Parliamentary forum on GST and 2014 Budget

Jointly organised by Political Studies for Change (KPRU) and Sekretariat Pakatan Rakyat

Date: 30 October 2013 (Wednesday)

Venue: Parliament

Opening speech: Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Leader of the Opposition

Panelists:

1.  Dr. Lim Kim-Hwa, Penang Institute

2.   Azrul Azwar, Institut Rakyat

Moderator: Ooi Heng, KPRU

Presentation material:

GST and its impact

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KPRU: Status Ketua Pembangkang wajar disetarafkan dengan Menteri Kabinet

Pendahuluan

Pada 9 Oktober 2013, Negeri Pakatan Rakyat (PAKATAN) Selangor sekali lagi menandakan peristiwa penting dalam usaha mengukuhkan sistem demokrasi berparlimen dalam negara ini dengan memberi elaun istimewa berjumlah RM8,620 kepada Ketua Pembangkang Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) Selangor setiap bulan mengikut Seksyen 5 Enakmen Anggota Pentadbiran dan Ahli Dewan Negeri (Saraan) 1980, sebagai pengiktirafan dan penghormatan terhadap peranan Ketua Pembangkang. Sesungguhnya, langkah ini merupakan perubahan yang ‘pecah rekod’ bagi memartabatkan dan menjunjung prinsip demokrasi dengan mempertahankan hak suara oposisi.

Justeru, badan pemikir Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU) menggesa Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak dengan rendah dirinya meneladani kesungguhan Kerajaan Selangor untuk mengamalkan pengiktirafan Ketua Pembangkang. Sesungguhnya, sebagai sebuah negara yang mengamalkan sistem demokrasi Westminster seperti negara-negara Komanwel yang lain, pengiktirafan terhadap kedudukan Ketua Pembangkang di Malaysia seharusnya dipertingkatkan dari segi saraan dan elaun pelbagai bentuk. Khususnya, pengiktirafan kedudukan Ketua Pembangkang adalah mustahak bagi merapatkan jurang saraan dan elaun antara Ketua Pembangkang dengan Menteri-menteri Kabinet atau Yang di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat. Padahalnya, Ketua Pembangkang sekurang-kurangnya berhak menikmati pengiktirafan yang setaraf dengan Menteri Kabinet atau Yang di-Pertua, sekiranya bukan Perdana Menteri, tanpa dipinggirkan dalam sistem demokrasi berparlimen ini.

Di samping itu, KPRU berpendapat bahawa Pejabat Ketua Pembangkang patut diberi peruntukan untuk menggaji kakitangan bagi menjalankan pelbagai tugas merangkumi pegawai penyelidik, pegawai media, pembantu eksekutif dan sebagainya seperti di negara-negara lain. Peruntukan ini adalah penting bagi membolehkan Pejabat Ketua Pembangkang memperolehi tenaga kerja yang mencukupi dalam menjalankan kewajipannya sebagai seorang pemimpin pembangkang dan juga wakil rakyat dengan lancar.

Pengiktirafan Ketua Pembangkang di Malaysia

Mengikut seksyen 3(1) Akta Ahli Parlimen (Saraan) 1980 [Akta 237][1], seseorang Ahli Parlimen yang dilantik sebagai Ketua Pembangkang berhak mendapat elaun bulanan RM3846.59, di samping elaun bulanan yang diperuntukkan untuk setiap Ahli Dewan Rakyat yang berjumlah RM6508.59, iaitu sejumlah RM10355.18. Bagi Yang di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat pula, saraan beliau ialah RM14907.20 selain daripada elaun bulanan yang kena dibayar kepada ahli Dawan Rakyat, iaitu RM6508.59, tidak kira sama ada Yang di-Pertua itu seorang Ahli Dewan Rakyat atau tidak. Secara keseluruhannya, Yang di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat berhak mendapat sejumlah RM21415.79. Saraan dan elaun bulanan bagi Menteri adalah sama dengan yang dibayar kepada Yang di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat, iaitu RM14907.20, ditambah pula dengan elaun RM6508.59, sekiranya beliau merupakan Ahli Dewan Rakyat.

Secara perbandingan dengan negara-negara yang mengamalkan demokrasi berparlimen, ataupun sistem Demokrasi Westminster yang mana ia diikuti oleh sistem berpalimen Malaysia, saraan dan elaun yang dinikmati oleh Ketua Pembangkang di Malaysia adalah tidak setaraf dengan kedudukan atau pengiktirafan yang seharusnya diberikan kepada Ketua Pembangkang, yang dilihat sebagai “Perdana Menteri dalam penantian”.

Di Britain, seperti yang dikemaskini pada 1 April 2010, Ketua Pembangkang dibayar £73,617 selain daripada saraan yang dibayar kepada setiap Ahli Parlimen sebanyak £65,738, sejumlah £139,355, iaitu £11,613 setiap bulan. Sementara itu, Menteri Kabinet dan Yang di-Pertua dibayar £79,754, ditambah dengan saraan untuk setiap Ahli Parlimen yang berjumlah £65,738, mencatat saraan sejumlah £145,492.[2] Ketua Pembangkang juga ditawarkan sebuah kereta serta seorang pemandu bagi urusan rasmi, kos dan spesifikasi kenderaan tersebut adalah setaraf dengan kenderaan yang digunakan oleh kebanyakan Menteri Kabinet. [3]

Sesungguhnya saraan Menteri Kabinet/Yang di-Pertua adalah lebih tinggi daripada Ketua Pembangkang di Britain, namun perbezaan di antaranya adalah jauh lebih kurang, iaitu hanya 4.22%. Di Malaysia pula, perbezaan saraan antara Ketua Pembangkang dengan Menteri Kabinet/Yang di-Pertua adalah mencecah 51.65%!

Di samping itu, Australia, New Zealand dan Kanada merupakan antara negara-negara yang memberi pengiktirafan yang sama kepada Ketua Pembangkang, di mana gajinya hampir setaraf Menteri Kabinet.

Di Australia, dengan merujuk kepada data yang dikemaskini pada 1 Julai 2011, gaji tahunan bagi Ketua Pembangkang ialah $116,150 manakala elaun tahunan ialah $140,910, jumlah $257,060. Elaun tahunan yang ditawarkan adalah setaraf dengan Menteri Kabinet dan Yang di-Pertua. [4] Lebih-lebih lagi, saraan kelayakan bagi Ketua Pembangkang adalah lebih tinggi daripada yang diberikan kepada Menteri Kabinet dan Yang di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat. Baru-baru ini, saraan Ahli Parlimen di Australia telahpun ditingkatkan 2.4%. Ia merupakan penambahan gaji kali ketiga dalam tempoh 16 bulan. Saraan bagi Ketua Pembangkang kini telah mencatat AUS$360,000. [5]

Di Kanada pula, Ketua Pembangkang juga diperuntukkan saraan setaraf dengan Menteri Kabinet dan Yang di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat. Ketua Pembangkang mendapat sebanyak $76,700 sebagai gaji tambahan untuk jawatannya selain daripada gaji asal untuk setiap Ahli Parlimen sebanyak $160,200 setiap tahun. Secara keseluruhannya, Ketua Pembangkang di Parlimen Kanada dibayar sejumlah $239,900 bagi setiap tahun. [6]  Selain itu, Ketua Pembangkang turut berpeluang menikmati elaun seperti elaun kenderaan sebanyak $2,000, seperti yang diperuntukkan untuk Perdana Menteri, Menteri Kabinet, dan Yang di-Pertua. Beliau juga akan ditawarkan kediaman rasmi di Ottawa yang digelar sebagai Stornoway dan berada di tempat ke-14 dalam Order of Precedence.

Begitu juga di New Zealand, saraan yang dibayar kepada Ketua Pembangkang di New Zealand adalah setaraf dengan Yang di-Pertua Speaker dan Menteri Kabinet. Saraan terkini mencapai $257,800[7] selepas dinaikkan dari $249,100 seperti yang disebut dalam Jadual 1: Gaji yang perlu dibayar, di bawah Seksyen 16 Akta Senarai Awam 1979[8] (Schedule 1 Salaries payable under section 16 of Civil List Act 1979).

Jadual terpapar di bawah menunjukkan saraan/elaun bulanan yang dinikmati oleh Ketua Pembangkang, Menteri Kabinet dan Yang di-Pertua dalam Dewan Rakyat di beberapa negara.

Jadual KPRU: Saraan/Elaun Bulanan untuk Ketua Pembangkang, Menteri Kabinet dan Yang di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat

Negara

Saraan/Elaun Bulanan (RM) untuk jawatan masing-masing

Ketua Pembangkang

Menteri Kabinet

Yang di-Pertua

Malaysia 10,355 21,416 21,416
Britain* 56,459 58,943 58,943
Australia** 62,860 58,682 59,516
Kanada 61,385 61,385 61,385
New Zealand 54,454 54,454 54,454
Singapura[9] 40,309*** 331,655 – 495,944 115,154

Hak cipta © KPRU 2013

*Kemaskini 1 April 2010

**Kemaskini 1 Julai 2011; gaji Ketua Pembangkang baru-baru ini ditingkatkan sehingga RM88,214 (AUS$360,000) sebagai ekoran penambahan gaji sebanyak 2.4% untuk semua Ahli Parlimen.

***Singapura tidak mengiktiraf Ketua Pembangkang secara rasmi, maka Ketua Pembangkang dibayar gaji sama dengan Ahli Parlimen biasa.

Nyatanya, Ketua Pembangkang di negara kita diberi layanan yang tidak setimpal. Biarpun Singapura tidak mengiktiraf Ketua Pembangkang, gaji yang dinikmati oleh Ahli Parlimen biasanya masih jauh lebih tinggi daripada gaji Ketua Pembangkang di Malaysia. Peruntukan sedemikian mengehadkan sumber dan ruang yang dapat diakses oleh Ketua Pembangkang bagi melaksanakan tanggungjawab beliau dalam sistem demokrasi berparlimen. Oleh itu, amat dinanti-nantikan sama ada Datuk Seri Najib, selaku Perdana Menteri yang turut menyandang jawatan Menteri Kewangan akan membawa berita baik untuk mengangkat kedudukan Ketua Pembangkang dalam pembentangan Belanjawan 2014 pada 25 Oktober 2013.

Peruntukan Pejabat Ketua Pembangkang dan Pegawai Penyelidik

Selain itu, dengan dukacita dimaklumkan bahawa kemudahan dan infrasktruktur di Pejabat Ketua Pembangkang adalah tidak lengkap. Peruntukan yang terhad menyebabkan Pejabat Ketua Pembangkang tidak berupaya menggaji bilangan pegawai penyelidik dan sebagainya yang mencukupi atau menambahbaik kemudahan di pejabat. Di bangunan Parlimen, hanya 3 bilik pejabat masing-masing berada di tingkat 13 dan tingkat 14 diadakan untuk kegunaan seramai 89 Ahli Parlimen PAKATAN. Apabila mesyuarat atau perjumpaan diadakan, Ahli-ahli Parlimen PAKATAN terpaksa terhimpit dalam bilik mesyuarat di Pejabat Ketua Pembangkang yang hanya dapat menampung 30 orang. Jelasnya, kemudahan dan ruang untuk kegunaan wakil-wakil yang dipilih oleh rakyat dalam pilihan raya adalah amat terhad.

Pada pendapat KPRU, imbuhan elaun wajar disalurkan kepada Pejabat Ketua Pembangkang untuk kegunaan menggaji bilangan pegawai penyelidi dan sebagainya yang secukupnya bagi meningkatkan kualiti perkhidmatan secara keseluruhannya, dan seterusnya memanfaatkan rakyat jelata dan menyumbang kepada pembangunan negara. Di negara-negara komanwel yang lain, pengiktirafan terhadap Ketua Pembangkang yang setaraf dengan Menteri Kabinet juga diadakan dengan memperuntukkan wang kepada Pejabat Ketua Pembangkang untuk membiayai kos perbelanjaan pengurusan, termasuklah bagi menampung gaji pegawai kanan, penyelidik dan sebagainya,.

Di UK, Pejabat Ketua Pembangkang diperuntukkan sejumlah wang bagi membiayai perbelanjaan pengurusan. Berikutan ialah peruntukan bagi Pejabat Ketua Pembangkang antara 1999 hingga 2012:

Tahun Jumlah (£ setiap tahun kewangan)
1999/2000 500,000.00
2000/01 513,000.00
2001/02 524,799.00
2002/03 531,621.39
2003/04 548,101.65
2004/05 563,448.50
2005/06 583,169.00
2006/07 595,999.00
2007/08 622,223.00
2008/09 647,112.00
2009/10 652,936.00
2010/11 668,606.00
2011/12 700,699.00

Sumber: House of Commons, Department of HR and Change[10]

Pejabat Ketua Pembangkang di Australia pula mempunyai sejumlah 39 kakitangan, termasuklah seorang ketua kakitangan Ketua Pembangkang, seorang penasihat kanan Ketua Pembangkang (baca: Ketua Pegawai Penyelidik), 10 orang penasihat kanan (baca: pegawai penyelidik), seorang penasihat media kanan, 2 orang penasihat media, 5 orang penasihat (baca: setiausaha kerja), 11 orang penolong penasihat, 2 orang penasihat eksekutif, dan 6 orang setiausaha/penolong kanan.

Jadual berikut menunjukkan bilangan kakitangan untuk pembangkang di Parlimen Australia (kemaskini pada 30 Jun 2011).

staffing

Sumber: Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 Annual Report 2010-11[11]

 

Prestasi Negeri PAKATAN dalam mereformasikan DUN mewujudkan demokrasi

Di negeri-negeri PAKATAN, selain daripada inisitiatif yang diambil oleh Kerajaan Selangor dalam usaha mengiktiraf peranan Ketua Pembangkang dengan memberi elaun pemandu, elaun setiausaha kerja dan sebagainya, Kerajaan Pulau Pinang turut tidak menafikan hak ADUN oposisinya dengan memperuntukkan RM40,000 setahun kepada mereka bagi membiayai projek infrastruktur.[12] Langkah-langkah sedemikian memastikan bahawa setiap wakil rakyat, tanpa mengira sama ada berasal dari parti pemerintah atau parti oposisi, masing-masing mendapat sumber kewangan untuk memberi perkhidmatan yang bermutu kepada rakyat jelata.

Tambahan pula, beberapa inisiatif bagi mereformasikan Dewan Negeri Selangor sebagai langkah mengukuhkan sistem demokrasi di peringkat DUN juga diambil. DUN Negeri Selangor telah mencipta sejarah apabila buat kali pertama di Malaysia meluluskan usul melantik wakil daripada Pembangkang sebagai Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Kira-kira Awam (PAC). Namun demikian, Ketua Pembangkang Barisan Nasional (BN) Selangor, Datuk Mohd Shamsuddin Lias telah menolak tawaran tersebut, malahan mengelakkan daripada menjalankan tugas kepada rakyat untuk dua penggal berturut-turut apabila ditawarkan sekali lagi pada tahun ini.  Penting sekali, sejak mengambil alih tampuk pentadbiran negeri Selangor pada tahun 2008, Kerajaan Selangor telah mewujudkan sistem pengawasan yang lebih ketat dan telus dengan penubuhan Jawatankuasa Pilihan Khas mengenai Kecekapan, Kebertanggungjawaban dan Ketelusan (SELCAT) yang berkuasa untuk memanggil pendengaran awam dan pembuktian berhubung pelbagai isu, tidak kira sama melibatkan wakil rakyat dari parti oposisi mahupun parti pemerintah. Melalui SELCAT, pemantauan dan penyeliaan pentadbiran dapat dijalankan dengan lebih berkesan bagi memastikan perkhidmatan yang lebih bermutu diberi kepada rakyat. Inisiatif pembaharuan sedemikian untuk meningkatkan ketelusan dan akauntabiliti pentadbiran negeri telah mendapat pujian daripada pakar-pakar perlembagaan dan badan pemantauan atau pengawasan.[13]

KPRU telah menyenaraikan dengan ringkasnya pencapaian negeri-negeri PAKATAN dalam ikhtiar mereformasikan Dewan Undangan Negeri bagi mewujudkan demokrasi yang sebenarnya, bagi rujukan Dewan Rakyat.

Negeri PAKATAN Pencapaian
Selangor –          10/10/2013: Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri meluluskan keistimewaan tambahan kepada Ketua Pembangkang Dewan Negeri Selangor (DNS) berjumlah RM8,620 sebulan.-

26/03/2013: Menubuh Badan Kebebasan Maklumat di bawah Enakmen Kebebasan Maklumat yang diluluskan pada April 2011.-

01/04/2011: Meluluskan Enakmen Kebebasan Maklumat (Negeri Selangor) 2011.-          03/2009: Menubuhkan Jawatankuasa Pilihan Khas mengenai Kecekapan, Kebertanggungjawaban dan Ketelusan (SELCAT) .

–          Sejak 2008: Melantik Ketua Pembangkang sebagai Pengerusi PAC.

Pulau Pinang –          22/09/2013: Memperuntuk RM40,000 setahun kepada ADUN pembangkang bagi projek infrastruktur.-

11/2011: Meluluskan enakmen baru yang bergelar Enakmen Kebebasan Maklumat.-

13/11/2008: Membentang usul bagi meminda Enakmen Anggota Pentadbiran dan Saraan Ahli Dewan Undang Negeri (Saraan) 1980 bagi membolehkan Ketua Pembangkang di DUN berhak menikmati elaun bulanan RM1,000.[14]

Hanya dalam tempoh dua penggal menerajui tampuk pemerintahan negeri, Kerajaan negeri PAKATAN Selangor dan Pulau Pinang telah bersungguh-sungguh mengambil inisiatif menggerakkan pendemokrasian DUN dan menunjukkan teladan kepada kerajaan negeri yang lain. Ironinya, Kerajaan Persekutuan, biarpun selepas memerintah lebih daripada separuh abab, masih gagal mencatat mana-mana pencapaian. Manakah terletaknya air muka Kerajaan BN sekiranya masih kebelakangan dan ketinggalan dalam menjunjung prinsip demokrasi sedangkan beria-ia dengan laungan “transformasi” dan “endless possibilities“?


KPRU: Uplift status of the Opposition Leader, at least on par with Cabinet Ministers

On October 9, 2013, The Pakatan Rakyat Selangor state government has again, marked a significant milestone in its efforts to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia by giving special allowances and privileges amounting to RM8,620 per month to the Opposition Leader of the Selangor State Legislative Assembly in accordance with Section 5 of the Members of the Administration and Members of Legislative Assembly (Remuneration) Act 1980, in recognition of the importance of the position of the Opposition Leader in a democratic government. This was indeed a breakthrough in upholding the principles of democracy, as well as to advocate the rights and roles of the Opposition Leader as a crucial component in a democratic government in carrying out his/her role of check and balance to the existing government.

In view of this, think-tank Political Studies for Change (KPRU) urges Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to emulate the step taken by the Selangor state government in recognising and honouring the position of the Opposition Leader. In fact, being a member of the Commonwealth and inherited the British Westminster model of parliamentary system, government should put in more effort in uplifting the status of the Opposition Leader. In particular, the recognition of the Opposition Leader is essential to bridge the gap between the remuneration and various forms of allowances received by the Opposition Leader, Cabinet Ministers and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The entitlements of the Leader of Opposition should at the least, equal to the Cabinet Ministers, if not on a par with Prime Minister, considering that the Opposition Leader is a credible Prime Minister-in-waiting. In our point of view, this is a pivotal step to cultivate and nourish a genuine democracy in the country.

In addition, KPRU opines that the Office of the Opposition Leader should receive allocation for the purpose of employing staffs such as researchers, press officers, executive assistants and so forth to manage with different tasks and affairs in Parliament. Such provision is important to enabling the Office of the Opposition Leader to obtain sufficient manpower, as well as allocations in performing and carrying out his duties and responsibilities as the Opposition Leader, as well as an elected representative of the people effectively and smoothly.

Therefore, the coming Budget 2014, which is to be tabled in Parliament on October 25 by the Prime Minister, who is also Finance Minister, has now becoming the most anticipated if good news to uplift the status of the Opposition Leader would be announced.

 

Full report: https://kpru2010.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/kpru-status-ketua-pembangkang-wajar-disetarafkan-dengan-menteri-kabinet/

【Malaysiakini】Do we really need preventive detention?

Do we really need preventive detention?
 

COMMENT Like the notorious Internal Security Act (ISA), which historically had been abused to hold political dissidents without charge, we opine that the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) may merely do little to curtail crime but wil surely threaten civil liberties and human rights. 

Under the PCA, the indefinite detention without trial has not only been resurrected, but the enforcement of PCA would also be further extended to include Sabah and Sarawak. 

azlanIn addition, there are provisions for presumption of guilt and prohibition of substantive legal recourses or judicial review, meaning that the detention order cannot be challenged in court, as well as to deny legal representation to the detainee except when his/her own evidence is taken during the inquiry process. 

These amendments blatantly violate key articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as it denies the accused the right to a full and fair trial in an open court. 

Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the UDHR articulate that: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile”; “everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him”; and “(1) everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.” 

No judicial review allowed on board decision

As a member of the United Nations, Malaysia has failed to uphold the fundamental freedom and human rights mentioned in the UN Charter.

Furthermore, there is also a board, namely the Prevention of Crime Board, established under the newly-minted PCA. With the creation of this board, the arbitrary power of the home minister is now removed and vested in an equally arbitrary proposed three-man board led by either a Federal Court judge, a Court of Appeal judge or a High Court judge. Later, the number of advisory board members was increased from three to five members. 

The board can make detention order for a period of two years if it believes that the registered person has committed two or more serious offences, whether or not he is convicted thereof, if the inquiry report finds sufficient evidence to support such finding, or if he contravenes a supervision order. 

In addition, the newly-introduced Section 15 A(1) explicitly states that there is no judicial review allowed against the decision of the board in relation to the supervision power, but only applicable on matters concerning the board’s compliance with procedural requirements. 

Contradictorily enough, the procedures are in fact determined by the board itself. Another grey area is that while Section 15A(1) precludes judicial review of the board’s discretionary powers, Section 19A(2) allows the High Court to review of the board’s decision when ordering a detention or extending a registered person’s detention period.

‘Detention without trial crucial and essential?’

Do we really need detention without trial to combat skyrocketing serious crime?

azlanThe rationale of the authorities is that the repealed Emergency Ordinance (EO) and ISA have served the country well, particularly against criminal organisations, and thus pushing for the amendments to PCA to bring back certain elements of the law, namely detention without trial, is crucial and essential.

Before this, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had promised to present data and statistics for Parliament and the public to justify his statement that 90 percent of organised crimes were carried out by ex-detainees who were held under the Emergency (Public Order and Crime Prevention) Ordinance 1969 (EO), to prove that the repeal of EO and ISA was the factor for the spike in hardcore crime.

Yet, now that the PCA was passed, there is no empirical evidence in sight. 

The perplexing question that remains is, how effective is detention without trial in combating crime? There is an important fact to be noted here that EO had never proved any of its detainees wrong in any court in Malaysia ever since its inception. In other words, none of the EO detainees were convicted by the court for the reason they were detained. 

This explains why the repeal of EO enabled the just-released 2,600 EO detainees and their loyal followers, altogether accounting for some 266,000 criminals, to roam the streets, as suggested by the home minister. 

Conspicuously, the root cause of the crime surge is not the repeal of either EO or ISA, but are precisely law enforcement process and the judicial process that have been crippled for decades in this country, as pointed out by KPRU in a previous analysis titled ‘Two Cases per Week on Average for the First Seven Months of 2013: Gun-killings are not merely a security issue’. 

Such utterly poor policing is the main factor for those seemingly guilty suspects yet to be arrested and charged in court with irrefutable evidence. Moreover, the prevailing preventive detention law should be recognised as a crutch that weakens law enforcement, which comprising the process of investigations, evidence collection, prosecution and judicial proceedings. 

In short, what Malaysian citizens need is not a convenient tool or temporary measure for the executive to simply persecute individuals in addressing the spate of crime, but essentially, a high-quality policing that is capable of curbing the crime rate in the long run without violating the fundamental rights of citizens.

Part I: Rakyat always the victims of Umno’s power struggles


WILLIAM LEONG JEE KEEN is Member of Parliament for Selayang. Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU) is a critical research institute engaged in research and dialogue to shape Malaysia’s future.

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/243598

【Malaysiakini】Rakyat always the victims of Umno’s power struggles

Rakyat always the victims of Umno’s power struggles
 

COMMENT Last week on Oct 3, 2013, the rakyat witnessed the return of detention without trial 2.0.

This time it disguised itself as the Prevention of Crime (Amendment and Extension) Bill 2013, which was passed with a voice of majority by BN MPs in the Dewan Rakyat past midnight, with the Parliament clock once again stopped for it to be voted on for the third time, since one and a half years ago.

The amendments of PCA were indeed stringently opposed by Pakatan lawmakers, Suhakam, the Malaysian Bar, the Sabah Law Association, the Advocates Association of Sarawak and human rights advocates, as it allows the return of detention without trial for years.

NONEThis is clearly an affront to the principles of justice and open for abuse.

Above all, the introduction of amendments and extension of the PCA has not only backpedaled the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s (left) political transformation programme – as he claimed that the abolishment of the controversial ISA in less than two years ago was part of his transformation programme and to uphold human rights – but also further entrenched his authoritarian administration.

Equally disappointing, Najib seemingly acquiesces with his Umno colleague’s statements which obviously disregard the rule of law and shows indifference to human rights.

The Minister of Home Affairs, Ahmad Zahid bin Hamidi in particular, was reported to have made several shocking remarks at an event in Malacca over the recent amendments to the PCA.

NONEAs the incident unfolded, it was not merely about Zahid’s insensibility or incapability in familiarising himself with the basic principles of law, but in fact reflected the arrogance of the Umno minister.

Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim (left), who was at the event when Zahid made the contentious speech, blamed the media and journalists for being unethical to report on a closed-door event that was not for public consumption, despite that the event was initially open to media. Tables were even allocated for journalists.

Attempt at Umno crowd-pleasing?

Apart from this, the racist remarks allegedly made by Zahid in claiming that the majority of gangsters were Malaysians of Indian descent whilst the victims were of another race, and therefore there was nothing wrong in arresting or shooting them, should also be highlighted.

Such insensitive and outrageous statements, particularly in the multiracial, heterogeneous society of Malaysia, is nonetheless the most common utterance of Umno’s politicians. 

It’s perceived as the most effective weapon to continually garner power to strengthen their political position within the party, as well as in the country.

ahmad zahid warn malaysiakini 041013With less than two weeks to go before the Umno supreme council elections, being one of the current vice-presidents of Umno, Zahid (right) has indeed a lot of crowd pleasing to do to secure and defend his position in Umno.

The tactics he appears to employ are firstly to voice displeasure against certain segments of Malaysian society (read, the non-Malays) while pleasing other stakeholders in the nation, and secondly, media bashing in trying to frame himself as being one of the bigger supporters of Mahathirism.

Hence, in our point of view, the amendments of the PCA to re-introduce detention without trial is to serve as a means for certain interested parties and individuals to achieve their political objectives, but not for the sake of rakyat’s safety and national security.

Tomorrow: Do we really need preventive detention?


WILLIAM LEONG JEE KEEN is Member of Parliament for Selayang. Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU) is a critical research institute engaged in research and dialogue to shape Malaysia’s future.

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/243523

PCA’s detention without trial – A continuation of Mahathirism for UMNO electoral campaign

by William Leong and KPRU

Rakyat, always the victims of UMNO’s power struggle

Last week on October 3, 2013, Rakyat has witnessed the return of detention without trial 2.0, this time disguised itself as the Prevention of Crime (Amendment and Extension) Bill 2013, which has been passed with a voice of majority by Barisan Nasional’s Member of Parliament in the Dewan Rakyat past midnight, with the Parliament clock once again being stopped in order for it to be voted on for the third time since one and a half years ago. The amendments of PCA were indeed stringently opposed by Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers, SUHAKAM, the Malaysian Bar, the Sabah Law Association, the Advocates Association of Sarawak and human rights advocates as it allows the return of detention without trial for years and this is clearly affronting to principles of justice and open for abuse. Above all, the introduction of amendments and extension of PCA has not only backpedaled the Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak Tun Razak’s political transformation programme – as he claimed that the abolishment of the controversial ISA in less than two years ago was part of his transformation programme and to uphold human rights – but also further entrenched his authoritarian administration.

Equally disappointing, Najib seemingly acquiesces in his UMNO colleague’s statements which obviously disregard of the rule of law and indifference to human rights. The Minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid bin Hamidi in particular, was reported to have made several shocking remarks over the recent amendments to the PCA. In a 20-minute audio recording of his speech delivered at the Malacca International Trade Centre in Ayer Keroh, Malacca on October 5, 2013 obtained by Malaysiakini, Ahmad Zahid was reported to have said that police are to shoot first and ask questions later. He was then proudly declared that the amendment to the PCA resurrecting detention without trial was his own law and moreover, in the event there is no evidence or there is insufficient evidence, the suspects would be put away for two years.[1] Such extravagant statements have triggered heavy criticism from both legal and human rights experts, there were even some of whom, including international body Human Rights Watch, urged for his sacking.[2]

The Malaysian Bar released its press statement on October 8, 2013 to deplore and condemn the statements by Zahid as such remarks have revealed his complete disregard for the rule of law, unconcern of human rights, as well as lack of respect for debate and argument in Parliament. The Malaysian Bar argued that his irresponsible statements could be interpreted to support extra-judicial killings by the Police.”[3] KEADILAN’s vice-president, who is also the Padang Serai MP, N Surendran also slammed on the ministry’s policy that suspected criminals are shot without warning, and said that shooting to kill suspects without warning actually breaches the law of the country as it amounts to murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code.[4]

As the incident unfolded, it was not merely about Zahid’s insensibility or incapability in familiarizing with the basic principle of law, but in fact reflected the arrogance of the UMNO’s minister. It should also be borne in mind that the reporters that attended the event, in which supposed to be a government function briefing on security matters but ended up an UMNO affair, were unceremoniously kicked out towards the end of his speech and threatened not to report the contents or otherwise he would shut down their newspapers. Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim, who was at the event when Zahid made the contentious speech, blamed the media and journalists for being unethical to report on a closed-door event that was not for public consumption, despite that the event was initially open to media as tables were allocated for the journalists.[5]

Apart from this, the racist remarks that allegedly made by Zahid claiming that the majority of gangsters were Malaysians of Indian descent whilst the victims were of another race, and therefore nothing wrong in arresting or shooting them, should also be highlighted. He then also mentioned the fatal shooting of five suspected Indian gangster in Penang in August and chastised a deputy minister, without naming him but was obviously referring to the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, P Waythamoorthy, for raising questions about the incident. Such sensitive and outrageous statement, particularly in a multiracial heterogeneous society of Malaysia, is nonetheless the most common utterance of UMNO’s politicians as it perceived as the most effective weapon to continually garner power to strengthen their political position within the party, as well as in this country in large. With less than two weeks to go before the UMNO supreme council elections, being one of the current vice-president of UMNO, Zahid has indeed a lot of crowd pleasing to do to secure and defend his position in UMNO, and the tactics he appears to employing is firstly to voice displeasure against certain segments of Malaysian society (read, the non-Malays) while pleasing other stakeholder in the nation, and secondly media bashing, trying to frame himself as being bigger supporter of Mahathirism. Hence, in our point of view, the amendments of PCA to re-introduce detention without trial is to serve as a mean for certain interested parties and individuals to achieve their political objectives, but not for the sake of rakyat’s safety and national security.

Detention without trial 2.0

Like the notorious ISA, which historically had been abused to hold political dissidents without charge, we opine that the PCA may merely do little to curtail crime but is surely threatening civil liberties and human rights. Under the PCA, the indefinite detention without trial has not only been resurrected, but the enforcement of PCA would also be further extended to include Sabah and Sarawak. In addition, there are provisions for presumption of guilt and prohibition of substantive legal recourses or judicial review, meaning that the detention order cannot be challenged in court, as well as to deny legal representation to the detainee except when his/her own evidence is taken during the inquiry process.

These amendments have blatantly violated key articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as it denies the accused the right to a full and fair trial in an open court.[6] Article 9, 10 and 11 of the UDHR have articulated that: “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile”; “everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him”; and “(1) everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.” As a member of the United Nations, Malaysia however has failed to uphold the fundamental freedom and human rights mentioned in the UN Charter.

Furthermore, there is also a board, namely Prevention of Crime Board established under the newly minted PCA. With the creation of this board, the arbitrary power of the Home Minister is now removed and vested in an equally arbitrary proposed three-man board led by either a Federal Court judge, a Court of Appeal judge or a High Court judge, which later the number of advisory board members was allowed to be increased from three to five members. The Board can make detention order for a period of two years if it believes that the registered person has committed two or more serious offenses, whether or not he is convicted thereof, if the inquiry report finds sufficient evidence to support such finding, or contravened a supervision order. In addition, the newly introduced Section 15 A(1) explicitly states that there is no judicial review allowed against the decision of the Board in relation to the supervision power, but only applicable on matters concerning the board’s compliance with procedural requirements. Contradictory enough, the procedures are in fact determined by the Board itself. Another grey area is that while Section 15A(1) precludes judicial review for the board’s discretionary powers, Section 19A(2) allows for a High Court review of the board’s decision when ordering a detention or extending a registered person’s detention period.[7]

 

Do we really need detention without trial to combat skyrocketing serious crime?

The rationale of the authorities is that the repealed EO and ISA has served the country well, particularly against criminal organisations, and thus pushing for the amendments to PCA to bring back certain elements of the law, namely detention without trial is crucial and essential.

Before this, the Minister of Home affairs, Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi promised to present data and statistics for Parliament and the public to justify his statement that 90 per cent of organized crimes were carried out by ex-detainees who were held under the Emergency (Public Order and Crime Prevention) Ordinance 1969 (EO) and thus proving that the repeal of EO and ISA was the factor of the spike in hardcore crime. Yet, now that the PCA was passed, there is no empirical evidence in sight.

The perplexing question remained is that, how effective is detention without trial in combating crime? There is an important fact to be noted here that EO had never proved any of its detainees wrong in any court in Malaysia ever since its inception. In other words, none of EO detainee was convicted by the court for the reason they were detained.[8] This explains why the repeal of EO enabled the just-released 2,600 EO detainees and their loyal followers, altogether accounting some 266,000 criminals roaming on the streets, as suggested by Home Minister.[9] Conspicuously, the root cause of the crimes surge is not the repeal of either EO or ISA, but is precisely the crippled law enforcement process and the judicial process for decades in this country, as pointed out by KPRU in previous analysis, titled “Two Cases per Week on Average for the First Seven Months of 2013: Gun-killings are not merely a security issue”[10]. Such utterly poor policing is the main factor that caused those seemingly guilty suspects have yet to be arrested and charged in court with irrefutable evidences. Moreover, the prevailing preventive detention law should be recognized as a crutch that weaken the law enforcement, which comprising the process of investigations, evidence collection, prosecution and judicial proceedings.

In short, what Malaysia citizens need is not a convenient tool or temporary measure for the executive to simply persecute individuals in addressing the spate of crime, but is essentially a high quality policing that is capable of curbing crime rate in a long run without violating fundamental rights of citizens.

William Leong Jee Keen, Member of Parliament for Selayang

Political Studies for Change (KPRU), Think Tank


2013 KPRU Internship Programme

2013 KPRU Internship Programme

The KPRU Internship Programme is now open for application. Selected candidates will attach on a full-time basis, and will be paid a monthly stipend (only a very small amount). Candidates will have the opportunity to:

  • Assist and contribute to parliamentary research
  • Gain exposure to parliamentary affairs
  • Coordinate consultative meetings and briefing sessions for members of parliament
  • Organize and participate in press conferences, discussions, political events, etc

Selection Criteria:

  • Youths between age 20-30 (students, fresh grads, post-grads or young working adults)
  • Full-time attachment, minimum period of 1 month

Details:

  • Closing date of application: 18th October 2013
  • Start date of programme: Anytime after shortlisted and approved
  • Successful candidates will be informed via email

Application procedures:

Email resume / curriculum vitae (CV) and cover letter expressing interest to ooiheng(at)gmail(dot)com

Include in your application the following:

  • Preferred duration of your attachment
  • Your education/working background and research interest
  • Your language proficiency
  • Your learning expectation