Thursday, March 29, 2018

Citizens Call for Restoration of Local Council Election - A Joint Statement?

Most important is for people to come together to monitor what is happening in Malaysia, States, Districts, towns and kampungs ...and express themselves and make demands. It is always important to lobby just governments - but even more important is to struggle to get the support of as many Malaysians as possible...and thereafter SHOW this support of the people. 

Our current government seems to be VERY SCARED of people - hence laws preventing people from gathering and discussing, not not just physically but also in social media. 
During the campaigning for the March 8 2008 General Elections, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Islam Malaysia (PAS), now forming the Pakatan Rayat coalition, had individually and collectively promised local council elections in various campaign documents.  Local Council Elections - Penang leads by asking EC to conduct elections..
Why should Federal and State Government be afraid of people choosing their own Local Council through democratic elections? Do they not believe in DEMOCRACY - Now, in Temerloh, many traffic lights are not functioning, roads including roads to Tamans,Shopping Area not maintained - potholes, fading, unseen or confusing white lines, unswept roads, unpainted or rusting, absence of road name signboards etc - all being duty of Local Councils...but the Local Council may be little bothered about the people of Temerloh - because they are APPOINTED by State/Federal Governments - if they were elected, things in every towns and districts will be so much better - because we will VOTE them out if they fail...

Media Release - 28/3/2018
Citizens Call for Restoration of Local Council Election
As the 14th General Election is looming, a group of citizens called upon the federal government and state governments to restore local council election and return the third vote to the people.
They argued that the local council is most relevant to the daily life of ordinary people, it is crucial for a community to elect qualified and competent representatives who can serve the people. Unfortunately the right to elect people’s local representatives was usurped by the federal authority in 1960s.
“The current appointment system of local councillors lacks  accountability because they do not need to face discontent from community, there is no check and balance by the residents if any  councilor does not perform. It is very unfair for the tax payers who supposedly determine the direction of local planning and development.” Says Lee Soo Wei, who represented the Youth Section of KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall to move the motion.
Local council elections had been practiced in Malaysia even before the independence, such as the Penang Municipal Council Election in 1951 and Kuala Lumpur Municipal Council Election in 1952. local council election was suspended in 1965 when Indonesia launched Konfrontasi against Malaya. It has never been revived after that.
About 40 citizens made the call in the policy reform discussion session organized by the Civil Society Caucus for Policy Reform that was held at KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on 23 March 2018.
The group deliberated 35 proposed motions and passed 26 of them. Among the motions passed are restoration of local council election; enactment of  anti-torture act to curb death in custody; review the National Cultural Policy to prioritise culture and arts of all ethnic groups; review the national energy policy to maximise utility and deepen decarbonisation, and propose Women to be paid fair and just wages.
Free education for all has become a heatedly debate topic in the discussion. Sharan Raj from Demanding Free Education Movement (GMPP) contended that education is basic human right, the government has a duty to provide free tertiary education including acquire the private universities under the 15 government-linked companies.
However, Chong Kok Boon argued that free tertiary education is not sustainable. He suggested the government to consolidate the resources for higher education, combine and reduce number of higher education institutions (HEIs) and convert all HEIs to non-profit charity organizations entitled to subsidies per student.
The list of motions passed in the policy reform discussion is as follows :
1.    Review the National Cultural Policy 1971, prioritise culture and arts of all ethnic groups, instead of focusing on cultures of native people in the region.
2.    Review the National Cultural Policy 1971, remove the element of religion, because cultures of ethnic groups change over time, but religion never change
3.    Review the National Cultural Policy 1971, set up a cultural and art council that represented by multiethnic practitioners of cultural activities and artists. The purpose is to determine the administration and management on matters relating to culture and arts in Malaysia
4.    Education is a human rights and not commodity for sale. Therefore, the government is responsible in ensuring education is given by free from pre-school to the first bachelor degree. The government should ensure access to education by providing school bus transportation for free in rural area.
5.    Revise National Energy Policy to maximising utility, deep decarbonisation and minimise the socio-economical gaps across the country
6.    Amend the 30(3)(a) article of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act, change the interrogation time “from day to day” to “from day to day but limit to 6 hours.
7.    Enact Anti-Torture Act to curb violence by all enforcement agency officers including MACC, Police, immigration and prison officers. Any officers commits such offence is liable on conviction to imprisonment from 15 years to life imprisonment, or / and a fine from ten thousands to one hundred thousand
8.    Ratification of United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)
9.    Compulsory human rights education for all Public servants
10. Amend the constitution and related existing laws to institute recall mechanism for elected representatives
11. Abolish electoral deposit system that violates everyone's right to run for political office, the government should replace it with a petition system where MP candidate should collect 600 signatures and ADUN candidate should collect 300 signatures to qualify his / her candidacy
12. Implement a land rights policy to ensure all marginalised communities or individuals are entitled to lands, such as indigenous people, urban settlers, farmers and the poor
13. Set up transitional justice commission to provide remedy for victims and punish perpetrators of all past wrongdoings under the previous regimes
14. Demand the federal government and state governments to restore local council election, return the third vote to the people
15. Reinstate the 15% upper limit of voter disparity among parliamentary seats
16. Implement Propositional Electoral System, base on total number of votes obtained by political parties to determine number of parliamentary seats.
17. Enact Animal Protection Act to respect and protect animal life in Malaysia
18. Amend land code to recognize the right to native customary land of indigenous people
19. Ratify International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
20. Enact a Social Inclusion Act to develop and implement an integrated action plan to address the issue of serious marginalisation in Malaysian society.
21. the Federal Government reprioritise the budget allocation among ministries, and dedicate at least 3.5% (world average) to 6.2% (OECD average) GDP to health
22. Respect women workers’ rights and their contribution to the economy by reviewing the labour laws to ensure they are compatible with International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions
23. Women must be paid fair and just wages and earn benefits without discrimination
24. Women returning to work after a lapse of some period should be allowed to return to their previous positions or any other employment without discrimination of pay, leave and other benefits
25. Protect the rights of women workers in the informal sector especially domestic workers and ratify ILO Convention 189
26. Affordable or free child care services must be provided for workers with children near or at the workplace

Civil Society Caucus fpr Policy Reform is jointly endorsed by Agora Society, MEONET, Youth Section of KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy, OHMSI, Youth Section of Melaka Chinese Assembly Hall, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM),Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET), Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS), Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (KUASA), Johor Yellow Flame (JYF),Sosialis Alternatif, Gerakan Menuntut Pendidikan Percuma

1.    重新检讨1971年全国文化政策,马来西亚各族群的文化和艺术应受到重视,而不仅仅只注重土著文化。
2.    重新检讨1971年全国文化政策,将宗教元素排除在外,因为文化会随着族群发生变迁,宗教则保持不变。
3.    重新检讨1971年全国文化政策,成立一个由各族群文化人与艺术家所组成的文化与艺术理事会。此理事会的目的是对政府的文化与艺术的行政管理做决定。
4.    教育是基本人权而非可贩卖的商品。因此,政府有责任为人民提供免费教育。从幼儿园至大学学位,政府必须保障人民的教育机会,包括在乡区提供免费交通。
5.    修订国家能源政策以最大限度地提高效用,深度减碳和将全国的社会经济差距降至最低。
6.    修改反贪委员会法令第30(3)(a)条文,将审讯时间从‘每天’改为‘每天但限于6小时’。
7.    制订反酷刑法,以遏制包括反贪委员会、警察、移民厅和监狱官员在内的所有执法人员的暴力行为。任何人犯下这类罪行,一经定罪,将被处以十五年徒刑至无期徒刑,或一万至十万的罚款,或两者兼施。
8.    批准联合国禁止酷刑和其他残忍、不人道或有辱人格的待遇或处罚公约(UNCAT)。
9.    为所有公务员提供人权教育。
10.. 修改宪法与相关法律,以制订弹劾民意代表的机制。
11.. 废除选举按柜金制度,因为这违反每个人参与选举的权利,政府应该以签名制取而代之。任何国会议席候选人需收集选区内600个人签名,而州议席候选人需收集300个签名,以满足他们竞选的条件。
12.. 实施土地权利政策以确保所有边缘化社区或个体都有权利获得土地,如原住民、城市拓荒者者、农民和贫困者。”
13.. 设立转型正义委员会,处理前任政权犯下的过去错误,补偿受害者和惩罚迫害者
14.. 要求联邦政府和州政府恢复地方议会选举,归还人民的第三票。
15.. 恢复各国会选区之间选民人数的15%差距上限
16.. 实行比例代表选举制度,根据各政党获得的总票数来决定所获的国会议席数量。
17.. 制订动物保护法令以尊重和保护马来西亚的动物生命
18.. 修改土地法典,承认原住民的土地习俗权利。
19.. 批准保护所有移徒工人及其家属成员权利国际公约。
20.. 制订社会包容法,制定和实施综合行动计划以解决马来西亚社会严重的边缘化问题
21.. 促联邦政府重新安排各部门预算拨款的优先顺序,并将卫生预算从国内生产总值的3.5巴仙(世界平均水平)提高至6.2巴仙(经济合作与发展组织平均水平)。
22.. 尊重女性劳工权益和她们对经济的贡献,修改劳工法令以确保符合国际劳工公约
23.. 女性应不受到歧视地获得公平薪资及福利
24.. 在一段时间过后重返工作岗位的妇女应当被允许返回原来的职位或任何其他工作,并在工资、休假和其他福利上不应受到歧视
25.. 保护非正规部门女工特别是家庭工人的权利,并批准劳工组织第189条公约。
26. 必须为工人提供可负担或或免费的托儿服务,该服务需在工作场所或附近地方。

(公民社会政策改革连线由群议社、大马选举监督网络、隆雪华堂青年团、赵明福民主基金会、马六甲中华大会堂青年团、人民之声、OHMSI、大马人反对死刑与酷刑运动、雪兰莪妇女之友协会、 环境之友行动者协会、柔南黄色行动小组、社会主义替代和争取免费教育运动组成)

Rakyat sendiri bertanggungjawab keburukan, peningkatan kos hidup di Malaysia - Sikap tak peduli dikutuk?

Rakyat Malaysia adalah masalah terbesar untuk Malaysia - khususnya sikap TIDAK PEDULI. 

Bilangan rakyat yang berhak mengundi tetapi belum mendaftar sebagai pengundi adalah beberapa juta - lebih 3.6 juta.

“As of the fourth quarter of 2017, we have 14,968,304 voters eligible to vote this year, compared to about 18 mil Malaysians over the age of 21.“This leaves us with 3.6 million unregistered potential voters, and considering the number of people reaching eligible age goes up by 500,000 every year, this is a serious issue for us to tackle,” he[ Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah said. - Star, 27/3/3018


Ramai orang juga tidak peduli nasib semua di Malaysia - yang dipentingkan hanya diri sendiri dan keluarga sendiri...atau kumpulan etnik/agama sendiri.

Ramai orang juga tidak peduli apa yang berlaku di Malaysia dan kerajaan - mereka tak minat atau 'tidak mahu tahu' isu politik, isu ekonomi, isu pentadbiran kerajaan, dll ... 

Bila sampai pilihan raya, ramai keluar mengundi berasaskan Parti - bukan sangat melihat calun. Adakah dia seorang yang ada sejarah memperjuangkan isu rakyat sama ada di peringkat tempatan atau nasional. Mereka yang tidak ada pengalaman berjuang atau bersuara...kemungkinan besar, tidak akan berkesan sebagai wakil rakyat yang baik untuk rakyat...

Ramai rakyat juga lupa bahawa mereka adalah 'BOSS' - dan bahawa wakil rakyat dan akhirnya kerajaan seharusnya kerja saperti mana dikehendaki rakyat demi kebaikkan semua (bukan hanya segelintir). 

Mereka yang dipilih dan diberi amanah mentadbir kewangan negara dan negara harus menjalankan tugas dengan baik. Mereka tidak harus gunakan kedudukan mereka untuk memperkayakan diri, keluarga mereka atau 'kawan' mereka sahaja.

Semua harta dan wang kerajaan adalah milik semua rakyat negara - Jika salahlaku kerajaan menyebabkan kehilangan wang atau berlakunya keberhutangan tinggi...ia juga merupakan kehilangan dan keberhutangan setiap satu rakyat Malaysia...

RAKYAT Malaysia tak boleh 'TIDAK PEDULI' - mereka mesti sentiasa memantau memastikan bahawa wakil rakyat, Perdana Menteri dan kerajaan tidak melakukan perkara yang salah yang akan menjejaskan mereka kini dan pada masa depan....dan jika mereka melakukan sesuatu yang tak betul, perlu sangat rakyat bersuara menyatakan pendapat mereka ....Jika BOSS diam sahaja dan tidak bersuara...maka Perdana Menteri/Menteri Besar akan terus melakukan yang tak betul ... Siapa yang bersalah di dalam konteks ini? Sememangnya 'BOSS' - rakyat Malaysia...yang tak bnertindak membiarkan CEO Malaysia terus melakukan apa yang beliau lakukan ...

Ahli UMNO - sedih sekali mereka juga 'berdiam diri' - tak ada pun soalan atau kritikan kepimpinan parti pada AGM baru-baru ini. Mengapa? Tak Peduli? Takut? Atau 'sokong' semua yang dilakukan walaupun salah...Jika Malaysia negara FEUDAL, di mana Raja memerintah - sememangnya Raja boleh lakukan apa saja - tak perlu dengar 'arahan' atau tuntutan rakyat - tetapi Malaysia(dan juga UMNO serta BN) adalah negara demokratik - di mana kuasa pada RAKYAT - rakyat pilih wakil, di mana wakil ini memilih CEO(PM di peringkat Nasional, dan Menteri Besar/Ketua Menteri di peringkat Negeri) ...yang seterusnya menentukan 'Team'nya yang akan membantuy CEO mentadbir dan memrintah ...iaitu Kabinet atau Exco Kerajaan Negeri...[Sememangnya ahli Kabinet dan Exco Kerajaan Negeri boleh ditukar bila-bila masa oleh PM/MB/CM..]

Adakah Najib sahaja yang bersalah? Najib tidak boleh terus menjadi Perdana Menteri jika majoriti MP hilang kepercayaan dengan beliau....Justeru, yang bertanggungjawab adalah MP Barisan Nasional yang terus membenarkan Najib jadi PM. Wakil Rakyat(MP)  dipilih rakyat  - justeru rakyat dapat mengarahkan MP buat apa yang rakyat mahu...dengan ugutan bahawa sekiranya MP tak patuh kehendak rakyat - kita akan tukar MP pada pilihanraya akan datang....Tolak MP atau DUN yang tidak ikut arahan rakyat - tetapi hanya ikut kata parti politiknya...

SIKAP TAK PEDULI - juga berlaku dikalangan mereka yang sudah berdaftar sebagai pengundi tetapi tak pergi keluar mengundi kerana malas, dsb... Jika tak keluar mengundi kerana tak ada calun yang boleh disokong, itu isu lain dan ada asas. Di banyak negara dalam kertas undi ada pilihan 'Tidak sokong mana-mana calun'(None of the Above) - di mana ini adalah mesej jelas kepada semua...[Adakah ini andaian yang boleh kini dilakukan bila pengundi tak keluar mengundi? Sukar kerana ramai juga tak keluar kerana malas atau tidak peduli...]

UNDI anda sangat perlu kerana ia menetapkan masa depan negara - semua rakyat Malaysia. Jangan undi calun atau parti kerana TAKUT atau kerana wang...pilihan harus dibuat demi kebaikkan semua rakyat dan negara - yang merupakan rakyat berbilang kaum dan agama...Pilih yang terbaik dan yang berprinsip...

Saya undi calun ini kerana dia Melayu atau bukan Melayu...Saya pilih calun ini kerana dia sama agama. Nyata sudah, bahawa mereka yang sama etnik atau agama juga ada yang jahat dan ada yang baik. Di kalangan mereka yang lain agama atau etnik juga hakikat sama. Justeru pilih wakil rakyat yang baik...dan yang juga berani menentang apa-apa kejahatan, salah laku, ketidakadilan walaupun yang melakukannya orang dalam parti sendiri atau parti sendiri. Yang TAKUT menentang kepimpinan parti atau parti BUKAN wakil rakyat terbaik...





Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Pakatan Harapan - Still looking at Etnic-Based solutions rather than a Malaysian solution to problems?

Pakatan Harapan seems to be just a 'NEW' Barisan Nasional looking at its manifesto - it seems to want to continue dealing with Malaysian based on ethnicity.. 'a special fund for the social and economic welfare of the Indian community in an effort to eradicate poverty and ensure that aid is available for them at all times...' - WHY?

Are there not Chinese poor, Malay poor, Siamese poor, Orang Asli Poor, Kenyah poor - yes ...all these are Malaysian poor?

Malaysians will still not be treated as Malaysians...Poverty certainly needs to be eradicated amongst all Malaysians - and, it certainly should not be done with 'special funds for Indian poor',...'special fund for Malay poor'...'special fund for Orang Asli poor' ...

Well that was the BN way - and the main reason behind this is the fact that the 3 Main parties were ETHNIC-based parties - UMNO(Malay), MCA(Chinese) and MIC(Indian)...and it is sad that our Pakatan Harapan is following a similar approach of 'divide and rule' amongst ethnic groups...

Identify the POOR - and do the needful to help them out of poverty - initially it may be in the form of 'Welfarism' [financial assistance like BR1M)...but really the object must be to ensure the poor become financially sustainable and no longer dependent on government AID or CHARITY.

Who deals with the POOR? - It must be the government through the relevant Ministries and/or Department > certainly not Indian politicians(or parties) for Indians, certainly not Malay politician(parties) for Malays...if Pakatan Harapan is taking that approach, then are they just not following the BN way?

True, there are many former UMNO-BN leaders and members in the Pakatan Harapan parties - and Malaysians certainly do not want JUST a 'BN Baru'...

The Malay politicians will speak at forums attended by Malays, the Indian politicians for forums attended by Indians, the Chinese politicians for forums attended by Chinese...Is this also the Pakatan Harapan way? See the speakers for forum reported in the Sun Daily report - all were Indian politicians from Pakatan Harapan? WHY? It makes sense if in a forum in Tamil, it is Tamil speaking politicians who will speak - but at the same time, good practice to always have politicians from other ethnic groups show that it is Malaysian. And all politicians, irrespective of their ethnicity and religion, is CONCERNED about the affairs of Malaysians not from their ethnic or religious groups...

Klang MP Charles Santiago....Other members of the forum include PKR vice president Dr Xavier Jayakumar and DAP's former Teluk Intan MP M. Manogaran.
If Indian politician takes care of Indians, Chinese politicians the Chinese, etc ...then, we also need many elected reps in each constituency to take care of their respective ethnic communities... 

We need to be Malaysians - concerned about ALL Malaysians - not just people of our own ethnic group or religion...not even 'a bit more' about people of our own ethnic group or religion - but our concern must be the SAME for all Malaysians...

We need to move away from ETHNIC-BASED or RELIGION-BASED politics and political parties - thus, Amanah and Parti Pribumi, now in Pakatan Harapan must really transform itself into becoming truly Malaysian political parties, open to all Malaysians. DAP and PKR are multi-racial multi-religious parties...

Pakatan HARAPAN really must be clear about its IDENTITY - is it truly Malaysian? Or is it a coalition of ethnic-based or religious-based political parties. Worse, when the 'de facto leader' of Pakatan Harapan is from an ethnic-based party...

TRUE - We want 'Not UMNO-BN' governments soon - We want a change ALTERNATIVE - so, please let Pakatan Harapan not be just a 'BN BARU"?


Pakatan to develop special fund for Indians

Klang MP Charles Santiago. — Sunpix by Asyraf Rasid
PORT KLANG: Pakatan Harapan aims to develop a special fund for the social and economic welfare of the Indian community in an effort to eradicate poverty and ensure that aid is available for them at all times, its Indian leaders pledged at a forum here last night.

According to Klang MP Charles Santiago, the pledge which is one of the 25 contained in Pakatan Harapan's manifesto for the Indian community was inspired by the Singapore government's Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda) fund.

"The Indian community is in dire need of a similar fund and if we are able to form the government in the coming elections, we intend to initiate this. The fund which is dedicated to aid the Indian community will begin with an allocation of RM4 billion for the 10 years derived from the government and government-linked companies (GLCs).

"To ensure that these funds can take effect immediately, the Pakatan Harapan government will provide an immediate initial allocation of RM100 million in our government's first budget," he told a crowd of over 200 people during the Pakatan Harapan's forum titled "Focus on the Manifesto for Indians" at the Valluvar Hall here.

Other members of the forum include PKR vice president Dr Xavier Jayakumar and DAP's former Teluk Intan MP M. Manogaran.

Adopting the Sinda fund model, Santiago said the fund's management will involve the participation of the Indian community as a whole by ensuring that each individual is able to contribute to the fund via a minimal salary deduction to ensure the fund's growth and sustained aid is provided.

"As a two-term MP for Klang, I have encountered many cases where Indians due to high costs of living and low salaries turn to Ah Longs (loan sharks) for financial aid. Their lives then become a living hell forcing them to seek for aid at my office," he said.

The DAP lawmaker cited an instance at his service centres where a woman had borrowed only RM1,500 from a loan shark but struggled to make repayments due to her low salary working at the estate and four children to support as well.

"The loan amount is little but she earns only over RM1,000 a month. Following cuts to her EPF and Socso, she gets only around RM700 plus and has to fork out RM350 per month to pay off the Ah Long. How would she be able to support her family in this instance?

"At the service centre, we may be able to help perhaps two to three such cases every month but imagine if there is 100 people in a similar conundrum," he said.

According to its website, the Sinda Fund was set up in 1992 as a community fund for the benefit of Indians in Singaore.

Those who qualify will contribute a monthly sum from their salaries to the funds which will be managed and channelled by Sinda to reach out to those in need of assistance, especially in the areas of education, youth aspirations and parenting.

Meanwhile, echoing similar sentiments, Xavier said that the Pakatan Harapan-led government's pledge to introduce a minimum wage of RM1,500 a month during its first term will directly help the Indians working in this category.

"The cost of living is high and it is across all races not just Indians. The decision to introduce these minimum wages was not an easy one as there are businessmen who have expressed their disatisfaction about it. 

However in an effort to aid them, the Pakatan Harapan government will ensure that a subsidy is provided to them on a temporary basis to aid the worker's salaries until they are able to support their wages themselves.

"We also intend to create more job opportunities for the community by ensuring that all GLCs, federal government agencies, states and local authorities, will be directed to target 10% of their new employees from the Indian community,"the Seri Andalas assemblyman added.

Themed "Building a nation that fulfills the hopes of the people", the Pakatan Harapan's manifesto which was launched on March 8, outlines five core thrusts encompassing 60 pledges if the opposition pact wins the 14th General Election.

The five thrusts are alleviating the cost of living; instituting political reforms, accelerate economic growth in a fair and equitable manner; restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as per the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and build a Malaysia that is inclusive, moderate and respected on the world stage.

It also contains 25 pledges to the Indian community some of which include, resolving the issues surrounding stateless Indians within 100 days and the setting up of Hindu Wakaf Board at the state level according to the model of the Penang Hindu Wakaf Board in Kedah, Perak, Selangor, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor. - Sun Daily, 28/3/2018



Bar - The anti-fake news bill must be withdrawn

The anti-fake news bill must be withdrawn

Published on  |  Modified on
COMMENT | The Malaysian Bar is deeply troubled by the introduction of the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 in Parliament yesterday.

It is the stated intention of the government to have this legislation passed in the current sitting of Parliament, and it will likely be brought into force before the campaign period for the 14th general election.

The drafting of the proposed legislation raises many questions regarding its content, intent and impact. The Malaysian Bar highlights the following:

The definition of “fake news” does not simply include news but also information, data and reports, which in its broadest sense exists “in any…form capable of suggesting words or ideas,” that is/are “wholly or partly false.”

'Fake' undefined

What is ‘false’ is not defined. “False news” is already criminalised under section 8A of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA). The definition of “publication” in the PPPA is not dissimilar to the various definitions in the proposed legislation.

A “false” communication is also criminalised under section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA). These provisions beg the question of why there is any need to create a new law to criminalise “fake” or “false” news.

The proposed law criminalises “fake news,” but since that is not clearly defined, it could be used to suppress freedom of expression in the context of expressing views or opinions.

The wording of the provisions is sufficiently wide for an action to be brought challenging “correct” or “incorrect” views on, for example, the economy, history, politics, science, and religion. Such a law may be far too wide, and could be held to be ultra vires of the Federal Constitution.

The extra-territorial reach of the proposed legislation is, arguably, wider than that of any other law in Malaysia. It will apply so long as the “fake news concerns Malaysia or the person affected by the commission of the offence is a Malaysian citizen.”

Therefore, neither the complainant nor the person complained of needs to be physically present in Malaysia for the offence to have been committed. Further, a court order to remove the publication can be served “by electronic means,” which is not defined but could conceivably include service by email, Twitter, WhatsApp, or other forms of text messaging or social media.

An individual or entity affected by “fake news” can apply to the courts for an ex parte order to remove the news, i.e., without informing the person being complained of. There is no opportunity to have both parties present in court to argue the veracity of the “fake news.”

The likely procedure is for the Sessions Court to evaluate the complaint and any supporting evidence or documents submitted by the complainant and, if the court decides that the item is “fake news,” to grant an order.
An order can be challenged, but an application to challenge does not operate to suspend or defer the original order, which must still be complied with.

However, if it is the government that obtains the order, and it alleges that the “fake news” is prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order or national security, and the court agrees, the order cannot be challenged.

The proposed legislation does not deal with a situation if the government publishes “fake news.” Looking at what is taking place around the world, this is an omission that needs to be addressed.

If the offence is committed by a body corporate, the proposed law allows for criminal liability to attach to its directors and officers, but it can also attach to anyone “to any extent responsible for the management of any of the affairs of the body corporate or was assisting in such management.”

Thus, for example, if a news reporter writes a story about Malaysia that is held to contain “fake news,” the editor or subeditor of the company employing the news reporter would also be criminally liable.

Failure to abide by a court order leads to the commission of a criminal offence, which carries a fine of up to RM100,000 and a continuing fine of RM3,000 for each day of non-compliance. Such failure also results in a contempt of court, and arrest is allowed under the Criminal Procedure Code.

Why is new legislation necessary?

The many illustrations, in the proposed legislation, of how an offence is committed under the proposed legislation actually involve the issue of civil or criminal defamation, for which Malaysia has adequate legislation and legal procedures.

This again raises the question of why new legislation is required. Of serious concern is the fact that publishing a “caricature” can also constitute an offence of “fake news.” Parodies and poking fun, which by their very nature may involve some embellishment, would now constitute a criminal offence.

While the use of the word “knowingly” in the elements of the offence denotes a requirement of intention, there is no requirement of malice or ill intent, unlike section 8A of the PPPA. However, there is another offence in the proposed legislation, of failing in one’s duty to remove news, “knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe” that it is “fake news.”

What constitutes “knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe” is not defined. This lack of certainty gives cause for concern.

The real issue of “fake news,” which is what is currently in the minds of many governments around the world, is about the setting up of fake social media accounts and publishing news through it, of sending tailored messages based on someone’s online profile, and the funding of the same, and influencing outcomes of elections.

However, these matters are not adequately addressed in the proposed legislation. Only the issue of funding is dealt with and criminalised in the proposed section 5.

Again, other existing legislation already caters for the offence of aiding and abetting the spreading of false news, so this provision does not serve any purpose except for the provision of a huge maximum fine of RM500,000 and/or a heavy maximum jail sentence of 10 years, to act as a chilling deterrent.

Previous issues of the prime minister receiving a vast donation prior to the last general election, and what may have been done with those funds, have been wholly overlooked.

The presence in Malaysia of a foreign company involved in data analytics and online profiling is also ignored.
If the Malaysian government were genuinely concerned about the possibility of foreign funding and foreign influence on the outcome of our upcoming general election, surely it should have focused instead on campaign finance reform, data security, and personal privacy.

Ultimately, the public is left to ponder the “value add” of this proposed new legislation.

Regrettably, the intended provisions enable:
  • The Government to immediately silence “fake news”;
  • Court orders to be rendered unchallengeable if there is accepted evidence of prejudicing public order or national security; and
  • Intimidation of the media and honest practitioners of freedom of expression, who must now be 100 percent correct in their reporting, postings or statements, or else stand accused of being “partially false.”
Sensitivities about the reputation of Malaysia by way of negative comments and criticisms can now be attacked through an extremely wide extra-territorial application of the proposed legislation, putting this in the same category as international terrorism, cross-border corruption, money-laundering, and trafficking in persons.

While this issue should not be ignored, the proposed broad-based law to criminalise the dissemination of news amounts to legislative overkill.

The Malaysian Bar calls on the government to withdraw the proposed legislation from consideration at this current sitting of Parliament, and to convene a proper select committee to look comprehensively and publicly into the issue.

The government must not legislate in haste.

GEORGE VARUGHESE is president of the Malaysian Bar.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.