Wednesday, August 22, 2007


By Professor Shad Saleem Faruqui

As we bask in the glorious memories of Merdeka, it is necessary to reflect on 50 years of constitutionalism. Is it a legal myth or a legal reality?

AT THE stroke of midnight on Aug 31, 1957, cries of "Merdeka" filled the air seven times and Malaya began its tryst with destiny.  

A written Constitution was adopted as the "supreme law of the Federation" and as the chart and compass and sail and anchor of our nation's legal endeavours. 

The Constitution was inspired by the ideals of the rule of law, separation of powers, fundamental rights, limited Parliament, controlled executive, independent judiciary and a federal-state division of powers.  

Judges were entrusted with the power and duty to preserve, protect and defend the basic charter against all those who would lay rash hands upon the arc of the Constitution. 

As we bask in the glorious memories of Merdeka, it is necessary to reflect on 50 years of constitutionalism. How has constitutional supremacy worked? Is it a legal myth or a legal reality? 

No one can deny that theory and reality have not marched hand and hand. The supremacy of the Constitution is subject to a number of exceptions provided for in the Constitution itself.  

Ouster clauses: The bold proclamation of constitutional supremacy in Article 4(1) is immediately qualified by Article 4(2), Article 150(8) and many other provisions which bar judicial review of some types of legislation or decisions. 

Articles 149 and 150: Article 149 authorises Parliament by a simple majority procedure to enact laws to combat subversion, and these laws shall be valid even if they transgress the guarantees of personal liberty (Article 5), freedom of movement (Article 9), freedom of speech, assembly and association (Article 10) and right to property (Article 13).  

Article 150 goes even further. Once a proclamation of emergency has been made by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Parliament is authorised to suspend any provision of the Constitution except six topics in Article 150(6A).  

By ordinary legislative process, fundamental rights and the federal-state division of power can be violated. A parallel legal system which has legal superiority over ordinary laws can be put in place.  

What is troubling is that the country has been under a continuous state of emergency since 1964. The proclamations issued in 1964 and 1969 have not yet been revoked. Such a state of affairs is not conducive to the flowering of the rule of law, constitutionalism and human rights.  

Residual nature of human rights: The Constitution has been so framed that Parliament can restrict fundamental rights by ordinary legislation, by special laws passed under Articles 149 and 150 and by constitutional amendments.  

By far and large the chapter on human rights imposes restraints on the executive but puts no significant hurdles in the path of Parliament. 

Easy amendments: The frequency and the relative ease with which constitutional amendments have hitherto been accomplished, weakens the belief in constitutional supremacy. A supreme Constitution should have a measure of entrenchment.  

Absolute powers: A large number of governmental powers are not subject to any real control. The declaration and continuation of an emergency, the decisions of the Federal Government in matters of deprivation of citizenship, and the powers of the Attorney-General under Article 145 are outside the regime of accountability and answerability to anyone.  

Under a large number of laws Ministers have absolute, unreviewable discretion. Judges have a mixed record of review of such legislation.  

Ineffectiveness of judicial review: Judicial review is the litmus test of constitutional supremacy.  

Despite the lofty ideals of Articles 4(1), 162(6) and 128, judicial review of legislative and executive acts on constitutional grounds is not a significant feature of the Malaysian Constitution. This is due to a number of factors.  

First, the regime of security and emergency laws permits very little scope for judicial review.  

Second, courts interpret subjective powers literally and show a general reluctance to read into these laws implied limits or to subject them to the explicit and implicit standards of the basic charter.  

Third, judges steeped in the British tradition of parliamentary supremacy are reluctant to invalidate Acts of Parliament or even secondary legislation on the ground of unconstitutionality.  

Fourth, with some honourable exceptions, the tendency of most Malaysian judges is to reduce constitutional issues to administrative law questions.  

Thus in the Aliran case for a printing permit, the then Supreme Court brushed aside momentous constitutional questions and decided the case in favour of the Government by reference to administrative law principles of illegality, irrationality and procedural impropriety borrowed from the famous GCHQ case of Britain. 

Islamic law: When the Reid Commission's proposal to leave out any provision for an official religion was reviewed by the Working Party and Article 3(1) was inserted into the Constitution to make Islam the religion of the Federation, it was also provided in Article 3(4) that "nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution".  

The implication of Article 3(4) is that despite Islam's special and exalted status, the syariah is not the basic law of the land.  

It was not the intention of the drafters of the Constitution to allow Article 3(1) to trump constitutional supremacy in Article 4(1) or to take away fundamental rights in Articles 5 to 13 or to alter the constitutional scheme of federal-state division of powers.  

In the last decade, however, a critical mass of Muslim lawyers, judges and politicians has adopted the view that Islam is the core, central, overriding feature of the Constitution.  

"Islam" in Article 3(1) is not merely ceremonial. It refers to a way of life, a system of values, and a set of highly developed laws to cover all aspects of personal, civil and commercial life.  

The consequence has been that State Assemblies have been enacting laws and authorising administrative actions that violate the human rights guarantees of Articles 5-13, imposing penalties far beyond their powers, and trespassing on federal jurisdiction. 

Because all this is done in the name of religion, politicians look the other way. Most judges are reluctant to test these laws or actions on the yardstick of the Constitution.  

Painful dilemmas are arising in cases where one of the litigants is Muslim and the other non-Muslim. 

Clearly, in this area, the Constitution stands at a crossroad. Political decisions are needed to restore the original scheme of things or, alternatively, to open negotiations with all stakeholders to bring critical changes to the Constitution.  

A silent or surreptitious re-writing of the Constitution is not desirable. 

Constitutional change and growth is normal. Pakistan with its 97% Muslim population adopted the supremacy of the syariah in the early 80s.  

If it is the aspiration of a majority of the Muslims that the supreme Constitution should apply only to non-Muslims and the syariah should be the supreme law for adherents of Islam that would be legitimate.  

But we need fuller discussion of this matter, its mechanics, its extent and scope and its safeguards for non-Muslim interests in those cases where jurisdictions will invariably clash.  

There is no reason to believe that the Merdeka spirit of moderation, negotiation and reconciliation cannot be revived again. 

 Dr Shad is Professor of Law at UiTM. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Malaysia-Today Merestui Kata-kata Lucah dan Biadab

Dipetik dari blog Publius Melayu

Mengimbas kembali kata-kata Raja Petra Kamaruddin, pemilik laman web berita alternatif interaktif Malaysia-Today.

Dia mendabik dada mengatakan yang segala pemaparan berita serta komen-komen di laman web itu tidak memilih kasih.Tidak melihat sama ada kawan atau lawan – semua menurutnya sama saja demi ketelusan dan mempertahankan kedaulatan hak bersuara tanpa batasan.

Syabas kepadanya kerana sikap begitu 'hebat' dan 'terhormat' yang dipamerkan – sikap yang 'mengacuankan' persona dan peribadi yang kononya bermaruah lantaran ditelan bulat-bulat oleh sebahagian besar pembaca dan pengunjung Malaysia-Today.

Bagaimanapun, ekoran sesi soal-jawabnya dengan polis berikutan komen yang kononnya tersiar pada 11 July 2007, Raja Petra telah mengenakan amaran dan serta-merta 'menapis' komen-komen yang tersiar dalam Malaysia-Today.

Dia tidak mengakui hakikat keterlanjurannya membenarkan komen-komen bersifat lucah, menjatuhkan aib seseorang dan bercorak perkauman. Sebaliknya diperingkat awal dia telah cuba mempertahankan 'neutrality atau 'kebabasan' medium alternatif miliknya itu.

Walaupun dia terus mendabik dada kononya begitu berani berhadapan dengan pihak polis yang menyoal-siasatnya di IPK Dang Wangi hinggakan menurutnya mereka tergamam, namun dia secara spontan meminta para pemberi komen di Malaysia-Today supaya jangan lagi mengeluarkan kata-kata lucah dan sensitif. Hampir kesemua penyokongnya akur akan nasihat tersebut.

Bagaimanapun, 'penapisan' itu hanya mampu bertahan sementara. Kini ia berulang lagi. Penyokong serta aktivis yang begitu ghairah dengan pendiriannya terus-menerus melakukan perkara yang sama, tetapi kali ini dalam bentuk dan pendekatan berlainan. Kini mereka melakukannya secara tidak terang-terangan, sebaliknya menggunakan bayangan dan ungkapan yang sengaja 'dicensor' sendiri dengan cara memangkah perkataan lucah dan sensitif dengan huruf xxx ataupun dengan perkataan 'deleted' dan sebagainya.

Perbuatan ini hanyalah satu helah yang berselindung di sebalik 'loop-hole' undang-undang kerana pada hakikatnya niat mereka masih sama –untuk menjatuhkan aib dan mencetuskan rasa marah di antara kaum.

Bak kata, kalau dah bangkai tu masih bangkai walaupun ditutup. Inilah hakikatnya.

Juga dalam pada itu, semakin hari penyokong Raja Petra yang 'bersilat' sendirian di gelanggang komen laman web Malaysia-Today itu semakin terlupa janji kepada mentor merek. Mereka sudah mula berani mengulangi kata-kata yang dilarang itu secara terbuka.

Sehingga bilakah Raja Petra akan membiarkan ini berlaku tanpa mengambil kira tanggung-jawabnya sebagai warganegara negara tercinta ini?

Kita akur dengan hak Raja Petra untuk mengkritik demi kebabasan dalam sebuah sistem demokrasi. Bagaimanapun, setakat mengajukan 'bukti' yang kononya sahih berhubung kepincangan ahli-ahli politik nemesisnya dan kerajaan, tidak mencukupi. Dia seharusnya memikirkan cara melalui saluran berkesan yang direstui undang-undang.

Sedih sekali , walaupun serangan verbal , tohmahan, innuendo, kesinisan, perli dan bukti-bukti yang kononya tulen itu masih diperingkat tuduhan tanpa pembuktian sahih, namun kesemuanya dipercayai dan ditelan seratus-peratus oleh pengikut dan pembaca yang melewati Malaysia-Today. Mereka tidak memikirkan habis-habis kesahihan barang 'bukti' yang didakwa dipamerkan.

Dalam pada itu kita melihat hampir kesemua pembaca Malaysia-Today begitu teruja dengan fabrikasi kecaman-kecaman terhadap kerajaan dan UMNO. Kata-kata lucah dan menghina termasuk ungkapan anjing!babi! anak haram!dan macam-macam lagi sentiasa diselit dalam komen-komen yang diberikan. Ini jelas mencerminkan betapa rendahnya mentaliti kebanyakan pembaca Malaysia-Today yang terhasut oleh Raja Petra dan kuncu-kuncunya.

Selain cendiakawan penyumbang seperti Dr Bakri Musa, Dr Azly Rahman dan beberapa orang lagi, yang-lain-lainnya bertindak sebagai penulis nyamuk yang hanya mampu mempengaruhi sentimen negatif di kalangan pembaca.

Jika Raja Petra dan penyokong-penyokongnya di Malaysia-Today sanggup menuduh bahawa akhbar arus utama menapis dan memutar-belitkan berita, apa kurangnya Malaysia-Today? Logikkah tiada langsung perkara yang baik dalam pentadbiran negara hinggakan kesemuanya dikecam? Tak kira apa jua topik, walaupun tidak mempunyai kaitan langsung , ia pasti akan dihubungkan dengan politik dan dasar kerajaan untuk dikecam.

Inilah wajah laman web berita alternatif Malaysia-Today yang cakap tak serupa bikin dan bikin tak serupa cakap. Pada dasarnya sesiapa yang mampu menilaikannya akan berasa jijik dan meluat dengan pendirian Raja Petra Kamruddin dan Malaysia-Today.

Monday, August 20, 2007

NameWee:He’s at it again?

From Publius Melayu

Recently, in one of his latest postings in Malaysia-Today, Raja Petra Kamarudin said he did not condone the controversial parody of Negaraku by the Malaysian Chinese student in Taiwan, Wee Meng Chee. He went on to say that we should move on and accept the 24-year old undergraduate's apology. However, he also cautioned if Meng Chee was recalcitrant, to go for his balls.

Well, sooner than said. It seems another video, which many alleged is a follow-up to his earlier parody of the Malaysian national anthem and the muezzin's call to the dawn prayer has surfaced on YouTube. In reality the 'latest' video was reported as had been around for quite sometime on the net but not until the the Negaraku parody became an issue did it surface. Watch the video here

The latest video does not show the singer's face. It is, therefore, difficult to ascertain whether it is genuinely Meng Chee's work – unless he corroborates it.

Whatever it is, this time around, despite the numerous postings in blogs praising, supporting and even encouraging 'him', the message inherent in the overly-creative piece can certainly be construed as provocative. But, of course many of his supporters will be more inclined to give credence to his so-called 'honourable' intentions of making a parody of 'actual situations'.

But, then again, the spirit of it all is the same. Whether direct or implied, an utterance or action that hurt another person is a wrong. No two ways about, although the purists in the so-called mindset of the present age would go to great pains to argue that it is not so. What gives?

Good or bad, right or wrong, the creator of that video, more so if it is indeed the controversial Meng Chee who perpetrated the deed, ought to know by now what the repercussions of yet another artistic indiscretion of his might lead to.

This stance is further fortified by the fact that he had actually offerred a full-scale apology a few days back.

This also brings to mind another question. Why would he want to come up with another video of similar genre if he had 'repented?'And even if it is an old work, it is scathing and downright racist no less. I, for one am quite incredulous as to the forthrightness of his earlier apology reflected in a letter written in impeccable Malay, given his so called admission that his command of the language is like shit.

His recalcitrance and stupidly hard-headed stance is now being proven further by his latest remark that "Even if I had not sung the matters in my song, does it mean that what I have mentioned do not exist," he asked.

Well, can there be a hidden hand in this? Could someone have written the apology on his behalf while he himself would only give lip service to it? Reading this episode in the light of his earlier remarks that he would apologise, makes his alleged repentance rather questionable.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

PM: Don't think ourselves as separate from the other races

From Publius Melayu

"A true Malaysian patriot loves Malaysia and all Malaysians". 

That is the message Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi wants everyone in the country to remember as Malaysia gears up to celebrate its 50th Merdeka Day. Speaking to students at the Youth Patriotism Congress in Putrajaya this morning, Abdullah said Malaysians must hold dear to what had proven to be their greatest strength in their quest for Independence. 

The British administration then, he added, had not counted on Malaysia's bid for independence to be successful as the colonial power had been implementing a "divide and rule" policy among the residents here. "But by cooperating with each other, our leaders managed to bring those of different races, cultures and backgrounds together for one purpose and the British was forced to accord us Independence. 

"This was the spirit which won us our freedom. The most important challenge to us now is to inculcate in our children values such as racial tolerance and cooperation so that we don't think ourselves as separate from the other races," he said in his hour-long speech at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre.

Blogger's Comment:

If it is any help in these most trying of times for the country, I'd say it is a message that should hold true for all Malaysians. Problems and dissatisfaction will always be there as long as we are mortals but looking ahead as a nation we must always remind ourselves the values inherent in racial tolerance and cooperation. A nascent democracy, a developing nation and a people that wants to live in peace are ingredients for the next big push to greater cohesion after 50 years of nationhood. Adversity that emanates from problems that we face within should be dealt with amicably without ripping assunder the delicate fabric of our multi-racial society.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dakwaan Anggota Puteri UMNO Dipinggirkan Apabila Memasuki Wanita UMNO

Kenyataan Rasmi Oleh Rosnah Haji Abdul Rashid,

Naib Ketua Puteri UMNO Malaysia

Dalam temubual melalui telefon pada 13hb Ogos 2007, YB Rosnah Haji Abd Rashid Shirlin, selaku Naib Ketua Puteri UMNO Malaysia menyatakan tentang persediaan-persediaan Puteri dalam menghadapi pilihanraya yang akan datang. Anggota Puteri telah diberi kursus pendedahan pilihanraya, selain itu juga puteri-puteri negeri telah melancarkan gerak kerja pilihanraya sebagai persediaan menghadapi pilihanraya yang akan datang.

Beliau juga menyatakan apabila seseorang ahli Puteri genap berumur 35 tahun secara otomatik keahlianya akan bertukar kepada ahli Wanita, kecuali puteri yang memegang jawatan dan akan bertukar keahlian pada pemilihan yang akan datang.

Ahli puteri yang memasuki wanita juga tidak menghadapi masalah dan diterima baik oleh pergerakan wanita. Terdapat juga ahli puteri yang bertukar kepada ahli wanita diberi kepercayaan untuk memegang jawatan dan ada juga sebagai ahli biasa kerana ini adalah hakikat dalam politik.

YB Rosnah sebagai Naib Ketua Puteri Malaysia, secara peribadi menyatakan jawatan dalam parti tidak penting tetapi yang paling utama ialah sumbangan dan kesetiaan kita terhadap parti.

Menyentuh tentang persoalan Puteri masuk Wanita dan bertanding dalam merebut jawatan adalah tidak sihat dan seperti yang beliau nyatakan sebelum ini jawatan tidak penting, yang penting adalah perpaduan dan perjuangan di dalam parti.

Menyentuh juga tentang isu 'Kerusi dalam Parti', Beliau menyatakan Puteri menyerahkan sepenuhnya kepada pucuk pimpinan, Puteri tidak menentukan nilai kerusi yang harus diserahkan kepada Puteri.

Beliau juga menyatakan setakat ini pergerakan Puteri mempunyai Dua org ADUN, Seorang Senator dan juga Ahli Parlimen.

Monday, August 6, 2007


Dipetik dari Publius Melayu

Saya terpanggil untuk mengutarakan secebis renungan yang disuarakan oleh seorang rakyat Malaysia berbangsa Cina tidak lama dulu. Dia bukanlah calang-calang Cina. Dia seorang yang terpelajar dan merupakan seorang usahawan dan industrialis yang berjaya dengan barisan syarikat di serata dunia. Menurutnya, semua kejayaan adalah disebabkan polisi kerajaan Malaysia yang mengamalkan apa yang begitu popular disebutkan sebagai 'diskriminasi positif'.

Dia begitu yakin Malaysia telah menemui satu penyelesaian praktikal kepada masalah-masalah berhubung pembahagian kaum/ekonomi. Dia berasa bertuah kerana dibesarkan sebagai seorang rakyat Malaysia.

Kini kita sudah mencapai 50 tahun kemerdekaan dan dalam pada itu DEB pun telah lama mengorak langkah, walaupun pencapaiannya masih di tahap yang boleh dipersoalkan pelbagai pihak. Tetapi itu tidak relevan dalam memperkatakan soal 'diskriminasi positif' daripada kaca mata usahawan Cina ini.

Dan sepanjang 50 tahun yang agak selari dengan rentak dan irama DEB, sekiranya terdapat andaian bahawa kerajaan telah membinasakan ekonomi atau perhubungan kaum, sudah tentu usahawan Cina tersebut tidak akan berasa begitu bertuah. Menurutnya, yang penting ialah kerajaan telah berjaya menrealisasikan apa yang dicita tanpa kerugian besar.

Usahawan Cina ini juga membanding dan menilai kehidupan orang Cina dan India yang berhijrah ke negara lain dengan mereka yang kekal di Malaysia. Ini saja,padanya, sudah cukup untuk mencetuskan rasa terima kasih berada di negara ini dan bukan di negara lain. Bagi kaum Cina, ambilah iktibar daripada nasib yang menimpa pelarian Vietnam (Boat People) yang majoriti berketurunan Cina. Mereka terpaksa melarikan diri dari Vietnam; Perhatikan juga Cambodia, di mana ribuan orang Cina dibunuh dengan kejam ataupun diusir keluar; Perhatikan Indonesia, dengan pembunuhan dan pengusiran kaum Cina; Perhatikan Filipina, di mana begitu lama kaum Cina dikecuali dan dipiggirkan darpada mendapat kerakyatan. Juga lihat saja pada Thailand di mana kaum Cina dikatakan tidak dimangsakan oleh diskriminasi kasar – ini kerana mereka telah diserapkan ke dalam masyarakat Thai, lantaran menghapuskan identiti Cina mereka.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Inikah Yang Dikatakan Kebebasan Tanpa Batasan?

Renungkanlah clip video ini yang seolah-olah 'memparodikan' lagu kebangsaan negara, 'Negaraku'. Banyak tafsiran boleh dibuat sekiranya video tersebut diteliti daripada pelbagai perspektif.

Bagaimanapun, pada asasnya jika diteliti klip video itu dalam konteks negara berbilang kaum seperti Malaysia, ia boleh dianggap sebagai sesuatu yang kurang sopan dan tidak sensitif. Komen dalam lagu yang mengkiaskan azan subuh sebagai satu-satu elemen sinis berupa satu innuendo yang begitu terbuka kepada interpretasi di bawah Akta Hasutan.

Justeru pemaparan video itu di laman video YouTube untuk tontonan dunia seolah-olah menceminkan niat penciptanya untuk memburukkan hampir keseluruhan komponen kehidupan di Malaysia. Komen-komen yang menyusul di ruangan komen di bawah tetingkap klip video itu pula membawa pelbagai reaksi – ada yang melahirkan kemarahan dan ada yang menyokong apa yang dianggap sesuatu pengkaryaan yang begitu kreatif. Bagi mereka yang tergolong di dalam kumpulan yang menyokong video klip itu, alasan mereka sememangnya tidak lain daripada 'demi kebebasan ekspresi' tanpa batasan.Mereka memberikan komen-komen mengiyakan segala 'tohmahan' di dalam video tersebut.

Dalam mendebatkan isu kebebasan ekspresi seperti ini banyak yang boleh diperkatakan, tetapi hakikatnya ia sesuatu yang amat sensitif dan boleh mendatangkan mudarat. Hak untuk bersuara dan berekspresi dijamin Perlembagaan, tetapi ramai yang melihatnya secara kasar tanpa melihat kepada 'spirit' dan falsafah perundangan itu sendiri yang tidak mungkin akan diperturunkan secara lisan dalam dokumen tulang-belakang kenegaraan itu. Bagaimanapun, yang anehnya, Perlembagaan hanya dilihat dari perspektif dan kaca mata individu yang sering kali mentafsirkannya tanpa had – had yang perlu dimengertikan dalam konteks masyarakat pelbagai kaum, budaya dan agama di Malaysia.

Bagi mereka yang mepersoalkan hak undang-undang Malaysia untuk mengambil tindakan terhadap pengkarya 'subversif' itu, mereka dengan mudah cuba mendapatkan perlindungan di atas dasar kesempadanan (territoriality) di mana kononnya pihak yang memiliki laman YouTube berpangkalan di luar jurisdiksi Malaysia, justeru tiada apa-apa yang boleh dilakukan.

Ini adalah pandangan yang salah kerana kini telah ada precedent di mana pihak pemilik laman-laman web rangkaian sosial seperti Yahoo! Google dan sebagainya boleh diminta bekerjasama untuk menangani penyalah-gunaan alam maya pada laman-laman milik mereka. Tanggung-jawab sebegini kini dilihat sebagai antara elemen penting konsep dunia tanpa sempadan yang dilaungkan oleh ramai pihak, termasuk anarkis dan aktivis sosio-politik yang berpemikiran sempit.