Thursday, September 29, 2016

US presidential hopefuls show a country lacking in leadership, debate falls into trite format


Monday's first presidential debate between Democratic and Republican nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was the most-watched in the US since the 1980 match-up between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. It attracted some 84 million viewers on 13 television networks, not including online watchers, National Public Radio reported.

It is widely held that in the showdown, politician Clinton, who did her homework, crushed seemingly unprepared and ill-informed Trump who often ranted, though the polls afterward showed a different picture. The CNN/ORC poll immediately after the debate found 62 percent of respondents thought Clinton won the debate, while just 27 percent felt Trump triumphed. Yet online polls with wider coverage of respondents overwhelmingly showed Trump was the winner.

However, no matter who won, it won't make the debate as significant as it is supposed to be. The two debaters deviated from substantive statements on the real problems that matter to the country, becoming embroiled in personal attacks against the bad records of each other. They did not appear statesmanlike, but rather like TV stars competing to amuse the audience for approval. Neither seriously mapped out a trustworthy blueprint for the country. In this sense, whoever eventually wins won't quell the public doubts about their capacity to steer the US out of its plight of worsening domestic and external situations.

It is widely recognized that the US, baffled by the quagmire in the Middle East and rampant terrorism, has seen its leadership decline and is unable to lead the world to squarely face up to a slew of challenges. The latest debate gives ammunition to the judgment.

The US president is in many cases the best proof of US leadership. But neither of the candidates looks capable of helping the superpower regain its global leadership in a multipolar world. Clinton, a smart politician that looks so presidential in comparison with Trump, doesn't seem able to inject anything new to the US given her poor performance as secretary of state, let alone her credibility issues. Meanwhile, caustic Trump has risen by giving voice to the anger of conservative Americans, but that's all he can offer in front of the severe tests facing the country. His ridiculous policies that woo US voters will be disastrous for US clout and raise so many uncertainties about the direction of the US.

In the final analysis, the presidential election has become a game to choose who is the least unfit to rule the superpower. As the influence of its leadership slides, the world needs to be ready for it. - Global Times

Clinton-Trump debate falls into trite format



The first US presidential debate between the Democratic and Republican candidates concluded Monday night, drawing unprecedented attention from around the world. No previous two contenders have displayed more differences in personality, vision and background than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, making this year's race to the White House all the more enthralling.

Many commentators thought Clinton's versed performance well-demonstrated her background as a veteran politician. Trump, a bit inexperienced, didn't display many faults and restrained his flamboyant style. In general, it was a trite debate.

As Clinton has been exposed to various scandals during the campaign, she tried to highlight her honesty and prudence. Many people have doubts about her integrity, however they are also accustomed to candidates' empty promises.

Trump wasn't faking. But the problem is that Trump does not make many Americans feel secure, and they worry he might be capricious if he is elected. This debate did not reassure people.

Clinton and Trump are perhaps the most controversial candidates in the history of US presidential elections. American society has different concerns about the two candidates, as neither is a role model for the country. With only less than two months before the election, voters have no better alternative than choosing the least worst candidate.

Be it in Europe or Asia, Western countries or emerging economies, few people look forward to the result of the US election or believe the leadership transition will promote global harmony. The two candidates are publicly making their calculations and revealing their selfishness to the world. For them, it seems the whole world owes the US.

Both candidates mentioned China several times in their first debate. Trump was particularly arrogant, and has spread the mentality that the US has suffered losses from its relations with China, and is also taken advantage of by its allies. This mentality, together with Washington's powerful strategic tools, poses potential threats to global stability.

The US will not stop pursuing its privilege as a superpower, and this will for sure challenge the status of China and Russia. While Clinton tends to make the current system more favorable to the US, Trump is more straightforward in maximizing benefits. The China-US relationship will witness more difficulties in the future. The US will also weigh benefits from its ties with China with those from a tougher China policy, and evaluate whether it could afford the price of jeopardizing its relationship with Beijing.

Chinese do not want to see China pressured by Clinton, and meanwhile are uncertain of Trump's presidency. Let Americans worry about who will end up in the White House. Chinese should be ready for the change in the US presidency. We have many tools to respond, enough for the future US president to feel the dread if it makes trouble with China. Such tools matter more than the goodwill of American presidents. - Global Times

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Getting back up after a fall


Don’t keep saying ‘no’ and ‘don’t’ to the kids because all it does is squelch their curiosity, determination and thirst for exploration. The truth is, even when you fall, you can learn from the experience. Growth happens when you step out of your comfort zone.


AS YOU likely would have heard by now, while training in the British Virgin Islands recently, I was bicycling down a hill, hit a bump in the road and was flung off my bike into the air. In the microseconds that I spent anticipating the feeling of concrete against my face, my life actually flashed before my eyes.

I genuinely thought: I’m going to die.

My bike disappeared off the cliff, and I landed hard. I was wearing a helmet, but I suffered a fractured cheek, torn ligaments and a few cuts and bruises.

While the timing couldn’t have been worse, my recovery is going well.

By the time you read this (injuries permitting), I will have been long into my journey on the Virgin Strive Challenge, the most physically demanding test I’ve ever tackled. I’m joining my children, Holly and Sam, and a group of inspiring people on this challenge.

We’re traveling entirely under our own power on a month-long trip through Italy, from the base of the Matterhorn in the Alps to the summit of Sicily’s Mount Etna.

We will be facing all sorts of physical obstacles along the way: a vast landscape across which we will hike and cycle, deep waters that we’ll have to swim across to reach Sicily, an active volcano we’ll run on. It will take great perseverance, solidarity and mental clarity to get through this adventure.

But it’s likely that the toughest obstacles will be those inside our own heads.

In business and in life, most people consider others to be their toughest opponents, whether it’s winning a tennis match or winning more market share. However, the real adversary is actually far closer to home. In my 66 years, I’ve learned that there is no tougher foe than yourself.

Think about it: As an entrepreneur, you’re the one who has to put in the hard yards.

You’re the one who has to deal with all those late nights and early mornings. You’re the one who has to figure out how to push past barriers you didn’t realise existed.

But if you’re determined enough and have the right mindset, you can reach heights you thought were impossible to reach.

That’s what the Virgin Strive Challenge is all about: pushing yourself to do something you didn’t think was possible, and in the process setting a great example for others, particularly young people.

Too often, children are told: “You can’t do this,” or “Don’t even try.” Adults say these things to keep their kids safe, to protect them from the pain of failure.

But in my opinion, this is a big mistake. The more children are told they can’t do something, the more they lose their curiosity, determination and thirst for exploration — qualities that are essential for entrepreneurs.

That’s why Virgin has partnered with Big Change this year, a youth charity in the UK that looks for different ways to encourage young people to thrive and develop a growth mindset.

It is all about believing that you can grow through both failure and success. When you fail, it’s tempting to slip into a negative mindset, to start thinking that you’re hopeless. But that just makes it easier to give up.

If you remain positive about your abilities, chalk up losses as valuable experiences and get back on your feet, it will be easier to forgive yourself and move on.

After all, while you may be your own toughest adversary, you can also be your biggest supporter. It’s important that we all know this, children in particular.

My wife, Joan, and I have always encouraged our children to chase their dreams, push themselves hard and live their lives without regret. I’m so proud of the adults they’ve become and the work they’re doing now through Big Change. It’s an incredible privilege for me to be able to join them in their latest undertaking.

I just hope my body holds up after the accident!Together, we’re going to have the adventure of our lives as we try and raise over £1.5mil to support positive change for young people. It doesn’t get much better than that!

And we hope to send a clear message: Growth happens when you step out of your comfort zone, and the truly extraordinary happens when you do it with the support of others.

Make sure you head over to the Virgin Strive Challenge website, strivechallenge.com, for more information, and check back for updates on our journey. — Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate

By Richard Branson

Questions from readers will be answered in future columns. Please send them to Richard.Branson@nytimes.com. Please include your name, country, email address and the name of the website or publication where you read the column.

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Mar 28, 2016 ... Questions from readers will be answered in future columns. Please send them to Richard.Branson@nytimes.com. Please include your name, ...

Malaysia's vernacular schools not the problem

Those who oppose vernacular schools ... are driven by their desire to produce a society moulded in a way that they desire. Please keep element of choice for both parents and students.


AMONG those opposing vernacular schools, you can detect one umbrella argument that is continuously used by many parties. They say that the existence of vernacular schools is a threat to national identity and a hindrance to unity. Their fear is that this student segregation will lead to a fracturing of our society.

I disagree with this view. I think they confuse the purpose of education and there is also a lot of hypo­crisy going on.

Let us firstly look at the concept of schooling. Historically, the entity known as a school has its origin in Prussia in the early 1800s.

At that time, Prussians were looking at methods to produce citizens who would loyally work and fight for causes determined by their rulers. So they devised a system where, from a very young age, their citizens were trained to live a regimented life.

It did not matter what your abilities and interests were. As long as you were of the same age, you would be grouped together and forced to learn subjects determined by the elites.

Like the military, there was heavy emphasis on leadership by head teachers and teachers, while students were mere recipients of what was taught to them. That regimentation remains as the nature of modern schools.

After two centuries of bureaucratic evolution, schools these days are not about providing holistic education to support the child’s individual growth anymore. Instead it is about producing cohorts of citizens who can be easily grouped and compartmentalised.

Every one of us who went through the modern school system has been compartmentalised into groups based on our exam results.

And that is also why it has become the norm for those in power to use the school as a tool for social engineering. From day one, since Prussian times, the purpose of a school has always been about social engineering. Yet the vast majority of people today confuse schools with education.

In reality, you can still get an education without going to what have become our traditional schools. Education can be obtained from home, or in informal groups that come together for what is today known as “home-schooling”.

More interestingly, there is also a global interest in concepts such as unschooling, Sudbury schools, and democratic schools.

Those who oppose vernacular schools usually do not argue about the quality of education received by the students. They are not driven by the desire to catalyse social mobility by ensuring everyone has access to quality education. But they are driven by their desire to produce a society moulded in a way that they approve of.

The elites have a concept of what they feel society should be like and they want to use the Prussian factory-like model of schools to produce underlings who behave according to their pre-determined mould. To legitimise their mould, they label it as unity.

Note that their desire for unity has nothing to do with education. Their focus is on schooling. And this is where the hypocrisy creeps in.

Many of the people who want to promote their mould of unity have never attended any of our government schools. They don’t even send their own kids to our schools.

They step into our schools perhaps for a few hours a year for hyped-up visits, yet they speak as if they really know. More amazingly, they speak as if they actually have faith in our school system when their actions show otherwise.

In reality, these elites campaign for something that will never affect them. When it comes to their own families, they send their children for a “better” education elsewhere.

They want to limit our choices on schools because they know that they can always pay their way out and send their own children to a school of their choice.

This is the tragedy of some of the privileged. Instead of looking for ways to make sure everyone can afford school choices like them, they want to kill choice for everyone who cannot afford to pay.

Let me pose a rhetorical question.

If unity can only be achieved by making students from different backgrounds come together in one school, then why do they just want to close vernacular schools?

To be specific, data shows that Chinese schools have higher ethnic diversity than other schools. I can think of many non-Chinese schools that are completely mono-ethnic. If we are objective, it is not the Chinese schools that need to be closed down.

This is why I say that there is a lot of hypocrisy in the debate. Worse, that hypocrisy is clouded by confusion about whether we want to educate or we just want to have factory-like schooling.

The vernacular school debate is a debate of the elite. For us common people, our sole desire is to be able to provide our kids with quality education.

It is possible to provide school choices for the commoners, such as by using school vouchers so that choice is provided but schools are still free for the students.

Of course, it will take time to move towards this choice-based system. Until we get there, I beg the elites to stop trying to kill what few choices remain for us poorer citizens of this country.

By Wan Saiful Wan Jan The Star

Thinking Liberally


Wan Saiful Wan Jan is chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (www.ideas.org.my). The views expressed here are entirely
the writer’s own.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

High-rise living in below par, need professionalism in managing the property

Star's Graphic: http://clips.thestar.com.my.s3.amazonaws.com/Interactive/highrise/highrise.mp4

Only 74 out of 7,325 high-rise residential properties in Peninsular Malaysia earned the top five-star ranking in an evaluation of their property management standards. And more than half are below par, earning only one and two stars.


IT is one thing to be a developed state by 2020. But it is another thing entirely to have a developed state of mind – and Malaysians have a long way to go to achieve that.

Take, for instance, condominium- and apartment-living.

Some of these properties may come with top notch facilities but when it comes to managing their upkeep, there is much to be desired.

Or so says the latest findings on the quality of managing stratified properties from a survey by the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry.

Every year, the ministry conducts its Strata Scheme Management Quality Evaluation, or “Star Rating”, which ranks the standards of joint management bodies (JMBs) or management corporations (MCs) of apartments and condominiums.

These bodies are ranked based on how they do in seven areas (see graphic below for details); five stars is the highest rank.

But, as it turns out, more than half – or 69% – of condominiums and apartments nationwide ranked “below par”, scoring only one and two stars in 2015. In 2014, a slightly smaller percentage, 65%, were ranked below par.

Only 1% – or 74 – out of 7,325 strata development schemes surveyed earned five stars in the 2015 ratings, made available to Sunday Star.

If such a trend continues, future residents will inherit poor standards of living amidst modern facilities.

Currently, almost six million Malaysians out of 20 million city folk are living in stratified buildings like apartments and condominiums.

“But this number is expected to rise in future as the country progresses and becomes more urbanised,” says Mohammad Ridzwan Abidin, Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry urban service division under-secretary.

He says one of the major problems that condo dwellers continue to face is the refusal of other residents to pay maintenance fees. Other problems are building defects and matters involving enforcement.

“For now, about 70% of residents are at a level where they are merely aware of what needs to be done in managing their property. They are not yet at a level to appreciate the benefits of cooperating with each other and creating a better living culture,” he says.

Mohamad Ridzwan says there is a need to change the mindset of people to foster more civic-minded communities in high-rise buildings.

“Future generations will likely live in stratified buildings, so people should try to set a proper precedent for them,” he says.

He points out that there are also more people moving out of landed properties and into high-rise buildings.

“This group of people will have to learn to adapt to the culture of living in stratified buildings as it is different from living in houses.

“They will need to be more inclusive of and cooperative with their neighbours,” he says, adding that they would also have to learn to be more considerate when it comes to using shared facilities.

Stressing that it all boils down to the mindset of residents, Mohamad Ridzwan highlights the case of Rumah Pangsa Orkid, a low-cost flats property in Ulu Tiram, Johor, which made it into the Malaysia Book Of Records in 2014 for obtaining the ISO 9001:2008 standard for exemplary management.

“Until today, they remain the only low cost flat development to have achieved this,” he says, adding that there are yet to be any high-end condominiums accorded the same standard.

Mohamad Ridzwan says the ministry will continue to actively educate dwellers on proper management of their properties.

“We will embark on more education programmes to promote better practices through advertisements in the mass media,” he says.

On the Strata Management Tribunals to hear disputes, Mohamad Ridzwan says four such tribunals have been successfully set up to cover different zones in Peninsular Malaysia.

“Since their formation the tribunals have heard about 200 cases per month,” he says.

In March, Sunday Star reported that residents who do not pay maintenance fees and other charges were set to face the music, with the Government forming a team to strengthen the enforcement of the Strata Management Act.

The Act also enables residents to take their disputes to a Strata Management Tribunal to settle matters.

Building Managers Association of Malaysia committee member Richard Chan agrees that the “biggest and most critical” problem is the collection of fees, saying that it is rare that JMBs or MCs are able to collect payment from 80% of residents.

“It is more common for the collection rate to be at 40% or 50%,” he says.

Chan laments that petty excuses are often given by residents to defend their refusal to pay up.

“Some refuse because they don’t use the facilities.

“When people ask why they don’t want to pay, they simply say they don’t swim or play tennis,” he shares.

Chan adds that many unit owners live elsewhere or are based overseas and so are reluctant to pay.

“Some are not satisfied with services like garbage collection and defy orders to settle the fees,” he says.

He urges future condo owners to refrain from buying properties that come with all sorts of facilities if they are unwilling to pay up.

“Sometimes, it isn’t about whether they can afford the fees or service charges. It is about their attitude and mentality.

“Some don’t pay simply because their neighbours are not paying and are getting away with it,” Chan says, adding that such attitudes have resulted in some apartments owing up to RM200,000 in water and electricity bills.

The lack of money in the sinking fund also hinders JMBs and MCs from paying for major works like repairing lifts.

“It becomes a vicious cycle. Because people are not satisfied with the upkeep of the place, they do not pay the fees.

“But when they do not pay, there isn’t enough funds for upkeep,” he says.

Also, developers must do their part by informing all potential property buyers of the exact amount of all service charges, says Chan.

“Developers will try to promote their projects for more sales but they should also inform buyers of the fees they are expected to pay.

“Owners should also consider that, after a year, the fees may go up as warranty periods for equipment expire,” he says.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj says many complaints against MCs have been made to the federation.

“High-end condominiums are generally better managed. We received a lot of complaints from people in medium cost apartments,” he says.

He says that consumers and the building management should both be more responsible.

“Consumers need to settle payments that they have agreed to. But they should also be receiving good service in return, like efficient rubbish collection,” he says.

Selvaraj highlights that the only way forward is for management bodies and residents to have a good working relationship.

“People should understand that managing their building is a collective responsibility.

“More dialogues should be held on how to improve the community to ensure good quality of life wherever we live,” he adds.

by Yuen Meikeng The Star/Asia News Network

More professionalism needed in managing high-rises


WITH more high-rises mushrooming, a Building Managers Board is urgently needed, according to Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok, deputy president of the Building Managers Association of Malaysia (BMAM).

BMAM is an umbrella body comprising stakeholder organisations representing management corporations (MCs), joint management bodies (JMBs), chambers of commerce, developers, engineers, architects, shopping and high-rise complex managers, and managing agents.

Appealing to the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry to set up the board urgently, Teo says such a body is long overdue.

“Millions of stratified properties are coming up. Building management is becoming a very big industry. We have to start regulating. All building managers must be registered and regulated,” he says.

To date, some 600 building managers have voluntarily registered with the association, he shares, estimating that there are probably tens of thousands more.

Meanwhile, the BMAM is focused on educating its members and interested parties on good management via collaborations with institutions of higher learning.

Describing building management as a multitasking, multi­discipline function that attracts people from various backgrounds and with a variety of skills, Teo says that basic criteria for the role is needed. A Building Managers Board, once set up, will have guidelines and regulations to bring professionalism to the role.

Persons deregistered by the board cannot be hired as property managers, he suggests. This, he feels, will make hiring building managers cheaper while ensuring that they are monitored.

“So long as they fulfil the board’s requirements, anyone can be a building manager. The board will monitor and weed out the errant ones. JMBs and MCs can hire cheaper, smaller companies, even individuals, to manage their buildings if they don’t have the budget.”

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry urban service division undersecretary Mohammad Ridzwan Abidin acknowledges the proposal to set up a Building Managers Board.

“However, no decision can be made by the ministry yet as this matter is still being discussed,” he says.

He says the ministry issued a directive to Commissioners of Buildings nationwide last month to register all managing agents to protect residents from unscrupulous parties.

The BMAM would also like to see the country’s 150-plus Commissioners of Buildings (COB) given proper funding and staff. The role of the commissioner is mostly undertaken by local council heads or mayors, which isn’t right because they already have so much on their plate, he says.

The Commissioner of Buildings must be a dedicated, full-time position supported by an adequately funded department. Now, it’s mainly a one-man show, he observes.

“The Act is a good tool,” he says, referring to the Strata Management Act 2013, “But it’s for the COB to implement it efficiently. An effective COB can nip many things in the bud – the COB can call a unit owner, find out the grouses and give directives. If the COB can offer easy resolution, a lot of problems will be solved.”

Apart from supporting the position of COB, JMBs and MCs must familiarise themselves with the Strata Management Act, says Richard Chan, a committee member of the Building Managers Association of Malaysia and a past president of the Malaysian Association for Shopping and High-Rise Complex Management.

“For instance, many aren’t aware that money collected should go to JMBs and MCs – not the companies or individuals hired to manage the property. What if these companies don’t pay the service contractors?”

On Tuesday, a full-day strata management seminar will be held at Wisma Rehda in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, to explain the Act, he says, urging stakeholders to attend the event.

Teo feels that the Act is too harsh on JMB volunteers. Calling it a thankless job, he says it’s difficult getting residents to even attend AGMs, what more serve on the JMB.

“Despite not being paid, JMB members risk personal liability actions. It’s too onerous. It’s overkill because there are already laws like the Penal Code which imposes fines and jail terms.”

And he feels that the Act places too many obstacles in front of willing volunteers.

“The JMB chairman and members can only serve for two and three years respectively. Such restrictions will make things worse because as it is, no one wants the job. Our solution is to extend the chairman’s term to three years; but if at the AGM there’s no one else who wants the post, he or she should be allowed to stay on. And members should be permitted to stay on for as long as they want.” -  The Star

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The Star Online-Sep 24, 2016
Record-breaking: Rumah Pangsa Orkid is the first low-cost property to achieve the top standard for quality management.

Room for improvement

THERE are mixed views, but apartment and condominium residents generally agree that there is room for improvement in managing their ....

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Vital to know your rights when get arrested; comments on social media not be a serious crime

Know the law: Citizens need to know how to react if approached or arrested by police.
http://clips.thestar.com.my.s3.amazonaws.com/Interactive/police/police.mp4

YOU wake up, read the latest news updates on your mobile phone, retweet some interesting comments, and post your own reactions. Just another ordinary day, right?

Wrong. If you are not careful, that retweet or comment might land you in legal hot water.

Former journalist Sidek Kamiso found himself in that predicament early last week when a band of plain-clothed policemen banged on his door at 4.40am to arrest him for an alleged Twitter insult. They had not only come for him at an ungodly hour but also reportedly jumped over the fence to forcefully nab him.

After checking their identification, Sidek had let them in, although they did not produce an arrest warrant. The police officers then searched the house, confiscating his phone and laptop before dragging him away in handcuffs to the police station.


The conduct of the police and the nature of that alleged offence notwithstanding, how many of us would have just opened the door when the intruders commanded, “We are the Police! Open the door!” and let them in?

Confirming the police officers’ identity first is extremely important, stresses Sevan Doraisamy, executive director of human rights advocate group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram).

Many Malaysians are too quick to obey whatever the police tell them to do without first confirming the officers’ identity, says Sevan.

“We always advise the public to ask the police to identify themselves and show their identity card when they are stopped on the street by someone who claims to be the police or when the police go to their house,” he adds, highlighting the public workshops on human rights and the police that Suaram has been holding for more than a decade.

It is normal for policemen on duty on the ground to be in plain clothes, which is why it is crucial to establish their identity.
Eric Paulsen (C) arriving at the lobby of Kuala Lumpur court to have his sedition charge read to him.AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star 06 Feb 2015
Eric Paulsen (C) arriving at the lobby of Kuala Lumpur court to have his sedition charge read to him.AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star 06 Feb 2015 The laws like the CPC and IGP’s Standing Order clearly protects a person’s fundamental liberties, but they are also general. - Eric Paulsen

Senior level police officers, from the rank of Inspector and above, carry blue IDs, while constables and below carry yellow cards. Reserve police carry white IDs while red is for suspended policemen.

According to Suaram, when making arrests, conducting raids, roadblocks or body searches, a police officer of at least the rank of Inspector (with a blue ID) must be present.

“You can also ask them which police station they are from and call it to verify the officers’ identity,” says Sevan.

Another safeguard against unlawful arrests or violations of a person’s civil rights is the police warrant.

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has asserted that an arrest warrant was not necessary when the police arrested Sidek at his home in Petaling Jaya, as the alleged offence, over a tweet on the death of PAS spiritual leader Datuk Dr Haron Din, fell under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998.

“For this offence, a warrant is not needed. For offences under the (CMA) Act, there is no need for warrants. There is no need for a warrant to detain and no need for a warrant to search homes,” he reportedly said.

The local legal fraternity was quick to refute him.

According to lawyer Siti Kasim, who represented Sidek’s family, a warrant was necessary in his case as arrests made under the CMA generally requires a warrant.
Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) Research Team on Crime and Policing head Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy. (CHARLES MARIASOOSAY/ The Star/06/ March 2016).
Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) Research Team on Crime and Policing head Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy. (CHARLES MARIASOOSAY/ The Star/06/ March 2016). 'Police personnel who violate criminal laws and other regulations will have to face the consequences'.

Lawyer Syahredzan Johan concurred, explaining that although the police have general powers to make arrests without warrants, they can only do so for offences that are listed as seizable offences under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), namely those carrying the maximum jail sentence of three years and above.

But for offences under the CMA which carry a maximum jail term of one year, the police would need a warrant when making arrests, he reportedly said.

Conceding that the details of the law might be beyond a layman’s grasp, Sevan advises members of the public to always demand for a warrant when they are being arrested.

What is important, he adds, is that any arrest can only be made after adequate investigation has been conducted on a case.

“You cannot be arrested if you are a witness or just to assist the police in an investigation.

“Always ask if you are being arrested, and for what charge or under what Act. There is no harm in also asking for the warrant,” he notes, adding that in any CMA case, the investigation should first be conducted by the country’s Internet regulator, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), before any police arrest.

And just like in the American cop movies and television series, when we are arrested in Malaysia, our fundamental rights are guaranteed, as stipulated under the Federal Constitution, the amended CPC and the IGP’s Standing Order on Arrest, says Sevan.

Just don’t expect to be read the Miranda Rights, those words many of us have grown up hearing on the telly: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”

Still, as stated on the Malaysian Bar website, our right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions when arrested is guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.

Under the Constitution, a person also has a fundamental right to be informed of the grounds of his arrest as soon as possible, as well as a right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.

These rights are clearly spelt out and reiterated under Section 28A of the CPC which came into force in September 2007: An arrested person has the right to be informed as soon as may be the grounds for this arrest; to contact a legal practitioner of his choice within 24 hours from the time of his arrest; to communicate with a relative or friend of his with regards to his whereabouts within 24 hours from the time of his arrest; and the right to consult with his lawyer and the lawyer is allowed to be present and to meet the arrested person at the place of detention before the police commences any form of questioning or recording of any statement from the person arrested.
SEVAN DORAISAMY TAMAN SRI CHERAS HOUSING PROJECT ABANDONED COORDINATOR
SEVAN DORAISAMY TAMAN SRI CHERAS HOUSING PROJECT ABANDONED COORDINATOR 'Ask if you are being arrested, and for what charge or under what Act. There is no harm in also asking for the warrant'. - Sevan Doraisamy

“We always advise those arrested to remain silent in order not to unknowingly incriminate themselves or be forced to make a confession. You can also say, ‘Saya jawab di mahkamah.’ (I’ll answer or say it in court),” Sevan notes.

As for family members, he advises them to get the name of the police station that the arresting police officers are from and are taking their loved one to.

At the police station, he adds, they need to get the name of the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case and his or her contact details.

“The good thing now is that the police’ public communications have greatly improved, and the IO will usually give out their handphone numbers to the family members,” he says, commending Sidek and his wife, Norlin Wan Musa, who is also a former journalist, for knowing and exercising their rights when the police took Sidek to the Johor Baru police station without informing her, and when they allegedly intimidated her and tried to harass their children.

Unfortunately, says Sevan, many Malaysians don’t know their rights when they get arrested, making it easy for errant police officers to intimidate them or abuse their rights.

Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen concurs, stressing that the police also need to act responsibly and reasonably, in accordance to their Standard Operating Procedure when conducting an arrest.

“The laws like the CPC and IGP’s Standing Order clearly protects a person’s fundamental liberties, but they are also general, especially in their wording.

“They were drafted with the expectation that the police would act reasonably and without bias in accordance to their SOP,” he says, describing the police conduct in the arrest of Sidek and two others in relation to the “Twitter insult” as excessive and an abuse of police powers.

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) chief Tan Sri Razali Ismail urges the police to defend civil liberties in Malaysia rather than repress the exercise of human rights.

“In essence, the police should be the face of human rights, and not a face of intimidation, even as the police needs to be the bulwark of the country’s security. Regulations are being promulgated in a sweeping fashion that will have the effect of threatening democratic practice and undermine the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Federal Constitution,” he had reiterated in his speech at the Malaysian Bar’s International Law Conference in Kuala Lumpur last week.

Khalid has given assurances that the police are subject to the laws and regulations enshrined in the Constitution.

“If we flout the laws, action will be taken against us. We are also subjected to the laws and regulations under the Constitution. So are the Members of Parliament,” he told a press conference after a dialogue with Universiti Utara Malaysia students in Sintok, Kedah, on the role of undergraduates in overcoming national security threats.

Universiti Sains Malaysia criminologist, Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy agrees that nobody should be above the law, especially the police.

“Police personnel who violate criminal laws and other regulations will have to face the consequences. Everyone who gets arrested has equal rights under the Federal Constitution and the CPC, irrespective of the nature of the case, so the police and the prosecution need to adhere to the law without bias. If they did not follow the SOP that is clearly spelt out then they should have to face the legal consequences, ”he says.

Critically, he adds, it is important for the general public to be aware of the laws of the land and their rights.

“Especially now that social media is an integral and pervasive part of our day-to-day lives. People need to be aware of the law – you make choices in life and you need to face their consequences.

“Similarly, you make your choice of tweeting and retweeting something or posting anything and making comments on social media, so you will have to bear the consequences.”

And as Dr Sundramoorthy puts it bluntly, “If you are so good at using social media, you should also be able to source the relevant information on the law and your civil rights online.

“If you are an expert on social media, you should be able to Google the dos and don’ts of when you are arrested, from the Malaysia Bar website and other civil society groups.”

By Hariati Azizan The Star/Asia News Network

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS


When Police stop you on the street

■ If cop not in uniform, ask to see his/her Police authority card. Note cop’s name and Police authority card number.
■ If cop in uniform, note cop’s name and ID on uniform, and number plate of vehicle.

When Police question you on the street
■ Only give your name, ID card number and address.
■ Politely ask, “Am I under arrest?”. You can walk away if you are not under arrest.

When Police call you for questioning to help in investigation

■ If the place and time is convenient for you, cooperate. Important: Police cannot arrest you if you are a witness.
■ If not, you can negotiate for a more convenient time and place with Police.

When Police arrest you

■ Ask why you are under arrest.
■ Ask which Police Station they are taking you to.
■ You have the right to telephone:* i) Your relative or friend ii) A lawyer or a nearby Legal Aid Centre (LAC)
► Inform them: - you have been arrested; - the time, place and reason of the arrest; - the Police Station you will be taken to.  

In police raids and searches

■ Demand for a warrant – raids without warrant are usually done when Police believe their suspect is in the building, stolen goods are hidden in the premises or some criminal activity is going on there.

After arrest and during detention

You may be detained up to 24 hours at the Police Station, or in a lock-up to “assist” police investigation.

YOUR BASIC RIGHTS WHEN UNDER ARREST


Right to remain silent
The Federal Constitution gives you the right to remain silent when questioned.

Right to counsel
 - Under Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution, an arrested person also has the right “to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice”.
- Section 28A of Criminal Procedure Code, which came into force in 2007, also gives an arrested person the right to consult a lawyer.
- The Police must accord you reasonable facilities and a reasonable time period to meet and consult your lawyer. This right can be denied if the delay in questioning you may cause the occurrence of another crime or cause danger to others.

Right to clothing You are allowed to have one set of clothing with you in the lock-up.

Right to personal belongings
The Police must record and put all your personal belongings in safe custody. Your personal belongings must be returned to you upon your release.

Right to welfare - You are allowed to take a bath two times a day. If you are sick, you have the right to receive immediate medical attention. - You are to be given proper and adequate food and water during detention.

The Police may only detain you for up to 24 hours for investigation.
It is the Police’s duty to complete their investigations within 24 hours and release you as soon as possible. Failing that, the Police must bring you before a Magistrate for a remand order to extend your detention beyond 24 hours (Remand Order).


For more information, check out the Malaysian Bar's Redbook pamphlet at http://bit.ly/KBZhlw

Source: The Malaysian Bar, Suaram

Making comments on social media should not be a serious crime, says don


TWO years ago, a 17-year-old boy was investigated for sedition when he “liked” a pro-Israel Facebook post. When questioned by the police, the student had explained that he had accidentally clicked “like” for the post that read “I love Israel” and featured a picture of the Jewish state’s flag.

We will see more and more “insensitive” and “ill-advised” online postings like this – either done intentionally or not – with the Internet and social media growing as an integral and pervasive part of our daily life, says Universiti Sains Malaysia criminologist, Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy.

“We have seen this trend of ‘slanderous’, ‘defamatory’ and ‘insensitive’ remarks constantly being made by all segments of society. It is not limited to people in leadership positions or prominence, ordinary people are also making these comments, including the young.”

As he sees it, stopping people from expressing themselves when they have access to these channels will be impossible.

“We can’t stop people from using the Internet and social media, and many will use them without thinking of the consequences. The question is where do you draw the line for freedom of expression?” he poses.

“For the proponents of absolute freedom of expression, they will say it’s the right of the people to express themselves.

“People who are against absolute freedom of expression will say that this freedom will create chaos, disharmony and trouble in general, and they will prefer some sort of censorship.”

The issue was thrust under the spotlight again recently with the arrest of three people under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 for their Twitter comments over the death of PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Dr Haron Din.

This time around, the glare was on the police conduct during the arrests – the police had allegedly trespassed into the compound of former journalist Sidek Kamiso’s house in the wee hours of the night to arrest him for his tweet, traumatising his wife and children. The police had also allegedly searched his house without a warrant while denying him his right to contact his family and lawyer after his arrest.

While he believes that it depends on the laws of the land, Dr Sundramoorthy feels that social media boo-boos should not be treated as a crime per se.

“Granted, there are limitations on the subject matters that we can comment on as they can create racial or religious disharmony and other types of conflict among citizens here, but we need to take a reasonable approach towards it.”

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) executive director Sevan Doraisamy frankly describes the police action towards Sidek as “excessive and a waste of resources”.

He says many of the CMA cases undertaken by the police do not meet the criteria of hate speech and dangerous speech to justify arrests or prosecution. In fact, he stresses, the cases are a “severe threat” to freedom of expression.

“If you ask me, ‘insensitive comments’ should not be an arrestable crime. It is also unacceptable that just because of one or two incidences of inadvisable comments, the Government should curb the freedom of expression of everyone.”

He points out that CMA cases can be investigated without physical detention. “If the police receive reports on alleged insensitive comments, they should not waste their resources to arrest the people, they can just call them in to give their statement.

“And the top officers do not need to get involved, especially when there are more serious crimes and security issues in the country – for instance, we have hundreds of people still missing from unsolved abduction and kidnapping cases,” he says. “Crucially, there is no need for those detained in Petaling Jaya to be taken to Johor Baru for investigations, for example, as it is a waste of public resources.”

Sevan, however, concedes that Malaysians need to be more responsible when using social media.

“It should not be a crime – people have a right to express themselves – but they need to be responsible about what they post or comment on.

“While they continue to assert their freedom of expression, people should also realise that they don’t need to comment on everything and anything, especially if they know that it might lead to slander or instigate something. We are still living in a sensitive society entrenched in racial and communal politics. You don’t want to get caught in the middle of it,” he says.

Denying that they are making light of hate speech, Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen contends that the Government and Malaysian authorities need to come to terms with social media.

“Nobody is saying that the Internet and social media should be free for all – if someone promotes hate or threatens someone with murder or rape online, or if they are cyber terrorists, then police should take action against them. But they need to be fair, and the legal action should be proportionate.

“We should not prosecute someone for a mere comment – no matter how unsavoury or insulting we think it is. Without any serious element of hate speech or real element of incitement to violence or harm it should not be a crime.”

Paulsen also believes that the police conduct in the arrest of Sidek was excessive, calling it “overkill”.

Declining to comment on whether there is a need to review the CMA or enforce a hate speech law, Paulsen says what is needed is a review of police policies.

“What are their priorities in crime fighting? What constitutes serious crime for the police? Anywhere in the world, corruption, criminal breach of trust, robbery and murder are traditionally considered the serious crimes and resources are channelled towards fighting them. Unfortunately in Malaysia, a lot of our resources are wasted on frivolous cases like this.” - The Star