How should we judge a government?

In Malaysia, if you don't watch television or read newspapers, you are uninformed; but if you do, you are misinformed!

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience - Mark Twain

Why we should be against censorship in a court of law: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no
responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options
I suggest government... because nobody has ever been caught.

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?
Corruption is so prevalent it affects English language?

When there's too much dirt...

When there's too much dirt...
We need better tools... to cover up mega corruptions.

Prevent bullying now!

Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist? “Orang boleh pandai setinggi langit, tapi selama ia tidak menulis, ia akan hilang di dalam masyarakat dan dari sejarah.” - Ananta Prameodya Toer (Your intellect may soar to the sky but if you do not write, you will be lost from society and to history.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Share investment: Cool, calm and collected

The original expression and meaning, "Cool, calm and collected" was used as a joke in stockbroking firms. In the old days, before CDS, share certificates need to be collected after purchase. Initially, speculators bought for a quick gain within T+3 days. If a mistake in having bought and share price came down instead, buyer is said to remain cool and calm. But by the last day, he might decide to pay for the purchase instead of the loss plus incidental charges, and collect the share certificate.

I am reminded of this when I read the headline in The Sun posted on February 17, 2016:

Tabung Haji: Shares in FGV a long term investment

"Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) has defended its decision to maintain its shares in Felda Global Ventures Berhad (FGV) despite its falling price over the years, calling it a long term investment.
"TH would like to explain that our investment in FGV's shares is a strategic long-term investment in one of our core investment sectors," it said in a statement today.
Explaining that the falling share price was due to the drastic decline in the market price of crude oil, the pilgrimage fund assured its depositors that their savings are safe with the company.
"The fall in crude oil price has caused commodity-based companies (like FGV) to be directly affected, with a negative impact on plantation counters. The drop in price is beyond our control as it is determined by the power of the existing market.
"However, we assure all our depositors not to be worried as their savings in TH is not missing as claimed by certain quarters, their savings are guaranteed," it added.
National Oversight and Whistleblowers (NOW) director Rafizi Ramli, on Tuesday, revealed that TH has lost RM933 million through its shares in FGV despite being aware of its falling prices.
He explained that TH had invested RM1.38 billion when purchasing 7.78% of FGV's shares on June 28, 2012 at RM4.54 per share, and that its current value has dropped to RM1.60 per share.
Rafizi said despite netting a sale profit of RM7.6 million, the current share value held by the pilgrimage fund only stood at RM454 million, making its accumulated losses at over RM933 million."
FGV and Felda are again in the news because of their recent separate attempts to buy 37% of Eagle High Plantations in Indonesia, at a much higher price than recent market average. After FGV gave up, it was eagerly offered by Felda, such was the keen interest which inevitably resulted in suspicions, especially when the seller is reportedly close to PM Najib. 
That EPF has sold off its remaining shares in FGV, even if after its failed bid for EHP, shows the lack of confidence in FGV's turnaround and long term viability.

Will other public bodies join EPF in dumping FGV?

"The Employees Providence Fund (EPF) divestment of its entire stake in Felda Global Ventures (FGV) has raised questions over the viability investments by other public bodies.
Two major FGV shareholders are the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) and Lembaga Tabung Haji. These institutional investors mostly invested in FGV during the initial public offering stage."
Rest of article (for subscribers of Malaysiakini):

Basically, EPF had realised and cut its losses in FGV, while the other funds holding on, have book losses to date. Seems like the funds were told to support FGV in its IPO, and were left to carry the baby, putting on a brave front and describing it as long term investments. Cool, calm and collected indeed. To me, it is better described as enforced long-term investment!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wan Saiful Wan Jan: Do we need unity?


"To me the biggest hurdle to national unity is the structure of our political system. Our politics is dominated by ethnic-based political parties. Being ethnic-based, their survival is dependent on us, the voters, continuing to be divided along ethnic lines.
If voters are no longer thinking as different ethnic groups, then the ethnic-based parties will find it difficult to survive. If a Malay feels that it is ok to have a non-Malay Prime Minister, if a Chinese feels it is ok to have an ustaz as their representative, if a Hindu feels it is ok to have an atheist as their spokesperson, then it would be meaningless to remain as a Malay, Chinese or Indian party.
The same applies to the Melanaus, Bidayuhs, Dayaks, Kadazans, Seranis and so on too. Ethnic-based parties need society to remain divided along ethnic lines because otherwise they will not be able to survive.
This is why when any ethnic-based party feels weakened, they will work hard to cleave society. This is divide and rule 101. The more successful you are at dividing society, the more likely you are to rule over them.
But even though the hurdle preventing national unity is not too difficult to identify, there are two bigger questions that should be, but are rarely, asked. The questions are do we really need unity and what is unity for?
Most frequently when people in Malaysia talk about unity we talk about the different ethnic groups mixing with each other. The underlying assumption is that mixing is necessary to foster a “good” society.
I never quite understand this. Why do we really need to mix? Why can’t we just live our lives the way we want, mixing with only those whom we want, and meeting only those whom we want?"

"If all we want is peace, then isn’t it a possibility that unity is irrelevant? If peace can be achieved by people living parallel lives, remaining in groups they are comfortable with, peacefully within the group and peacefully in relation to others, should we still divide them in the quest for the illusive unity?"

YB Dr Ong Kian Ming: Did the Education Ministry artificially boost Malaysia’s school scores?

With our past record of manipulation of things, it isn't surprising, if true.


"When the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) 2015 results were released on Dec 6, officials from the Education Ministry were quoted in a news report as taking pride that Malaysia’s Pisa’s scores for Mathematics, Reading and Science had improved from 421, 398 and 420 respectively in 2012 to 446, 431 and 443 respectively in 2015.
No doubt, mnisters, deputy ministers and politicians from the BN will use the latest Pisa scores as ‘proof’ that Malaysia is on the ‘right track’ when it comes to the standard of education in the country.
What they would have conveniently left out is the fact that Malaysia does not feature anywhere in the 2015 Pisa rankings for Mathematics, Reading and Science.
The official reason stated, on Page 340 of the Pisa report for Malaysia’s non-inclusion is:
"In Malaysia, the Pisa assessment was conducted in accordance with the operational standards and guidelines of the OECD. However, the weighted response rate among the initially sample Malaysian schools (51 percent) falls well short of the standard Pisa response rate of 85 percent. Therefore, the results may not be comparable to those of other countries or to results for Malaysia from previous years."
Why was it that only 51 percent of the schools initially chosen for the Pisa test participated in the test in 2015? Was it because the Education Ministry wanted to over-represent students from better performing schools and leave out students from low performing schools?
This 51 percent participation rate raises many suspicions, since Malaysia’s participation rate was 99.3 percent and 100 percent in Pisa 2009(Page 103, 151 out of 152 schools participated) and Pisa 2012 respectively (Page 181).
It is hard to imagine any school principal not allowing his or her school to participate in the Pisa 2015 test if the Education Ministry had already chosen that school to be in the original sample.
One suspects that the Education Ministry over-sampled the high performing schools in the Pisa 2015 sample and excluded some of the lower performing schools from the sample."

When they have it all, there's no need to prove anything.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Ultimate Insult to Tun Dr Mahathir

My simple comment in Facebook received 75 likes within 3 hours!:

The mention of 'no chair' must be most insulting for withdrawal of invitation. How low can they be? It reflects badly on the authority who did this.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

YB Lim Kit Siang: Challenge to Najib to list out DAP’s Three Big Lies after I have exposed Najib’s three “Big Lies” in his UMNO presidential speech yesterday


"Are we seeing a repetition of the “Big Lie” theory in modern-day Malaysia, with the UMNO leadership warning about the “Big Lie” theory but with the UMNO President, Datuk Seri Najib Razak becoming the biggest exponent of the “Big Lie” propaganda?
Najib impudently told three colossal “Big Lies” in his UMNO Presidential Speech yesterday, viz:
1. That the 14th General Elections will be a contest between UMNO and DAP;
2. That the DAP is anti-Malay or anti-Islam.
3. The “nightmares” Malay will suffer if UMNO loses power in the next general elections.
These three “Big Lies” fit the Hitler/Goebbels definition that “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
Lets take a look at Najib’s three “Big Lies” and the rebuttals:
1. 14th General Election not a battle UMNO vs DAP. It will be a battle between the Barisan Nasional led by UMNO and the Pakatan Harapan coaliltion of DAP, PKR and Parti Amanah together with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) to save Malaysia from a kleptocracy by defending the founding Constitutional principles of a democratic, just and united plural Malaysia.
2. DAP is not anti-Malay or anti-Islam. DAP is not a Chinese party as right from the beginning of our formation 50 years ago, we were committed to the principles and vision of a Malaysian party, led by Malaysians and serving the interests of all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region.
This was why in the very first general election contested by DAP in 1969, two Malay State Assemblymen were elected, and down the decades, there had been Malay Members of Parliament and State Assembly representatives under the DAP banner.
This was also why in the first general election contested by the DAP in 1969, and now after the 2013 General Elections, the DAP has more Indian Members of Parliament than MIC.
But this does not make DAP a political party only for the Indians as DAP remains unequivocably as a party for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region.
3. Malays will not have “nightmares” if UMNO loses power in 14GE, as Najib tried to create scare and panic among the Malays that they will lose political power to the Chinese.
Whatever happens in the 14GE, whether Najib is toppled as Prime Minister or UMNO loses the Federal Government, the Malays in Malaysia will continue to exercise political power in the country as there is no way they will lose their political power.
The demographic reality is the surest guarantee that the Malays will not lose political power whatever happens to Najib or to UMNO in the next general elections.
In 1970 Malaysia’s population comprised 44.32% Malays, 34.34% Chinese, 8.99% Indians, 11.89% non-Malay Bumiputeras, 0.67% others.
In 2010, the percentage of Malays in the Malaysian population increased to 55.07%, Chinese reduced to 24.34%, Indians dropped to 7.35%, non-Malay Bumiputeras maintained at 11.94% and 1.3% others.
During the 13th general election, 52.63% of the voters were Malays, 29.68% Chinese, 7.31% Indians, 8.96% non-Malay Bumiputeras and 1.43% others.
Out of the 165 Parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia, 114 are Malay majority seats representing some 70%, 22 Chinese majority seats (13%) and 29 mixed seats. There is not a single Indian majority seat.
With the triple factors establishing overwhelming Malay predominance in the Malaysian political scene – the demographic make-up of the general population, the electorate and the parliamentary constituencies – can Najib and UMNO propagandists explain how the Malays will lose political power, whatever the scenario in the 14GE?
How Malays who dominate in 70% of the parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia will lose political power to the Chinese, who are in the majority in only 13% of the parliamentary seats?"

Monday, November 28, 2016

64 fact-checking organizations are offering to help Facebook with its fake news problem.


"In light of how Facebook may have had an effect on the 2016 election, Mark Zuckerberg has been forced to reflect on the power of his social media platform.

After election night, an analysis revealed that fake news distributed through Facebook actually outperformed real, fact-checked news in terms of Likes and shares. In fact, the most popular news story leading up to the election was about Pope Francis endorsing Donald Trump. Even though that never happened and the story has been taken down, it was still Liked and shared nearly a million times.
Other popular (and fake) stories claimed to confirm that Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS or insinuated that she murdered an FBI agent. If voters only saw those stories, it's not hard to imagine how their opinions of each candidate might have been influenced before heading to the polls. Since most people get their news from social media, it's entirely likely that was the case.

In a Nov. 12, 2016, Facebook post, however, Zuckerberg claimed that the "fake news" problem is smaller than people think and also something that Facebook is working on.

"Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic," Zuckerberg wrote. He went on to say that of the fake news stories and hoaxes that do exist, many of them aren't even political:
"Our goal is to show people the content they will find most meaningful, and people want accurate news. We have already launched work enabling our community to flag hoaxes and fake news, and there is more we can do here. We have made progress, and we will continue to work on this to improve further."
Rest of article:


Monday, November 21, 2016

Nades: Police need to act now

This article by Nades in The Sun was published on Nov 16, before Bersih 5 rally.


"A retired police officer had this to say on his Facebook post:
I have served in the Royal Malaysian Police for 36 odd years and went through the mill to become a Police Officer and underwent through the period of May 1969, various duties in Traffic, Highway Patrol, Anti SS Officer, IO/SIO, Prosecutor, Law Lecturer in CID College, PRO, OCS, Camp Commandant ... Assistant Controller in various Election period from Mid 80s ... till retirement ... Never have I seen a group of people who can freely resort to violence or force being used in public while the authorities watch ... It is a very sad stage. Deterrent action is rarely put into use ... Please do correct me if I am wrong !!!!!!!" (This passage was edited for clarity).
Precisely the point – Why aren't the perpetrators being hounded and hunted down when a mere innocent post by a journalist on holy water prompted police to jump over his gate and arrest him in the wee hours of the morning?
The police seem to be pursuing the wrong horse in wanting a planned protest for which applications have been submitted to stop. As was pointed out by Professor Gurdial Singh Nijar in his column on Monday, the home minister declared Bersih illegal on the ground that it was being used for purposes which threatened the security of Malaysia and public order. The High Court quashed the minister's order. That was in 2011.
That order was challenged in the High Court which said that the order was irrational – meaning that it was so outrageous that no sensible person who had applied his mind could have declared it as illegal. Besides, it was illogical and ludicrous."

Bhag Singh: Secrets in the House!

There is immunity for members of Parliament against prosecution, except for cases of sedition, and when they communicate ‘official secrets’ outside Parliament.


"The Constitution does not place any restrictions on freedom of speech in Parliament, but an amendment was made many years later to deny the privilege of any member of Parliament in matters related to sedition.
Except for such cases of sedition, there would thus be immunity for members of Parliament against prosecution.
The principal gatekeeper in this regard is the Speaker of the House, within whose powers it is to allow or disallow questions, answers and comments on what is sought to be discussed.
Such a situation has so far not arisen in the courts of the country for their deliberation. However, it was touched upon in passing in the judgment of the Federal Court in the case of Lim Kit Siang v. Public Prosecutor.
The case arose out of speeches made outside Parliament and articles published based on the statements made by Lim Kit Siang further to his having received information which was indisputably, on the facts of the case, an “official secret”.
During this trial it was suggested that Lim Kit Siang was under a duty, as a Member of Parliament and particularly as the Leader of the Oppo­sition, to disclose such information, especially where it concerned the proper defence of the country.
In deciding that there was no privilege granted to such a person to communicate such information outside Parliament, then Chief Justice Raja Azlan Shah went on to say: “Parliamentary privileges may exempt the appellant from the laws of defamation, so long as the libellous words were uttered within the walls of Parliament, but as he well knows, will not save a member from an action for damages if repeated outside the House.
“We do not consider, since it does not arise for consideration and we do not have the benefit of submissions whether any speech in Parliament revealing official secrets would be caught by the Act, but clearly the duty of the appellant as a Parliamentarian does not include the right to disclose or make available for disclosure official secret information outside the walls of the House to the public at large whatever his motive might be.”

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bersih 5 rally in Kuala Lumpur

Thankfully, there were no major incidents, but the police arrested several leaders of Bersih, DAP and activists, before, during and after the rally.

As the saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words, here are a couple of pics taken towards the end of the rally, and a link to a video clip, which show the extent of the rally. PM Najib and his team should be worried.

Jaenee Shia shared this pic taken from PBB building by her friend. Another pic from another source would give a better idea of this place near KLCC (junction of Jln P Ramli, Jln Ampang, and Jln Yap Kwan Seng).

Wong Chin Huat shares this pic in Facebook...


and a video clip...

Bersih 5’s five demands are:
  • Clean elections
  • Clean government
  • Strengthen parliamentary democracy
  • Right to dissent
  • Empowering Sabah and Sarawak
and in Malay:


Friday, November 18, 2016

YB William Leong: Two Reasons for Rejecting Budget


"This article seeks to respond to a few statements circulating in the social media that the opposition voted against the 2017 Budget to prevent the people, especially the poor, from enjoying the benefits bestowed to them by the Finance Minister. There are many reasons the opposition voted against the Budget. I wish to highlight only two. The Finance Minister lacks the legitimacy to be entrusted with the continued management of the people’s money and the 2017 Budget reveals his misplaced priorities.  
Lack of Legitimacy

The core of public finances is that some people spend other people’s money. In democracies, voters delegate the power over public spending and taxes to elected politicians.[1] The delegation of power to elected politicians implies that except for those of the highest integrity there are risks the politicians will extract rents from being in office and spend public money on projects other than those voters desire. 

One of the tools for ensuring the people’s money is spent in accordance with the people’s desire is the budget. The budget is a contract between the voters and the Government showing how resources are raised and allocated for delivery of public services. The budget is the primary instrument for implementing fiscal policy thereby influencing the economy as a whole and how the Government plans to turn aspirations into reality.[2] The budget is the reflection of the policy and priorities of those who control and manage government machinery and apparatus at the given time. As a consequence budget transparency and accountability are very important means to truly democratize government and processes of governance. 

Accountability denotes the rights, responsibilities and duties that exist between the people and the government institutions. Accountability and legitimacy are two sides of the same coin. Lack of accountability will result in lack of political legitimacy. Lack of legitimacy will result in democratic deficit and the consequent abuse of power by decisions makers and power-holders.[3]

When Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak refused to resign as Finance Minister following the 1MDB revelations, he plunged his Government into a legitimacy crisis."

Individual Ministerial Responsibility

"The Finance Minister’s loss of legitimacy and credibility is due to his failure to abide by the constitutional convention known as individual ministerial responsibility. A fundamental constitutional convention under the Westminster parliamentary system is that ministers are responsible for the conduct of their ministry. 

The principle of individual ministerial responsibility is central to the parliamentary system because it ensures the accountability of the government to Parliament and thus, ultimately to the citizens as a whole. The accountable minister in charge is expected to take the blame and ultimately resign. This means that if waste, corruption or any other misbehaviour is found to have occurred within a ministry, the minister is responsible even if he had no knowledge of the actions. The principle is essential to guarantee that an elected official is answerable for every single government action. ..." 

Failure to be accountable to Parliament  

"The Finance Minister failed to honour a second aspect of the Westminster principle of individual ministerial responsibility. This is the principle that a minister is accountable to Parliament. Ministers are the link between Parliament and Government. Public servants carry out the activities of Government through their work in department and agencies and the Government directs them through ministers responsible for their activities which include activities by government-owned companies such as 1MDB. The minister is responsible to Parliament for decisions made and actions performed by those under his delegation. This means the minister must make announcements and answer questions in Parliament on the decisions and performance of their departments. ..."

Death of Democratic Governance and Accountability

It is no longer possible for the BN MPs to turn a blind to the wrongdoing in 1MDB. Any denial of wrongdoing is totally not credible in the light of recent revelations by the international media on the US DOJ suit, actions by the Swiss and Singapore authorities to withdraw the licences and to file criminal charges against the banks and officers engaged in the money-laundering of the proceeds from 1MDB. The first conviction and sentence of imprisonment was delivered last week. 
Continued survival has been bought by co-optation, propaganda, censorship, repression, prosecution and imprisonment of opposition leaders, activists, lecturers and students. The costs for maintaining power includes sackings, transfers, acts of humiliation and calls to ostracise dissenters and those troubled by their conscience in the UMNO leadership, past and present, the rank and file and Government agencies and institutions.

The 117 BN MPs in voting for the 2017 Budget and 11 PAS abstentions in the face of such legitimacy crisis hammered the final nail into democracy’s coffin in Malaysia. The government transformation programme from democracy to authoritarian regime is now completed. When the 2017 Budget was approved democratic governance, transparency, integrity and accountability in Malaysia died and were buried.

Off-Budget Debt

"The lack of legitimacy continues as the Government enters into one after another mega contract, privatisation and concession. One of the biggest concern in the 2017 Budget is not what is in the Budget but what is not there. It is off-budget funding. Off-budget funding kept outside of government financial regulations, reporting and audit requirements can give rise to illegal and irregular transactions. In addition the use of such funds means the reported level of government expenditure and debt may be understated. 

Off-budget funding may not be contrary to the letter of the law but it violates the spirit of the law. Omitting off-budget funding in the Budget documents offends the principle of providing the public a comprehensive, accurate and reliable account of the public finances. The Budget is a contract of trust between the Government and the citizens. It is expected that the Budget document should account comprehensively and correctly for all expenditures and revenues of the Government and that no figures should be omitted or hidden. ..."

Misplaced Priorities 

"Why does the Opposition bother to debate the Budget? BN with its majority will push through and rubberstamp the 2017 Budget no matter what we say. We soldier on to discharge our constitutionally-mandated duty. Although in the minority, we like the BN MPs, are the guardians of public money. The Government cannot spend a single cent from the Consolidated Fund without Parliament’s approval. By making a stand, it is a reminder that the national coffers are not someone’s personal account. The Government is accountable for wastage, corruption and embezzlement. The Government is required to put on record its justification or the absence thereof in spending the people’s hard earned money and the nation’s scarce resources. In doing so, we put public concerns to bear on the Government’s fiscal and economic policies. It is hoped that by a detailed, focused and considered debate it would improve public understanding of both the process and thinking behind the fiscal measures, their impact on the economy and lives of the people."

Thursday, November 17, 2016

More on legal aspects of forthcoming Bersih 5 on Nov 19

Street demos have always been our culture, Maria reminds PM

"Street demonstrations have always been our culture just like how Umno has demonstrated against the British before independence, said Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah.
She was refuting Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak comment this morning that street demonstrations did not reflect Malaysian culture.
"Umno would not have survived if they hadn’t gone to the streets."
Eric Paulsen:  

Police reminded of existing law to prevent counter rally

"Human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen has reminded the police of an existing provision of law that prevents a counter rally from being held simultaneously with an existing one such as the Bersih 5 rally.
"Dear police, please don't pretend section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Act does not exist.
"Red-shirts should be ordered to organise (their rally) at another time, date or place," he tweeted last night."
The Malaysian Bar notes that Section 6(2)(j) of the Peaceful Assembly Act contains a provision that mandatorily requires an organiser of a simultaneous assembly or counter-assembly to “ensure that the organisation of the assemblies are [sic] not intended to specifically prevent the other assembly from taking place or interfere with the organisation of such assembly”.

Don't be angry with police this Saturday, IGP warns

"Do not be angry with the police when they take action against those breaking the law during the Bersih 5 rally and the red-shirts' counter-rally this Saturday.
Inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar issued this reminder when he spoke at a press conference after his keynote address at the Seventh Aseanapol Police Training Cooperation Meeting (APTCM) in Cheras today."
IMHO: Bersih did what was necessary but police seems more concerned with technicality to ensure the rally is deemed illegal, so that police can act tough. Why not detain Jamal the chief trouble maker on rally day to prevent trouble? He can have his own rally on another day. That IGP cannot act fairly will certainly make people angry.


IMHO: It is likely the police will ignore this statement from Suhakam. We shall see come tomorrow.


Chief sec's threat over attending rallies 'unlawful' - ex-judge

"A former Federal Court judge has rapped chief secretary Ali Hamsa's threat against civil servants participating in the Bersih or red-shirts rallies tomorrow as unconstitutional.
Retired judge Gopal Sri Ram was reported by Free Malaysia Today saying civil servants had a right to exercise their constitutional right to assembly as long as it did not interfere with their professional duties.
“Participation in a rally is a right conferred under article 10 of the Federal Constitution and any restriction is absolutely void,” Sri Ram was reported saying today.
Ali yesterday said the Public Services Department would not hesitate to act againstcivil servants who are captured in photographs of the rallies published by the media, according to Bernama.
He said those found involved in the rallies face disciplinary action including a pay cut or sacking.
According to FMT, Sri Ram said the order was a "disproportionate incursion against a constitutional right".
“You do not use a sledgehammer to kill a fly and the response from Ali is not proportionate to the harm intended to be dealt with,” he was reported saying.
“The circular is like administering a poison to cure a common cold."
Therefore, he said, the order is null and void."
It would seem, to the civil servants, attending Bersih rally is more serious than those having committed crimes. The latter only get transferred.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Reality check: Our so-called parliamentary democracy is like having a car which does not work?

From write2rest blogsite:

Our constitution does not include the word ‘democracy.’ So why is “strengthen parliamentary democracy” included in the demands of Bersih 5?

According to

parliamentary democracy is a form of government where voters elect the parliament, which then forms the government. The party with the most votes picks the leader of the government. Prime ministers are beholden both to the people and the parliament.

Malaysia only somewhat fits that description.

Why? Negatively, because Parliament is made up of the Agung, an Upper House (“senate”) and a Lower House (“parliament”) – and only members of the lower house are elected by voters. Positively, because our government is formed by those who are elected to the lower house (though augmented by non-elected senators).

However, our law does recognize that we are a parliamentary democracy. The best known example of this is found in Section 124B of the Penal Code:

Whoever, by any means, directly or indirectly, commits an activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty years.

This is not the place to discuss that odious law. If you want to know more, you can read this excellent discussion by the Bar Council, issued on the occasion of 17 arrests in 2015.

So, we may say correctly that Malaysia practices parliamentary democracy because one of the three members of our law-making triumvirate has members elected by voters, and the term “parliamentary democracy” has a place in our laws.

What aspects of a parliamentary democracy may make it fake rather than real? 

That’s an important question because it’s the difference between having a car and having a car which works. For instance, from 1969 to 1971 we had a parliament which didn’t meet because it was suspended through the enactment of an emergency. MPs were in prison! During that period we had a non-functioning parliamentary democracy.

There are many things which make our parliament more like an engine-less car than a car which does productive work. I’ll just list five.

First, our Parliament doesn’t meet often enough. The parliaments of Australia and the UK sit for at least 150 days a year. For our parliament, MP Liew Chin Tong has published the number of sitting days for the period 2008-2015. The range is 51 days (in 2013) to 83 days (in 2010), giving an average of 67 days/year over 8 years. This means MPs in Australia and UK attend parliament more than twice as often as our MPs.

Second, our backbenchers don’t scrutinize the cabinet. Cabinet is made up of the PM, Ministers and Deputy Ministers. Backbenchers are ruling party MPs who are not in the cabinet. In Malaysia, parties offer candidacy solely as a “reward” for loyalty to their party leaders and keeping the grassroots quiet. That’s not how it’s supposed to be. The work of parliament is to review, monitor and supervise the cabinet and public agencies. Loyalty is important, but so is competence. We need better candidates.

Third, most backbenchers and opposition MPs do hardly any parliamentary work. In Taiwan, every MP is required to be a member of a standing committee. Standing committees oversee ministries. Ministers and deputy ministers are not allowed to be members of the committees. Instead, standing committees can summon Ministers, department heads and others to attend hearings to answer questions on policy and administration. The hearings are often public. Select committees also review and refine laws and policies before they are debated in the main chamber. Aside from committees which deal with internal matters like discipline and membership, our parliament has only one standing committee: the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) – which did such a pathetic job reviewing 1MDB compared to the work of the Department of Justice, USA.

Fourth, the quality of debate in parliament is terrible. There isn’t enough time for MPs to digest the laws they have to debate and vote on because they are only given materials to read at the very last minute. This means they not only don’t have time to read the bulky materials, they also don’t have time to get local data, get feedback from their constituents and also learn how similar matters are addressed in other nations. This is why parliament not only never gets through the agenda for each sitting, but also has to “extend the clock” often and sometimes debate till 5 in the morning.

Fifth, the government does not treat opposition MPs with respect. Opposition MPs have hardly any office space in parliament and their leader isn’t treated with dignity at official functions – although she represents the side of the house which got more of the popular vote than the government (51% vs 47%). A functioning parliament will allow time for opposition business – so that opposition MPs can truly represent the people who voted for them because they thought these were the better candidates.

Finally, we note that RM18billion or 7.6% of the national budget for 2016 is assigned to the Prime Minister’s Office! This, a feature of Presidential systems, is the best proof that our parliament is a fake.

We need to strengthen parliamentary democracy. Jom Bersih!