MALAYSIA NOW – June 2015

June e-newsletter

Dear Global Bersih supporters,

Salam sejahtera, after months of hiatus, the Global Bersih newsletter is back to give you the highlights of the month of June, and what a month it has been.

We are currently in a transitioning period between two political coalitions, following the PAS elections, which saw the progressives wiped out of the leadership, DAP subsequently announced that Pakatan Rakyat is no more, with PKR reluctantly admitting so after. PAS, so far, still insists that Pakatan Rakyat is alive and they are still cooperating in various matters in Penang and Selangor.

Meanwhile, in the Barisan Nasional side, things were not looking great either as both Datuk Seri G. Palanivel and Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam both claiming that they remain as party president, although the Registrar of Societies denounced Palanivel’s claim. They have since agreed to organize fresh polls to solve the crisis. Umno have also announced that their leadership polls scheduled for next year will be postponed, on the grounds they wanted to become a stronger party, however analysts said the decision may backfire on the party.

Several other news and happenings are also described in detail as below:

1Malaysia Development Berhad funds used for election, Wall Street Journal reveals

The Wall Street Journal reported on June 18 that funds used to set up 1Malaysia Development Berhad had been diverted to fund Barisan Nasional’s campaigns in the 13th general elections. Responding to this revelation, Bersih2.0 strongly criticised Malaysia’s Elections Commission (EC) for failing to prevent this from happening. The EC countered by demanding Bersih2.0 back up its criticisms with evidence and lodge a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). 1MDB later said it was not responsible and that the WSJ had merely rehashed its article from old information.

 

EC releases guidebook on redelineation exercise

The EC has recently released a guidebook explaining the redelineation exercise, found here at its official website. Conducted by the EC every 10 years to redraw boundaries in accordance to population growth, the redelineation exercise was supposed to begin with Sarawak as the state’s elections are due next year. However, following a legal suit filed by See Chee How, the Kuching High Court ordered the EC to conduct the exercise anew and adhere to the procedure. The EC plans to appeal the decision, and the case will be heard on 9 July. Sarawak NGO ROSE (Rise of Sarawak Efforts) is campaigning on behalf of Sarawak residents objecting the redelineation exercise – as many as 11 seats are to be added, for a total of 82 state seats.

 

Official Secrets Act outstays its welcome, but Freedom of Information implementation is incomplete

In a recent forum hosted by C4 (Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism), the Official Secrets Act was criticised as problematic legislation that hindered access to documents that after a certain period of time should be made public. However, Freedom of Information (FOI) laws have experienced teething problems after the Selangor and Penang state assemblies enacted them in 2011 and 2012 respectively. At the forum, Selangor Speaker Hannah Yeoh said current FOI practices in various state agencies have been dismal due to constantly rotating civil servants and the lack of enforcement from the executive branch of the government. She proposed an executive committee (exco) member should be assigned to take on this as part of her/his portfolio in Selangor, and dedicated officers be appointed to ensure transparent practices are followed.

 

Minister confident in Election Commission despite low scores in electoral integrity

A recent survey conducted by Harvard University and University of Sydney ranked Malaysia 114th out of the 127 countries for election integrity, but Minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim in the Prime Minister’s Department dismissed the finding as just “perception”. He said the federal government remains content with the Election Commission, and foreign bodies are free to make their own assessment of the electoral situation in Malaysia.

 

Working paper by JAKIM suggests “Hudud for all”

A working paper by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) has argued that the Federal Constitution does not prevent the incorporation of hudud principles into the Penal Code, and should be be applied to all Malaysians. The working paper said non-Muslims should not assume they are not subjected to such laws as they are citizens of the country where Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution states the official religion of the country is Islam.

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