaty, Malaysia has signified to the world our willingness to submit to an international framework of cooperation in this regard. The Defence Minister’s comments, then, seem totally out of line with our international obligations.
Ahmad Zahid reportedly said, “Why should I appear?  I am not a witness!  If I appear, who will pay for my expenses?  I don’t want to use my money and the government’s money.”
In so doing, he clearly revealed his lack of familiarity with the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 2002.  Part II of this Act deals with requests to Malaysia by foreign governments. In particular, Section 27 of the Act deals with requests for attendance of a particular person in another country to give evidence or assist in a criminal matter there.  Malaysia’s Attorney-General can be requested by foreign authorities to arrange for the person to attend such proceedings. Section 19 specifically requires the Attorney-General to confirm that “allowances” and “arrangements for security and accommodation for the person” are to be made by the requesting foreign authorities.
So really, Ahmad Zahid need not worry about spending his own money or that of the Malaysian Government. France would pick up the bill, merci beaucoup.
Ahmad Zahid’s own ignorance aside, Malaysia’s attitude towards the Scorpene probe is also an issue of political will. Even though France is not a “prescribed foreign State” pursuant to Section 17 of the Act, Section 18 of the Act allows the Attorney-General to give special direction in writing for the Act to apply to that state. There is room for ad-hoc cooperation with France, if the Attorney-General recommends it and if the minister in charge of law agrees.
International perception
Malaysia could still refuse to entertain a request from France and would have grounds to do so in Section 20 of the Act.  These include:
  • Section 20(1)(g): the facts constituting the offence to which the request relates does not indicate an offence of sufficient gravity;
  • Section 20(1)(h): the thing requested for is of insufficient importance to the investigation or could reasonably be obtained by other means;
  • Section 20(1)(i): the provision of the assistance would affect the sovereignty, security, public order or other essential public interest of Malaysia.
However, Malaysia should be cautious of how a refusal would be perceived by the international community in such a high-profile case. Care must be taken not to give a wrong impression.
No doubt, the Act contains complex provisions which include the voluntariness of a witness to travel to another country to assist in a criminal probe. The details of the Act’s provisions are beyond the scope of this article but suffice to say, the Minister of Defence should not have been so quick and glib in his reaction. Provisions do exist in Malaysian law to send him for an all-expenses-paid trip to Paris.  He should seek legal advice. Had he done so, he might have not been so glib again with his latest reaction — “Who are they to issue a warrant of arrest? We are not subjected to French laws.”
‘Red notice’ option
Assange (© Peter Erichsen | Wiki Commons)
Assange (© Peter Erichsen | Wiki Commons)
There is still the possibility that France could request countries, with which it has a mutual assistance in criminal matters agreement, to detain Ahmad Zahid and deliver him to Paris. This could happen should Ahmad Zahid travel to any such country or to any country which is a member of the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. No doubt he would then have to fight it, just as, under different circumstances, Julian Assange is currently fighting his extradition from the United Kingdom to Sweden.
It is open for the French courts, if Ahmad Zahid refuses to answer a subpoena, to upgrade that subpoena to an international warrant of arrest, and to seek the assistance of Interpol to effect it.  This is known as a “red notice”.  Whether the French would actually do that is a tale for another time. 
[Source: The NutGraph]

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Humour



The first step to wisdom is silence, the second is listening.   Proverbs 1:5
An old priest lay dying. He sent a message for an Inland Revenue Supervisor and his Lawyer to come to the hospital.

When they arrived, they were ushered up to his room. As they entered the room, the priest held out his hands and motioned for them to sit on each side of the bed.
The priest grasped their hands, sighed contentedly, smiled and stared at the ceiling.. For a time, no one said anything.

Both the Inland Revenue Supervisor and The Lawyer were touched and flattered that the old man would ask them to be with him during his final moments.
They were also puzzled because the priest had never given any indication that he particularly liked either one of them.

Finally, the Lawyer asked, Father, why did you ask the two of us to come here? The old priest mustered all his strength, and then said weakly, Jesus died between two thieves, and that’s how I’d like to go.
When Charles de Gaulle decided to retire from public life, the British
ambassador and his wife threw a gala dinner party in his honour.

At the dinner table, the Ambassador's wife was talking with Madame de Gaulle:

"Your husband has been such a prominent public figure, such a presence
on the French and international scene for so many years! How quiet
retirement will seem in comparison? Wat are you most looking forward
to in these retirement years?"

"Half a penis, just half a penis." replied Madame de Gaulle.

A huge hush fell over the table.
Everyone heard her answer...... and no one knew what to say next.

Le Grand Charles leaned over to his wife and said:
"Ma cherie, I believe ze English pronounce zat word, "happiness!'"

Two little boys, ages 8 and 10, are excessively mischievous. 

They are always getting into trouble and their parents know if any mischief occurs in their town, the two boys are  probably involved. 

The boys' mother heard that a preacher in town had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he  would speak with her boys. The preacher agreed, but he asked to see them individually. 

The mother sent the 8 year old in the morning, with the  older boy to see the preacher in the afternoon. The  preacher, a huge man with a deep booming voice, sat the  younger boy down and asked him sternly, "Do you know where God is, son?" 

The boy's mouth dropped open, but he made no response, sitting there wide-eyed with his mouth hanging open. 
So the preacher repeated the question in an even sterner tone, "Where is God?! Again, the boy made no attempt to answer. The preacher raised his voice even more and shook his finger in the boy's face and bellowed, "WHERE is GOD?!" 

The boy screamed & bolted from the room, ran directly home & dove into his closet, slamming the door behind him. When his older brother found him in the closet, he asked, "What happened?" 

The younger brother, gasping for breath, replied, "We are in BIG trouble this time!" "GOD is missing, and they think WE did it!"