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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Australian High Court decision uphold human rights for Australian asylum seekers

The Australian High Court Judgment is to be found below...first read the report in the Australian media.


1)   The country must be legally bound by international law or its own domestic law to: 
2)   provide access for asylum seekers to effective procedures for assessing their need for protection; 
3)   provide protection for asylum seekers pending determination of their refugee status; and provide protection for persons given refugee status pending their voluntary return to their country of origin or their resettlement in another country. 

In addition to these criteria, .... that the country meet certain human rights standards in providing that protection.

It is time for Malaysia to enact laws for the recognition of refugees and asylum seekers - in which there would also be clear provisions how Malaysia will deal with people who come to Malaysia claiming refugee status...or political/social/economic/... asylum status.

Better still if Malaysia could ratify the UN Declaration and related conventions on refugees, maybe even migrant workers and their families - but Malaysia, really is not likely to do this - so the very least that Malaysia should do is to have its own laws to deal with refugees/asylum seekers...

No deal: High Court kills off Malaysian asylum seeker plan

The ruling could spell the end of the government's plans for off-shore processing. Picture: Stephen Cooper Source: The Daily Telegraph
Boat people
 
THE High Court has vetoed the Malaysian asylum seeker swap in a ruling that has smashed the Government's entire strategy to halt people smugglers.

It also could spell the end of its plans to set up any off-shore processing of refugee applications.

The Full Bench, in an expedited judgment, found by six to one that Malaysia was not bound to look after the human rights of the 400 asylum seekers now under Australian care.

It found Immigration Minister Chris Bowen could not declare Malaysia to be a country where people could be sent to be processed as refugees.

The court ruled that no country could receive asylum seekers from Australia unless it was legally bound by international law or its own domestic law to provide access for asylum seekers to protection pending processing of their applications for refugee status.

Malaysia is not a signatory of the United Nations conventions on refugees.

“Today the High Court held invalid the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship's declaration of Malaysia as a country to which asylum seekers who entered Australia at Christmas Island can be taken for processing of their asylum claims,'' said a statement from the court.

“After an expedited hearing before the Full Bench, the court by majority made permanent the injunctions that had been granted earlier and restrained the minister from taking to Malaysia two asylum seekers who arrived at Christmas Island, as part of a larger group, less than four weeks ago.''

The matter came before the nation's superior court after an application made on behalf of a 16-year-old boy and a 24-year-old Afghan man who, their lawyer said, were petrified with fear about being sent to Malaysia.

The High Court spent a day-and-a-half considering the issue before reserving its ruling until today.

One issue raised by the legal team for the detainees on Christmas Island was the ability of Australia to guarantee the human rights of the 800 asylum seekers sent to Malaysia.

Commonwealth Solicitor-General Steven Gagler told the court the agreement and declaration of Malaysia as a suitable destination was legal and met the obligations Australia has under the UN refugee convention.

Liberal immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said before the ruling was handed down that a victory for the Government would not mean endorsement of the merits of the swap deal.

“If the Government is successful today in the High Court then that would basically just be an acknowledgment by the court that the minister has the power to make this decision,'' Mr Morrison told ABC Radio.

“It won't be any reflection of whether it's a good policy or a bad policy or whether it's a policy that provides protection to refugees. It will simply be a decision by the court about the minister's powers under the act."

Mr Morrison later called the ruling “a devastating blow for a grossly incompetent government’’.

“This is part of a continuing pattern of failure from a Government that just can’t get anything right,’’ Mr Morrison said.

Legal experts said the Government’s only option might be to change legislation, but it would be unlikely to get the backing of the Greens and Liberals to pass legal changes.

“It’s difficult to see how this situation could be rectified,’’ ANU law professor Penny Matthews told SkyNews.

“Malaysia would have to become party to relevant treaties in an awful hurry and they are not necessarily going to do that.

“So I think this means it’s the end of the Malaysian swap.’’

Prof Matthews said the Government might be able to continue with plans to set up a processing centre on Papua-New Guinea’s Manus Island if it can overcome the country’s approach to human rights.

“With Papua-New Guinea it is a party to the refugee convention although it does have significant reservations,’’ she said.

“When countries become party to a treaty they can say there are certain provisions they will not abide by.

“So Papua-New Guinea for example has significant reservations about the right to liberty in the refugee convention.’’
The Opposition denies the decision would also undermine its chief option of re-opening the detention centre in Nauru.

The court was specific about that in their commentary in the judgement, and Nauru is set to sign the convention, Mr Morrison told news.com.au.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen this afternoon said people smugglers will capitalise on the court decision.

He said the High Court had applied “a new test to how protection should be demonstrated''.

“Clearly, that is something that had not been understood before,'' he said, defending the Government's legal advice.

Mr Bowen declined to rule out sending people to Nauru but said urgent legal advice was needed with regard to other off-shore processing proposals.

He added it “is a significant blow'' to the Government's efforts to stop people smugglers, who had been in retreat since the Malaysian plan was announced on May 7.

“You can expect people smugglers to be capitalising on this arrangement, and to say, You can come to Australia now because the Malaysia agreement has been ruled invalid by the High Court,'' the minister told reporters.

He said Cabinet would consider the fate of the 330 boat people who were to have been sent to Malaysia.

Australia will take all the 4000 processed refugees to come from Malaysia, but might reduce the overall humanitarian intake to fit them in.

“I have a responsibility to see this job through,'' said Mr Bowen.

“It's a difficult job. It's perhaps, it would be fair to say, the hardest job I've ever done.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/national/high-court-rules-malaysian-swap-deal-unlawful/story-e6frfkvr-1226126528979#ixzz1WbDkdVmW

31 August 2011

PLAINTIFF M70/2011 v MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP

PLAINTIFF M106 OF 2011 BY HIS LITIGATION GUARDIAN, PLAINTIFF M70/2011 v MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP

Today the High Court held invalid the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship's declaration of Malaysia as a country to which asylum seekers who entered Australia at Christmas Island can be taken for processing of their asylum claims.  After an expedited hearing before the Full Bench, the Court by majority made permanent the injunctions that had been granted earlier and restrained the Minister from taking to Malaysia two asylum seekers who arrived at Christmas Island, as part of a larger group, less than four weeks ago.

The Court also decided that an unaccompanied asylum seeker who is under 18 years of age may not lawfully be taken from Australia without the Minister's written consent under the Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946 (Cth).  The Court granted an injunction restraining the Minister from removing the second plaintiff, an Afghan citizen aged 16, from Australia without that consent.

The Court held that, under s 198A of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth), the Minister cannot validly declare a country (as a country to which asylum seekers can be taken for processing) unless that country is legally bound to meet three criteria.; The country must be legally bound by international law or its own domestic law to: provide access for asylum seekers to effective procedures for assessing their need for protection; provide protection for asylum seekers pending determination of their refugee status; and provide protection for persons given refugee status pending their voluntary return to their country of origin or their resettlement in another country.  In addition to these criteria, the Migration Act requires that the country meet certain human rights standards in providing that protection.

The Court also held that the Minister has no other power under the Migration Act to remove from Australia asylum seekers whose claims for protection have not been determined.  They can only be taken to a country validly declared under s 198A to be a country that provides the access and the protections and meets the standards described above.  The general powers of removal of "unlawful non-citizens" given by the Migration Act (in particular s 198) cannot be used when the Migration Act has made specific provision for the taking of asylum seekers who are offshore entry persons and whose claims have not been processed to another country, and has specified particular statutory criteria that the country of removal must meet.

On the facts which the parties had agreed, the Court held that Malaysia is not legally bound to provide the access and protections the Migration Act requires for a valid declaration.  Malaysia is not a party to the Refugees Convention or its Protocol.  The Arrangement which the Minister signed with the Malaysian Minister for Home Affairs on 25 July 2011 said expressly that it was not legally binding.  The parties agreed that Malaysia is not legally bound to, and does not, recognise the status of refugee in its domestic law.  They agreed that Malaysia does not itself undertake any activities related to the reception, registration, documentation or status determination of asylum seekers and refugees.  Rather, the parties agreed, Malaysia permits the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ("UNHCR") to undertake those activities in Malaysia and allows asylum seekers to remain in Malaysia while UNHCR does so. 

The Court emphasised that, in deciding whether the Minister's declaration of Malaysia was valid, it expressed no view about whether Malaysia in fact meets relevant human rights standards in dealing with asylum seekers or refugees or whether asylum seekers in that country are treated fairly or appropriately.  The Court's decision was based upon the criteria which the Minister must apply before he could make a declaration under s 198A.

This statement is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the High Court or to be used in any later consideration of the Court’s reasons.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Najib's exceptionall win in 2008 GE may require further inquiry

In the 2008 elections, there was something odd about Pekan. In 1999, Najib won with a majority of 241, and in 2004 this majority grew to 22,922, and in 2008, when the whole country, especially the Peninsular, suffered a loss of support for BN, Najib's majority increased to 26,464

In 1999,  26,055 persons cast their votes (and that was 73.2% of all voters), and in 2008, 47,869 (82.2%) voted, and in light of the revelations today - one wonder whether there was some hanky panky. There could have been a change of heart amongst those who voted in 1999, or there may be just too many 'new voters' in 2008, about 21,814 and almost all of them voted for Najib and BN. Why did this happen when the general trend was towards a rejection of BN?


Below, a posting entitled "The Pekan Electoral Miracle", which I found whilst surfing the net which may be interesting readinbg. I have not had the time to check the facts contained therein. I must state that the posting of this blog-post by one 'guansin' in no way should be construed as being my endorsement or support for what is stated therein. It is merely one persons comments and views, and we should always consider different views, comments and analysis and make up our own mind.

In comparison, my views on this matter,as appeared in an earlier posting of mine, relying on information obtained from the SPR website is to be found below.


The Pekan electoral miracle

Today I want to be a little academic, by defining a term that I coin: Pekan electoral miracle.

It refers to a phenomenon whereby the incumbent candidate of a parliamentary seat has managed to turn around his fortune from a slim majority of 241 votes in 1999 to a majority of 22,922 in 2004, and eventually to a majority of 26,464 in 2008 (”the extreme peak”).

The phenomenon occurs in, guess what, Pekan, of course, hence the name “Pekan electoral miracle”. The incumbent candidate is none other than the prime minister-in-waiting and the current finance minister Najib Tun Razak.

See details below.
pekan-details

The phenomenon is special in two ways:
  1. the upswing of 2004 (from 1999) is extraordinary in scale, usually beyond any practicality in any real electoral campaign;
  2. the increase in majority in 2008, even after the extraordinary upswing of 2004, goes against the norm of 2008 general elections.
First point is easy to illustrate, as shown in the chart below:
pekan-majority

The upswing of 2004 is 9,500% in 1999 term. The extraordinary scale is partially diluted by the increase in total votes from 1999 to 2004. Factoring this in (by measuring as a proportion to the total votes), the upswing of 2004 is still a staggering 6,494%. In one is to translate this into reality, it means either drastic change of mind in large proportion of the voters in Pekan, or the incumbent was doing extremely well on the campaign, or something unexplained is at play.

To illustrate point 2, I put Pekan into two sets of comparative analysis. In the first analysis, Pekan is analysed along its neighbouring constituencies. The idea here is that if there are large number of people changing their mind, it should not be restricted to people within a particular area. I want to prove this (large number of people changing their mind) is not the case. In the second analysis, Pekan is compared to three other seats held by BN leaders of equal stature to the incumbent of Pekan. The idea here is to test two factors: Malaysia’s elections are generally going by party line and swing of voters are more or less consistent across the country.

According to the electoral map on undi.info below, Rompin, Kuantan, Paya Besar and Maran are its neighbours.
pekan-map

Below is the details of first analysis comparing Pekan to its neighbouring seats:
pekan-neighbours1
pekan-neighbours-chart1
The trend demonstrated by Pekan from 1999 to 2008 is clearly extraordinary.

In the second comparative analysis, Pekan (Najib Tun Razak) is compared against Kepala Batas (Abdullah Badawi), Pagoh (Muhyiddin Md Yassin) and Johor Bahru (Shahrir Abdul Samad).

pekan-peers
pekan-peers-chart

Pekan was clearly going against the trend in 2008.

With these extraordinary observations in Pekan, the only conclusion is “miracle”. Hence the phenomenon called Pekan electoral miracle.

Since miracle does not and should not happen too often, we can only hope that Kuala Terengganu, which is holding its by-election polling tomorrow, is not another one. - Source: AirKosong.com Blog

See also an earlier post in 2008, in which I discussed this oddity in the results of PEKAN, an extract from this post is as follows:-

My only concern is the corruption, the threats and promises which may be there in the coming Permatang Pauh Parliamentary election - and beware, Najib may lead the campaign for the BN and there are still questions how Najib did so well in the last GE2008 by winning with a majority of 26,464, compared to a majority of 22,922 (2004) and 241 (1999).

GE2008:
P85 - PEKANTurnout : 47869 (82.2%) Spoilt: 1261
Voters: 58217

 * Mohd Najib Abdul Razak (BN - UMNO)36262Maj: 26464
Khairul Anuar Ahmad Zainudin (OPP - PKR)9798


GE2004
Mohd Najib Abdul Razak (BN - UMNO)31956Maj: 22922
Zakaria Dahlan (OPP - PAS)9034












General Elections 1999
Ramli Mohamed (OPP PAS)
12907
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (BN UMNO)
13148


Total Votes cast % Votes cast Spoilt Votes Majority Votes
26055 73.2 631 241
Well, when results all over the country saw an increase in votes for the opposition and a decrease of votes for the BN candidate - Mohd Najib Abdul Razak saw an increase. Either, the constituents really liked this man OR... Anyway, the involvement of Najib in the Permatang Pauh by-elections must be a concern for Anwar .. - Wan Azizah, Permatang Pauh, Anwar and "arrest'

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Teoh Beng Hock RCI - Was it an investigation or a justification exercise?

I am just shocked and  disappointed with the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI).
Did anyone see him committing suicide? Was it recorded by any CCTV?
Did Teoh Beng Hock have suicidal tendencies before? Was there any psychological evaluation done before the death? If no, how can you even make conclusions/assumptions of whether he is 'suicidal' or likely to be 'suicidal'? This was a young man in the prime of his life - with a great future ahead of him - a most unlikely candidate for suicide, a most unlikely person to open window and jump out to his death at the MACC building
Having read what I knew about Teoh Beng Hock - he certainly does not seem a person who will commit suicide -- and for what? the MACC investigations? the possibility of being charged in court and found guilty?

I wonder whether the inquiry was an inquiry at all - or was it just an exercise to paint a convincing story that it was suicide - an exercise of justification?
Must read the full report though before making any final conclusions, and the above are just my initial impressions on what I have read this far. Is the report of the RCI available free online, which should be the case? 

TBH 'suicide' finding: Impossible does not happen
CT Wong
Aug 20, 11
11:36am

Extracts from Teoh Beng Hock Royal Commission of Enquiry:

Decision on the second term of reference:
[119] "Having considered all the evidence in its entirety, we found that TBH was driven to commit suicide by the aggressive, relentless, oppressive and unscrupulous interrogation to which he was subjected by certain officers of the MACC who were in the ongoing operation by the Selangor MACC on the night of the 15th and into the morning of the 16th."


Forensic psychiatric aspects:

NONE[233] "Tormented by this predicament, TBH experienced a change in his state of mind. And in a matter of hours, this change transformed him from being in the low-risk group for suicide into the high-risk group. The doubts, extreme emotional conflict and the immense feeling of guilt were all intolerable. Finally, precipitating the irreversible crisis that happened to him between 3.30am and 7am on the 16th, was the last straw that broke the camel's back.

Finding no viable strategies to surmount the hurdle of accusations levelled, he found himself unable to escape from the suffocating quagmire in which he was trapped. TBH would have felt trapped and have succumbed to despair. Since the window on the 14th floor was either open or could be easily opened and it was conspicuous and easily accessible near where he was on the sofa outside Nasdzri's room, TBH would have found that the only way for escape from the torment he was undergoing was by jumping out of the window, even though it meant taking his own life...."

Introduction

Self-inflicted death must have meaning and a reason. In Teoh Beng Hock's death, we find neither meaning nor a reason for taking his own life, if we accept the findings of the TBH royal commission of inquiry.

azlanSuicide is rare. It is even rarer for a normal person without abnormal psychology to commit suicide.

It is hard to believe suicide can happen within few hours of experiencing trauma. Hopelessness as an acute warning sign of suicide most often takes time to develop, days or weeks if not months. RCI has confirmed that TBH was "driven to commit suicide" within hours. The impossible does not happen and the improbable only happens very rarely.

This suicide verdict goes very much against common sense and the intuition of many Malaysians. A closer look is hence necessary to critically examine how the RCI arrived at such conclusion and whether the RCI has proved TBH's intention to suicide.

The focus of study here is essentially of the psychological aspects of the section on 'Forensic psychiatric aspects', pages 64 to 72 of the Report of the Royal Commission of Enquiry into the death of Teoh Beng Hock (hereafter called RCI).

Serious flaws in RCI conjecture

NONERCI evaluated the evidence from forensic pathology and concluded that TBH fell to his death; and from forensic psychiatry that TBH would have jumped to his death. These conclusions are used as reasons to support the suicide verdict that TBH was driven to commit suicide.

However, there are serious flaws observed in RCI's argument. The authenticity of the evidence of intention to suicide used to support the claim is doubtful. Also, the inference from evidence to the conclusion of suicide is invalid and unsound.

The commissioners' method of reconstructing TBH's psychological state prior to death is questionable. The suicide verdict is examined here from the perspective of suicide.

Making attributions minus the proof


One of the two main terms of reference as spelt out in the RCI is "...to enquire into the death of Teoh Beng Hock and the circumstances surrounding and contributing to his death. It does not state clearly whether 'death' means the cause of death (e.g. major injuries, heart attack etc.) or the manner of death (natural causes, accident, homicide or suicide)."

teoh beng hock plaza masalam macc sprm 160709 candlelight vigil flower pictureBy RCI's verdict of the enquiry, it had taken to itself the responsibility to determine the manner or mode of death.

As for the requirement of the level of proof, RCI stated that their finding would be based on "a balance of probabilities sliding to proof beyond reasonable doubt" (RCI pp.5). This means RCI claims its standard of proof is very high. Also, it says that in order to "understand the probability that TBH took his own life", it is crucial to know TBH's traits of character and his changing states of mind (RCI, pp 64).

It is clear from the above that RCI intended to use the language of probability in the reasoning in the argument. However, the RCI commissioners used the language of certainty when giving the verdict of "driven to commit suicide"; it does not say something like "TBH probably or most probably was driven to commit suicide", but asserted that TBH was "driven to commit suicide".

The commissioners should not use categorical terms of suicide in absolute certainty as the precise mental state of the deceased could not be known.
Purported intention to suicide unconvincing
When read closely, the RCI para [233] on "conclusion on forensic psychiatric aspects" does not confirm that TBH intended to commit suicide but speculated that TBH must have committed suicide:

seri kembangan memorial teoh beng hock 190709 wreath"...TBH would have found that the only way for escape from the torment he was undergoing was by jumping out of the window, even though it meant taking his own life." (RCI, pp 72).
However, such speculation is used as the reason to come to the suicide verdict: "...Having considered all the evidence in its entirety, we found that TBH was driven to commit by the aggressive, relentless, oppressive and unscrupulous interrogation to which he was subjected by certain officers of the MACC.." (RCI, pp 37).

Para [233] is of utmost importance in determining whether TBH had the intention to suicide. RCI was unable to confirm the intention to suicide and yet it confirmed suicide had occurred. This is a deep contradiction and the inference is seriously flawed.

RCI is using strange logic intelligible only to itself. It runs something like this: Teoh Beng Hock would have found suicide as the only way out. Therefore, TBH committed suicide. Speculation has then become hard fact. There is little wonder that the public refuses to accept the verdict.

But, why must RCI deliver a suicide verdict? Why not an open verdict? We do not know for what reasons the commissioners felt compelled or were compelled to make a verdict that contradicts its own reasoning. With an unconvincing verdict, the reasoning itself in the RCI needs to be examined critically.

Missing mark in suicide definition

According to De Leo, Burgis, Bertolote, Kerkhof and Bille-Brahe (2006), the World Health Organisation working group had proposed a standard definition for the study of suicide:

NONE"Suicide is an act with a fatal outcome which the deceased, knowing or expressing a fatal outcome had initiated and carried out with the purpose of provoking the changes he desired (WHO/Euro, 1986)".

The key elements of the WHO's definition involve: 1) an awareness that action has fatal outcome, 2) the self-responsibility of the subject both to initiate and to carry out the suicidal behaviour and 3) the intention to bring about wanted changes.

RCI's verdict of "driven to suicide" is not in accordance with WHO's definition of suicidal behaviour. RCI's speculation of TBH's thinking of "...would have found that the only way of escape...jumping out of the window" can only be described as suicidal thoughts rather than an act that was initiated and carried out by TBH himself.

By WHO's definition, one cannot force another to commit suicide without one's intention to commit suicide. One can force another to kill him/herself which is considered as homicidal. In 22 state and three territories of the United States of America, even assisting in suicide is a crime and the charge is murder.

RCI has not proved the crucial elements of suicide: (1) the locus of origin (self-initiated) and (2) the intention (to cause, or not to cause death). Neither has RCI proved that TBH was aware or conscious of the potential of fatal outcome.

The RCI verdict is therefore conceptually illogical.

RCI lacking legitimate psychology data

To establish suicide or suicidal behaviour, from the legal point of point of view, both the physical act (actus reas) and the mental element (mens reas) must be present; the mental element is intentionality i.e. the intention to suicide. It is self-evident that evidence must be produced to support any claims of suicide as the manner of death.

From the psychological point of view, the legitimate data which can or should be used as evidence are derived from experimental methods, observations and introspections.

There are 4 different types of data:
  • behavioural data;
  • personal accounts of inner experience;
  • symbolic data (symbolic creations of the mind such as texts or the language used);and,
  • material data like the biological data and neuropsychological data
Behaviour is what can be seen or observed from the outside. The data gained and evaluated is called outsider viewpoint without going into the mental state of the subjects studied.

The inner experiences involve the feelings, emotions, beliefs, thoughts, reasons, motives and intentions. The data gained/evaluated is called the insider viewpoint.

These cannot be seen directly from outside and can only be accessible to others through verbal or written reports or inferred from non-verbal behaviour.

Insider viewpoint without evidence

RCI had provided an insider viewpoint of TBH's psychological state of mind without giving any basis of how the data of inner experiences were collected and evaluated. It is more appropriate to say that RCI reconstructed the reality of TBH's psychological state in such a way that the suicide verdict is inescapable. This is a serious flaw of RCI's reasoning.

The relevant passage is found in RCI para [233] page 72 (in italics below) and my comment run as follows:

a) "Tormented by this predicament, TBH experienced a change in his state of mind."

My comments: How did the commissioners know of TBH's torment of predicament and inner experience of psychological changes? What evidence?

b) "And in a matter of hours, this change transformed him from being in the low-risk group for suicide into the high-risk group."

My comments: Why the immediate grouping into suicidal and not other category? How likely is that within a matter of hours a person becomes suicidal? Having suicidal thoughts is different from suicidal behaviour. What evidence of suicidal behaviour is there with TBH?

c) "The doubts, extreme emotional conflict and the immense feeling of guilt were all intolerable."

My comments: Guilt is an inner emotion and thought. How do the commissioners know? What evidence of TBH's inner feelings was being manifested?

d) "Finally, precipitating the irreversible crisis that happened to him between 3.30am and 7.00 on the 16th, was the last straw that broke the camel's back."

My comments: Metaphor is no substitute for hard evidence. What really happened?

e) "Finding no viable strategies to surmount the hurdle of accusations levelled, he found himself unable to escape from the suffocating quagmire in which he was trapped."

My comments: When and how did the commissioners know that TBH knew of no other viable strategies?

f) "Losing all hope, TBH would have felt trapped and have succumbed to despair."

My comments: When and how did the commissioners know that TBH had lost all hope?

NONEg) "Since the window on the 14th floor was either open or could be easily opened and it was conspicuous..., TBH would have found that the only way for escape from the torment he was undergoing was by jumping out of the window, even though it meant taking his own life."

My comments: How did the commissioners know TBH's intention to suicide?

The above reconstruction sounds more like a survivor's account of a suicide attempt.

Reconstruction and interpretation of suicidal thoughts and behaviour must relate to legitimate data. Without a proper and sound method of data collection and interpretation, we can only infer that the data is manufactured out of imagination.

RCI couldn't have known

RCI had used various terms like "extreme emotional conflict", "guilt...all intolerable", "irreversible crisis", "losing all hope", "succumbed to despair" to give an account TBH's subjective psychological state of mind after the interrogations.

Then, they described TBH's judgement of the extreme situation as "no viable strategies", "unable to escape" and "trapped". The depiction of TBH's immense emotional turmoil and the judgement of "no escape" was framed in such a way as to lead to the inevitable consequence of "jumping out of the window".

The way that extremes in emotion and impairment in judgement are attributed to TBH without any correlation to any specific time, specific location, specific events and specific details raises the serious doubt of its authenticity.

Highly subjective, loaded phraseology

RCI used a large amount of rather emotional, subjective and value-judgement words and phrases to describe TBH's state of mind. For example:

NONE"[219]...Taking his mobile phone away would have meant robbing him of his means to reality and sanity. And the MACC officers did just that. Thus, for the first time in his life, TBH found himself totally and completely isolated from the outside world and thrust into desolation..." (RCI, pp.71)

Are the commissioners suggesting that TBH was losing his sense of reality and sanity just because of a handphone? And suggesting that TBH was going insane?

And how do they know that it was the first time in TBH's life that he felt "totally and completely isolated"? Presumably, they had special access into TBH's autobiographical memories and all the life stories.

The first sentence of the RCI finding using a third-person perspective speaks of "...would have meant...". But by the third sentence, a speculation by RCI had become a fact - "TBH found himself totally....". It is a remarkable feat to blur the reality by switching from one dimension of reality to another.

It is important to analyse this short passage as the whole argument for the suicide verdict is constructed using similar lines of reasoning or reconstruction of mental reality.

Risk factors not causal factors

Risk factors are still risk factors, however high or acute it is. Risk factors are not causal factors unless proven so.

Jcoroner court teoh beng hock inquest visit macc 070809 gobin singh.jpgust because RCI suggests that someone feels trapped and troubled by hopelessness does not mean that the individual would commit suicide. In fact, even most people who have previously harboured suicidal thoughts still do not do so.

All the three psychiatrists who gave expert opinion to the RCI were of the view that TBH belonged to the low-risk group for suicide after reviewing TBH's life history against the risk factors.

The psychiatrists were Dr Badi'ah Yahya, a forensic psychiatrist and Dr Nor Hayati Ali from the Ministry of Health, and Paul Edward Mullen, emeritus professor of forensic psychiatry, Monash University, Australia. Dr Badi'ah and Dr Hayati based their argument on the observation that TBH came from an intact family, had a stable job, and had no history of mental illness, impulsivity or substance abuse.

However, RCI ignored the expert opinions of the low probability of suicide and argued that TBH had undergone dramatic psychological changes from the low-risk group to the high-risk group for suicide when taken in by the MACC on July 15, 2009.

Quite early in their argument, RCI chose to categorise that TBH belonged to a high-risk group for suicide. Instead of choosing to argue out what was the probability of each manner of death (natural, accident, homicide or suicide), RCI ruled out all other scenarios and was fixated on the sole verdict of suicide.

RCI then used the hypothesised emotional state to justify suicide was the only way out for TBH.

No warning signs of suicide

RCI adopted the approach of insider viewpoint in arguing for the suicide verdict. RCI first classified TBH belonging to high-risk group for suicide and then provided purported details of TBH's inner emotions and thoughts before he purportedly took the decision to 'jump'.

From their approach, we would have expected that RCI had managed to gather evidence of signs of TBH of wanting to commit suicide. Strangely, no such evidence was produced.

According to the American Association of Suicidology, a person in acute risk for suicidal behaviour most often will show the following warning signs:
  • "Threatening to hurt or kill himself or herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and/or
  • Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or
  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary."
RCI had not provided any credible and convincing evidence that TBH had suicidal thoughts or suicidal behaviour. It is at best mere speculation and at worst the manufacture of inner experience of a supposedly insider viewpoint.

RCI had failed immensely to establish TBH's intention to suicide.

TBH stable and supported

Van Orden et al. (2010) proposed that the most dangerous form of suicidal desire is caused by the simultaneous presence of two factors - the thwarted belongingness (I am alone) and perceived burdensomeness (I am a burden) - and the hopelessness of these situations.

Also, the individual must acquire the capacity to engage in suicidal behaviour.

It is most unlikely that TBH would have felt hopeless when he was only detained less than 24 hours and there were ample opportunities for him to be reconnected to the outside world.

There is no reason for TBH to entertain the thought that his family, friends and colleagues in the outside world had abandoned him.

Subsequent events following news of TBH's death saw an outpouring klscah vigil for eo6 release 290711 teoh beng hock 06of support - including many friends, colleagues and ex-colleagues - for the family. It is clear from this that TBH had a sound social network of support to cope with any traumatic events.

Thus, the attribution of despair and hopelessness by RCI onto TBH is falsely created.

No suicide for physical, mental wreck

Para [229] stated that "By the time the fourth or final stage of the interrogation was over, TBH would have been almost a mental and physical wreck. When Ashraf fetched him a glass of water [demanded impolitely by TBH], TBH was said to have sat up very slowly."

It is clear that in such a tortured weakened state, TBH would not have sufficient strength to commit suicide. When he could hardly move, he could not be expected to jump out of the window. This RCI conclusion now of TBH's physical near collapse is self-contradictory to its melodramatic reconstruction of a fevered, despairing mind planning an energetic act of self-annihilation.

It is more probable that TBH would want to get out of the dreaded MACC building the moment he had the chance and the energy.

Conclusion

The RCI's suicide verdict is questionable as the reasoning in its argument is deeply flawed. Mere speculation of TBH's psychological state prior to death had become hard facts.

The authenticity of the evidence of intention to suicide used to support the claim is doubtful.

The inference from such evidence to the conclusion of suicide is invalid and unsound.

RCI based its reasoning on reconstructed suicidal thought. It is not inevitable that suicidal thoughts would lead to suicide. Also, it has not provided any evidence of suicidal behaviour or warning signs of suicide. The seriously weakened mental and physical state TBH as described by the commissioners shows that suicide is implausible.

RCI should have delivered an open verdict as it is a matter of intellectual honesty and integrity to respect facts and evidence.

Death would only have meaning when the truth is revealed and justice is done.

References

De Leo, D., Burgis, S., Bertolote, J.M., Kerkhof, A.J.F.M., and Bille-Brahe, U. (2006), Definitions of suicidal behaviour. Crisis, 27(1), 4-15.

Van Orden, K. A., Witte, T.K., Cukrowicz, Braithwaite, S.R., Selby, E.A. and Joiner, Jr., T.E. (2010), The Interpersonal Theory of Suicide, Psychological Review, 117 (2), 576-600.Friday, 19 August 2011 07:21

CT WONG is a practicing engineer for 30 over years, who also takes great interest in exploring non-technological matters of psychology and philosophy.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I do not want to be interviewed - simply bad behaviour by PM and maybe even contempt of court

On Aug 8, High Court judge Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah had allowed two applications by Anwar to interview 15 witnesses including the Prime Minister and his wife regarding the sodomy trial faced by Anwar. - Bernama, 12/8/2011, Najib And Rosmah Present In Court Regarding Anwar's Sodomy Trial

Now, lawyers prefer to interview potential witnesses for this will help when it comes to asking the questions in court - this will certainly save a lot of the court's time and cost.

He said Najib and Rosmah said the same words as soon as they entered the room, which were: "I did not wish to be interviewed and I do not want to be a defence witness."- Bernama, 12/8/2011, Najib And Rosmah Present In Court Regarding Anwar's Sodomy Trial
“Najib came in first and when we asked, he said, 'I do not wish to be a defence witness. I do not want to be interviewed',” said Karpal.-Malaysiakini, 12/8/2011, PM and wife: We don't wish to be your witnesses
 "I did not wish to be interviewed ... I did not wish to be a defence witness." Those were the words Najib told the defence team.- theSundaily, 12/8/2011,  Anwar sodomy trial: Najib, wife decline to be interviewed (Update)

Of course witnesses, have the right to say that they do not have anything to say during these interviews - that means lawyers, when they call these witnesses, will have to be asking all questions right from the start - and then asking more questions when answers are given... all for the reason of getting out relevant answers for the purposes of the trial. 

If witnesses have been interviewed - then so many questions that may at the end lead to nothing relevant would not have to be asked in court. Now, thanks to Najib's non-cooperation - this just will lead to a much longer time spent in court on the witnesses stand with Anwar's lawyers grilling him with question after question - maybe even seeking adjournment to 'investigate further' some of the answers given - to be able to ask further questions. All these could have been so easily avoided if Najib cooperated ... and just participated in the said interview....remember what we all (and the court included) wants to do is get to the truth to ensure justice be done...

I do not want to be a defence witness - Well, if when called to come as a witnesses, and you do not want to do so freely - then all that needs to be done is subpoena you as a witness - and you will still have to be present in court as a witness... 

Now, when you call a witness, normally you will only be able to ask 'not leading' questions - but then, when the witness is hostile, you then are permitted to also ask 'leading questions', just like what you can do during the cross-examination of the other side's witness...Najib's statement that he does not want to be your witness, and his refusal to be interviewed just will go to show that he is a 'hostile' witnesses, and the courts will more likely than not allow Anwar's lawyers to cross examine Najib as though he was an 'hostile' witness.

Najib's and his wife's refusal to be interviewed is just a 'bad example' for all Malaysians - and all it will do is just waste more of the court's time and also be a hindrance to justice and most importantly an infringement of the right of a Defendant to defend himself and a fair trial. 

Will now all Malaysians follow the Najib's example and when called in by the police, MACC, prosecution and other Defence lawyers just go in there and say "I do not want to be your witness" ..."I do not want to be interviewed"
- I am not bothered in justice or human rights - I do not care about the right to a fair trial, or the universally acknowledged rights of an accused person.

Remember also the courts have again acknowledge the right of the accused to interview witnesses - I wonder also whether Najib could be cited for contempt of court - for clearly what the court ordered was an interview - i.e. where there are questions and answers - not just going in for an interview and saying,  'I do not wish to be a defence witness. I do not want to be interviewed',” 
But, if the court had ordered specifically ordered that you be present to be interviewed - and you used the words "I do not want to be interviewed' ...OR "I did not wish to be interviewed" - would that not be clearly a contempt of court. If you had attended the interview, and just said 'No comment" or "I have nothing to say" or "I do not want to answer that question now..." - then maybe you may have complied with the court order and may not be contempt - only that you had been a non-cooperative interviewee.Well, it will be up to the Accused and his lawyers to decide on the next step - commence contempt proceedings or not.

 Premier Najib Abdul Razak and his wife told lawyers representing the opposition leader and also defendant Anwar Ibrahim that they do not want to be defence witnesses.

This was revealed by lead counsel Karpal Singh and also by Sankara Nair.

Karpal and Sankara, along with senior lawyer Param Cumaraswamy and Ram Karpal, were in the same room when the witnesses were brought in, one by one.

NONEKarpal said when the defence team arrived at the court complex, Najib and Rosmah were already there.

“Najib came in first and when we asked, he said, 'I do not wish to be a defence witness. I do not want to be interviewed',” said Karpal.

Then it was Rosmah's turn and she made the same statement, and this was followed by former Malacca police chief Mohd Rodwan Mohd Yusof.

All three (Najib, Rosmah and Rodwan) were in the room and they did not come with their lawyers.

Najib and Rosmah arrived about 2.55pm and left at 3.28pm.

Their aides stood outside while they attended the brief interview.

Karpal said they were caught by surprise as there had been no indication that Najib and Rosmah would turn up today.

“Normally, they would give us advance notice,” the senior lawyer said.

Karpal described Rosmah as very tense when asked questions and at at one point, she said, “Do not bully me, Mr Karpal.”

Karpal said he does not know why Najib and Rosmah are frightened to come to court, in describing their refusal to answer questions.

Anwar: Meeting was cordial


Anwar said his meeting with Najib and Rosmah went on in a cordial manner.

For Anwar, he said he felt normal and Karpal was extremely polite.

“I can assure you Karpal is extremely polite,” said Anwar smilingly.

najib razak and rosmah mansor 1“However, I am disappointed that they (Najib and Rosmah) do not want to say much.
"This comes after they had said a lot in the public and to the media, but when asked by they do not want to cooperate,” said the Permatang Pauh MP.

Anwar said naturally, he was disappointed.

Asked whether he was surprised to see the premier and Rosmah, Anwar said they will come at some time.

Today three other witnesses were interviewed, and they were Desa Damansara condo owner Hasanuddin Abdul Hamid and his wife Noor Sham Abd Hamid, and Hasanuddin's sister, identified as Mashitah.

Six more witnesses including Musa to be interviewed

Karpal said there will be six other witnesses to be interviewed and they include former IGP Musa Hassan.

“The others are the two former Indonesian maids who worked with Hasanuddin and lesser-known witness.”

Karpal said he expects the trial may not go on until the defence finishes interviewing the witnesses.

“We will ask for a postponement on Monday as we have yet to finish interviewing the witnesses.

“The trial just cannot go on until we finish this process,” he said.

Asked whether a decision will be made to call Najib and Rosmah to the stand, Karpal said a decision will be made after the interview process.

Meanwhile, addressing reporters after the BN supreme council meeting, Najib said he had met with Anwar's lawyers out of respect for the courts.

“A decision has been made by the judge and regardless of position, I am still a citizen and I respect the judge's decision.

“I had attended the meeting and stated my stand on the matter... I know my rights and I have stated this to Anwar's lawyers,” he said.- -Malaysiakini, 12/8/2011, PM and wife: We don't wish to be your witnesses

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, were present at the Jalan Duta Court Complex Friday with regard to the sodomy trial of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Najib and Rosmah arrived at 2.55pm to meet with Anwar's defence team headed by Karpal Singh.

They arrived 15 minutes earlier than Anwar's defence team.

The Prime Minister and his wife had met with Anwar's defence team separately for five minutes at the meeting room, Seventh Floor of the complex.

Najib and his wife left the complex at 3.28pm.

Speaking to reporters after chairing the Barisan Nasional (BN) Supreme Council meeting here, Najib said his presence at the Court Complex was to respect the decision made by the judge.

On Aug 8, High Court judge Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah had allowed two applications by Anwar to interview 15 witnesses including the Prime Minister and his wife regarding the sodomy trial faced by Anwar.

Meanwhile, Karpal Singh said Najib and Rosmah declined to be interviewed for Anwar's ongoing sodomy trial and both of them also did not want to be defence witnesses in the case.

Najib said he respected the decision made by the High Court Judge and "as a Malaysian citizen, I must respect the decision made by the judge, regardless of (my) position."

The Prime Minister said that was why he was present at the court and had stated his stand.

However, he declined to state what he had informed Anwar's defence team because he had "presented the matter according to my rights."

"I know my rights and I had conveyed them to the lawyer representing Anwar, and Anwar was also present there," he told reporters when asked about his presence at the Jalan Duta Court Complex.

Meanwhile, Karpal Singh said Najib and Rosmah had arrived at the meeting room before the defence team and the team met them separately, with Najib entering the room first and Rosmah later.

He said Najib and Rosmah said the same words as soon as they entered the room, which were: "I did not wish to be interviewed and I do not want to be a defence witness."

He also said that both of them were not accompanied by their lawyers.

Asked whether the defence wanted to call Najib, Rosmah and the other witnesses offered by the prosecution team, Karpal Singh said he had yet decide on the matter.

Karpal Singh said another witness, ex-Melaka police chief Datuk Mohd Rodwan Mohd Yusof, who turned up in court this afternoon, also declined to be interviewed and to be Anwar's defence witness.

As for now, the defence team had interviewed 15 witnesses including the owner of the condominium where the alleged incident occurred, Hasanuddin Abd Hamid, and his wife.

Karpal Singh said the defence had yet to interview six others, including former inspector-general of police Tan Sri Musa Hassan.

"Therefore, we cannot proceed with the trial, as agreed, before we complete interviewing all the witnesses prior to the trial," he said.

On Monday, High Court Judge Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah granted Anwar's application to interview witnesses offered by the prosecution, including Najib, Rosmah and Musa.

At the close of its case, the prosecution offered 71 witnesses, including Najib and Rosmah. The defence chose to interview only 25.

The court has set Aug 15 to 26 for the defence case. The court had initially set Aug 8 to 26, with Anwar scheduled as the first witness to take the stand.

On May 16, Justice Mohamad Zabidin ordered Anwar to enter his defence after ruling that the latter's former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, the complainant in the case, was a truthful and credible witness.

Anwar, 63, pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court on Aug 7, 2008, to committing carnal intercourse against the order of nature at the Desa Damansara Condominium in Bukit Damansara between 3.10 pm and 4.30 pm on June 26 of the same year.

-- BERNAMA- Bernama, 12/8/2011, Najib And Rosmah Present In Court Regarding Anwar's Sodomy Trial

Friday, August 12, 2011

Selangor Government must provide a closure to the issues arising from JAIS action on 3rd August

3rd August 2011

The raid occurred Wednesday night during a dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church in Petaling Jaya, just west of the capital Kuala Lumpur.

NONEAround 30 Islamic religious and police officials entered the church compound in Selangor state without a warrant and began taking videos and photographs, Daniel Ho, senior pastor for the church, said in a statement.

They subjected guests to "undue harassment" and took down the details of the Muslims present before leaving, he said. - Malaysiakini, 4/8/2011, Jais raid 'a dangerous precedent', says CCM


The issue is respect - it was wrong to trespass into a private event...and disrupt it. Would it have happened if the PM or some Minister, or some BN politician was its patron...or an invited guest... or if it was organized by some BN or BN-linked organization?  If there was evidence of laws being broken, then certainly investigate, and if there is sufficient proof - then only arrest or do the needful. Do not simply act on the basis of police reports - or information received from un-named sources... They could have quitely met with the organizer and get details of attendees to the function  or even wait until the event end and get details when people leave... but certainly not do what was done...(but reports are vague, and we still do not know exactly what happened..)

The issue is freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, ... are we heading towards a situation that soon people also need to apply for JAIS permission if they are organizing events where Muslims may attend/participate...and then JAIS will decide also the content of speeches, materials disseminated, etc - be careful for are we not trying to be ONE mulit-religious multi-ethnic Malaysia - not a Malaysia divided into a Muslim Malaysia and a non-Muslim Malaysia.

JAIS -  they should have no authority in policing non-Muslims - or non-Muslim organized events. That should be left to the police...


Discrimination - why take down only the details of Muslim guests - and not others. Would not the others present also be credible witnesses for what had transpired in that event. Or is this just another anti - 1Malaysia action by the BN government and/or their stooges - to scare Muslims in Malaysia from attending or being part of any event, function ... organized in a non-Muslim premise, or religious compound...or by persons who are non-Muslims. Would it also not scare Muslims from attending weddings or funerals or their non- Muslim friends - why the JAIS may come and harass us...


Selangor Menteri Besar - his immediate reaction was disappointing... that 'gag-order'. Let us not forget that JAIS comes under the State government. He should have expressed immediate anger at the actions of JAIS (and police) disrupting a private event and tell them that this is not the way one does things in Selangor - where we do respect persons of other faiths/beliefs and will not just go charging into their compound disrupting events being organised - and hassling their guests. With regard to further action, he could say that he will wait for that JAIS report..but it has almost been 9 days. The Menteri Besar is akin the CEO of the State, and if he is responsible for the actions of all State authorities, departments and bodies... and if one of them does something disrespectfully - he must scold them... Set up an Commission of Inquiry - to independently investigate matters - not just wait for the JAIS report. Meet the organisers, the owners of venue, .... After receiving the report, he must first discuss with his Exco - then he could also meet with the Sultan...

The poor response of the MB may be because of other considerations - i.e. the upcoming elections and he did not want to seen as being anti-Islam, which may arise if he was strong against JAIS. Can we accept this? Hello, Muslims in Selangor and Malaysia are not so 'shallow' - they do not equate being anti one JAIS action as being anti- Muslims. A PAS or DAP MB would have done the right thing but PKR worries too much and that delay in taking the right action....worrying always the consequence it will have come next elections is making matters worse. The same was with the 'Allah' issue - PAS was clear that Muslims do not have the exclusive right to call God 'Allah' - and here again PKR speakers were vague about this, citing reasons like they are not religious scholars, etc...In fact, I recall that even for that accident in Jaya Supermarket which saw many workers die - I have yet to see any detailed report from the Selangor government and/or the relevant local council..I wonder whether the victims or their families were even compensated?

Remember your position on right and wrongs is not depended on what the majority says is right and wrong. If this was the way how leaders behave, we will still be having a lot of injustices. Slavery would still be there ...in fact, we may not even be having democracy, women's rights, workers' rights, orang asli rights, etc...

For a long time, people accepted the ISA and Detention Without Trials as necessary and OK - but finally, the mindset of Malaysians have changed and today the majority is for its abolition - and it was because there were 'leaders' who took the lead in condemning such laws and asking for its repeal. Do not be scared to take a stand for what is right and against what is wrong.

This JAIS action has done a lot of harm to our struggle for unity and respect - and many narrowly see the JAIS action, as being a Muslim action which is not, and the Selangor MB's reaction thus far also does not help matters. The issue is still 'festering' and the Selangor MB and State Government's delay in taking a clear position only makes things worse - and some quarters are making this into a Muslim -versus- non-Muslim issue. In fact, there seems to be some quarters are starting to lose faith in the Selangor government - and, it may be worthy to note that even the MCCBCHS is calling for the Federal Government, not the Selangor government, to intervene - Selangor PR Government must act firmly - reprimand where necessary, clarify where required (did the 'raid' happen during the event or did it happen after the event was over???), apologize if required, and propose changes in law/policy and guidelines to prevent future such actions by the SELANGOR JAIS..

Good to see what Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC)(the owner of the venue), Harapan Community (the organizer of the event), JAIS, Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), Allied Coordinating Committee of Islamic NGOs (ACCIN), UMNO Youth, Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) - see below

Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim has issued a gag order to all state exco members from commenting on the issue of Jais' raid on Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) on Wednesday until they have received the Jais report and “further action” has been taken.

NONE“Once I receive Jais' report on the matter I will meet with the Selangor Sultan to discuss and resolve the matter, and to ensure that such incidents do not recur,” said Khalid (left) in a statement today.

“Until this is done and the matter is resolved, all Selangor exco members are prohibited from making any statements regarding this issue,” he added.

“As mentioned yesterday, we regret that the incident has taken place and is confident that the people of Selangor do not feel that their interests have been overlooked,” said Khalid.

The MB added that good intentions did not justify the raid, that he said “failed to display fairness and wisdom in leadership”.

He called on the people to perpetuate the spirit of harmony, respect and tolerance amongst the various religions in the country. - Malaysiakini, 5/8/2011, MB Khalid issues gag order on church raid
Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) slammed the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) for carrying out a raid on their premises on Aug 3 “without proper authority under the law”.

NONE“We reiterate the fact that Jais and police officers came into Dream Centre without a search warrant,” said senior pastor Daniel Ho in a statement today.

“They intruded into the thanksgiving dinner and interrupted the programme. They took photographs and videos when they came in,” he said, adding the officers continued recording and photographing even after exiting the hall.

“The Jais officers issued several stern warnings to the organisers for refusing to cooperate with their demands.

“In the meantime, many plainclothes personnel rode into the Dream Centre compound with motorbikes and some of them went around the compound,” said Ho.
DUMC's statement comes after a week of silence on the raid since 20 to 30 Jais officers raided the DUMC premises without a warrant last Wednesday.

The pastor however remained silent on allegations that the church had been proselytising Muslims.
“We respectfully submit that this trespass, search and seizure by Jais and police actions were without proper authority under the law,” said Ho.

NONEYesterday Jais issued its first official statement on the matter denying that they had “raided” DUMC and stressed that no force was used.

"No force was used by Jais enforcement officers on that night...only after the event attended by 100 attendees was over, did the inspection take place inside the hall," said Jais director Marzuki Hussin (right).

"Reports that Jais conducted a raid, used force and gate-crashed the dinner are all wild accusations," said Marzuki.

Last week Ho had blasted the authorities for trespassing on a HIV/AIDs benefit dinner by non-profit organisation Harapan Komuniti held at DUMC's hall, without producing a warrant or the alleged complaint that Jais said their visit was based on.

Incidentally the same venue also hosted an electoral reform forum organised by the Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham), featuring Bersih 2.0 chief Ambiga Sreenevasan and Election Commission deputy chairperson Wan Ahmad Wan Omar. - Malaysiakini, 12/8/2011, Church: Jais acted 'without proper authority'

Umno Youth has today called on the Selangor government to provide a detailed explanation on what transpired when the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) raided the Damansara Utama Methodist Church last week.

NONEIts chief Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar (right) said the movement was unhappy with the Selangor Pakatan government, which was seen as weak in handling the matter.

"Initially, they are seen to be avoiding or claiming responsibility, saying it (Jais) comes under the purview of the ruler. They also made allegations of a federal government conspiracy in such an action, although such claims were unsubstantiated.

"Such perception changed when the menteri besar said the state government should bear the responsibility and answer for its actions. Following this, I urge MB Khalid Ibrahim not to delay in explaining or trying to hide the matter any further. If he cannot explain, it is better he resigns," Khairy said in a statement.

It is frustrating, Khairy noted, that the Selangor government has attempted to delay or was trying to hide the issue from public domain, with no follow-up action.

NONEThe Umno Youth chief said for the movement, such a tactic was truly irresponsible because it involved an issue sensitive to both the Muslim and Christian communities, which were watching the matter closely.

Besides the Selangor MB's realisation of this being a sensitive issue, he had chosen to delay and was hiding the matter behind a veil.

"He should himself quickly probe the matter and take the proper action," Khairy said. - Malaysiakini, 10/8/2011, Come clean on church raid or quit, Khairy tells MB

We, from the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) read the news regarding the proposed Faith Crime Act by the deputy education minister yesterday with trepidation.

The proposal came about as a response to Jais' unwarranted raid of Damansara Utama Methodist Church last week.

The raid conducted by Jais was purely based on suspicion that the Methodist Church was involved in an act of proselytisation. The Malaysian Aids Council however reiterated that the dinner was actually a fund-raiser for HIV/AIDS support programmes.

The whole issue boils down to one main issue. The so-called defenders of the faith believed that their action was espoused by the religion of Islam in preventing the believers from apostasy.

This uncivilised act of storming into a sacred place accompanied by the Mafia-like police was endorsed by none others than the insular and xenophobic NGOs like Perkasa and Pembela.

We believe that such an act of storming into a church without any warrant and based on mere suspicion was a travesty of justice and democratic principles. Freedom of assembly is enshrined in Article 10 of our constitution. Any act that violates this freedom is reprehensible.

We realise that this conflict stems from the static and stagnant approach to understanding Islamic law. The codified law in Islamic jurisprudence derived through the exercise of juristic reasoning of the latter years was considered sacred and beyond reproach. Hence the most rigid and literalist interpretations tend to prevail.

The defenders of faith failed to look at ample evidence in the Quran that gives the liberty to the people to freely follow their conviction.

Any individuals are given the right to accept or reject a particular faith based on his personal conviction.

"There shall be no coercion in matters of faith" [Qur'an, 2:256]

“And [thus it is] had thy Sustainer so willed, all those who live on earth would surely have attained to faith, all of them: dost thou, then, think that thou couldst compel people to believe” [Qur'an, 10:99]

This message of freedom of belief and the call to religious tolerance is reiterated time and time again in the Quran and through various Prophets. This has been the call of all the Prophets even before Prophet Muhammad. Refer the Quran [7:85-87, 39:39-40, 17:84].

Faith is a personal conviction. The state has no authority to interfere in one's choice of faith. One is answerable to God for the decision he or she makes in her life. Hitherto it is very perturbing that a lawmaker proposed for Faith Crime Act to be enacted by the government.

This act infringes on God given right for us to believe on our free will. No one has the authority to take this right from us. We are answerable to God alone in the life to come. We must ensure that our community embraces this freedom of religion and we will not succumb to any threat to remove this freedom away from us.

The principle of reciprocity is to be upheld since it gives a meaning to the concept of justice. In a modern multiracial society like us, where different faiths lives together, we have to respect the right of an individual to choose and convert to a faith that he or she believes in.

There should not be undue pressure or coercion for a person to believe in a faith he or she has no belief anymore. It would be a real tragedy and disaster when a state started imposing its authority in matters of faith.

The writer is chairman and director of Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF). - Malaysiakini, 10/8/2011, Raid by Jais an 'uncivilised' act 

Harapan Komuniti has broken its silence on the multi-racial dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church, which has become the centre of controversy after a raid by the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) last week.
harapan komuniti hiv aidsIn a statement today, executive director Raymond Koh said the 'thanksgiving' dinner was attended by "donors, friends and beneficiaries of Harapan Komuniti" before it was raided by 30 Jais and police officers.

“They proceeded into the hall and took photos and videos and even removed pamphlets from the various drawers and cabinets in the said hall, without any permission from us or the landlord of DUMC's premises.
He described the non-profit group as one that works with the poor and "downtrodden" and people living with HIV/AIDS.
This is the full statement:

Harapan Komuniti is a non-profit organisation, working to bring love, hope, peace and dignity to the needy, downtrodden, children, women and people living with HIV and AIDS. We help people, regardless of race, religion or creed.

Harapan Komuniti is a partner organisation of Malaysian AIDS Council.

On Aug 3, Harapan Komuniti held a thanksgiving/fundraising dinner at DUMC's (Damansara Utama Methodist Church) premises. That dinner was attended by donors, friends and beneficiaries of Harapan Komuniti.

About 120 people, from various backgrounds, attended the dinner and were treated with a meal catered by Muslims, followed by live performance, a 1Malaysia dance, a quiz, and reporting by individuals. Harapan Komuniti also offered a general prayer.

Around 9.30pm, about 30 officers from Jais (Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor) and the police, some were in uniforms and others in plainclothes came into the said premise without any search warrant or permission.

Harapan Komuniti immediately requested the Jais officers if they had any warrant and despite repeated requests, Jais officers refused to hand to us any warrant to search or arrest.

They proceeded into the hall and took photos and videos and even removed pamphlets from the various drawers and cabinets in the said hall, without any permission from us or the landlord of DUMC's premises.

Harapan Komuniti's lawyer Annou Xavier stated that Malaysia should be fortunate to have non-profit organisations such as Harapan Komuniti that gives 'Harapan' or hope to the needy, afflicted, poor, marginalised and yet, on that fateful night, Jais decided to take the opportunity to raid the thanksgiving charity dinner on the assumption that conversion of religion was taking place.

Harapan Komuniti has helped many needy and downtrodden citizens of Malaysia, without regard to race, religion, creed, yet Jais took it upon themselves to disrupt a peaceful and harmonious charity event.

Annou further states that Harapan Komuniti is a '1Malaysia' organisation in its pure sense, in that its board members consist of a Malay, Mohd Rahim Ithnen, a Chinese, Raymond Koh and an Indian, Sri Ram KS Gopal to help all races, religion and creed, and not some parties that simply chant '1Malaysia' merely as a slogan.

He hopes that such an unwarranted raid would not take place in the future that would cause unnecessary anxiety and trauma to peace-loving Malaysians.

Raymond Koh
Executive director
Harapan Komuniti - Malaysiakini, 10/8/2011, Harapan Komuniti breaks silence on Jais raid

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) is calling on the federal government to intervene in last Wednesday's Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) raid on a church compound.
"Jais' action sets a dangerous precedent which must be stopped and condemned by all peace-loving Malaysians.

"The constitutionally guaranteed and internationally recognised sanctity of all places of worship cannot be compromised, and this unprecedented violation must be investigated and those responsible, appropriately punished.

azlan"We urge the federal government to expeditiously launch a thorough investigation into the fiasco," said its honorary secretary-general Prematilaka KD Serisena.

The raid was carried out based on a tip-off that the dinner organised by Harapan Komuniti at a building owned by the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) had allegedly attempted to proselytise among Muslims present.

The interfaith council is peeved by news reports quoting unnamed Muslims at the event, claiming that they had been asked to convert from Islam, one of many claims that have cropped up since the raid including accusations of distributing Malay-language Bibles to Muslims during the event.

"Such witnesses must be made available to an independent inquiry, which must be instituted immediately, to determine their qualification to bear such witness, to corroborate such evidence and to verify it.

"lf the newspapers in question are found to have published false statements likely, or meant, to incite religious or racial hatred between Malaysians, the authorities must initiate the necessary action to punish them to the full extent provided for in our laws," he said.

The council also called on the government to assure non-Muslim communities that there will not be a repeat of the incident.

'Discuss issue at working committee'

Meanwhile, less than 24 hours after the council's statement, the Allied Coordinating Committee of Islamic NGOs (ACCIN) reminded its counterpart MCCBCHST to refrain from making statements on interfaith matters and instead to discuss them at the governement's interfaith working committee.

"Since the Working Committee Promoting Understanding and Harmony Between Adherents of various Religions (JKMPKAPA) was established under the cabinet, ACCIN and its members have not made any statements on interfaith matters out of respect for the committee's consensus.

"ACCIN would like to remind the MCCBCHST to respect the committee in future," said the coalition chairperson Sheikh Abdul Halim Abdul Kadir.

The Muslim coalition also called on parties to respect religious sensitivities and to cease all proselytisation activities among Muslims.

"This is consistent with the spirit of interfaith relations and the provisions of the constitution where Islam is the official religion. Other religions can be practiced so long as they respect the official religion and the sensitivities of its followers," he added. - Malaysiakini, 9/8/2011, Jais raid: Federal gov't should intervene, says council