Power Corrupts

Press Release from IIM
The Malaysian Institute of Integrity supports the MACC’s call to screen election candidates

Power corrupts, they say; or as the longer version goes, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Upon mentioning the word corruption more often than not our mind will wander towards our visual cortex playing visions of Barisan Nasional, the police, and on the lesser side the local authorities.  Like it or not, the management of people’s perception towards the integrity of Barisan Nasional leaders continues to play a huge role especially in the cyber world and will have an impact in the 13th General Election.  While Prime Minister Najib continues to win the rakyat‘s hearts and minds through his policy of openness, there is that little devil playing in the back of our mind asking if Najib would have the political will to remove certain people after the next general election he inherited from his predecessor who had stepped down mid-term.  Let us hope that high-profile cases affecting Barisan Nasional’s integrity such as Shahrizat Jalil’s and Khir Toyo’s will reflect a continuous effort by the Najib administration to strengthen its integrity.

Fighting corruption in Malaysia is not a new thing.  In fact, Malaysia became the first developing nation to have an anti-corruption law when the Anti-Corruption Act was passed in 1961. This was supported by the Emergency Ordinance (Essential Powers) No.22, 1970, and then replaced by the Anti-Corruption Agency Act in 1982.  As part of a continual process to make better the fight against corruption, the Anti-Corruption Act 1997  was passed among others covering more types of corrupt acts, adding more powers to the prosecution and to the Anti Corruption Agency.  To further show its seriousness in fighting corruption, the Government had also tabled (and passed by Parliament) the Witness Protection Act 2009, Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission Act 2009, and the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010.

One may ask how effective have these Acts been, especially in the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 with regards to the NFC case?  As we know, an employee of a bank here in Malaysia had divulged transaction information of an account belonging to the NFCorp to PKR’s Rafizi Ramli (who by chance is an accountant), who in turn made public the findings and demanded an investigation into the NFCorp.  While we thank the two individuals for their concern into the misuse of public funds granted to the NFCorp to assist its real purpose, the bank employee had committed an offence under Section 97(1) of the Banking and Financial Institutions Act, 1989 for revealing details of a customer’s account, while Rafizi, whether foolishly or knowingly given that he is a certified accountant, had committed an offence under Section 97(3) of the same Act for disclosing information in contravention of subsection (1).  Anywhere you go to, including Switzerland, you will never be able to get information pertaining to the banks’ customers’ account(s) unless compelled by law.

Aren’t Rafizi and the bank employee protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act then?  No, they are not.  All disclosure of improper conduct should be reported to any enforcement agency “Provided such disclosure is not specifically prohibited by any written law” (Section 6(1)).  What the bank employer should have done was to lodge a report with the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) and let due process take place.  It makes no sense to report a purported wrongdoing to the press, or on the Web, or in ceramahs, unless you are not interested in seeing justice being done, but rather throw it to the court of public opinion for political mileage.

Being able to govern the country is at its core all about power and influence.  Elected politicians use their power to get things done.  In an ideal world, we can hope to see this power used to benefit others, meaning voters.  That would be in the form of socialised power.  The other form of power would be called personalised power.  This is used for personal gains.    An elected politician can still use this power to benefit others, and at the same time make personal gains.  After all, none of us have seen a poor former US President.  We have, in our times, seen poor Prime Ministers (such as Tun Razak), but that would be a rare exception.

We have also seen the rearing of ugly heads when it comes to the Opposition-held states; the sand-mining scandal in Selangor, mushrooming of seedy health centers in Selangor, sale of Bayan Mutiara, allocating humongous projects in Kedah without open-tender being called, the contract to supply of tailor-made costumes to the Perak government being given to members of a state assemblyman’s family, and of course, the case Teoh Beng Hock died for.  If you ask a layman like me, I see no benefit whatsoever that could be gained by Barisan Nasional coming from Teoh Beng Hock’s death, but those whose information the late Teoh Beng Hock was privy to, definitely benefited from his eternal silence.  Only fools would think otherwise.

So, my fellow rakyat, voters, the answer is NO, REPLACING X WITH Y DOES NOT CHANGE ANYTHING.  There are positive and negative sides of power.  On the former, power makes leaders more assertive, confident and certain of their decisions.  They must use the power to get the job done.  On the latter, the more power a leader possess, the more they focus on their egocentric desires and as their power increases, they will gradually cease to see the perspective of others.  What we want, as the rakyat, are leaders with integrity, and it does not matter which side of the political fence they are on.

Recently, the Malaysian Institute of Integrity had issued a press statement supporting the move by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission offering to vet potential candidates for the GE13.  Datuk Dr Mohd Tap Salleh, President of IIM, said that “this proactive step would help party leadership to nominate candidates with integrity.”

IIM in this statement said that this process will ensure the degree of confidence towards the election and democratic systems will increase, and this will in turn interest the public to participate in the elections process and choose leaders.  “This country needs political leadership with high integrity.  With respect to that, leaders need to have in them pristine values such as trust, responsible, accountable, truthful, transparent, honest, and sincere, in order to serve the nation and its people,” Datuk Dr Mohd Tap added.

And I, as a layman, cannot agree more.  I hope that the Government, political leaders,  and the Elections Commission will take this offer seriously.  Elected politicians must always remember that they have the mandate from the rakyat to administer this government and the constituency they represent to ensure it is done efficiently and the interest of the rakyat protected at all cost, not for their political nor personal gains.

Funny Association of Bar Owners – Part 3

Since my last posting, several landmark events have taken place.  First, the three people seen in the video taken by an Opposition supporter instigating the breach of police barricade at the Dataran Merdeka have been charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012; and under the same Act, the Government has filed a civil suit against the organisers and members of the steering committee of BERSIH 3.0 (Ambiga Sreenivasan and 9 others) for their failure to ensure that their responsibilities as the organisers of the rally to ensure that the Assembly remained peaceful, as stipulated in the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.  This also opens up the possibility of the injured policemen taking civil action against the organisers jointly and severally for the same reason.  According to the Guidelines on Peaceful Assembly issued by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Para 116 states the following:

In the implementation of legislation on freedom of assembly, consideration should also be given to the rights, health and safety of police officers.

Maybe, it would also be worth to explore Section 34 and 149 of the Penal Code, to show there was a common intention by the organisers of BERSIH 3.0, and the perpetrators charged as above, to endanger public order based on the precedences set by BERSIH 1.0 and 2.0, where they always end in violence.  In BERSIH 2.0 we saw the video of yet another Opposition MP who made a countdown to charge at the police line.  Therefore, the organisers of BERSIH 3.0 should have denounced the act and kept the political parties out of the assembly.  Consider this, would it not be mala fide to even incite, promise and invite 500,000 people to attend a rally in one place that cannot hold more than 100,000?  How did the organisers, as responsible people, expect the police to ensure the safety of the participants of the rally, to weed out bad hats and trouble-makers who may have ill intent, let alone to ensure public order and the right to freedom of passage by road users who are not participants, their right to public order, morality, security and public health?

What has also taken place, in reference to the first case above, the defence counsel for Anwar Ibrahim includes the very man who led the prosecution team against him in the Sodomy II trial, and lost.  This is in particular of interest to me as Mohd Yusof Zainal Abidin was privy to the evidences and information made available to the Attorney-General’s office.  That case is now in its appeal stage and is far from over, making the move by Yusof to join Anwar’s defence team, in my opinion, nothing short of being malum in se.  Already, there is talk among the rakyat about how the Government had lost its case against Anwar in Sodomy II.  We will have to see if Yusof has or will cross the line between being a defence counsel and criminal conspirator.  The Government (Attorney-General’s Office) should have an ethical standards barring former staff who have had access to sensitive law enforcement and intelligence information to move into private practice dealing with clients who can benefit directly from the information.  As in the case of one Michael Abell who switched sides in 1995 from the US Justice Department to defending Cali drug barons, a lack of ethical standard set by the US Justice Department (and in this case, the Malaysian Attorney-General’s Office) squanders public trust when it allows this to happen.

Interestingly, the Bar Council has kept mum on this issue.  An injustice towards the Government seems to be okay from a body that is supposed to uphold the law without fear or favour.  How can one not say that the Bar Council is partisan?  Every action it does seems to favour only one side of the political fence.

I urge those among the 13,000 members of the Malaysian Bar who did not attend the recent Extraordinary General Meeting who are against the resolution passed en bloc and fear for the neutrality of the Bar, to take action now as rakyat like I, have now doubt it being a professional body.

And I would also like to urge Malaysians capable of thinking…to think.

Funny Association of Bar Owners – Part 2

THIS PART SHALL COVER THE TOPIC OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY

It is a misconception that there are no limitations to Human Rights.  It is a gross misconception, too, to think that the Right to Peaceably Assemble comes without any form of limitation.  Article 29(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says so.

In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society

What does the above mean?  If put in layman terms, the above means you can’t assemble in a quiet neighbourhood at four o’ clock in the morning. You can’t assemble in the middle of a downtown street. If your assembly becomes rowdy, the cops can stop it. If your assembly is a pot party, the police can close it. If you bring 1,000 people into a building designed for 100, the police can close it. Basically, you can’t create a safety hazard. You can’t disturb the peace. You can’t incite a riot. You can’t create unsafe conditions.

The preliminary report by the Bar Council on BERSIH 3.0 acknowledged that some rally participants were already behaving rowdy towards the authorities, but the police did not act until the breach of police line was done by some politically-motivated participants, after a signal instruction was given out to them by some politicians.  The final report, which was prepared in haste, changed the situation to “reported breach” instead of an actual breach, and pinned more than 90 percent of the blame on the police.

The Bar Council’s 93-paged final report contained lots of overkill in order to justify their pinning the blame on the police; citing every single declaration and convention there is on Human Rights, and articles that point to misconducts by the authorities. Now, let us revisit the facts one by one. I will go by chronological order based on the preliminary Bar Council report and compare it with the final version:

Para 5.5: “At around 12.50pm near the roundabout on Jalan Kinabalu, some of our monitors heard some rally participants calling police officers “sampah (rubbish)” as they passed the police line. The police officers, however, did not pay heed to what was said by the participants. ”  Apart from an incident at 12.38pm where rally participants shouted “Rasuah (Corruption/Corrupted)” at the police, the final report did not mention the incident at Jalan Kinabalu.

Para 5.6: “Around 12pm to 1pm, participants at the intersection of Jalan Tun Perak, Jalan TAR and Jalan Raja, booed and jeered at the police officers but there was no retaliation from the police. Some police officers took photos of the crowd surrounding them.”  This, too, was omitted in the final report.

Para 5.7: “Between 12pm and 2pm, PDRM and DBKL constantly drove their vans, cars and trucks along Jalan Tun Perak through the middle of the crowd.  A small number of participants (mostly in yellow t-shirts) at times threw things at the vehicles including cans, empty plastic bottles, and other items, and at other times, the crowd cheered them.” Not a single mention of this was made in the corresponding table in the final Bar Council report.  Instead, it wrote about how the participants were in jovial mood and at the same time the number of police presence was building up and acted in aggressive manner towards the participants.

Para 5.8: “Around 2.50pm, near the barricades at Dataran Merdeka, some of our monitors observed rally participants shouted “masuk, kita masuk! (Go in, let’s go in!)”  The police force then sprayed water cannon and fired tear gas towards the participants.  The monitors, who were trapped within the crowd of participants then heard a group of particpants yelling “undur, undur (retreat, retreat).”  However, some of the participants kept on shouting “masuk, kita masuk (go in, let’s go in).”  Not a single sentence from this preliminary report was included inside the Bar Council’s final report; nor was there any mention of the video of a politician signalling the order for a breach of police barricade be made.  Instead, the final report painted a picture that the police had already fired tear gas BEFORE this signal-event even  took place.  I quote:

2.40pm in front of DBKL building.  A monitor noticed police officers ran backwards towards the police trucks.  The monitor did not hear of any warning sound given by the police but then water cannons sprayed and tear gas fired towards the crowd.  The crowd dispersed towards DBKL building. DBKL officers did not allow the crowd to take cover in the area.

Was the Bar Council fair and just in its reporting of the event?  Why was there such a huge difference between the preliminary and final reports?  One may argue that the preliminary report did not contain all the details of the events as it was quickly drafted, but total omission of events in the final one shows that the Bar Council’s final report was objective.  Its objective was to paint a bad picture of the police and local government authorities.

I think much have been said by me on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its limitations.  You can find them in the links below:

A Clean Assembly – Part One

A Clean Assembly – Part Two

A Clean Assembly – Part Three

A Clean Assembly – Part Four

Funny Association of Bar Owners

Now, let us revisit Article 20(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):

Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association

The corresponding article in the Malaysian Federal Constitution would be Article 10(1)(b) that states:

Subject to clauses (2), (3) and (4) – all citizens have the right to a peaceful assembly and without arms

One glance at these two articles will indicate that it is everyone’s right to be able to assemble peacefully.  Does the right come without limitation?  My answer is, of course NOT.

There are SIX guiding principles for the rights to peaceful assembly:

Principle 1 – Presumption in favour of holding assemblies. What it means here is that as a fundamental right, freedom of assembly should, in so far as possible, be enjoyed without regulation. Anything not expressly forbidden in law should be presumed to be permissible, and those wishing to assemble should not be required to obtain permission to do so.  In the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, Section 9(1) states that the organiser shall, ten days before the date of an assembly, notify the Officer in-charge of Police District (OCPD) in which the assembly is to be held.  No permit is required, as evident in the BERSIH 3.0 assembly where the police and relevant authorities facilitated the passage and assembly of participants EVEN WHEN INCONVENIENCING non-participants. barring areas like the Central Market, the DBKL building, and the Dataran Merdeka.  Were the authorities right by barring the participants entry into these areas?  The answer is, YES.  Section 11 of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 requires organisers to obtain consent of owner or occupier of place of assembly.  Unless it is a designated place of assembly, an expressed consent from the owner or occupier is needed for these places.

Principle 2 – The State’s duty to protect peaceful assembly. This is an established fact that from 9am when the Bar Council monitors began observing the assembly, the police were there to facilitate the assembly, EVEN to the point of not reacting to taunts and jeers and objects being thrown at their vehicles prior to 3pm.

Principle 3 – Legality.  Any restriction imposed must have a formal basis in law.  A constitutional lawyer debated with me this issue saying that the Home Minister had already given the green light for the assembly to go ahead without a permit.  Yet, as a lawyer, he failed to understand the part where Section 11 of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 states that expressed consent must be obtained from the owner or occupier of the place.  Does he mean that if the Home Minister says it is okay for the participants to camp out on your home lawn then you have no right to refuse?  If so, where is your right under Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Is it supposed to favour only the participants?

DBKL, as the custodian of the Dataran Merdeka, had obtained a court order two days before BERSIH 3.0 assembled, to bar participants from entering the Dataran Merdeka.  Bear in mind, for two weeks they had closed one eye to a group of students who had camped on the lawn of the Dataran Merdeka, causing damage and throwing rubbish all over the place.  Therefore, an order was obtained to prevent more damage to the Dataran Merdeka.  Remember, By-Law 4 of the Local Government (Dataran Merdeka, Federal Territory, Kuala Lumpur) By-Laws, 1992 states the following:

No person shall, unless approved by the Commissioner in writing, in the Dataran Merdeka– (a) eat any food, drink or smoke any cigarette, cigar or any tobacco; (b) cut, remove, damage, pluck any leaf, branch, flower or seed of any plant or tree; (c) cut, uproot, dig, remove or damage any plant, tree or grass; (d) excavate or remove any earth; (e) climb any tree or structure; (f) dirty, deface, make alteration to, displace or damage any structure; (g) nail, tie, bind, chain, draw, scribble, paint, spray, mark, affix, inscribe, display, place or hang anything on any tree, plant or structure; (h) walk over, step or stand on any planting bed or shrubbery; (i) enter or climb the hundred metre flag pole; (j) ride, drive, pull or push any vehicle whether mechanically propelled or otherwise or slide with a skate; (k) contaminate or pollute the water in any fountain; (l) deface or remove any notice displayed by the Commissioner; (m) spit, urine or defecate; (n) displace, make any alteration to, remove, deface or tamper with anything displayed, exhibit, affixed, hung, placed, constructed or set up by the Commissioner; (o) erect any tent, booth, shed or other structure;(p) drop, throw, deposit, place or leave anything whatsoever; (q) kindle any fire or any fireworks or crackers; (r) lie down or sleep in any part of Dataran Merdeka; or (s) allow any animal which is under his control to enter or remain in any part of Dataran Merdeka.

The order was obtained under Section 98 of the Criminal Procedure Code.  I am pretty sure that the Magistrate who issued the order must have taken into consideration the history and lessons learnt from the previous BERSIH episodes, thus meeting the requirement of the clear and present danger test.  I am also sure that the Magistrate had taken into account statements and remarks made by politicians in the mass media on BERSIH 3.0 that have met the incitement test, before issuing the order.

Principle 4 – Proportionality.  Any restriction imposed on freedom of assembly must be proportional.  The least intrusive means of achieving the legitimate objective being pursued by the authorities should always be given preference.  The dispersal of assemblies may only be a measure of last resort.  The restriction imposed was proportional.  Only the Dataran Merdeka was sealed off, and this only happened AFTER several stadiums offered to the organisers by the local authorities as designated place of assembly, were rejected by the former.  This despite the fact that in BERSIH 2.0, the organiser applied for the use of the Stadium Merdeka, but was rejected by the owner.  If the cause of BERSIH 3.0 is paramount, would venue be a matter?  The dispersal of the assembly was only done when the participants, after being signaled by a politician, breached the barricades protecting the Dataran Merdeka.  If you read the definition under Section 3 of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, an assembly is no longer an assembly the moment you assemble in a meeting at a specified place, then walk in a mass march or rally for the purpose of objecting to or advancing your cause.  This is termed as a ‘street protest’ which is no longer covered by the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 under Section 4(1)(c).  Here, the test of preserving the public order, morality and security takes place.  Even then, before the breach at 2.50pm, the police allowed the participants to rally.

Principle 5 – Good administration.  The public should know which body is responsible for taking decisions about the regulation of freedom of assembly, and this must be clearly stated in the law.  In this case, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012  states that the Minister of Home Affairs, through the Police, is responsible.

Principle 6 – Non-discrimination.  The right to peaceful assembly should be enjoyed by all.  On the 28th April 2012 we had different parties and organisations that held simultaeneous assembly, including political parties.  None were discriminated.  The right for children to participate in an assembly or organise an assembly is also stated in Section 4(1)(d) and (e) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.  With due regard to the evolving capacity of a child, no children below the age of 15 may participate in an assembly.  What we saw during BERSIH 3.0 was parents taking children even below the age of 12, which in my opinion is irresponsible given the intensity of the event’s atmosphere, and given the history of similar assemblies organised by the same organisers in the past.

We know for a fact that the police had, right up until the breach was “ordered” at 2.50pm, facilitated the street protests, the marches, the multiple (simultaenous) assemblies, did not even react to taunts, jeers, object-throwing.  Suddenly, in the Bar Council’s final report there was this monitor who had heard a police walkie-talkie saying , “Bersiap sedia untuk…(Prepare for….)” although this was heard some 20 minutes before the actual breach.  Other monitors reported seeing pick-up trucks with strange communication poles on top of them.  None of these were in the preliminary report, yet conveniently appeared in the final report that was prepared in haste for the EGM called.  Was the idea of producing this report and the subsequent condemnation of the police a deliberate act to vilify the police?

In 2007, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) had issued a Guideline for Freedom of Peaceful Assemblies.  On page 13 of the guideline, the following statement is made:

Only peaceful assemblies are protected. An assembly shall be deemed peaceful if its organisers have peaceful intentions.  The term “peaceful” should be interpreted to include conduct that may annoy or give offence to persons opposed to the ideas or claims that a particular assembly is promoting, and even the conduct that deliberately impedes or obstructs the activities of third parties.  Participation in a public assembly must be voluntary.

And as I said in a few paragraphs above, Section 4(1)(c) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 clearly agrees with the guideline above.  The police were upholding the law by protecting the Dataran Merdeka, as ordered by the Magistrate via a court order issued under Section 98 of the Criminal Procedure Code.  If that is so wrong, then is the Bar Council not interested in upholding the sanctity of the law?  The Dataran Merdeka does not fall under the definition of a public place.  It is not a park where people go picnic or jog at; it is not a square that is open to the public like the Trafalgar Square is; it is not a street or a sidewalk or an avenue or pavement or even a footpath.  It is protected under a By-law made under the Local Government Act, 1976.

I personally do not take the Bar Council’s final report seriously. I do not believe it was made objectively, nor was it a fair report made with good intention.  As for its Monitors, some are members of the opposition party, some are on the BERSIH steering committee, some are both.  How non-partisan is that?

In the next part of my posting, I will address the issue and claims of torture. Lastly, I leave you with this section on “Monitors” set in the guideline issued by the ODIHR. Based on my paragraph above, you decide whether the Bar Council has been fair at all:

8.  Monitors – For the purpose of these Guidelines, monitors are defined as non-participant third-party persons or groups whose primary aim is to observe and record what is taking place.

 

Funny Association of Bar Owners

My colleague from Sweden once made a remark about the Chinese New Year traffic.  The problem with Malaysian roads getting congested, he said, is because people do not respect the law.  Queue-jumpers cause bottleneck situations along highways, while in town, double-parking clogs up the roads.

He is absolutely right.  Malaysians have a problem with abiding by the law. What makes it worse is when the very institution that is supposed to set examples to the general public breaks it once too often.  After a while, I can only conclude that the Malaysian Bar is led by drunkards and partisan people who have no regards to uphold the tenets of their association. Seriously, I find their constant by-design association with the opposition parties, and skewed view of Human Rights, for the lack of a better word, disturbing.

Most prominent opposition-leaning Bar Council members claim that the Peaceful Assembly Act, 1972 is against normal International Human Rights “law.”  For that reason, the PA2012 should and can be be challenged.  This Act was put to the test during the recent BERSIH 3.0 mayhem.

In the recent BERSIH 3.0 interim report issued by the organisation, it mentioned that the rally was peaceful until around 3pm when the police opened fire with their water cannons and teargas (para 1.3 (i)) but there was no mention about the breach of police line by the protestors under the instruction of one politician (or so it seems from the video that has now been shown by several international news agencies).

The organisation also goes to mention about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It quoted Article 3 of the Declaration which says:

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person

Then it goes on to quote Article 5 of the same Declaration that says:

No one shall be subjected to torture, or to cruel, or inhuman or degrading treatment, or punishment

Let us first talk about these two Articles.  Article 3 clearly says everyone, not just the rally participants, has the right to life, liberty and security.  In Section 3 of the PA2012, it is stated in the interpretation that “rights and freedom of other persons” includes:

  • the right to peaceful enjoyment of one’s possession;
  • the right to freedom of movement;
  • the right to enjoy the natural environment; and
  • the right to carry on business.

Pro-one-sided Human Rights group may argue that the right to freedom to assemble is guaranteed under the Declaration, and also in the Federal Constitution.  However, if one was to read the Declaration and the Constitution properly, the Declaration clearly states:

Article 20(1) UDHR – Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association

                            Article 10 Federal Constitution – (1) Subject to Clauses (2), (3) and (4) – (a) every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression, (b) all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms;

If you look at the above Articles, they clearly mention the words PEACEFUL and PEACEABLY.  On Page 27 of the Bar Council’s report, their monitors reported that between 9am and 2.30pm it was observed that the police force was unperturbed by the participants, and some were courteous towards the participants (para 6.1).  Around 12 noon, the crowd marched towards Jalan Tun Perak from the Jalan P Ramlee and Jalan Raja Chulan areas.  Along the way, traffic police gave full cooperation and managed traffic for the crowd to march (para 6.2).  In both paragraphs, it was clear that the police cooperated, even though at this point the BERSIH 3.0 participants had broken the law.  Section 4 (2) of the PA2012 states:

A person commits an offence if (c) he organizes or participates in a street protest

A ‘street protest’ is defined in Section 3 of the Act as: “an open air assembly which begins with a meeting at a specified place and consists of walking in a mass march or rally for the purpose of objecting to or advancing a particular cause or causes.”

The Bar Council monitors also noted that at 12.50pm, near the Jalan Kinabalu roundabout (in the Dataran Merdeka area), some rally participants were heard calling the police “sampah (rubbish)” as they passed the police line.  The police officers did not pay heed to what was said by the participants (para 5.5, page 26).  Around 12 noon to 1pm, a number of participants (most were wearing yellow) booed and jeered at the police.  Still there was no retaliation by the police (para 5.6, page 26).  Between noon and 2pm along Jalan Tun Perak, some participants threw cans, empty bottles and other stuff at police vehicles (para 5.7, page 26), and still there was no report of the police retaliating.  It was only at 2.50pm that the monitors observed rally participants shouted “Masuk, kita masuk (Go in, let’s go in!)” (para 5.8, page 26). This was when the police retaliated with water cannon and tear gas after the barricade was breached.

It was after this that the report stressed more on the conduct of the police than of the protestors.  The Bar Council had failed to also pin the blame on their political associates from the opposition that had hijacked the BERSIH 3.0 cause, to achieve their own cause – and that was to get the attention of the foreign media to focus on the acts of members of the police force against the demonstrators DESPITE having a law to allow peaceful assemblies to demonstrate Prime Minister Najib’s commitment towards better freedom.

I do not condone the acts of the members of the police force if they had gone overboard, but I can understand from the bar Council’s report that for 6 hours the police had cooperated with the participants even though they had broken the law.  Even after sporadic jeering and having bottles thrown at them, they never once retaliated.  This goes to show that the police had been consistent in executing their duties which were (1) to facilitate the BERSIH 3.0’s rally and minimise inconvenience to the public at large (read: those who were not participants), and (2) to uphold a Magistrate’s order barring participants from entering the Dataran Merdeka.

In the above paragraph, both the Organisers and the Participants of the rally have already breached Sections 2 (c) (f);  6 (2) (a) (b) (c) (d) (f) (g) (h) and 7 (a) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) and 7 (b) of the PA 2012.  If you think that the Dataran Merdeka belongs to the people, you are dead wrong.  The Local Government (Dataran Merdeka, Federal Territory, Kuala Lumpur) By-Laws, 1992 states:

By-Law 4. OffencesNo person shall, unless approved by the Commissioner in writing, in the Dataran Merdeka– (a) eat any food, drink or smoke any cigarette, cigar or any tobacco; (b) cut, remove, damage, pluck any leaf, branch, flower or seed of any plant or tree; (c) cut, uproot, dig, remove or damage any plant, tree or grass; (d) excavate or remove any earth; (e) climb any tree or structure; (f) dirty, deface, make alteration to, displace or damage any structure; (g) nail, tie, bind, chain, draw, scribble, paint, spray, mark, affix, inscribe, display, place or hang anything on any tree, plant or structure; (h) walk over, step or stand on any planting bed or shrubbery; (i) enter or climb the hundred metre flag pole; (j) ride, drive, pull or push any vehicle whether mechanically propelled or otherwise or slide with a skate; (k) contaminate or pollute the water in any fountain; (l) deface or remove any notice displayed by the Commissioner; (m) spit, urine or defecate; (n) displace, make any alteration to, remove, deface or tamper with anything displayed, exhibit, affixed, hung, placed, constructed or set up by the Commissioner; (o) erect any tent, booth, shed or other structure;(p) drop, throw, deposit, place or leave anything whatsoever; (q) kindle any fire or any fireworks or crackers; (r) lie down or sleep in any part of Dataran Merdeka; or (s) allow any animal which is under his control to enter or remain in any part of Dataran Merdeka.

I did not see the By-Law being quoted by the Bar Council, nor was it quoted by any of its opposition-leaning members that I have engaged.  This further underscores my idea that the Bar Council has a political agenda, and is not interested in upholding the law.

The report also quoted Article 6(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that says:

Every human being has the inherent right to life.  This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life

I do not know why was this Article or the Covenant quoted in its report.  Is it to show that the degree of “police brutality” equals that to Tahrir Square and elsewhere?  If you flip this Covenant’s coin, the Bar Council should also see that it applies to us who detest street protests, miss out on the joys of life because of them, inconvenienced because of them and also to the policemen who got beaten up for trying to maintain public order.  Where were the rights of the policemen who were constantly taunted, ridiculed, jeered at with the aim to diminish or obliterate their mental capacity?  That act falls under the definition of torture. But of course the learned members of the Bar Council will say, “The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment does not cover the police.”  So, is a policeman less than human?  Is he supposed to have limits of patience as high as the sky is?

The Right to a Peaceful Assembly is NOT a guaranteed right – whatever that right is has to and must be balanced with the rights of others.  The PA2012 is there to ensure that the rights are balanced.  If you are to assemble, you are not to cause inconvenience to others.  During BERSIH 3.0, those who did not participate had their rights infringed upon when they could not travel in and around KL as they would do.  Roads were closed and there was clear and present danger in the areas leading to the Dataran Merdeka.  Under Article 10 (2) (a) the Government has a duty to restrict the right to peaceful assemblies where the security, public order and public morality is under threat.

For advocates of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I am happy to inform you that such limitations also exist in the form of Article 29 (2) of the said Declaration, where it says:

  • In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

So, there have you.  The Bar Council of Malaysia has contradicted itself.  Like a drunkard it goes to talk about one thing, then deny it in another sentence.  And it also conveniently omitted Articles of International Human Rights “laws’ that do not work in their favour.  I can only think of one agenda that the Bar Council has, and it is the same one that the goons who hijacked BERSIH 3.0 had on that April afternoon: not fighting for BERSIH, but fighting for the agenda of bringing down the government through force and lies.

Salute The Men And Women In Green

Second World War British Army Mess Tin

It was probably a mess tin like the above, used by the British Army during the Second World War.  His name was probably Lieutenant Ariffin bin Haji Sulaiman (Recruit No. 8), or he could have been Private Ariffin bin Abdul Rani (Recruit No. 856).  The widow of one of them donated a mess tin given by her late husband to the Bukit Chandu Memorial, where both the Ariffins above, and the well-known Second-Lieutenant Adnan bin Saidi (Recruit No.90) fell after putting up a gallant fight against the Imperial Japanese Army.

Just before the fall of Johor Bahru, officers and men of the First and Second Battalion of the Malay Regiment shipped their family members back to their respective hometown by train.  Before his wife’s departure, Ariffin did not know what to give her as a parting gift, knowing very well he would never see them again.  He quickly grabbed his mess tin as shown above and gave it to her as a token of remembrance.  It was with this mess tin that she would scoop up rice to cook and feed her children, as if Ariffin was with her to bring the children up together.

As members of the Armed Forces, the Army is here to ensure that that our nation and her economic interests are guarded and protected, so that we can live earn a living and live our lives with our family peacefully and uninterrupted.  We know they exist, but we often forget their role.  Of late, the Armed Forces has been subjected to negative publicity, no thank you to selfish politicians who have no better thing to do than to continually undermine the institutions that safeguard the interests of the nation, to achieve political ambitions through the obliteration of public trust towards these institutions.

As a result, the Army, through the Ministry of Defence and in conjunction with the celebration of the Army’s 79th anniversary, conducted a “Army with Media” day at the Sungai Besi Premier Camp, near Kuala Lumpur.  Members of the media were given the chance to participate in competitions that depict daily lives of an army personnel such as the Spike Boot trail, accessorizing the working dress (or Number 3 Uniform), camouflaging their face, filling up ammo into a rifle’s magazine, and rifle shooting competition.  the event was sponsored by Sapura, Maxis, AEON and several other co-sponsors.  32 media teams including bloggers comprising of 5 members each made it to the day-long event with the hope of a better understanding between media be they the mainstream ones or from both sides of the political fence, and the Army.

Army with the Media
Army with the Media

I took the opportunity to interview Lieutenant-Colonel (Dr) Tan Hooi Mooi of the Army Medical Corps.  A mother of four, she joined the Medical Corps in 1999 as a Captain (Professional Duty) and signed on for another five years service after completing her mandatory ten.  Although her civilian counterparts working for the Ministry of Health earn more than she does, she finds it comfortable to be in the service even though there are times when she would have to leave the family to serve in areas of operation including shipboard during exercises with the Navy, or deep inside the jungle.  It is good to see a non-Malay female officer attaining that rank.  I spotted several non-Malay senior officers beneath several marquees entertaining journos that attended the event.

The Minister of Defence delivering his speech

In his speech, the Minister of Defence hopes that with the event, there will be better understanding between the Army and the Media about the service and its personnel, its continuous need to evolve into a better deterrent as time goes by.  The Minister also hopes that there will be a larger-scale event involving the media in conjunction with the Army’s 80th anniversary.  He also hopes to get several opposition representatives to attend the event.

As for me, this fading old soldier feels glad that there is much attention given to the betterment of the Armed Forces as a whole.  Housing and facilities, pay and allowances, equipment, privileges have all improved – a far cry from what it used to be during my time.  Yes, I envy them, but I am also proud of them.  I hope they will maintain their professionalism and will continue to, as I still do, be loyal to His Majesty the King, and to the country.