MALAYSIA NOW – June 2016


Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar By-Elections
Following the helicopter crash that took the lives of Datuk Noriah Kasnon and Wan Mohammad Khair-il in May, by-elections in Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar were held on 18 June 2016. The Election Commission (EC) announced that the total turnout was 71% for Kuala Kangsar and 74% for Sungai Besar.

BN candidate Budiman Mohd Zohdi and PAS candidate Abdul Rani Osman in Sungai Besar. Picture taken from Malaysiakini.

The National Front (BN) retained its seats in both constituencies. Sungai Besar saw a three-cornered fight. BN garnered 16,800 votes from the electorate, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) gained 6,902 votes while 7,609 votes went to the National Trust Party (Amanah). BN won with a 9,191-vote majority.

Four candidates ran in Kuala Kangsar. BN gained 12,653 votes, PAS took 5,684 votes, Amanah won 4,883 votes while the independent candidate garnered 54 votes. BN won with a majority of 6,969 votes. 

Bersih 2.0’s election observation team PEMANTAU and Global Bersih observed the by-elections. Both organisations recorded incidents of election offences committed by all contesting parties.

During campaigning period, the parties were giving out RM500 to rubber tappers, rice, vegetables, meals, stand mixers, fishing licences, etc.

Bersih 2.0 in a press statement on 14 June 2016 stated that 14 corruption offences occurred. 5 out of the 14 were committed by the opposition parties, while the remaining were committed by BN.

The EC was of the opinion that these handouts were not offences. “From our point of view, we do not see any problem until now, (we) do not see anything going against the (election) regulations. This depends of the interpretation of every party,” said Abdul Aziz Khalidin of the EC.

Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said that filing an election petition over this would be difficult. “The candidate filing the petition will have to prove that by giving this money, it had influenced voters to vote a certain way. But no voter will come out and say this, so it’ll be very difficult,” she said.


Lim Guan Eng Arrested Over Bungalow

Penang Chief Minister and Democratic Action Party Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng was arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on the evening of 28 June 2016. He was then brought to the Penang Sessions Court the following morning, where he faced two charges, i.e. Section 23 of the MACC Act and Section 165 of the Penal code.

Section 23 of the MACC Act relates to alleged abuse of power with regard to the re-zoning of land from agriculture to commercial land. It carries a jail term of not more than 20 years and a fine of five times the value of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

Section 165 of the Penal Code concerns the bungalow that he acquired below market price at RM2.8 million from businesswoman Phang Li Khoon. This offence is punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment, a fine and forfeiture of property upon conviction. Phang was also arrested on the same evening. She was charged under Section 109 of the Penal Code, read together with Section 165.

Lim Guan Eng being taken away to MACC state headquarters. Picture taken from The Malay Mail.
Lim Guan Eng being taken away to MACC state headquarters.
Picture taken from The Malay Mail.

Lim is accused of using his public office or position to obtain gratification for himself by approving an application by Magnificent Emblem Sdn Bhd to convert agriculture land to residential purpose during a state planning committee meeting on 18 July 2014. The Penang Island City Council subsequently rejected the application to re-zone the land.

Bail was set at RM1 million with one surety. While the court did not order Lim to surrender his passport, he must notify the Attorney-General’s (AG) Chambers 48 hours prior to travelling. AG Mohamed Apandi Ali leads the prosecution team, his first since being appointed as AG.

Global Bersih condemns the government’s crackdown on Lim Guan Eng. Global Bersih President Colin Rajah stated that “the harassment and intimidation against a democratically-elected opposition leader from an opposition stronghold furthers the erosion of Malaysia’s electoral process and institutions. An institution like the MACC is supposed to be independent and not doing the dirty work of the ruling party.”

He added that “overseas Malaysians should use the opportunities we have to highlight such violation of human rights and the conditions in Malaysia to other governments. We should work harder at reforming our very corrupt electoral system.” 


National Security Bill Now An Act of Parliament

The National Security Council (NSC) Bill was gazetted into law without royal assent on 7 June 2016. The automatic assent kicked into force a day after the Conference of Rulers raised its concerns about the bill.

Clause 4(a) of the Federal Constitution states that a bill becomes law 30 days after it is presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, even if the Agong does not assent.  

The dictator-like NSC Act will allow for the imposition of emergency-like conditions in security areas declared by the NSC for up to 6 months. It also ensures legal immunity for the NSC and those acting under its orders.

The NSC is led by the Prime Minister and includes the Deputy Prime Minister, Home Minister, Defence Minister, Communications & Multimedia Minister, Inspector General of Police, Chief of Defence and Chief Secretary.


Rosmah Criticised for Jet Use

The prime minister’s wife Rosmah Mansor has been publicly confronted with criticism concerning her use of a government-chartered jet to receive an award in Istanbul, Turkey in May 2016.

Currently, the government uses the specific aircraft as it’s own and leased it for two months from Emirates Airlines.

The main criticism came from the People’s Justice Party (PKR) Vice President Rafizi Ramli. He also queried why no reporter bothered asking how Rosmah travelled to Istanbul.

Additionally, Rafizi estimated that the cost of hiring a jet that size to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Istanbul to be around RM1 million.


PKR Sarawak State Election Candidate Shot Dead

Bill Kayong was shot dead in Miri, Sarawak on the morning of 21 June 2016. He was gunned down at the traffic light in Senadin.

Kayong was the political secretary to Miri Member of Parliament Dr Michael Teo

According to PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Kayong was a “fearless activist who was committed to the reform agenda”. He was outspoken about the native customary rights land issue.

Bill Kayong was known to be a passionate and fearless activist.  Picture taken from The Star.
Bill Kayong was known to be a passionate and fearless activist.
Picture taken from The Star.


Individual Arrested and Investigated For Offending Johor Crown Prince

Masyhur Abdullah, 23, has been arrested over a single post shared through his social media Twitter account, which was said to be degrading towards Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.

The arrest was confirmed by Johor police chief Wan Ahmad Najmuddin, who said the case would further be investigated under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA). This specific section deals with “improper use of network facilities or network services”.

He further stated that a special team had been set up by the Johor police to monitor, track down and take action against individuals abusing the social media websites and advised members of the public not to take such actions.


Fahmi Raza’s Detention For Clown PM Picture

For selling T-shirts featuring a clown-faced Najib Razak at the Alternative Bookfest event in Kuala Lumpur, graphic artist and activist Mohd Fahmi Reza Mohd Zarin was detained by the Police. He was subsequently released the next morning.

Fahmi Reza had previous been charged for posting a similar graphic of PM Najib with clown makeup attached to a fake warning poster by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on his Facebook page.
In this case, the Sessions Court charged him under section 233(1)(a) of the CMA, arguing that his actions intentionally hurt people’s feeling. The Act prohibits online distribution of content deemed to be “obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person”. The bail was set to RM7,000 and case has been set for June 27. A conviction would result in a maximum fine of RM50,000, a year in jail, or both.

However, it is yet unclear whether the police will press charges in his latest case. If they do, it is expected to be another charge under the same act as described above.

Fahmi views himself as part of the visual generation. As a graphics designer, Fahmi possesses a unique skill that enables him to get his messages across to a large audience. Fahmi intends to continue standing up and fighting for issues that he considers important, no matter what the consequences.



Zunar Tours Australia

Cartoonist Zunar faces 43 years in prison on 9 charges of sedition over his satire and cartons of Najib Razak and his government. Zunar’s five cartoon books are banned for allegedly containing content “detrimental to public order”, which police have confiscated thousands of copies.

In June, cartoonist Zunar was well received by Malaysians in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth. This was his second Australia tour.

Zunar speaking to a crowd in the Australian National University, Canberra. Picture by Kevin Bathman.
Zunar speaking to a crowd in the Australian National University, Canberra.
Picture by Kevin Bathman.

Amnesty International has initiated a petition that urges the government to drop the charges against Zunar. To sign the petition, click here.

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