Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Opposition may table restoration of original Article 121 (1)

Malaysia Today - by Sharon Tan, THE EDGE

The opposition may table a private member’s bill to amend Article 121 (1) of the Federal Constitution that restores the court’s judicial power if the government fails to do so.

“It is an option that we are considering seriously. We would do it if the government does not do it,” said DAP member of parliament (MP) for Ipoh Barat, M Kulasegaran.
There has not been a private member’s bill since the 1970s. Any constitutional amendment would need two-thirds support of parliament, which means Barisan Nasional MPs would need to vote for it.

“In this country there is no procedure preference given to private member’s bill. If there is private member’s bill preference given, so many of my earlier application would have come up. It will never come up. It will be impossible to see the light of the day,” said Kulasegaran, adding that the opposition may still go ahead with the tabling of such a bill.

The original Article 121(1) conferred the “judicial power of the Federation” on the courts, but in an amendment in 1988, this was replaced by “judicial power vested” in the courts as “may be provided for by federal law”.

Party Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) MP for Subang, R Sivarasa, said passing a private member’s bill was virtually impossible without the blessing of the government.

“So forget about the Article 121 amendment. It is never going to happen. Westminster has moved on and we are still in the boondocks.

“Even our neighbours have moved on, like Indonesia, Thailand and (the) Philippines. The procedure in parliament does not entertain any proposals like motions or private member’s bills of the opposition,” he said adding that even though if they were to file a private member’s bill, the matter would never be debated.

Sivarasa said former minister in the prime minister’s department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim had spoken to the opposition about judicial reforms.

He said Zaid stirred the interest of all parties, including the Bar Council, which wanted to see the doctrine of separation of powers and rule of law restored.

“Zaid was talking to us about a serious reform of the judiciary — first a judicial appointment commission as a constitution commission which will necessitate amendment to the constitution. He was also talking about amendment to Article 121. Unfortunately with his departure, I think all that is gone,” he said.

He said the current minister in charge of the law portfolio, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, was not looking at a constitutional commission.

“Which means it is a body that nobody is going to take too seriously and the basic framework of PM appointing judges is not going to change. Zaid was talking to us. We didn’t agree with a lot of what he said but it was a serious process.

“It should be properly done, with consultations and it takes time. Do it with consultation as Zaid had started. Now he (Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) seems to be rushing purely for political purposes,” said Sivarasa, adding that a non-constitutional commission would not have enough clout.

Meanwhile, Kulasegaran welcomed the decision by the judges in both Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s and Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin’s cases last Friday.

Judge SM Komathy Suppiah ruled in favour of Anwar last Friday when she found the transfer form (for the case to be transfered from Sessions Court to the High Court for trial) signed by Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail to be invalid.

The judge made the ruling as Abdullah had assured the nation that the AG would not be a part of the trial as the latter was being investigated for allegedly tampering with evidence in Anwar’s trial a decade ago.

In Raja Petra’s case, Judge Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad ruled his detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) as unconstitutional. He said the home minister had not followed the proper procedure under Section 8 of the ISA in issuing the detention order.

Wondering if other judges around the country would stand up against the executive branch of government, Kulasegaran said he hope for “some semblance of (the judiciary) coming to normalcy.” He added that there was a need of a thorough look at the appointment of judges to ensure that the process was transparent.

On Raja Petra’s case, Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said: “The decision of the learned High Court judge in the habeas corpus application of Raja Petra Kamarudin gives us hope that our judiciary has acted and will act with courage, integrity and independence when the liberty of an individual is threatened by the arbitrary use of power under the Internal Security Act 1960.”
5 Minutes With M.Kulasegaran

By Kharleez Zubin November 07, 2008 Categories: 5-Minute Interview

For the rest of his life, Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran, will vividly remember Nov 5, 2008.
That was the day he was entangled in a heated exchange that saw Pasir Salak MP, Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, calling him a b******.

Tajuddin lost his cool when Kulasegaran said many Indians in Pasir Salak "benci YB lah" (hate you).

Kulasegaran retracted his statement and used ‘tak suka" instead of hate, but this still did not go down with Tajuddin, who claimed that while he had retracted the b****** word, Kulasegaran was not sincere when he retracted the word "benci’’.

How are you taking the incident on Wednesday?
I have said my piece in Parliament. But being a human being, you feel bad when someone uses that word on you. I am shocked, and even surprised a person of his standing can utter such a thing.

Will you forgive him for saying such a thing?
He must apologise inside or outside Parliament. He didn’t apologise. He only retracted his remark when ordered to do so by Deputy Speaker Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
Tajuddin’s contention is that you provoked him, saying the Indian community in Pasir Salak hate him and did not vote for him in the last general election ... ?
Is it justified for anyone, especially a parliamentarian, to use such uncouth language even under provocation? All I said was not all voters in Pasir Salak voted for him. If they did, he would have had a landslide victory.

Your comments on the government putting on hold the minimum wage proposal you are pushing for all sectors because of the global economic situation?
Now, the economic situation is the excuse. Why was this proposal not considered during good times? The minister and his deputy have been giving inconsistent statements on this issue. Conditions are not right and this and that. Do you really need a favourable time to do a good thing?

How will this help in reducing our dependence on foreign labour, especially in the construction sector?
The absence of minimum wage legislation encourages a free flow of foreign workers. When you set a minimum wage, employers must prove to the Immigration Department that they are unable to get locals. Without this legislation, the locals are deprived of a decent salary and a job. You can’t blame the locals for not taking up low paying jobs. This vacuum is filled by foreigner workers.

What is your next move?
The labour caucus. We have been pushing for the setting up of this mechanism for some time now and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Deaprtment Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has agreed to launch it in Parliament on Nov 18.

What is the scope of the caucus?
Among the matters the caucus will look into is the setting up of a fund for retrenched workers. Also, it will set in place mechanisms to safeguard foreign workers who are not paid salaries, overworked and abused.

No to ISA - Candle Vigil in Ipoh

The Internal security Act(ISA) is one of the worst draconian law ever enacted by the Malaysia Government. For the last over 40 years any person in Malaysia can be detained on the filmiest of grounds.The Malaysian government continues to use or threatens to use the ISA against people whom they accuse of being threats to national security, including government critics and those allegedly involved in "terrorist-linked" activities.It provides for detention without trial.

This act is outdated ,barbaric and is not in tandem with accepted democratic principles. The ISA is too wide in it scop and it can be used to muzzle anyone who acts, works or writes against the government of the day.Originally ISA was meant for the communist terrorists but now it is used against all kind of offenders including counterfeiters, gun runners, smugglers and gangsters.

# especially used frequently against dissident’s and political opponents and even a ordinary reporter

# It gives too much power to one minister to arrest without check and balance# .Minister can act under his sole discretion

# Courts have no say to overturned minister’s decision except in rare casesThe arrest of Raja Petra kamaruddin under ISA and his subsequent release from the ISA is a victory for the people. We must thank the Judge of the High Court who had the commitment and daringness to release Raja Petra and thus Raja Petra can now experience freedomThere are many who are still languishing under the draconian ISA, including members of HINDRAF.

# They all deserve the right of immediately judicial review, freedom from unjustified detention or they showed be charged in court immediately

# I demand for their immediate release of ALL ISA detainees…and stop the us use of the ISA and an immediate repeal of this barbaric law.We must end the BN from using this repressive measure to control critics and dissenters. I also demand the resignation of ‘Syed Hamid as Home minister for his careless use of the ISA and giving incredible unacceptable reasons for the detention.

# He should resign for ordering the illegal and wrongful detention of Raja Petra on flimsy excuses.

# The court decision to free Raja Petra proves that Syed Hamid had abused his ministerial power and misused ISA for political mileage.# Since he became the home minister, Syed Hamid has been guilty of making numerous serious ministerial blunders causing grievous pain and suffering to people like Raja Petra, Si Puteh MP Teresa Kok and the Sin Chew Daily reporter.

# He should own up to his failure and resign or be sacked by the Prime Minister.

We are happy the spirit of goodness have prevail during the Deepavali season. Deepavali is the success of goodness over evil when finally we have light over darkness. In the same manner we now have candle lights all over to day signifying the light over darkness.

Finally Raja Petra detention was a clear act of detaining a person for his free and proactive thoughts and writings. But they could not detain him too long as “the pen is mightier than the sword”