Malaysian Civil Society Strongly Condemns the Abuse of SOSMA by PDRM

Malaysian Civil Societies and NGOs Joint Press Statement on SOSMA, which includes Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU).

Malaysian Civil Society Strongly Condemns the Abuse of SOSMA by PDRM

Malaysian Civil Society strongly condemns the high-handed action of the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) in detaining Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan under the Special Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA).

Originally presented by the government as a national security and anti-terrorism measure, SOSMA provides for up to 28 days’ of detention without trial. There is no allegation or evidence of Khairuddin having any credible terrorist background. Instead, the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has made it clear that Khairuddin was arrested for lodging reports with investigators in Hong Kong, Switzerland, France and the United Kingdom over the financial scandal involving 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Adding to the abuse of power is the fact that Khairuddin was arrested immediately when he was released by the court after six days’ remand following arrest on Friday 18 September under section 124C of the Penal Code for “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy”. His re-arrest under SOSMA was under sections 124K and 124L of the Penal Code, which deal with sabotage and attempting to sabotage the state. If found guilty under 124K he faces life imprisonment.

This pattern of arrest and re-arrest following attempts in seeking justice and information on 1MDB through other jurisdictions clearly signals persecution by the state.

Detention without trial is highly repulsive to all democratic nations, the detention of political dissenters under such repressive legislation further highlights SOSMA’s unbridled scope for abuse under its draconian measures.

Clamp down on whistle-blowers

The detention of Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan under SOSMA has undermined whatever progress Malaysia has made from the dark days of Operasi Lalang. The conduct of the Royal Malaysian Police can be seen as a pathetic attempt to answer the call of its political masters in the current turmoil. The failure to obtain the court’s permission in extension of the remand and the failure to produce any legitimate charge despite the time available for the police should have been a sufficient notice for the police to cease and desist from their harassment against Khairuddin. The decision to re-arrest Khairuddin under SOSMA immediately after the court decision to deny the extension of Khairuddin’s remand shows the true colours of the Royal Malaysian Police. The deplorable course of action shows callous disregard for the rule of law and the role played by the judiciary in the Malaysian legal system.

Corruption by any governmental body is a grave threat against the economic stability of any nation state. Further, in an environment rife with corruption, rule of law that serves as the cornerstone for any democratic nation cannot be practiced. To ensure the continuity and survival of Malaysia as a democratic state, those who have committed act of corruption must not be left unscathed. Allowing those who have conducted themselves in a corrupt manner only allows them to act with impunity and emboldens them to further destabilize and damage the beautiful country that our forefathers have built.

Can PDRM be impartial?

If we account for the gravity of the allegations made in relation to the 1MDB scandal and the great sum in question (RM 2.6billon and rising), it does not take a savant to understand that transparent and impartial investigation by all agencies involved is paramount in ensuring that the truth would prevail and justice would be served. With this in mind, the Malaysian Civil Society seek to remind PDRM of their duties and suggest that they conduct themselves in an impartial and respectable manner and provide adequate assistance to facilitate the investigation. As fellow Malaysians, the PDRM owe themselves and the country a moral and legal duty to act in an impartial manner. The potential economic damage of the alleged corruption revolving around 1MDB is not something that can be brushed off with a wave of a hand and the detention of individuals. Any attempt to further subjugate investigation would only come back to haunt Malaysians today and our future generations. As fellow Malaysians, members of the PDRM would not be safe from the repercussion and fallout from a failed investigation into the 1MDB scandal.

PDRM must be acutely aware of the role that they play and the power they hold in such times. PDRM should strive to be the independent and impartial police force that Malaysia desperately need and cease to be a political tool of those who walk the corridors of power. The decision to detain Khairuddin under SOSMA as part of this ongoing 1MDB scandal shows the world the desperation by those who walk to corridors of power today. PDRM should not debase themselves and serve as tools of such despicable acts.

Political Arrest

To the Government of Malaysia, it is clear that the promises made when SOSMA was first tabled in parliament were nothing but false promises to the people of Malaysia. The Government of Malaysia have clearly reneged on their promises and turned SOSMA into the vengeful spectre of ISA. Detention without trial on its own is repulsive enough that any individual that value freedom in a democratic nation cannot in good conscience be agreeable to legislations that grants such power to enforcement agencies and the government. The application of such measures against political dissenter marks the danger of SOSMA in modern Malaysia and cannot be anything less than a first step back to the dark ages of ISA. The chilling experience and lesson from the dark days of Operasi Lalang should have been a sufficient lesson for all. Lest concrete actions are taken, Malaysia would undoubtedly sink back to the dark days of ISA.

The act of Khairuddin as a whistle-blower does not make him a threat to Parliamentary democracy of Malaysia. If anything at all, his action should be taken as a concern for the

state of affairs in Malaysia and plea for international intervention into a corrupted and failing system. The acts of intimidation through detention under SOSMA would not preserve the national sovereignty of Malaysia. Such acts would only act as a deterrent to potential whistle-blowers that seek to inform Malaysians of the wrongdoing of others. The act of penalizing the messenger and not the wrongdoer cannot be the Malaysian way of tackling wrong-doing in Malaysia. With this in mind, we call for the Government of Malaysia to enact adequate protection of whistle-blowers and cease its detention and harassments against whistle-blowers.

Legal and moral duty of the government

On this note, we, the Civil Society Organisations of Malaysia would like to remind the government of the Right to Liberty of Person guaranteed under the Article 5 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia and the Right to Freedom of Expression provided for under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. These are rights that are paramount to the continuity of the democratic practices valued by all Malaysians. Any actions to subjugate these values and rights would by default be the true threat against Parliamentary democracy. Irrespective of the prevailing threats by various quarters, the rights paramount to the practice of democracy in Malaysia must never be subject to undue control. The Government of Malaysia would do well to remember the freedoms provided for and guaranteed by Federal Constitution of Malaysia must not be denied to Malaysians with such callousness and apathy.

May we also remind the Government of Malaysia of the obligation of Malaysia as part of the international community. As a member state of the United Nation and a representative in United Nation Security Council, the Government of Malaysia have the legal and moral duty to adhere to the human rights values espoused by international norms and the human rights conventions that they have signed. Further as a member of the United Nation Security Council, Malaysia must conduct itself in a manner that would make Malaysia an exemplary model for human rights for the rest of the world. This can only be achieved if the Government of Malaysia conduct itself in a respectable manner that would not put the nation to shame.

As a society of conscience, we Civil Society Organisations of Malaysia beseech our fellow citizens of Malaysia from all walks of life to unite against these irresponsible and reprehensible actions by governmental agencies. In these trying times, Malaysians must stand in solidarity against these actions that threaten to undo the effort of our forefathers and destroy all that we love and cherish. Malaysian Civil Society must take up the mantle of leadership in such times and show our dissent against such vile and deplorable actions by governmental agencies. Like the anti-Nazi movement at the height of the third Reich, the citizens of Malaysia have a similar duty to show the world that not all Malaysians are content with the present state of affairs and that we will not permit such acts of impunity against the rule of law and personal freedom.

Endorsed by:

Akademi Belia

ALIRAN

All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)

Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (WargaAMAN)

BERSIH 2.0

Persatuan Kesedaran Kommuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)

ENGAGE

Federation of Malaysian Indian Organisation (PRIMA)

Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia

Gerakan Hapuskan Akta Hasutan (GHAH)

Institute Rakyat

Islamic Renaissance Front

Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS)

Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU)

KL Tak Nak Insinerator (KTI)

Malaysian Indians Progressive Association (MIPAS)

Malaysians Indians Transformation Action Team (MITRA)

Malaysian Physicians For Social Responsibility

Malaysian Youth Care Association (PRIHATIN)

National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)

Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall (NSCAH)

NGO: SHIELD

Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute (OHMSI)

Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)

Persatuan Rapat Malaysia (RAPAT)

PROHAM

Project Dialog

Pusat KOMAS

Sahabat Rakyat 人民之友

Saccess

SAVE Rivers

Sisters in Islam (SIS)

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy

The Malaysian Youth and Students’ Democratic Movement (DEMA)

The Selangor & Kuala Lumpur Foundry & Engineering Industries Association (SFEIA)

Tindak Malaysia

University of Malaya Association of New Youth (UMANY)

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KPRU Parliamentary Policy Briefing on Issues of Bangladeshi and Rohingya Migrants

KPRU Parliamentary Briefing 19 May 2015

[ Policy Matters ] – KPRU Parliamentary Policy Briefing on
Issues of Bangladeshi and Rohingya Migrants

Date: 19 May 2015 (Tuesday)
Time: 1pm to 2.30pm
Venue: Meeting Room, Parliament, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Panelists:
1) Deepa Nambiar, Migration Working Group (MWG)
2) Rick Towle, Country Rep for Malaysia, UNHCR

Other representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR):

1.  Brian Gorlick – Deputy Representative
2.  Asha Dhillon – Senior Protection Officer
3. Yante Ismail – External Relations Officer

Guests:
They are all attending as members of the Migration Working Group (MWG) which is a coalition of key ngo and individuals working on the promotion and protection of rights of migrants, refugees, trafficked victims and foreign spouses.
1. Sharifah Nazneen
2. Tham Hui Ting
3. Jessica Low
4. Glorene Dass
5. Liva Sreedharan
6. Aegile Fernandez
7. Yogasri Sivanyanam

Moderator: MP Charles Santiago, Chair, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
Organised by think tank Political Studies for Change (KPRU – Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan)

Presentation materials:

KPRU Parliamentary Policy Briefing_Briefing Note MWG 19May2015 (English)

KPRU Parliamentary Policy Briefing_Briefing Note MWG 19May2015 (BM)

Ooi Heng
Executive director, KPRU
FB: https://www.facebook.com/kprumalaysia?ref=bookmarks

 

 

KPRU Parliamentary Policy Briefing on POTA

KPRU POTA Briefing 2 April 2015

[ Policy Matters ] – KPRU Parliamentary Policy Briefing on 
 
POTA and seven related bills
 
Date: 2 April 2015 (Thursday)
Time: 4pm to 5.30pm
Venue: Parliament
 
Penalists:
1) Mr Steven Thiru, President of the Malaysian Bar
2) Mr Andrew Khoo, Member of the Bar Council and Co-Chair of the Human Rights Committee
3) Mr Syahredzan Johan, Member of the Bar Council and Chair of the National Young Lawyers Committee
4) Mr Aerie Rahman, Member of the Bar
5) Ms Adriene Leong, Special Officer to the President of the Malaysian Bar
 
Moderator: MP Shamsul Iskandar, Bukit Katil
 
Organised by think tank Political Studies for Change (KPRU – Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan)
 
POTA = Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2015
 
The other seven bills:

Special Measures Againts Terrorism in Foreign Countries Bill 2015;

Prison (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2015;

Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2015;

Prevention of Crime (Amendment) Bill 2015 (POCA);

Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill 2015 (CPC);

Security Offences (Special Measures) (Amendment) Bill 2015. (SOSMA)

Evidence (Amendment) Bill 2015

for reference: https://kprumalaysia.org/2015/04/01/rujuk-pota-ke-jawatankuasa-khas-parlimen-perkukuh-peranan-ahli-parlimen/

Ooi Heng
Executive director, KPRU

Rujuk POTA ke Jawatankuasa Khas Parlimen perkukuh peranan ahli Parlimen

Rujuk POTA ke Jawatankuasa Khas Parlimen perkukuh peranan ahli Parlimen

Dalam masa dua hari, pemerintah pusat telah mencadangkan dua akta baru dan enam pindaan akta sedia ada untuk memerangi ancaman IS yang dijuga digelar sebagai ISIS (slamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) atau ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).
Tanggal 30 Mac 2015, Menteri Dalam Negeri Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi membentangkan dua rang undang-undang (RUU) yang merupaan akta baru untuk bacaan kali pertama, yakni RUU Pencegahan Keganasan 2015 atau nama singkatannya POTA, bersamaan dengan Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015., dan RUU Langkah-Langkah Khas Menentang Keganasan di Luar Negara 2015.
Sementara itu, Timbalan Menteri Dalam Negeri Datuk Wan Junaidi Jaafar membentangkan pindaan bagi 5 akta sedia ada untuk bacaan kali pertama seperti berikut:
1. RUU Penjara (Pindaan) (No. 2) 2015;
2. RUU Kanun Keseksaan (Pindaan) 2015;
3. RUU Pencegahan Jenayah (Pindaan) 2015;
4. RUU Kanun Tatacara Jenayah (Pindaan) 2015;
5. RUU Kesalahan Keselamatan (Langkah-Langkah Khas) (Pindaan) 2015.
Kemudian pada hari kedua, Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri telah membentangkan RUU Keterangan (Pindaan) 2015 untuk bacaan kali pertama.

Lapan RUU di atas adalah saling berkait dan harus dibaca bersama. Ahli parlimen, masyarakat madani dan pelbagai pihak lain prihatin terhadap pembentangan lapan RUU ini khususnya POTA kerana implikasinya adalah luas dan melangkaui persempadanan negara.
Namun begitu, apa yang pelik adalah, pada ketika ulasan ini ditulis, iaitu hampir 48 jam selepas POTA dan RUU berkaitan dikemukakan dalam Dewan Rakyat, portal rasmi Parlimen Malaysia yang telah mencapai penarafan 5 bintang daripada Multimedia Development Corporation (MDEC), masih belum memuat-naik (upload) teks kandungan RUU berkaitan ke atas portal rasminya.
Sepatutnya, dalam era internet jalur lebar, semua teks kandungan RUU dimuat-naik ke atas portal rasmi Parlimen Malaysia, sejurus selepas RUU tersebut dibaca kali pertama dalam Dewan Rakyat sekitar jam 11.30 pagi.
Walau bagaimanapun, badan pemikir Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU) telah meneliti POTA dan beberapa pindaan berkaitan dan ingin membangkitkan kebimbangan berhubung peruntukan-peruntukan dalam RUU ini yang mungkin menjejaskan prinsip-prinsip negara hukum yang menjadi asas kepada sistem perundangan dan kehakiman di negara ini.

KPRU mendapati, POTA memaparkan beberapa ciri-ciri yang dikongsi bersama sebelum Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA) dmansuhkan seperti berikut:
Pertama, di bawah subseksyen 3 (1), seseorang pegawai polis boleh tanpa waran menangkap mana-mana orang jika dia mempunyai sebab untuk mempercayai bahawa terdapat alasan yang menjustifikasikan siasatan diadakan mengenai kes orang itu di bawah POTA.
Kedua, kedua-dua “perintah tahanan” dan “perintah sekatan” boleh dilanjutkan secara infiniti.
Di bawah “perintah tahanan”, seseorang boleh direman dalam jagaan polis selama 21 hari, kemudian dipanjangkan reman dalam jagaan polis selama 38 hari, diikuti tahanan di bawah “perintah tahanan” selama 2 tahun yang oleh dilanjutkan untuk tempoh 2 tahun lagi, kemudian 2 tahun lagi dan seterusnya tanpa had.
Sementara itu, di bawah “perintah sekatan”, seseorang boleh direman dalam jagaan polis selama 21 hari, kemudian dipanjangkan reman dalam jagaan polis selama 38 hari, diikuti tahanan terhad di bawah “perintah sekatan” selama 5 tahun yang boleh dilanjutkan untuk tempoh 5 tahun lagi, kemudian 2 tahun lagi dan seterusnya tanpa had.
Ketiga, menurut subseksyen 10 (6), orang yang menjadi subjek siasatan itu dan saksi dalam suatu siasatan tidak boleh diwakili oleh peguam bela dan peguam cara dalam siasatan itu kecuali apabila keterangannya sendiri sedang diambil dan direkodkan oleh Pegawai Siasatan.
Sementara itu, menurut subseksyen 11 (2), tiada apa jua dalam seksyen ini boleh memberi kuasa subjek siasatan atau peguam bela dan peguam caranya atau wakilnya, jika ada, hadir di tempat tahanan atau penjara.
Keempat, di bawah subseksyen 19 (1), tiada apa-apa kajian semula kehakiman dalam mana-mana mahkamah mengenai, dan tiada mahkamah mempunyai atau boleh menjalankan apa-apa bidang kuasa berkenaan dengan, apa-apa tindakan yang dilakukan atau keputusan yang dibuat oleh Lembaga Pencegahan Keganasan pada menjalankan kuasa budi bicaranya mengikut POTA, kecuali mengenai apa-apa persoalan tentang pematuhan apa-apa kehendak tatacara dalam POTA yang mentadbir tindakan atau keputusan itu.
Kelima, tanpa pematuhan kepada prinsip-prinsip negara hukum secara tegas, konsep-konsep subjektif seperti “mempercayai”, ‘kuasa budi cara”, “adil’, “kepentingan keadilan” dan seumpamanya mungkin membuka ruang untuk tafsiran yang bermasalah atau penyalahgunaan.

Melihat kepada permasalahan yang wujud dalam POTA dan RUU berkaitan, KPRU khuatir kemungkinan penyalahgunaannya boleh menggalakkan rule by law dan bukannya rule of law. Justeru, KPRU mencadangkan supaya penelitian secara terperinci dan menyeluruh dilakukan terhadap lapan RUU ini.
Untuk berbuat demikian, sejurus selepas perbahasan peringkat dasar RUU berkaitan, KPRU mencadangkan, supaya RUU tersebut dirujuk kepada sebuah Jawatankuasa Pilihan Khas Parlimen yang akan meneliti RUU tersebut secara terperinci dan menyeluruh.
Hal ini kerana, dalam sistem sedia ada, di mana perbahasan peringkat jawatankuasa diteruskan dalam sesebuah jawatankuasa majlis atau Committee of the Whole dalam Dewan Rakyat, tidak mewujudkan suasana yang menggalakkan peranan perundangan seseorang ahli Parlimen.
KPRU berpendapat, praktis penelitian suatu RUU dalam sesebuah Jawatankuasa Pilihan Khas dapat mengukuhkan peranan perundungan seseorang ahli Parlimen. Memandangkan implikasi POTA dan RUU berkaitan yang begitu besar, kini masanya pihak pemerintah pisat dan pihak Speaker Dewan Rakyat mempertimbangkan secara serious cadangan ini.

Dikeluarkan oleh,
Ooi Heng
Pengarah eksekutif KPRU
1 April 2015

Three draft bills to replace Sedition Act

Preliminary drafts of the three separate bills suggested by the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) to replace the Sedition Act 1948 are as follows:

 

[A draft Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Bill](NUCC version)

A BILL

Intituled

An Act relating to the promotion and preservation of national harmony by punishing racial and religious hatred and protecting the right to freedom of speech and expression, and to provide for related matters.

[ ]

ENACTED by the Parliament of Malaysia as follows:

PART I

PRELIMINARY

1. Short title

(1) This Act may be cited as the Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Act 2014.

(2) This Act comes into operation on a date to be appointed by the Minister by notification in the Gazette.

2. Definitions

(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires –

“conduct” includes any act, deed, speech, publication, writing, statements, expressions or innuendo.

“engage in conduct” includes use of the internet, e-mail or any electronic means to publish or transmit statements or other material.

“person” includes any company, association, body of persons or public authority, whether incorporated or not.

“publication” includes all written or printed and everything whether of a nature similar to written or printed matter or not containing any visible representation or by its form, shape or in any other manner capable suggesting words or ideas in every copy or reproduction or substantial reproduction of any publication.

“race” includes—

(i) colour;

(ii) descent or ancestry;

(iii) nationality or national origin;

(iv)ethnicity or ethnic origin;

(v) if 2 or more distinct races are collectively referred to as a race—

a) each of those distinct races;

b)that collective race;

“religious belief or activity” means—

(i)holding or not holding a belief, religious belief or view;

(ii)engaging in, not engaging in or refusing to engage in a lawful religious activity

“Ruler” means the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Ruler or Yang di-Pertua Negeri of any state in Malaysia.

“words” includes any phrase, sentence or other consecutive number or combination of words, oral or written.

3. Incitement against Rulers

(1)Whoever, engages in conduct that is intended to bring into hatred or contempt of any Ruler is guilty of an offence and shall be punished with a fine of not more than RM5,000.00 or imprisonment of not more than 7 years or both.

(2) Notwithstanding anything in sub-section (1), a conduct shall not be deemed to be conduct intended to bring into hatred or contempt of any Ruler if it is to show that any Ruler has been misled or mistaken in any of his measures.

4. Incitement of racial hatred

(1)Whoever engages in conduct that is intended to threaten, incite, or incite others to threaten, physical harm towards another person or class of persons or property of that other person or class of persons on the basis of race is guilty of an offence and shall be punished with a fine of not more than RM5,000.00 or imprisonment of not more than 7 years or both.

 

(2) For the purposes of sub-section (1), conduct may be constituted by a single occasion or by a number of occasions over a period of time.

5. Incitement of religious hatred

(1)Whoever engages in conduct that is intended to threaten, incite, or incite others to threaten, physical harm towards another person or class of persons or property of that other person or class of persons on the basis of religious belief or activity is guilty of an offence and shall be punished with a fine of not more than  RM5,000.00 or imprisonment of not more than 7 years or both.

(2)For the purposes of sub-section (1), conduct may be constituted by a single occasion or by a number of occasions over a period of time.

6. Physical harm on basis of racial and religious hatred

(1) Whoever engages in conduct with the intention to inflict or cause physical harm, or with the knowledge that he is likely thereby to inflict or cause physical harm, towards another person or class of persons or property of that other person or class of persons on the basis of race or religious belief or activity, and thereby inflict or cause physical harm  is guilty of an offence and shall be punished with a fine of not more than RM10,000.00 or imprisonment of not more than 10 years or both.

7. Protection of freedom of expression

(1) Nothing in this Act shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussions or criticisms of particular race, religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents or of any other belief system, or the beliefs or practices of its adherents.

 

8. Repeals and savings

(1) The Sedition Act 1948 [Act No. 15] is repealed.

 

**

[A draft National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill]

A BILL

Intituled

An Act relating to the promotion of national harmony and reconciliation in Malaysia and to prevent unfair discrimination of persons based on religion, race, descent, place of birth, gender, or disability and to provide for related matters.

[ ]

ENACTED by the Parliament of Malaysia as follows:

PART I

PRELIMINARY

1. Short title and commencement 

(1) This Act may be cited as the National Harmony and Reconciliation Act 2014.

(2) This Act comes into operation on a date to be appointed by the Minister by notification in the Gazette.

2. Objects

(1) The objects of this Act are –  

(i) To give effect to the letter and spirit of the Federal Constitution, in particular Article 8.

(ii) To provide measures to facilitate the eradication of unfair discrimination, particularly on the grounds of religion, belief, race, descent, place of birth, gender, or disability;

(iii) To provide procedures for the determination of circumstances under which discrimination is unfair;

(iv) To provide measures to educate the public and raise public awareness on the importance of promoting equality and overcoming unfair discrimination;

(v) To provide remedies for victims of unfair discrimination, and persons whose right to equality has been infringed;

(vi) To set out measures to advance persons disadvantaged by unfair discrimination.

(2) Nothing in this Act derogates from the provisions of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

  1. Relationship with other laws

(1) This Act is to be read together with the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Act.

  1.  Definitions

(1)In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires –  

belief” means any religious or philosophical belief and a reference to belief includes a reference to a lack of belief;

complainant” means any person who alleges any contravention of this Act and who institutes proceedings in terms of the Act;

disability” means a person who has a physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities;

 

“discrimination” or “discriminate” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference, includingin policy, law, rule, regulation, practice, condition or situation which directly or indirectly imposes burdens, obligations or disadvantage on or withholds benefits, opportunities or advantages from, any person, based on religion, race, descent, place of birth, gender or disability which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise, or equal footing of rights and fundamental freedoms in the areas of education and political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

equality” includes the full and equal enjoyment of rights and freedoms as contemplated in the Federal Constitution and includes equality of outcomes;

Minister” shall mean the Minister in charge of the Department of Unity and National Integration.

person” includes any company, association, body of persons or public authority, whether incorporated or not;

pregnancy” includes any condition related to pregnancy;

race”  includes—

(a) colour;

(b) descent or ancestry;

(c) nationality or national origin;

(d) ethnicity or ethnic origin;

(e) if 2 or more distinct races are collectively referred to as a race—

(i) each of those distinct races;

(ii) that collective race;

religion” means any religion and includes any belief or lack of a religious belief;

5. General responsibility and social commitment by all persons to promote equality

(1) The Government and all persons have a duty and responsibility to promote equality.

(2) The Government and all persons must promote equality in their relationships with other persons and in their public activities.

6. Prohibition of unfair discrimination on ground of religion, race, descent or place of birth

(1) The Government and all persons shall not unfairly discriminate against any person on the ground of religion, race, descent or place of birth including-

(i) the dissemination of any propaganda or idea, which propounds the racial superiority or inferiority of any person, including incitement to, or participation in, any form of racial violence;

(ii) the engagement in any activity which is intended to promote, or has the effect of promoting, exclusivity based on religion, race, descent or place of birth;

(iii) the exclusion of persons of a particular race group under any rule or practice that appears to be legitimate but which is actually aimed at maintaining exclusive control by persons of a particular religion, race, descent or place of birth;

(iv) the provision or continued provision of inferior services on ground of religion, race, descent or place of birth, compared to those of another religion, race, descent or place of birth;

(v) the denial of access to opportunities, including access to services or contractual opportunities for rendering services for consideration.

7. Prohibition of unfair discrimination on ground of gender

(1) The Government and all persons shall not unfairly discriminate against any person on the ground of gender, including-

(i) discrimination on ground of pregnancy;

(ii) sexual orientation and identity;

(iii) the denial of access to opportunities, including access to services or contractual opportunities for rendering services for consideration, or failing to take steps to reasonably accommodate the needs of such persons;

(iv) systemic inequality of access to opportunities by a gender as a result of the sexual division of labour.

8. Prohibition of discrimination on ground of disability

(1) The Government and all persons shall not unfairly discriminate against any person on the ground of disability, including –

(i) denial of any access provided for under the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008;

(ii) denying or removing from any person who has a disability, any supporting or enabling facility necessary for their functioning in society;

(iii) failing to eliminate obstacles that unfairly limit or restrict persons with disabilities from enjoying equal opportunities or failing to take steps to reasonably accommodate the needs of such persons.

  1.  Determination of fairness or unfairness

(1) In determining whether the discrimination is fair, the following must be taken into account:

(i) the context;

(ii) the factors referred to in subsection (2); and

(iii) whether the discrimination reasonably and justifiably differentiates between persons according to objectively determinable criteria, intrinsic to the activity concerned.

(2) The factors referred to in subsection (1)(ii) include the following:

(i) whether the discrimination impairs or is likely to impair human dignity;

(ii) the impact or likely impact of the discrimination on the complainant;

(iii) the nature and extent of the discrimination;

(iv) whether the discrimination is systemic in nature;

(v) whether the discrimination has a legitimate purpose;

(vi) whether and to what extent the discrimination achieves its purpose;

(vii) whether there are less restrictive and less disadvantageous means to achieve the purpose;

(viii) whether and to what extent the respondent has taken such steps as being reasonable in the circumstances, where appropriate, to accommodate diversity.

  1.  Complaints of unfair discrimination

(1)  Any unfair discrimination under Sections 6, 7, 8 and 9 may give rise to a complaint under the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Act.

 

**

[A draft National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Bill]

A BILL

Intituled

An Act relating to the formation of the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission to promote national harmony, unity, reconciliation, integration, equality and non-discrimination and provide for related matters.

 [ ]

ENACTED by the Parliament of Malaysia as follows:

PART I

PRELIMINARY

1. Short title, commencement and non-application

(1) This Act may be cited as the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Act.

(2) This Act comes into operation on a date to be appointed by the Minister by notification in the Gazette.

(3)Nothing in this Act derogates from the provisions of the Federal Constitution.

2. Definitions

(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires –

Commission” means the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission.

Commissioner” means a National Harmony and Reconciliation Commissioner appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong pursuant to this Act.

group” means a group or class of persons who share a common attribute in respect of any of the following matters—

(i) Religion or belief,

(ii) Race,

(iii)  Descent,

(iv) Place of birth,

(v) Gender, or

(vi) Disability.

A reference to a group includes a reference to a smaller group or smaller class, within a group, of persons who share a common attribute (in addition to the attribute by reference to which the group is defined) in respect of any of the matters specified in above.

Minister” shall mean the Minister in charge of the Department of Unity and National Integration.

person” includes any company, association, body of persons or public authority, whether incorporated or not.

Tribunal” means the tribunal established under section 22.

unfair discrimination” shall have the meaning as defined in the National Harmony and Reconciliation Act.

PART II

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NATIONAL HARMONY AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION

  1. Establishment 

(1)There shall be a body corporate known as the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission.

(2)The Commission shall be a body corporate having perpetual succession and a common seal, which may sue and be sued in its name and, subject to and for the purposes of this Act, may enter into contracts and may acquire, purchase, take, hold and enjoy movable and immovable property of every description and may convey, assign, surrender, yield up, charge, mortgage, demise, reassign, transfer or otherwise dispose of, or deal with, any movable or immovable property or any interest therein vested in the Commission upon such terms as it deems fit.

(3)The Commission shall have a common seal which shall bear such device as the Commission shall approve and such seal may be broken, changed, altered or made anew as the Commission thinks fit.

(4)The common seal shall be kept in the custody of the Secretary to the Commission or such other person as may be authorised by the Commission and shall be authenticated by the Secretary or such authorised person or by any officer authorised by the Secretary or such authorised person in writing.

(5)All deeds, documents and other instruments purporting to be sealed with the common seal, authenticated as specified in sub-section 4 shall until the contrary is proved, be deemed to have been validly executed.

(6)The common seal of the Commission shall be officially and judicially noticed.

  1. Membership

(1)The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall appoint not more than 30 individuals as members of the Commission (to be known as Commissioners) on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

(2)The members of the Commission shall be full time and/or part time Commissioners.

(3)The Prime Minister shall consult with various stakeholders before making his recommendation to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

(4)The members of the Commission shall be appointed from amongst men and women of various religious, political and racial backgrounds who:

(i) has experience or knowledge relating to a relevant matter, or

(ii) is suitable for appointment for some other special reason, and  having regard to the desirability of the Commissioners together having experience and knowledge relating to the relevant matters.

(5)For the purposes of sub-section 3 above a relevant matter are those matters in respect of which the Commission has functions including, in particular—

(i) unity,

(ii) integration,

(iii)  discrimination (whether on grounds of religion, belief, race, descent, place of birth, gender, or disability),

(iv)  equality.

(6)The Commission shall include —

(i) a Commissioner appointed who is (or has been) a person with disability.

(ii) a Commissioner appointed from the state of Sabah.

(iii) a Commissioner appointed from the state of Sarawak.

(iv) a Commissioner appointed from the Orang Asli community or has knowledge and is familiar with the Orang Asli community.

(7)A member of the Commission shall hold office for a period of three years and is eligible for reappointment once for another period of three years.

  1. Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson

(1)The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall designate one of the members appointed under section 4 to be the Chairperson of the Commission who shall be a full time Commissioner.

(2)The Chairperson’s term of office shall be his period of membership on the Commission and his position shall be a full time position.

(3)A Deputy Chairperson shall be elected by the members of the Commission from amongst themselves.

(4)Where the Chairperson of the Commission is for any reason unable to perform the functions of the Chairperson, or during any period of vacancy in the office of the Chairperson, the Deputy Chairperson shall perform the functions of the Chairperson.

  1. Remuneration

(1)The Chairperson of the Commission shall be paid such remuneration and allowances as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may determine.

(2)Every member of the Commission shall be paid allowances at such rates as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may determine.

  1. Vacation of office

(1)The office of a member of the Commission shall become vacant-

(i) upon the death of the member;

(ii) upon the member resigning from such office by letter addressed to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong;

(iii) upon the expiration of his term of office; or

(iv) upon the member being removed from office on any of the grounds specified in Section 8 below.

  1. Removal and Resignation

(1)A member of the Commission may be removed from office by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong if-

(i) the member is adjudged bankrupt by a court of competent jurisdiction;

(ii) the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, after consulting a medical officer or a registered medical practitioner, is of the opinion that the member is physically or mentally incapable of continuing his office;

(iii) the member absents himself from three consecutive meetings of the Commission without obtaining leave of the Commission or, in the case of the Chairperson, without leave of the Prime Minister;

(iv) the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, is of the opinion that the member-

a) has engaged in any paid office or employment which conflicts with his duties as a member of the Commission;

b) has misbehaved or has conducted himself in such a manner as to bring disrepute to the Commission; or

c) has acted in contravention of this Act and in conflict with his duties as a member of the Commission.

(2)A member of the Commission may at any time resign his office by a letter addressed to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

  1. Executive Secretary and staff of the Commission

(1)The Commission shall appoint an Executive Secretary to the Commission.

(2)The Commission may appoint such other officers and servants as may be necessary to assist the Commission in the discharge of its functions under this Act.

(3)The Commission may delegate to any officer referred to in sub-section 2 any of its powers, and the officer to whom such powers are delegated may exercise those powers subject to the direction of the Commission.

  1. Protection

(1)No action, suit, prosecution or proceeding shall be instituted in any court against the Commission or against any member, officer, or servant of the Commission in respect of any act, neglect or default done or committed by him in such capacity provided that he at the time had carried out his functions in good faith.

(2)No action or proceeding, civil or criminal shall be instituted in any court against any member of the Commission in respect of any report made by the Commission under this Act or against any other person in respect of the publication by such person of a substantially true account of such report.

(3)Chapters IX and X of the Penal Code [Act 574] shall apply to members, officers and servants of the Commission as if references to “public servant” had been replaced with “member, officer or servant of the Commission”.

PART III

POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF THE COMMISSION

  1. General duties

(1)The Commission shall exercise its function under this Act with a view of promoting, encouraging, supporting and enhancing the development of a society in which:

(i) the people are united and integrated in diversity,

(ii) there is racial, ethnic and religious understanding and harmony,

(iii) people’s ability to achieve their potential is not limited by prejudice or unfair discrimination,

(iv) there is respect for and protection of each individual’s fundamental liberties,

(v) there is respect for the dignity and worth of individuals,

(vi) each individual has an equal opportunity to participate in society, and

(vii) there is mutual respect based on understanding and acceptance of diversity and equality.

(2)In furtherance to sub-section 1, the functions of the Commission shall be-

(i) to promote awareness of and provide education in relation to national harmony, unity, integration and equality,

(ii) to advise, assist and make recommendations to the Government for the purpose of national unity, integration, non-discrimination and equality,

(iii) to inquire into complaints of unfair discrimination with a view to resolution.

(3)The Commission may exercise any or all of the following powers for the purpose of this section:

(i) publish or otherwise disseminate ideas or information,

(ii) undertake research,

(iii) provide education or training,

(iv) give advice or guidance,

(v) conduct programmes, seminars and workshops,

(vi) issue public statements as and when necessary,

(vii) form committees and working groups,

(viii)  arrange for a person to do anything within the above,

(ix) act jointly with, co-operate with or assist a person doing anything within the above, and

(x) undertake any other appropriate activities as are necessary in accordance with the written laws in force, if any, in relation to such activities.

(4)In exercising its functions under the Act, the Commission may:

(i)  consult such persons having knowledge or experience relevant to the Commission’s functions as the Commission thinks appropriate,

(ii) consult such other persons as the Commission thinks appropriate,

(iii) issue a general invitation to make representations, in a manner likely in the Commission’s opinion to bring the invitation to the attention of as large a class of persons who may wish to make representations as is reasonably practicable, and

(iv) take account of any representations made.

  1. Promotion of national harmony, unity, integration and equality 

(1)For the purpose of section 11(2)(i), the Commission shall take measures to:

(i) to promote understanding of the importance of equality and diversity,

(ii) to promote understanding of the importance of good relations between members of different groups, and between members of groups and others,

(iii) to encourage good practice in relation to relations between members of different groups, and between members of groups and others,

(iv) work towards the elimination of prejudice against, hatred of and hostility towards members of groups,

(v) work towards enabling members of groups to participate in society, and

(vi) to work towards the elimination of unfair discrimination.

  1. Advise, assist and recommendations to the Government

(1)For the purpose of section 11(2)(ii), the Commission shall take measures to:

(i) monitor the state of national harmony, unity, integration, non-discrimination and equality,

(ii) review existing legislations, regulations, policies and practices for the purpose of ensuring compliance with this Act,

(iii) recommend the necessary measures to be taken for the purpose of national harmony, unity, integration, non-discrimination and equality, and

(iv) assist and advise the Government in formulating legislations, regulations, policies and practices .

  1. Annual report

(1)The Commission shall not later than the first meeting of Parliament of the following year, submit an annual report to Parliament of all its activities during the year to which the report relates.

(2)The report shall contain a list of all matters referred to it, and the action taken in respect of them together with the recommendations of the Commission in respect of each matter.

(3)The Commission may, whenever it considers it necessary to do so, submit special reports to Parliament in respect of any particular matter or matters referred to it, and the action taken in respect thereof.

PART IV

INVESTIGATION INTO UNFAIR DISCRIMINATION

  1. General powers to investigate 

(1)The Commission shall have the power to investigate any complaints of unfair discrimination it received from or referred to it by any person.

(2)The Commission shall have the power to refer any complaints it receives or that are referred to it under subsection (1) of a criminal nature to the Public Prosecutor.

(3)The Commission may also investigate on its own initiative of instances of unfair discrimination that it has become aware of.

  1. Complaints of unfair discrimination 

(1)Any person may make or refer a complaint of unfair discrimination to the Commission.

(2)A complaint shall be made in writing and shall include the following:

(i) particulars of the complainant,

(ii) particulars of the party complained of, if identifiable, whose action or inaction is the basis of the complaint, or if not identifiable, a description or any other particulars that are sufficient to enable him to be identified,

(iii) particulars of the unfair discrimination complained of, including the date of and place where the same occurred,

(iv) particulars of any other person who was present during or involved in the act or inaction complained of, if any; and

(v) any other details, including photographs and documents, that the complainant deems appropriate or necessary to include in the complaint.

(3)Notwithstanding the above, a complaint shall not be rejected for want of any of the particulars or details specified in sub-section 2 above unless the complaint becomes impossible or impracticable to be assessed without such particulars or details.

  1. Powers of the Commission to investigate into a complaint

(1)After receiving a complaint pursuant to the section 16, or on its own initiative, the Commission shall issue a notice in writing to the person alleged to have committed the unfair discrimination.

(2)The notice shall specify the unfair discrimination complained of and where applicable, a copy of the written complaint together with all supporting documents, if any, furnished to it.

(3)Upon receipt of this notice, the person complained of shall within 14 days:

(i) furnish a written reply denying the complaint, or

(ii) admit to the complaint and provide a draft action plan to remedy the complaint.

  1. Preliminary decision on the complaint

(1)The Commission shall, after investigating the complaint, make a decision as to whether:

(i) the complaint should be dismissed,

(ii) the complaint should be sent for Mediation , or

(iii) the complaint should be referred to a Unfair Discrimination Tribunal for inquiry.

(1) The Commission shall only dismiss complaint at this stage if it considers:

(i)  the complaint to be outside of its jurisdiction, or

(ii) the complaint is frivolous, vexatious or not in good faith.

(3)The Commission shall inform in writing to the complainant of the decision in sub-section (2) as soon as practicable.

(4)If the Commission decides that the complaint should be dismissed, the Commission shall give its reasons for doing so to the complainant.

  1. Mediation 

(1)The Commission may call the complainant and the person complained of for mediation with a view of resolving the complaint.

(2)A notice in writing shall be given to the complainant and the person complained of at least 14 days before the mediation date.

(3)The mediation shall be conducted by a Commissioner or by a member of the staff, known as the mediator.

(4)The mediation may be in public or private.

(5)The mediation shall be without prejudice and any disclosure, admission or information given during the mediation  shall not be used against any of the parties.

(6)The outcome of the mediation shall be:

(i) The complainant withdraws the complaint,

(ii) The person complained of enters into an resolution agreement with the Commission,

(iii) The person complained of furnishes a draft action plan to the Commission to resolve the complaint, or

(iv) The mediator is of the opinion that a resolution cannot be achieved through the mediation.

  1. Action plan

(1)Once a draft action plan is furnished to the Commission, the Commission shall:

(i) approve it, or

(ii) give the person a notice which—

a) states that the draft is not adequate,

b) requires the person to give the Commission a revised draft by a specified time, and

c) may make recommendations about the content of the revised draft.

(2) Before approving the draft action plan, the Commission shall first consult with the complainant, if applicable.

(3)The approved action plan shall have a timeline for completion to be determined by the Commission in consultation with the complainant, if applicable and the person complained of.

(4)An action plan may be varied by agreement between the person complained of and the Commission, taking into account the views of the complainant, if applicable.

(5)If the party complained of fails to adhere to the action plan, the Commission shall have the powers to make orders as an Unfair Discrimination Tribunal at the conclusion of an inquiry under section 26.

  1. Resolution agreement

(1)The Commission may enter into an agreement with the person complained of under which—

(i) the person undertakes—

a) not to commit further unfair discrimination,

b) to take, or refrain from taking, other than a specified action, which may include the preparation of a draft action plan, or

c) to make reparations to the complainant.

(2)Before approving the draft action plan, the Commission shall first consult with the complainant, if applicable.

(3)If the party complained of fails to adhere to the action plan, the Commission shall have the powers to make orders as an Unfair Discrimination Tribunal at the conclusion of an inquiry under section 26.

UNFAIR DISCRIMINATION TRIBUNAL

  1. Constitution of the Unfair Discrimination Tribunal

(1)The Commission shall constitute an Unfair Discrimination Tribunal when:

(i) the mediator is of the opinion that a resolution cannot be achieved through mediation  pursuant to section 19, the mediator shall refer the complaint back to the Commission, or

(ii) it makes  a decision after investigation that the Tribunal should inquire into the complaint.

(2)The Tribunal shall comprise of 3 members who shall be appointed by the Commission.

(3)The 3 members may consist of Commissioners or non Commissioners but shall have at least one Commissioner and shall exclude the mediator of the complaint.

(4)The Tribunal shall be assisted by any number of staff of the Commission.

(5)The Tribunal shall be an inquiry held by way of a public hearing.

  1. Powers of the Tribunal

(1)The Tribunal shall have the power:

(i) to procure and receive all such evidence, whether written or oral, and to examine all such persons as witnesses as the Tribunal considers necessary or desirable to procure or examine,

(ii) to require the evidence, whether written or oral, of any witnesses to be made on oath or affirmation (such oath or affirmation to be that which could be required of the witness if he was giving evidence in a court of law) or by statutory declaration,

(iii) to summon any person residing in Malaysia to attend any meeting or hearing of the Tribunal to give evidence or produce any document or other thing in his possession,

(iv) to issue a warrant of arrest to compel the attendance of any person who, after having been summoned to attend, fails to do so and does not excuse such failure to the satisfaction of the Tribunal, and to order such person to pay all costs which may have been occasioned in compelling his attendance or by reason of his refusal to obey the summons, and also to fine such person a sum not exceeding five thousand ringgit,

(v) to fine in a sum not exceeding five thousand ringgit any person who, being required by the Tribunal to give evidence on affirmation or to produce a document or other thing, refuses to do so and does not excuse such refusal to the satisfaction of the Tribunal, and

(vi) to admit, notwithstanding any of the provisions of the Evidence Act 1950 [Act 56], any evidence, whether written or oral, which may be inadmissible in civil or criminal proceedings.

  1. Legal representation

(1)Any party at an inquiry of Tribunal, as well as persons summoned by the Tribunal, shall have the right to be represented by a legal practitioner of his choice.

(2)The Tribunal shall give a reasonable opportunity for a person giving evidence at an inquiry of Tribunal to be legally represented.

  1. Conduct of the Tribunal

(1)The Commission shall have the powers to make regulations for the conduct of the Tribunal.

(2)Any party at the Tribunal as well as persons summoned by the Tribunal, may with leave of the Tribunal, examine or cross-examine any witness on any matter which the Tribunal considers relevant.

  1. Conclusion of the Tribunal

(1)At the conclusion of the inquiry, the Tribunal shall:

(i) Dismiss the complaint, or

(ii) Make a finding of unfair discrimination.

(2)Upon making a finding of unfair discrimination pursuant to sub-section 1 above, the Tribunal shall have the power to:

(i) Reprimand the person committing the unfair discrimination,

(ii) Make a mandatory order, or

(iii) Make a prohibitory order.

(3)An order by the Tribunal shall be registrable as an order of the High Court for the purposes of enforcement.

  1. Registration of order of the Tribunal

(1) On an application in writing to the High Court, an order made by the Tribunal shall, be recognised  as binding and be enforced by entry as a judgment in terms of the order or by action.

(2) In an application under subsection (1) the applicant shall produce the duly authenticated original order or a duly certified copy of the order.

  1. Judicial review

(1)Any decision of the Tribunal shall be subject to judicial review.

  1. Regulations

(1)The Commission may make regulations for the purpose of carrying out or giving effect to the provisions of this Act.

 

**

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM OF UNITY BILLS

PART A. INTRODUCTION

Reasons for the repeal of the Sedition Act

The Prime Minister made a promise to abolish the Sedition Act 1948 (“the Sedition Act”) on 11 July 2012. Relevant excerpts of his speech are as follows:

Tuan-Tuan dan Puan-Puan,

14.       Semasa pembentangan Rang Undang-undang Kesalahan Keselamatan (Langkah-Langkah Khas) di Dewan Rakyat pada 16 April 2012 yang lalu, saya telah mengumumkan bahawa Kerajaan akan mengkaji semula secara komprehensif Akta Hasutan 1948 tanpa mengetepikan apa-apa opsyen, yakni sama ada untuk meminda peruntukan-peruntukan yang sedia ada atau memansuhkan Akta yang sudah berusia lebih 64 tahun tersebut sama sekali.

15.       Kerajaan telah membuat keputusan agar Akta Hasutan 1948 dimansuhkan dan digantikan dengan suatu rang undang-undang yang dikenali sebagai Akta Keharmonian Nasional. Keputusan menggantikan Akta Hasutan dibuat kerana kita mahu mencari mekanisme yang dapat menentukan keseimbangan terbaik di antara keperluan menjamin kebebasan bersuara setiap warganegara sesuai dan selaras dengan peruntukan dan jaminan yang terkandung di dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan keperluan untuk menangani kompleksiti kemajmukan yang wujud di negara ini. With this new act we would be better equipped to manage our national fault lines. It will also help to strengthen national cohesion by protecting national unity and nurturing religious harmony.

16.       Tanpa keseimbangan yang ideal kita berkemungkinan merencatkan hak bersuara yang dijamin perlembagaan, menumpulkan daya kreativiti serta sifat inovatif ataupun membebaskan semangat cauvinisme dan ekstremis. Keseimbangan ini perlu dicapai dalam persekitaran masyarakat yang lebih terbuka dengan akses kepada lebuh raya maklumat yang mampu menyebabkan “information overflow”, taraf pendidikan dan sosioekonomi yang semakin tinggi serta tahap ekspektasi yang semakin meningkat. Peruntukan-peruntukan baru yang dicadangkan dalam Akta Keharmonian Nasional ini akan memberi penekanan kepada pemupukan semangat harmoni dan saling menghormati dalam masyarakat Malaysia yang berbilang bangsa dan agama.

The Sedition Act criminalises freedom of speech and expression if that speech or expression falls under ‘seditious tendency’ definition in the Act. The Act severely encroaches upon the public enjoyment and exercise of fundamental civil liberties.

The legislation has been widely criticised as being draconian and archaic, and undermines democratic institutions as well as being an absolute affront to democracy.

The offences provided for under the Sedition Act lacks the requirement of intention. The offences are essentially strict liability offences with no element of mens rea.

The Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Bill, the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill and the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Bill (“the 3 Bills”)

The Prime Minister also said, on 15 September 2011:

As a nation, Malaysia and all of her people now stand at a crossroads. The decisions we make today will determine the fate and shape Malaysia as it will be in the future, the homeland that we will pass on to our children and future generations. The question is, are we capable of surpassing and challenging the common suspicion that Malaysians with their diverse backgrounds, varying socioeconomic statuses and political understandings which are typical of human nature, can arrive at a consensus to not bow or surrender to the trappings of hate and distrust which would certainly drag us down into a valley of disgrace. Instead, let us all brave a future filled with hope and nobility together.

The Prime Minister in another speech on 25 December 2013 said:

So, rather than choosing this path of fighting over these differences, it is better that we find a common ground to preserve the peace, harmony and stability of the country.

Recently, in a blogpost published on http://www.1malaysia.com.my on 25 February 2014 wrote:

What we want to do is help inspire the rakyat to respect and reconnect with one another so as to make Malaysia a better home for all of us.

Former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, in a speech entitled “The Way Forward” on 28 February 1991:

The first of these is the challenge of establishing a united Malaysian nation with a sense of common and shared destiny. This must be a nation at peace with itself, territorially, and ethnically integrated, living in harmony and full and fair partnership, made up of one ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ with political loyalty and dedication to the nation.

The Working Group drafted 3 bills to replace the Sedition Act and to promote national harmony, unity, reconciliation, integration, equality and non-discrimination. The 3 bills are:
Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Bill;
National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill; and
National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Bill.

PART B. RACIAL AND RELIGIOUS HATE CRIMES BILL

Objective of the Bill

This Bill is a proposed legislation which relates to the promotion and preservation of national harmony by punishing racial and religious hatred and protecting the right to freedom of speech and expression, and to provide for related matters.

Criminalised Acts under the Bill

The Bill makes it a criminal offence to incite racial or religious hatred. Under the Bill, whoever intentionally engages in conduct that is likely to threaten, incite, or incite others to threaten, physical harm towards another person or class of persons or property of that other person or class of persons on the basis of race or religion would be guilty of a criminal offence.

The sections of the Bill have been drafted to only deal specifically with conduct which has an element of physical harm towards another person. It does not criminalise offensive, insulting or insensitive conduct. The Bill also punishes those who inflict physical harm on another person on basis of racial and religious hatred.

PART C. NATIONAL HARMONY AND RECONCILIATION BILL

Objective of the Bill

Federal Constitution, Articles 8(1) and (2) provides:

All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.

Except as expressly authorized by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender in any law or in the appointment to any office or employment under a public authority or in the administration of any law relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of property or the establishing or carrying on of any trade, business, profession, vocation or employment.

Joseph Stiglitz in his book, ‘The Price of Inequality: The Avoidable Causes and Invisible Costs of Inequality’, wrote that unfairness affects lives and productivity.

Whilst James A. Robinson and Daron Acemoglu in ‘Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty’ wrote that the modern level of prosperity rests upon political foundations and that power has to be centralised and the institutions of power have to be inclusive.

The root cause of much racial and religious tension in Malaysia may be found in inequality and discrimination. Such tensions, if not managed may give rise to disputes and conflicts.

The Bill is a proposed legislation to prevent unfair discrimination of persons based on religion, race, descent, place of birth, gender, or disability and to provide for related matters[ Undang-undang Penghapusan Diskriminasi Ras dan Etnis, Nombor 40 Tahun 2008, Indonesia].

Obligations Imposed On Persons Under the Bill

The Bill imposes an obligation on the Government and all persons to promote equality. The Bill also seeks to prohibit unfair discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, race, descent, place of birth, gender, or disability.

Any unfair discrimination would give rise to a complaint under the Bill.

PART D. NATIONAL HARMONY AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION BILL

Objective of the Bill

The Bill is a proposed legislation which relates to the formation of the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission (“Commission”) to promote national harmony, unity, reconciliation, integration, equality and non-discrimination and to provide for related matters[ Maintenance of Religious Harmony Bill 1990, Singapore].

The root cause of much racial and religious tension in Malaysia may be found in inequality and discrimination. Such tensions, if not managed may give rise to disputes and conflicts.

Matters of this nature ought not to find itself in Court which is typically an adversarial environment. Such an environment is not conducive to providing a win-win resolution.

Such conflicts and disputes in Malaysia calls for an institution to manage and resolve them.

The structure and processes of the Commission are tailored to provide such management and resolution.

Composition and Functions of the Commission

The Commission would comprise of not less than 30 Commissioners appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on recommendation by the Prime Minister after consulting with various stakeholders.

The functions of the Commission shall be the functions of the Commission shall be-
to promote awareness of and provide education in relation to national unity, integration and equality,
to advise, assist and make recommendations to the Government for the purpose of national unity, integration, non-discrimination and equality,
to inquire into complaints of unfair discrimination with a view to resolution.

The Unfair Discrimination Tribunal

The Bill empowers the Commission to constitute a Unfair Discrimination Tribunal (“Tribunal”) to inquire into complaints of unfair discrimination with a view to resolve the same. The Tribunal shall comprise of 3 individuals, with at least 1 Commissioner in the Tribunal.

The Tribunal has powers to compel witnesses and receive evidence in the inquiry.

At the conclusion of the inquiry, the Tribunal shall either dismiss the complaint or make a finding of unfair discrimination. If a finding of unfair discrimination is made by the Tribunal, the Tribunal is empowered to reprimand, issue a prohibitory order or a mandatory order.

Civil society’s Brief on the Recommended Amendments to the Child Act 2001

Amendment bill to Child Act (2001) is expected to be tabled in the first meeting of the second session of the 13th Parliament convened on 10 March 2014.

CRCM-Child Rights Coalition Malaysia in collaboration with Women’s Centre for Change, Penang (WCC) and notable child rights advocates has therefore prepared a civil society submission to propose recommendations for the amendments as to improve the situation for children in Malaysia.

Please find the Brief on the Recommended Amendments to the Child Act 2001 here: Recommendations for Child Act_FINAL_with Cover letter.

Private Members’ Bill on The Social Inclusion Act 2014

KPRU welcomes the Bill of The Social Inclusion Act 2014 as an effort to address the problem of poverty and inequality in a comprehensive and pragmatic way.

Details of the proposals contained in the draft legislation can be accessed here: Draft Social Inclusion Act 2014

 

Below is the media statement from Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM).

24 February 2014

MEDIA STATEMENT/FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GABUNGAN BERTINDAK MALAYSIA (GBM) ENDORSES

THE PRIVATE MEMBER’S BILL ON THE SOCIAL INCLUSION ACT 2014

Preamble

Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia [GBM] is a non-partisan, multi-ethnic, multi-faith Coalition of 24 Civil Society organizations (listed below) established in 2011 to champion the cause for a Better Malaysia.

YB Dr.Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, Member of Parliament, Sungei Siput has submitted a motion to the Secretary of the Dewan Rakyat to table a Private Member’s Bill entitled the Social Inclusion Act 2014 (SIA, 2014) at the coming session of Parliament starting 10th March 2014.

GBM strongly endorses this initiative as the essence of the proposed Bill is in line with GBM’s Charter that states –

There must be equitable distribution of wealth, to eradicate poverty, end marginalization and ensure the welfare of the People. Any affirmative action must be based on needs and not ethnicity.”

Background

In August 2012, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) and the Human Rights Society of Malaysia (HAKAM) presented the draft Social Inclusion Act. The proposal highlighted, that:-

·      The vision to achieve a just, equitable and inclusive society is enshrined in the Rukunegara proclaimed on the 31stAugust 1970 and that we are far from realizing the national aspiration set forth in this historic document.

·      Almost forty percent of Anak Bangsa Malaysia is still trapped in the inter-generational cycle of poverty and inequality. Poor and Low-Income households comprising 12 million citizens lack the capability to overcome the multi-dimensional disadvantages they face on a daily basis. Vulnerable individuals and groups continue to encounter prejudice and discrimination, and remain marginalized.

·      There is an increasing disconnect between our people from the Bottom 40% households with the rest of society. They are trapped in a constellation of disadvantages due to the low asset base that includes low levels of education and skills, poor nutrition and health; and unwholesome living conditions.

·      A host of social ills associated with dysfunctional families from this stratum of our society is becoming evident. Increasing rates of substance abuse, delinquency and dropouts, child abuse, crime and mental illnesses, are clear indicators that something is amiss in our beloved nation.

·      Since 1990, Income inequality has been worsening. The Bottom 40% households have an average monthly income RM 1,847 compared to RM 12,159 for the Top 20%. Their Income Share is 14.8% compared to the 48.6% share of the ‘Top 20%’ households.  And the ‘Top10%’ of households has an income share of 33.1% compared to 2.0% of the “Bottom 10%’ households.

·      Additionally there is growing inequality between the poor & low-income families and those in the middle and upper classes in terms of health status and educational achievements.

In essence, the rationale for the SIA was the need for a new paradigm that focuses on long term solutions to bring about a socially just and more inclusive society. In order to address the root causes of poverty and marginalization in a non-partisan and dispassionate manner, it proposed:-

·      The establishment of an independent Social Inclusion Commission answerable directly to Parliament. This Commission would be mandated to have oversight over all matters of poverty reduction, affirmative action and social inclusiveness.

For details of proposals contained in the draft legislation please see link below……

http://www.sayaanakbangsamalaysia.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=806:draft-social-inclusion-act&catid=53:sabm-focus-group&Itemid=92

Since September 2012 the SIA proposal has gone through a consultation process that included political parties and civil society organizations. Parti Sosialis Malaysia [PSM] and Parti Rakyat Malaysia [PRM] have endorsed the proposed Act and included it in their respective GE13 Manifesto. We believe the other parties that attended the dialogue are still studying the proposal.

Civil Society organizations that attended the dialogue acknowledged the urgent need to address the serious issue of poverty and marginalization and in principle supported the proposed Act.

In November 2012, GBM fully endorsed the proposed legislation and issued a statement on this. Please see link below….

http://www.sayaanakbangsamalaysia.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=759:gabungan-bertindak-malaysia-gbm-endorses-the-proposed-social-inclusion-act-2012-sia-2012&catid=1&Itemid=88

Rationale

The overarching reasons for this call to adopt and implement the Social Inclusion Act 2014 are:-

·      The basic needs of all our people must be fulfilled in a fair and equitable manner in order to realize a socially harmonious society that we all aspire to achieve;

·      Uplifting the socio-economic status of the disadvantaged members in our society has always been one of the main goals of all our development plans, since Independence;

·      Inculcating the spirit of self-reliance, strengthening self-esteem and upholding the dignity of our people are fundamental values enshrined in universal human rights and enjoined by all faiths;

·      Providing our less fortunate children the hope and the capability to break the inter- generational cycle of poverty and inequality is imperative; and

·      Ensuring that all will benefit – through higher productivity and a better quality of life (Nation) reduced social problems (Community); and less anxiety and stress (individual) – is the aspiration of all Malaysians.

Next Steps

We believe this legislation contains key proposals that would go a long way towards achieving the goal of a just, equitable and inclusive society as envisioned in the Rukunegara promulgated on 31 August 1970.

We appeal to the Federal and State governments to give serious consideration to this proposal and to seek ways to adopt and implement the Social Inclusion Act.

The People’s Representatives in Parliament must take responsibility. We call upon all MPs, irrespective of party affiliation, to seriously study the proposed legislation in order to support this Private Member’s Bill.

The People must know their rights and must take ownership. We call upon the people from all strata of our society to support this noble initiative and to urge their MPs to support this Private Member’s Bill.

This is indeed the time to come together as a nation to address the real issues of poverty, inequality and marginalization in a non-partisan and dispassionate manner.