THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

43. Ambiga Sreenevasan

Excerpts from the speech by President of the Malaysian Bar, Ambiga Sreenevasan, at the 14th Malaysian Law Conference.

Central to the administration of justice and the function of lawyers, is the rule of law. There has been a resurgence in the discourse on the rule of law and its importance, not only in respect of the administration of a country, but in a nation’s economic and social growth. This resurgence is important as we see the rule of law coming under attack in nations around the world. In the words of Matin Luther King, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’

Interestingly, two out of the five principles of our Rukunegara refer to the Law. They are,

• Keluhuran Perlembagaan (i.e. supremacy of the Constitution) and
• Kedaulatan Undang-Undang (i.e. the Rule of Law)

So what is this concept of the Rule of Law? Simply put, it means that no-one is above the law including the government. This is unlike in the case of Rule by law where the law is an instrument of the government and the government is above the law. The rule of law is built upon two essential components.

1) The Submission of all to the Law.
2) The Doctrine of Separation of powers.

Some of the indicators that the Rule of Law operates and functions well in a society are :-

- An independent and impartial judiciary. - Adherence to the principle that there must be equality before the Law
- The existence of a strong and independent legal profession.
- Speedy Access to justice for all
- The operation of the presumption of innocence
- The right to a fair and public trial

Of all the institutions in a democratic nation, the most vital is that of the Judiciary. It is the Judiciary that breathes life into the cold print of the Federal Constitution making meaningful all those guarantees promised to the citizens. It is the Judiciary that enlivens the spirit of the Constitution. It is the Judiciary that upholds the rule of law. It is to the Judiciary that an individual or a mighty corporation turns in seeking to protect and enforce their rights before a fair and impartial arbiter. The Government and the Bar are in agreement that a strong, independent and impartial Judiciary is critical to our progress as a nation. Recently we have seen the credibility of the Judiciary being brought into question and our system of appointments and promotions being brought under scrutiny. We have consistently called for the setting up of a Judicial Appointments Commission and I repeat that call. But that is not all. There is an issue of public confidence that we must address. Public confidence is a fragile commodity.

I quote the late Tun Mohd Suffian, the former Lord President when he said :-

"It is not enough for Government to have confidence in the judiciary if the public does not. It is not enough for courts only to go through the motion of trial. It is not enough if justice seems to be done if in fact justice has not been done."

The 1988 Judicial Crisis and many subsequent events did much to erode public confidence in the Institution of the Judiciary. It is therefore important for a process of truth and reconciliation to take place in this regard. This powerful process allows all those involved to confront the truth of what took place and to then move on. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa is testament to the empowering nature of this process.

Independent institutions are not a sign of weakness of the government but a sign of its strength. Finally, when all is said and done, the upholding of the Federal constitution, the framework of the Nation, and democratic principles are only as good as the institutions provided for under the Federal Constitution. As such, there is a perennial need to maintain and strengthen such institutions.

The Bar Council takes the position that laws relating to detention without trial must be repealed in keeping with the country’s pledge to uphold the universal values in all aspects of national development, and for the promotion of the rule of law and international human rights standards.
The power of detention without trial remains an exception to the norms of any fair, just equitable and democratic society.

There are also currently 4 proclamations of emergency which have yet to be annulled. The Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance was brought into force 37 years ago to deal with a specific violent situation - the racial riots of 1969; a situation which no longer exits. Yet the Ordinance is still being used. The Bar Council calls for the revoking of the proclamations of emergency and a repeal of the emergency ordinances.

Other legislation that requires serious review due to the passage of time and their having outlived their use are the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA), and the Sedition Act. We live in the age of the Internet now. There is little point in controlling the press if it only means that the news will easily find its way into cyberspace. We acknowledge however that there has been an increase in the democratic space in this country but a review of some of these archaic legislation will help to formalise this move.

Malaysia has a long and time-honoured commitment to the cause of international humanitarian law and peace-keeping. We have ratified the Geneva Conventions, and more recently the Chemical Weapons Convention. Over the years we have contributed peace-keeping troops to many war-torn and conflict-ridden areas. Our assistance to Indonesia during the Asian Tsunami and to Timor Leste in her progress towards independence and nation-building also speaks volumes about Malaysia’s important role in international humanitarian efforts. Malaysia now sits on the United Nations Human Rights Council and is Chair of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

Yet, despite our obvious commitment to international justice and the rule of law in the international arena, we have yet to sign or ratify the Rome Statute of 17th July 1998 establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC), the first permanent international court before which those who have perpetrated some of the most heinous crimes against humanity like the Milosevics would be brought to justice. To date, 105 countries have ratified the Rome Statute.

We are hopeful that the Government will expeditiously sign and ratify the Rome Statute. As ever, the Malaysian Bar is ready to assist the Government in any way we can in this regard.
In recent years the Malaysian Bar has actively engaged with the Attorney General and the Minister of Law in the area of Law Reform. One of the legislation amended was the Legal Profession Act where amongst other things a discriminatory provision which did not allow lawyers below 7 years to participate in the Bar Council was removed. The Honourable Minister was responsible for facilitating this amendment and we would like to record our thanks to him.

We are also pleased that the Honourable Attorney General now consults us increasingly on proposed legislation. In the past year, the Bar Council has been invited to give its input in relation to certain proposed amendments to the existing law, such as in relation to the Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act, the Limitation Act, and many others.

Apart from forwarding its views to the relevant authorities, the Bar Council further contributes to law reform in many other ways. The Council also pro-actively participated in the 2 Police Commissions. When Parliament set up a Select Committee not long ago to look into amendments and reforms in various areas of criminal law, the Bar Council made written and oral presentations of its views and recommendations to the Select Committee. A number of our recommendations have now found their place in the amended law.

An aspect of the rule of law is the enhancement of access to justice. The Malaysian Bar Council launched its Legal Aid scheme in 1983. Apart from providing pro bono legal services, it also promotes legal awareness. It is an entirely self–funded scheme, administratively financed by members of the Bar who contribute an annual sum of RM100 each. On top of that, hundreds of lawyers each year volunteer their services without charge, to handle and conduct legal aid cases of various types. In the last 2 years more than RM1 million a year has been spent by the Bar on legal aid.

The government also runs a Legal Aid scheme for the poor, namely the Government Legal Aid Bureau. The Bar Council Legal Aid scheme supplements this Government scheme. We are, with the encouragement of the Minister of Law, now looking at ways in which we can work together in providing legal aid more efficiently to the public.

It has been universally recognised that an independent and courageous legal profession is indispensable to the rule of law in a democratic society.

The Malaysian Bar has always acted to uphold the cause of justice uninfluenced by anyone except its own collective conscience.

Anyone who has been in our ranks and has attended our very democratic meetings, will know that only one thing drives the Malaysian Bar and that is the cause of justice. And let there be no mistake. We turn the light of examination on ourselves as much as anyone else. We are concerned about standards about integrity and about discipline in the legal profession. We have an independent Disciplinary Board set up under our Act presently headed by Tan Sri Khalid who is ever watchful over the disciplining of members. We are looking at various ways and means in which to improve our standards. And we have no problem with criticism whether constructive or otherwise because we continually undertake a process of self-examination. In fact we have a special session in this conference that deals directly with these issues relating to the legal profession. We welcome anyone who wishes to raise any issues whatsoever about the profession be it about standards, integrity or discipline to attend and speak your mind.

We value the Judges and Judicial Officers who work tirelessly and uphold the standards and dignity of the Judiciary. We appreciate the burdens of their office. Our criticism is levelled at elements that undermine them and the institution of the Judiciary. When that happens, we will speak and we will defend the institution against those elements. As Lord Denning has said in R v Metropolitan Police Commissioner, ex parte Blackburn " Silence is not an option when things are ill done." We have much to be grateful for in this country, but we speak because we know we are capable of so much more. And it is within our grasp. It is up to us to seize the moment.

To understand our role, I can do no better than to quote C.J. Bhagwati when he said :-

"The essential truth is that the judiciary is an institution. Its business as an institution of governance is larger than the individual profile of a judge. But, it is important to reflect on the constituent elements of this great institution. This institution consists of the Bar and the Judges. While we maintain our personal integrity, it is the Bar that fiercely supports the independence of the judiciary. While we pronounce judgment, it is the diligence and research of the Bar that unfolds in our work. While we express our commitment to the people, it is the Bar that fiercelessly [sic] selects the courses of action which we pronounce upon. Those that fight zealously for the independence of the judiciary must surely know that is not enough. We need to be equally over-zealous to fight for the independence of the Bar. To those who said " hands off the judiciary" I add " hands off the Bar".

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

42. Sultan Azlan Shah

Excerpts from the Opening Address by HRH Sultan Azlan Shah at the 14th Malaysian Law Conference.

We must ever be mindful that written constitutions are mere parchment pieces.

It is important that there must be, in the hearts and minds of those who are entrusted to administer and uphold the constitution, a belief in the values and principles that animate the august document.

I had occasion to observe when sitting in the Federal Court in 1977 that the “constitution is not a mere collection of pious platitudes”. I spoke then of the 3 essential features of our constitution. I said:

“It is the supreme law of the land embodying three basic concepts:

One of them is that the individual has certain fundamental rights upon which not even the power of the state may encroach.

The second is the distribution of sovereign power between the states and the federation,…

The third is that no single man or body shall exercise complete sovereign power, but that it shall be distributed among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, compendiously expressed in modern terms that we are a government of laws, not of men.”

In a speech delivered in Kuala Lumpur in April 2004, Lord Woolf spoke of the ‘Rule of Law’,
“The Rule of Law is the rule by the laws that govern a true democracy. They are the laws that provide for a proper balance between the protection of human rights and the interests of the State. Laws which an independent and responsible judiciary can enforce to protect all members of society from abuse of power.”

All countries, including those that are totalitarian regimes, have courts. But as I observed previously:

“The [mere] existence of courts and judges in every ordered society proves nothing; it is their quality, their independence, and their powers that matter.”

In matters concerning the judiciary, it is the public perception of the judiciary that ultimately matters. A judiciary loses its value and service to the community if there is no public confidence in its decision-making.

In this regard the principal quality a judiciary must possess is “impartiality”. Lord Devlin said of “judicial impartiality” that it exists in two senses-the reality of impartiality and the appearance of impartiality. He emphasized that the appearance of impartiality was the more important of the two.

Impartiality also means that judges are not only free from influence of external forces, but also of one another. No judge however senior can dictate to his brethren as to how a decision should be arrived at.

It is of the essence of a judge’s character that he must be a person of unquestionable integrity who brings an unbiased mind to his task. Like Caesar’s wife, he should be above suspicion.

It is said that public confidence in the judiciary is based on four evaluating criteria. They are:
(1) the principle of independence of the judiciary;
(2) the principle of impartiality of adjudication;
(3) the principle of fairness of trial; and
(4) the principle of the integrity of the adjudicator.

How does our judiciary measure today against these criteria?

Sadly I must acknowledge there has been some disquiet about our judiciary over the past few years and in the more recent past. In 2004, I had stated that it grieved me, having been a member of the judiciary, whenever I heard allegations against the judiciary and the erosion of public confidence in the judiciary.

There is no reason why judges with the assured security of tenure they enjoy under the Constitution should not discharge their duties impartially, confidently and competently.

Judges are called upon to be both independent and competent. In these days, judges must ever be mindful that the loss of independence can come from many sources, and not just from the executive. Therefore, judges must piously resist the lure of socializing with business personages and other well connected people. They may discover at their peril that they have compromised themselves in the cases that come before them with the unedifying spectacle of recusal applications.

Nothing destroys more the confidence the general public, or the business community has in the judiciary than the belief that the judge was biased when he decided a case, or that the judge would not be independent where powerful individuals or corporations are the litigants before him.

I should point out that mere cosmetic changes alone would not suffice. If we wish to achieve this goal, it is imperative that major reforms are introduced. Many other countries have taken such steps to establish specialized commercial courts. Recently, the Dubai Commercial Court (where one of our own former Chief Judge has recently been appointed to sit as a judge in this new court), and the Qatar Commercial Court have been established.

I know that judging is an arduous task calling for a good mind and a capacity for hard work. The inevitable consequence of incompetence is delayed judgments and backlog in cases leading to all round dissatisfaction.

As is often said, there are good lawyers and bad lawyers. Whilst the majority of the lawyers discharge their duties as officers of the court with professionalism and dedication, there have been cases of some others who have brought disrepute to the legal profession. There have been allegations against some lawyers that in clear dereliction of their responsibilities, they have either misled the courts, or attempted to choose the judges or courts for their cases to be heard so as to obtain a favourable decision in their client’s favour. This is serious interference with the administration of justice and the process of the court.

I am reminded of the proud accolade of the late Tun Suffian in his Braddel Memorial Lecture in 1982, when speaking of the Malaysian judiciary to a Singapore audience he said:

“ In a multi-racial and multi religious society like yours and mine, while we judges cannot help being Malay or Chinese or Indian; or being Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu or whatever, we strive not to be too identified with any particular race or religion – so that nobody reading our judgement with our name deleted could with confidence identity our race or religion, and so that the various communities, especially minority communities, are assured that we will not allow their rights to be trampled underfoot.”

Read the full text here.

41. Wait for Report

The Government will decide on the next course of action once it receives a report from the panel to verify the authenticity of the video clip purportedly showing a lawyer discussing appointment of judges.

The Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the Government had yet to receive the report from the panel.

"When we get the report from the panel, we will decide," he told reporters after officiating the Women's Institute of Management Biennial Lecture 2007 here on Monday.

Najib was asked to comment on Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz's statement that if no witnesses come forward, it could be concluded that it was a non-issue and the video clip was not genuine.

The panel headed by Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor, which was set up by the Government on Sept 27, was given 30 working days to complete the investigation and report to the Prime Minister.

The panel has been waiting in vain for witnesses to volunteer information despite the assurance by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Saturday that witnesses would be given personal security wherever required - Izatun Shari, The Star.

Please read my comments here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

40. Anwar to Persuade

After Prime Minister's assurance of witness protection, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is prepared to discuss and persuade the whistle-blowers to come forward and give their testimony.

"I am ready with a thumb-drive (of the original video clip). Tomorrow (today) we will see whether the ACA is clear of what they want."

Meanwhile Bar Council Vice-Chairman, Ragunath Kesavan said "witness protection also included protection to witnesses round the clock, security of witnesses and even providing for a new identity as well as relocating them for their safety."

Read all here in theSun.

39. Malam Bangsa Malaysia



Event : Malam Bangsa Malaysia
Date : 3rd November, 2007
Time : 8.00pm
Venue : Room A, Dewan Sri Pinang, Pulau Pinang.

There will be a charge of RM10 per person to cover rental and refreshment costs.

The event can only accommodate 200 people and attendance is by invitation.

The organising team has also put together a forum entitled 'One People, One Nation' which is open to all who are registered to attend the get-together later that night.

The forum is scheduled to start at 5pm. Registration will start at 4.30pm.

Speakers for the forum are :

1. Dato Seri Lim Chong Keat
2. Khoo Kay Peng (independent political analyst)
3. Malik Imtiaz Sarwar
4. Haris Ibrahim

What you need to do to get an invitation:

Firstly, as places are limited, please be sure that you can attend before you ask for the invitation.

If you are very sure that you can make it, please send an e-mail to bangsamalaysiapenang@gmail.com

In your email, please provide the following details :

1. Name (as per IC) and IC number
2. Contact number
3. A little bit about yourself ( where you're from, what you do ). Also tell us what your feelings are about the last fifty years of independance and what your hopes are for the coming fifty years. Also, share your thoughts on what you think needs to be done to make the aspiration of one people, one nation a reality in Malaysia.

All e-mails will be replied.

All particulars furnished will be treated with utmost confidence.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

38. PM - Protection !

Here's a clip from Bernama:

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the government will ask the police to ensure the safety of the people who come forward to assist in the probe into the video recording purportedly showing a lawyer on the phone trying to broker the appointment of judges.

The prime minister said that when the situation warranted some people to be protected, then the government would provide such protection.

"The police will be asked to protect the witnesses," he told reporters after opening the 10th annual scientific meeting of the Malaysian Association for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, here.

Abdullah also said the government was actively looking into crafting a witness protection law.

"It's up to the Attorney-General to determine this. The relevant bill has not yet reached the cabinet," he said.

On Monday, the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) gave Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim until Thursday to hand over the original video clip.

However, the ACA issued a statement on Thursday saying that Anwar had failed to turn in the clip.

Anwar has filed an application in the High Court here to set aside the order issued by the ACA.


Going by the above, it is up to the Mr. Source(s) to come forward and hand up the unedited, full original tape to ACA or through PKR if they do not want to reveal their identities. This in view of the Prime Minister's assurance that the witnesses will be protected and in view of a lack of a Witness Protection Bill in the country.

Prime Minister, this is precisely the reason the Bar Council is requesting for a Royal Commission, which will provide under law ( not just assurances) all the protection. This is a legal issue and we are dealing with lawyers. If the panel has been wrongly set up, please correct it and set up a Royal Commission.

A tape whether original or copy is the mother of all evidences. It is a foolproof evidence of an event on record.This is a better evidence than a sworn statement, under oath, by a witness in a case like this. This is in view of the fact that the ACA has said there is no way and nobody could verify authenticity. Why are we pulling our legs on this issue? If there is a copy, there is an original ... and there is an event recorded! It is that authentic.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

37. The People's Petition

Bravo Haris Ibrahim, a lawyer of The People's Parliament. He has collected the signatures of 5036 concerned citizens of Malaysia and has sent it to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong yesterday.

It is to ask the King to set up a Royal Commission to look into the video tape scandal and to set up a Royal Commission to study the malfunction at Malaysia's Judiciary - the saviour and guardian of justice in the country.

They say justice is the soul of a nation and without justice all the developments and efforts at glory come to nought.

You will be a black-listed nation fit for animals however much the other developments turn out to be.

Make it an election issue and take it to the ballot box.

The world is watching and so are the Malaysians.

DO NOT DISGRACE MALAYSIA. STAND UP AND FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS. NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

SERVICE INTERRUPTION

ACCORDING TO TMNET, CABLE PROBLEM STILL NOT SOLVED. BLOGSPOT ACCESS IS DELAYED. BLOGSPOT POSTING IN UNITED STATES IS STILL VERY UNRELIABLE, INTERMITTENT TO NIL. I AM UNABLE TO POST. WILL RESUME POSTING WHEN SITUATION IS BACK TO NORMAL. PLEASE REFER TO MY POSTING OF 21.10.2007 ( 35 BELOW) FOR FURTHER DETAILS. THANK YOU.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

36. Junta Softening?

The Military Junta has to date appointed a 54 member committee to draft a new constitution for the country leading eventually to elections.

This is the latest of a series of measures announced by the junta for reforms and a return to democracy.

The other is the appointment of a minister to start negotiations with Aung San Suu Kyi.

In a move seen as being more amiable to world opinion, the junta have agreed to bring forward to early November a return visit by UN mediator Ibrahim Gambari.

This comes a few days after they agreed to the visit of a top UN human rights official to their country.

Earlier President Bush urged India and China to step up pressure to stop repression against pro-democracy activists and to suspend Arms and Energy sales to the Junta.

He announced the freezing of the US assets of 25 junta leaders and targeting another 12.

US lawmakers have also sanctioned oil-giant Chevron to pull out from Myanmar.

The Myanmar government has accused the US of training monks to stage anti-government protests.

United Nations is meanwhile pressuring the regime to open talks with Aung San Suu Kyi.

Its envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, is travelling through Asia urging a carrot-and-stick approach. He says the regime should also be offered incentives to reform.

Read report here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

35. Tmnet Interruption

I am experiencing intermittent service disruption on east bound internet traffic to the US via Taiwan from Friday afternoon till now.

According to Tmnet, this is due to a faulty cable in Taiwan.

Tmnet by now should have in place an alternative route to divert traffic to US either by cable or satellite. But this has not been done even after two recent outages in Taiwan due to undersea volcanic activity.

This is not just for me but for millions of others using the internet.

I will not be doing any postings until the service is completely back to normal.

Maybe Malaysia should start looking into this than Space which many others are already doing.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

34. Sheikh's Experiments

Malaysia's first astronaut, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Sheikh Mustapha today conducted five experiments in microgravity condition at the International Space Station (ISS).

The first was the spinning of the Malaysian traditional game gasing (top), where he attached a string to a 95-gramme top made of aluminium and let it spin in mid-air in horizontal and vertical positions for less than a minute.

In the second experiment, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar pressed a pack containing strawberry juice which came out within seconds in a jelly-like substance floating in mid-air.

He later used a spoon to scoop the floating jelly and put it into his mouth.

The third experiment involved the mixing of oil and water in a square-shaped crystal box with the substances mixing well in microgravity condition. In normal situation oil floats on top of water.

In his fourth experiment Dr Sheikh Muszaphar showed the audience on earth how a yo-yo would swing in microgravity condition.

Under normal circumstances, a yo-yo goes up and down when in play but in a microgravity condition, the yo-yo goes up, down and to the front as well.

In his last experiment, he showed the differences in velocity of three balls of different sizes, travelling in microgravity.

The balls appeared to have moved in slow motion during the experiment.

Read all here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

33. HK to analyse Clip

The Anti-Corruption Agency is sending the video clip to a reputable institution in Hong Kong for analysis.

The ACA was recommended this agency by their counterparts there. The FBI had earlier declined to do the analysis saying that it was not evidence for a crime of violence.

The tapes will be personally taken there and returned by two ACA officers.

This is to facilitate the report to be handed to the Independent Panel on October 29th on whether the clips were doctored.

Full story.

Nazri keeps insisting that those with knowledge of the video clip to come forward DESPITE protests that their safety was of utmost importance. This is due to the fact that there is no Witness Protection Act in the country and their immunity is not assured by the Panel. They have however agreed to divulge all to a Royal Commission which assures them that and is capable of doing a thorough probe.

32. Bar's Memo to Panel

Excerpts from the Bar's memo to the Panel dated 12th October, 2007 :

2. Under S21(4) of the Anti Corruption Act, 1997 any report ... must be kept secret and shall not be disclosed to any person other then officers of the Agency and Public Prosecutor...

4. The issue of authenticity can be tested by technical expertise by digital forensic experts locally and or abroad.

5. ...creates an impression that the authorities are more interested in persecuting the whistleblower than in discovering the truth of the alleged wrongdoing...

6. The panel lacks legal authority and immunity to conduct investigations...

7. No set procedure in relation to the manner in which the Panel is to carry out its work.

8....no power to summon witnesses, procure evidence on oath ...

9. ... the findings of the panel would at best be an opinion on the material obtained by other bodies...

10. The Bar is concerned that the Panel does not invite any specific person to come forward to assist it or give a statement. Any such statement would not be on oath...

11. ... no open or public hearing is to be held...

12. ... hearing before Tribunal of Inquiry should be held in public - so that the public would have complete confidence ...

13. ... views of Lord Justice Salmon of the Royal Commission on DSAI...

15. Evidence Act would be inappropriate to this Panel. Evidence Act provides all for in a judicial proceeding in or before a court but not to affidavits presented to any court or officer of court ...

16. The Bar invites Panel to recommend that a Public Enquiry be held pursuant to Commission of Enquiry Act 1950.

17. The video clip and all that it represents has "seared the very soul of Malaysia." Its impact cannot be denied. Its devastation must be addressed through appropriate processes that will uncover the whole truth and recommend satisfactory remedies.

Ambiga Sreenevasan,
President,
Malaysian Bar

Thursday, October 18, 2007

31. First Airbus A380












World's first commercial Airbus A380 landed in Singapore after a 12 hour flight from Toulouse, France.

The SIA plane was given a water spray welcome on arrival.

On hand to greet was their Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and about 400 guests.

Speaking at the welcoming ceremony, the Premier said SIA's success is a triumph of the ingenuity, hard work and spirit of the people. It is also a source of pride and symbol of the nation's relentless drive for excellence.

SIA has ordered 19 Airbus A380 of which five will be delivered next year. The double decked, largest aircraft in the world offers greater efficiency, lower fuel emissions and less noise.

Read all here.

30. Picowatt Power

Solar cells 200 hundred times smaller than human hair have been developed.

Capable of powering ultra-microscopic gadgetry to be developed in about a decade, these cells have an output of about 200 picowatts.

Two hundred billionths of a watt is not much, but at nanoscale can power up ultra-low power electronics.

The nanowire is made of silicon with 3 different types of conductivity in layered shells.

The incoming light generates electrons in the outer shell which are then swept into the second layer and inner core along micropores.

These 'holes' carry equal and opposite charge as electrons.

The outer and inner core thus function as positive and negative terminals of a battery.

More...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

29. Reporters Protected

The U.S. House of Representatives, by a vote of 398 to 21, passed legislation that would protect reporters from being jailed for failing to reveal sources.

The margin of vote was more than the two-thirds majority to override a veto by the President.

This bill was in response to threats to jail journalists for failing to co-operate with prosecutors in several high profile cases.

Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller spent 85 days in jail than divulge conversations she had with Lewis Libby, V.P. Dick Cheney's then chief of staff in a high profile case.

Read more...

28. Junta Defiant

The Military Junta in Myanmar said it will not be pressured by UN or others of its violent clampdown on dissenting monks and civilian protestors.

The situation in Myanmar does not pose a security threat to regional or international peace and security. It is purely an internal matter to be dealt with.

The UN Security Council called for a release of all political prisoners and to start negotiations with the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi who has been in prison for the last 18 years.

This will put Myanmar on the road to democracy and reforms.

Myanmar now faces sanctions. Japan is cancelling grants of about 4.7 million dollars over the fatal shooting of a Japanese journalist. EU have imposed an embargo on the export of wood, gems and metals. US has targetted sanctions against Junta Leaders and President Bush has called for total international pressure on its leaders.

Meanwhile UN envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, who is on 6 nation Asian Tour, is in Malaysia. Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, said ASEAN could help foster dialogue between Myanmar and UN but would not suspend it from the grouping.

The Military Junta has been in power in Myanmar for the last 45 years and not much economic progress took place in that country.

See full report here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

27. Blog Action Day 2007










On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment.

Haze is an atmospheric phenomenon where dust, smoke and other dry particles obscure the clarity of the sky and a source of breathing difficulties.

It arises yearly from "open burning" in Indonesia especially in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The burning of old and unwanted timber to clear the way for reforestation is the cause.

It would be most heartening if ASEAN member states can put a permanent stop to the HAZE condition.

Please see my post and photos of the HAZE here.

26. Tsunami Warning

India on Monday launched its tsunami early warning center, which can alert people living along the coast within 13 minutes of getting data from seismic stations.

"This is a technological achievement of enormous magnitude,'' India's Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said while inaugurating the center on the outskirts of Hyderabad, the capital of southern Andhra Pradesh state.

The center, costing 1.25 billion rupees (US$32 million, euro22.58 million), was built within three years.

A massive earthquake off Indonesia's Sumatra island in December 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people and left a half million homeless in a dozen countries. An estimated 10,700 were killed in India.

India's warning center will get data from six buoys and bottom pressure recorders in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea.

The center was successfully tested during the 8.4 magnitude earthquake that hit Indonesia last month, he said.

India will be sharing data and information about the earthquake and ocean surges with its neighbors, the minister said.

Nearly 400 million people living in India's coastal belt are vulnerable to oceanographic disasters - AP/ The Star.

Monday, October 15, 2007

25. First Class Judiciary

Bar Council President, Ambiga Sreenevasan, yesterday urged Minister in the Prime Minister's department to focus on the issue of restoring credibility of the judiciary rather than on lawyers and whistleblowers.

She was commenting on Nazri's remarks at a news portal which branded lawyers as "crazy people" for showing dissatisfaction over the country's judiciary by taking part in the "March for Justice" on 26th September.

She said " We want a strong and first class judiciary which we are capable of having. There are many honest and hard working judges and we are entitled to have an institution that is scandal free.

She also said " it would be wrong to ignore the views expressed by those who participated in the march ..."

"Our only motive is a strong judiciary and what is wrong with that?" she added.

Read Bernama's full article here.

I would not like to comment on anything more than what was said by the President of the Bar Council because it would amount to breaking the draconian laws against free speech. Similarly the lawyers too have been hushed up. But that does not mean everything is alright. It is not that the lawyers are crazy, but there is a crisis. 2000 of them cannot be wrong and take part in a protest ( because they cannot speak out), forgoing their day's work. A first class Bench with a third class Bar or vice versa i.e. a first class Bar with a third class Bench will not bring First Class Justice. The retired former judges have spoken. So have the lawyers. And the citizens. The ball is now in the court of the Government or whoever is in charge of the Judiciary or appoints them.

24. New Australian PM?

Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Sunday called for a general election on November 24.

After 11 years in office, he says experience sets him ahead of opposition leader Kevin Rudd.

He is making a bid for the fifth term in office.

The 68-year-old leader of the Liberal Party is trailing badly in opinion polls in a battle against Labor Party leader and former diplomat Rudd, the toughest opponent to emerge since Howard won power in 1996.

With voters concerned over house prices and rising interest rates putting pressure on mortgages, Howard stressed his ability to manage the economic boom and said he believed record unemployment could go even lower.

The announcement came as a new survey confirmed earlier opinion polls showing that the prime minister is facing electoral defeat.

Newspoll shows Howard facing defeat at the ballot box with 44 per cent and Labor leading with 56 per cent of the vote.

Read all about it here in an AFP report.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

23. Al Gore wins Nobel

Congratulations to Al Gore and IPCC and let us hope all nations will work towards solving this global issue !


Former US vice-president Al Gore shakes hands with school children after a news conference on his Nobel Peace Prize win. He vows to use his Nobel Peace Prize to step up awareness of climate change.


Former US vice president Al Gore and the UN's top climate panel shared the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, in a major boost to the international campaign for action against global warming.

Gore, who has reinvented himself as a climate warrior since failing in his bid to become US president in 2000, said he was "deeply honoured" by the award and warned of the "planetary emergency" posed by climate change.

The White House sent its congratulations on the "important recognition" for Gore's work, but stressed there would be no change in the US administration's environmental policies.

The 2007 prize was jointly awarded to Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- a UN body of about 3,000 experts which has highlighted the human role in steadily mounting global temperatures.

The Norwegian Nobel committee cited the recipients for their work "to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."

The committee said it wanted to contribute to efforts "to reduce the threat to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man's control."

Gore, 59, is bound to attract most of the attention when the winners claim their 10-million-Swedish-kronor (1.5-million-dollar, 1.1-million-euro) prize in December.

Bill Clinton's vice president has helped put global warming high up the international agenda with his Oscar-winning 2006 film "An Inconvenient Truth", based on years of lectures on the subject.

The Nobel committee described Gore as "probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted."

"We face a true planetary emergency," he said. "The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity."

"I will be doing everything I can to try to understand how to best use the honour and recognition of this award as a way of speeding up the change in awareness, and the change in urgency," he added later.

Some experts say Gore's campaign, the Oscar and now the Nobel Peace Prize could persuade him to make a last minute bid for the Democratic nomination for the 2008 US presidential election. He has previously discounted the idea.

In the fourth report of the IPCC published this year, it gave the starkest view yet, warning that climate change was already on the march and that rising temperatures fuelled the risk of drought, flooding and violent storms.

The Nobel committee said the IPCC had "created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming", and had worked "to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming."

IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said winning the Nobel Peace Prize would underline the importance of the panel's work.

"The message should go out to everyone -- developed and developing countries -- we are all in this together. We have to make sure that climate change does not afflict the inhabitants of this planet," the Indian scientist told a cheering crowd outside his office in New Delhi.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed Gore's commitment to the issue and the IPCC's work to establish "beyond doubt" that climate change is a fact.

"As a result, there is now unprecedented momentum for action on climate change around the world, and recognition of the UN as the forum for reaching agreement on it," Ban said.

The Nobel committee's decision to award the peace prize to a climate campaigner continues the trend of broadening its scope beyond the traditional fields of conflict prevention and resolution and disarmament.

The peace laureates will receive a gold medal and a diploma at a formal ceremony in Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of the death in 1896 of the prize's creator, Swedish industrialist and inventor of dynamite Alfred Nobel - AFP.

22. Soyuz Docks with ISS


Perfect blast-off. Perfect docking. Perfect timing. A great Russian Technology. Muszaphar becomes Angkasawan. A Malaysian Achievement. Congratulations to all for having made it possible.



Malaysia's first Angkasawan Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor floating in the International Space Station after talking to VIPs at Moscow Mission Control. The Soyuz TMA-11 capsule docked at the ISS at 10.50pm (Malaysian time) Friday - The Star.



Docked to the ISS is the Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft (left) in this image from NASA TV yesterday. Docked alongside the Soyuz TMA-11 is Progress resupply ship (right) - Reuters.


“I feel good” – those were the first words from Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor in Russian to those back on Earth a few minutes after he entered the International Space Station (ISS).

Malaysia's first Angkasawan entered the ISS at 12.33am Malaysian time after the Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft, which brought him into space successfully, docked exactly an hour and 43 minutes earlier.

The spacecraft has been orbiting for almost 47 hours after lifting off from Baikonur, Kazakhstan at 9.22pm Malaysian time on Wednesday.

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar was the second of the three in the spacecraft to enter the ISS, after the Expedition 16 commander, American Peggy Whitson.

Russian flight engineer Yuri Malechencko was the last person to emerge from the hatch between spacecraft capsule and the ISS.

The three were joined by the crew from the ISS – Feodor Yuchikin (commander and engineer), Oleg Kotov (medical doctor) and American Clay Anderson (mission specialist) – for the customary group photograph and conference with the Mission Control Centre here.

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar was the second to speak, after Malechencko.

He took a question from Science, Innovation and Technology Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis, who was also at the Mission Control Centre.

Dr Jamaluddin started off by wishing him and asking how it felt to put the map of Malaysia in space and Dr Sheikh Muszaphar replied: “Walaikumsalam. I am having a very good time with my friends from America and Russia up here. My love to all Malaysians out there.”

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar's father Datuk Sheikh Mustapha Shukor was then given the microphone and he said in Russian, “This is your pa talking. I love you very much. Your brother and mother are here.”

His son replied: “I love you. I hope to see you in 10 days' time. I hope to share my experience with you and all Malaysians.”

Sheikh Mustapha had followed his son and started learning Russian after his son was picked as one of two Angkasawan candidates.

When both father and son conversed in Russian, they received a round of applause from everyone at the Mission Control Centre and also those aboard the ISS.

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar then wished his parents and all Malaysians “Selamat Hari Raya.”
The docking of the spacecraft was jointly monitored by NASA in Houston and the Mission Control Centre - Jane Ritikos, The Star.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

HARI RAYA GREETINGS


My Journal wishes you "SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI, MAAF ZAHIR DAN BATIN".

Have a happy and joyful celebration !



Friday, October 12, 2007

21. Suhakam's Concern


1. The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) is deeply concerned with Media reports that the Police have summoned some Bar Council Officials in connection with the September 26, “Walk For Justice” involving more than two thousand lawyers and supporters from the Palace of Justice to the Prime Minister’s office. It was reported that the Police are making investigations into the walk on the ground that the organisers did not have a valid police permit for the walk.

2. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly is enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. This right is also contained in the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other international human rights treaties.

3. SUHAKAM further states that section 27(2) Police Act 1967 which gives the OCPD discretion to approve the application for a licence to convene an assembly is unjustified and against human rights principles. The Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police in its report has also expressed its concern with regard to section 27 of the Police Act 1967 and has stated that section might be challenged as unconstitutional.

4. In particular the report of the SUHAKAM Public Inquiry into the Incident at KLCC on 28 May 2006 was also of the view that the requirement for a licence by s 27 of the Police Act 1967 and the lack of definition of the phrase “prejudice to the interest of the security of Malaysia” effectively negates the right to the freedom of assembly enshrined in Article 10 of the Constitution.

5. There have been cases where some political parties have, without hindrance, been allowed to hold assemblies without a permit. The police should in fact allow all public assemblies without the need to apply for a licence under s27 of the Police Act and the Police should adopt the guidelines issued in the SUHAKAM Report which “accommodate the exercise of the right to protest within a framework of public order which enables ordinary citizens, who are not protesting, to go about their business and pleasure without obstruction or inconvenience”.

6. SUHAKAM is strongly of the view that as the subject matter of the Bar Council march was in regard to the formation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to inquire into allegations of the brokering of judicial positions, it is a topic of great public interest and would not have posed any threat to the security of the Federation or public order; it was properly held in consonance with human rights principles which Malaysia subscribes to.

20. Go after Actors

The Anti-Corruption Agency should be going after the tape actors instead of the informants, said former Sabah ACA chief Mohamad Ramli Abdul Manan who himself was a whistleblower (picture right).

Contacted today, Ramli said the ACA had erred in going after PKR vice-president R Sivarasa and party worker Sim Tze Tzin to reveal the whistleblowers behind the video that has rocked the country’s judiciary.

The retired civil servant with 28 years of experience with the agency explained that the ACA can only go after the whistleblowers if the information is proven false.

“We (the ACA) would only go after the whistleblower when it is proven that the information is false. Only then, can we compel people to reveal who the whistleblower is,” he told Malaysiakini.

Ramli was commenting on the eight-minute video released by PKR three weeks ago that showed a lawyer apparently brokering the appointment of ‘friendly’ judges with another judge in 2002.

Both Sivarasa and Sim then lodged a report with the ACA calling for an investigation into the video.

They were interviewed before being issued the notices to reveal the whistleblowers or face imprisonment.

> Ramli also pointed out that it is important for the ACA to first verify whether the content of the tape is true or false.

> “If it’s true, then we get the evidence to prove whether the conversation did actually take place.

> “The tape is merely to support the evidence. The main evidence would come from the person saying those words on the video.

> However, Ramli stressed that the ACA will protect their informants at all cost.

“We protect our informants whether the information is true or not. We would never disclose their identity unless they are willing to come forward voluntarily,” he said. Excerpts from Malaysiakini.

Meanwhile theSun reports Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president R. Sivarasa and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s personal assistant Sim Tze Tzin would rather be jailed than expose the source of a controversial video clip that implicates the judiciary.

Sivarasa said they were willing to serve a jail term "so as to honour our promise to protect" the source’s identity and ensure the person’s safety.

Sivarasa was interviewed by Putrajaya ACA special action division senior superintendent Chua Ley Choo, while Sim was queried by division enforcer Premraj Victor.

"We take the stand that issuing the notices was a misuse of power and not valid legally," said Sivarasa, adding that the source’s identity was not relevant.

"It does not take a rocket scientist to know that you only need to call in a technical expert to verify the authenticity of the video, instead of having the source or a three-man panel confirm it," Sivarasa said.


With the tape, please establish a case than a no case. In the Nurin's probe, Police sought help from the US FBI's forensics laboratory in Washington to enhance the video footage. Should any agency(s) require any help in this case of great national importance, please shout out, and we the bloggers will try to help.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

19. Tortured to Death

A Myanmar opposition leader who was arrested during last month's mass protests against the junta died due to torture during interrogation, an activist group said on Wednesday.

In Washington, the United States threatened new sanctions against Myanmar after media reports of the death of Win Shwe.

"The junta must stop the brutal treatment of its people and peacefully transition to democracy or face new sanctions from the United States," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement.

The White House did not say what additional sanctions it was considering on the former Burma, but it called for a full investigation into Win Shwe's death.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said that Win Shwe, a 42-year-old member of the National League for Democracy, and four other people were arrested on September 26 because of their active support for and participation in the biggest pro-democracy protests in nearly 20 years.

"He died as a result of torture during interrogation," the Thai-based group said in a statement on its Web site (www.aappb.org), sourcing its information to authorities in Kyaukpandawn township.

"However, his body was not sent to his family and the interrogators indicated that they had cremated it instead."

Official media in Myanmar said 10 people were killed when the junta sent in soldiers to end days of Buddhist monk-led demonstrations in September, although Western governments say the toll is likely to have been much higher.

The AAPP said in its statement that "many dead bodies and injured persons were cremated or placed in the river".

"Some dead bodies of monks have appeared in the Pazundaung River in Rangoon (Yangon) in the past few days. In addition, many of those who have been arrested have been tortured during interrogation."

U.S. First Lady Laura Bush told USA Today in an interview published on Wednesday that the United States would announce further sanctions on Myanmar's military government "within the next couple of days" if the junta does not take steps toward democracy - Reuters.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

18. No Witness Protection

What Witness Protection Act? That was the question the legal fraternity was asking Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamad Nazri Abdul Aziz today.

Nazri had mentioned the "Act" yesterday when he said the person who took the controversial video clip of a lawyer’s phone conversation with a "Datuk" would be given full protection, including, possibly, a new identity.

The Bar Council said there is no such legislation. Its president, Ambiga Sreenevasan, said the council had never heard of such an Act on witness protection and even if there is one, it did not know its scope.

"Although Section 53 of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997 provides some form of protection, it is not to the extent mentioned by the minister," she told theSun.

According to the Anti-Corruption Act, the identity of the person who provided information to the Anti-Corruption Agency shall be a secret between the officer who made the complaint and the person who gave the information, and everything contained in such information, the identity of the person who gave the information and all other circumstances relating to the information, including the place where it was given, shall not be disclosed or be ordered or required to be disclosed in any civil, criminal or other proceedings in any court, tribunal or other authority.

Asked whether there is a witness protection programme in the country, Ambiga said there is none. However, she said it was within the jurisdiction of the police to protect a witness like what was done in the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case.

She said the council welcomed the enactment of such a law so that it will encourage honest people to come forward with information on a wrongdoing.

Nazri had said yesterday the source of the video clip could be given a new identity or undergo surgery to be given a new face under the Witness Protection Act.

Former United Nations special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Datuk Param Cumaraswamy said in a statement Parliament had only passed the Evidence of Child Witness Act, making provisions relating to the giving of evidence by child witnesses this year.

"I hope Nazri is not confused with the Act. As a de facto minister for law, he should exercise caution and check his facts before making public statements. Incorrect statements such as this could embarass the government," he said.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail also said she was mystified when Nazri made the statement as the legal division in parliament has confirmed that no such Bill had been tabled for a first reading in the lower house.

What I meant: Nazri

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamad Nazri Abdul Aziz agreed that a Witness Protection Act did not exist in Malaysia. He said he had got his press secretary to inform the press to correct his statement on Sunday but it was not done.

"The government is looking to enact a law to protect whistle-blowers, there is a need for such a law," he said in a phone interview.

Nazri said when he spoke to reporters on Sunday, he was referring to all available Acts in the country that offered some protection to witnesses, like the Anti-Corruption Act, Criminal Procedure Code, Evidence of Child Witness Act and Anti-Trafficking In Persons Act.

He said he had asked his press secretary to inform the press to clarify his statement, but no clarification has been made.

In 2002, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim had said a witness protection scheme would be introduced to assist Malaysia’s effort to combat terrorism.

In August this year, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan also called for a Witness Protection Act to shield those who help in police investigations or testify in criminal cases - Giam Say Khoon, theSun.


My pleading still stands:

What harm or effort is it for the Government to set up a legally constituted Royal Commission, set up under an Act of Parliament, for such a MATTER OF GRAVE IMPORTANCE to the Judiciary, the future of the Legal Profession, and the Malaysian Public.

A Royal Commission is a legal entity and itself has immunity and can confer immunity, summon witnesses, direct investigations, determine authenticity, and do the whole spectrum of work for this very important matter facing the nation today.

The question of responsibility of the source to volunteer information to ACA or Panel does not arise when that person fears for his safety. Only a Royal Commission would provide him that protection and assurance to provide information, at least for the time being, until a Witness Protection Bill is passed in parliament.

"Conscience is the Chamber of Justice" - Origen.

"Justice is Truth in Action" - Disraeli.

Monday, October 8, 2007

17. Soldiers off the Streets


The Myanmar junta reduced security in Yangon sharply on Sunday, apparently confident it would face no further mass protests against military rule, but the streets remained unusually quiet and arrests continued.

The last barricades were removed from the centre of the former capital around the Shwedagon and Sule pagodas which were the starting and finishing points of protests soldiers crushed by firing into crowds and arresting monks and other demonstrators.

The few people on the streets said they were still fearful and the Internet, through which dramatic images of the protests and sweeping security force actions to end them reached an outraged world, remained cut off.

People on the streets were too scared to talk despite the ruling generals saying for the first time they were willing to talk to detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, albeit on conditions she is unlikely to accept.

Senior General Than Shwe, the head of the lasted junta in 45 years of unbroken military rule in the former Burma, offered direct talks if Suu Kyi abandoned "confrontation" and her support for sanctions and "utter devastation."

Nyan Win, a spokesman for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, or NLD, said the offer could open a path to talks about talks.

"It is a significant improvement on the past situation. They have never committed themselves to talking to her," he said.

Myanmar analysts caution against optimism as hopes of change in the past have been dashed so often, punctuated by the army killing 3,000 people in crushing an uprising in 1988, and state-run newspapers said more people had been arrested.

They said on Sunday 78 more people suspected of taking part in mass protests which filled five Yangon city blocks had been picked up for questioning.

They said 1,216 people who took part "unknowingly" had been released in the Yangon area after signing pledges not to participate in protests and 398 of the 533 monks taken in monastery raids around the city had been freed.

There was no word on the numbers of arrests and releases in other cities where thousands of people were reported to have protested against military rule, but Nyan Win said a senior NLD member was arrested in the second city of Mandalay overnight.

SMALL HOPES

Yet, there was a small hope international pressure on the junta to begin talks with the NLD, which won a landslide election victory in 1990 the generals ignored, might be having an impact on a regime that rarely takes notice of the outside world.

U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, told reporters on Friday after briefing the Security Council on his four-day visit to Myanmar he saw a "window of opportunity" for talks between the junta and Suu Kyi, who met Gambari twice.

"From my own conversation, she appears to be very anxious to have a proper dialogue" provided there were no preconditions, Gambari said.

There has been no word from Suu Kyi, 62, who has spent 12 of the past 18 years in detention and is confined to her house in Yangon without a telephone and requiring official permission, granted rarely, to receive visitors.

But, in what appeared to be another move aimed at deflecting international anger, state television broadcast rare footage of Suu Kyi for the first time in four years on Friday night.

It referred to her respectfully as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a departure from past practice when her father's name, Aung San, was dropped to deny her link to the nation's independence hero.

Britain, France and the United States -- which is pushing for tougher sanctions against the junta -- have circulated a draft statement at the U.N. Security Council that demanded the junta free political detainees and talk to the opposition.

It would have no legal force, but if a strongly worded statement were approved by China, the closest thing the junta has to an ally, it would send a forceful message to the generals.

The junta says 10 people were killed in the crackdown on protests which began with small marches against huge fuel price rises in August and escalated after troops fired over the heads of protesting monks.

Western governments say the toll is likely to be far higher - by Aung Hla Tun, Reuters.

16. Source Protected ! ?

New identity, new face -- these are what the government can offer to protect the source of the video clip featuring a conversation between a lawyer and a judge on the appointment of judges.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamad Nazri Abdul Aziz said the witness can be given a new identity or undergo surgery to be given a new face under the Witness Protection Act.

He said this when commenting on the refusal of the source to come forward to help the three-man independent panel determine the authenticity of the video clip which was first made public by Parti Keadilan Rakyat advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Since then, Anwar and two other PKR officials called by the Anti-Corruption Agency have refused to name the source who fears for his safety.

Speaking to reporters after handing over Aidilfitri contribution at Lubuk Merbau near here, Nazri said there is no excuse for the source to deny cooperation to the panel as the government guarantees his safety.

Anwar had recently said the source of the video clip would only come forward if he is given immunity and adequate protection.

The government had established the independent panel on Sept 25 to determine the authenticity of the video clip which has rocked the judiciary, causing the legal fraternity to call for a Royal Commission to be formed to investigate the matter.

Nazri said witness protection is given even in police and ACA cases and not only for Royal Commission cases only.

He said it is important for PKR to name the source, or it can be concluded that they were cheating, Bernama reported.

In Penang, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the government’s intention is to be fair and to get down to the root of the matter in seeking out the source of the controversial video clip.

“It shouldn’t be interpreted as a diversion or anything else as we need to find the source to know more information about the video clip,” he said.

He added that the independent panel formed to probe the authenticity of the video clip needs more information for a more complete investigation into the whole matter.

“Our intention is to be fair so all (involved) please cooperate,” he said, in response to comments by certain quarters which had accused the government of going after the ‘whistleblower’ in the controversial video clip issue and using it as a diversion - The Sun.


What harm or effort is it for the Government to set up a legally constituted Royal Commission for such a MATTER OF GRAVE IMPORTANCE to the Judiciary, the future of the Legal Profession, and the Malaysian Public.

A Royal Commission is a legal entity and itself has immunity and can confer immunity, summon witnesses, direct investigations, determine authenticity, and do the whole spectrum of work for this very important matter facing the nation today.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

15. Bar Council - Royal Commission

The Bar Council has reiterated its call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the video clip scandal.

Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan said it has always been the stand of the Bar Council that an independent panel like the one that had been set up recently "can only constitute the first step" in the wider process of ascertaining the facts and inferences.

"A Royal Commission is required this purpose, for the very reasons the panel has put forward about its powers and immunity, among other things," she said in a statement.

The three-man panel which met on Wednesday to determine the authenticity of the video-clip said it had no immunity, no legal powers and no powers to call witnesses though people could come forward on a voluntary basis.

Ambiga said the council was concerned over the narrow scope of the panel, its lack of powers and that it does not intend to invite people to come forward to assist the panel or give a statement.

"It has no powers to direct investigations, neither has it immunity," she said, adding that it would appear that the panel was wholly dependent on the investigations by other agencies.

She said the council hoped to raise these issues with the panel soon.

Ambiga said the action taken by ACA to find out about the whistleblower was worrying and most discouraging.

It showed the misplacement of focus and creates the impression that the authorities were more interested in going after the whistleblowers than discovering the truth of the alleged wrongdoings - The Star.

14. Global Protests

People hold banners during a rally of solidarity with democracy protesters in Myanmar, throughout the world yesterday - AFPpic.

Protests against Myanmar's bloody crackdown on dissenters took place in cities around the world Saturday, with thousands demonstrating in London and smaller gatherings held in Sydney, Stockholm, Bangkok, Paris and elsewhere.

The coordinated displays of public condemnation followed the violent crackdown by Myanmar's junta on thousands of activists in late September. At least 13 people were killed and 2,000 detained.

In London, Myanmar's former colonial power, thousands crowded through streets behind saffron-robed Buddhist monks who threw petals into the River Thames.

Police said 3,000 people took part. Organisers put the figure at 10,000.

After stopping at British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Downing Street offices to tie red headbands to the gates, the demonstrators went on to Trafalgar Square to hear MPs, human rights campaigners and Myanmar exiles exhort the United Nations to take action against Yangon's junta.

"Burma is not a human rights emergency of today, last week or last month. It is a human rights emergency that the world has chosen to forget for the last 20 years," said Amnesty International's secretary general Irene Khan.

Brown issued a message of support to the people of Myanmar, telling them: "Today is above all about repeating a firm message: the world has not forgotten -- and will not forget -- the people of Burma."

In Sydney, hundreds rallied outside the landmark Opera House. Another 1,000 marched through Melbourne, some carrying red banners that read "no more bloodshed."

Other protests took place in Perth, and in Brisbane, where organiser Natasha Lutes said: "This is about getting a message to the people in Burma.

"They've been struggling to get the message out about the atrocities that are happening in Burma, putting their lives on the line. We want them to know the world has been listening and ordinary people everywhere support them."

Dozens also gathered in front of the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, shouting "Free Burma" and brandishing pictures of Myanmar's pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.

Campaigners in India were to hold a candle-lit vigil outside a war memorial in the heart of New Delhi.

In Singapore, a vigil outside the Myanmar embassy involving an opposition political party and members of the Myanmar community entered its seventh day on Saturday.

Amnesty International Korea said some 200 protestors, including immigrant workers from Myanmar, would stage a protest outside the country's embassy in central Seoul on Sunday to press for the release of prisoners of conscience.

In Paris, 200 people gathered at a Buddhist temple where they placed yellow roses at the feet of a giant Buddha statue.

A similarly sized demonstration occurred in Vienna, with those taking part wearing saffron as a sign of solidarity. A union leader, Rudolf Hundstorfer, said "we can fear the worst" for those detained in Myanmar.

Brussels, the Belgian city home to the main institutions of the European Union, saw 400 demonstrators gather.

"We have to know where are the people who have been arrested, and they must be freed -- you are their last hope," one of the organisers told the crowd, which included Belgian MPs.

A union tract calling for a boycott of the French oil group Total for continuing to do business with Myanmar was widely applauded.

In the Netherlands, activists announced they had sabotaged a Total petrol station in Oosterbeek, in the centre of the country, and demanded the oil company's immediate withdrawal from Myanmar.

Some 150 people demonstrated in central Stockholm and held three minutes of silence "out of respect for all those who are suffering in Myanmar," said Fredrik Korn, a spokesman for the Swedish branch of Amnesty International.

About 100 demonstrators gathered in front of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, carrying "Solidarity with Burma" placards and demanding an end to violence.

The association "Canadian Friends of Burma" has scheduled about a dozen of protest rallies in other Canadian cities for this weekend - AFP.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

13. Gerakan - Royal Commission


BREAKING NEWS, 11.45am

Gerakan today called on the government to “seriously consider” the setting up of a royal commission to investigate the explosive ‘judicial appointments fixing’ video clip.

Gerakan became the first BN component party to come out strongly on the clip, which has ignited an uproar within the legal fraternity and among the public since it was exposed on Sept 19 by PKR's Anwar Ibrahim.

Both Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Najib Abdul Razak have earlier ruled out the formation of a royal commission. The latter said the government-appointed panel to investigate the authenticity of the clip was sufficient.

Although Gerakan acting president Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the party supported the formation of the panel as a first step to scrutinise and ascertain the authenticity of evidences in the clip, he however called for more action to be taken - Malaysiakini.

12. Rukunegara Check

The Rukunegara (Malay for "National Principles") is a philosophy and national ideology — the de facto Malaysian pledge of allegiance — was instituted by royal proclamation on Merdeka Day, 1970, in reaction to a serious race riot known as the May 13 Incident which occurred in 1969. The incident proved at that time that Malaysian racial balance and stability, was fragile at best. Immediately thereafter, the Malaysian government immediate sought ways to foster unity among Malaysians. One of the methods used to encourage unity is the Rukunegara. The Rukunegara was inspired in part by the Indonesian Pancasila, and like the Pancasila, is based on five guiding principles.

KEPERCAYAAN KEPADA TUHAN
KESETIAAN KEPADA RAJA DAN NEGARA
KELUHURAN PERLEMBAGAAN
KEDAULATAN UNDANG-UNDANG
KESOPANAN DAN KESUSILAAN

translated,

BELIEF IN GOD
LOYALTY TO KING AND COUNTRY
THE SUPREMACY OF THE CONSTITUTION
THE RULE OF LAW
COURTESY AND MORALITY

Just a realty check to ensure we are on the right track to 2020

11. Set Right Judiciary

Parti Keadilan Rakyat has appealed to the King to get to the bottom of the video scandal and judiciary.

The party submitted a letter last Friday, 28th September, requesting Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin to set up a Royal Commission to investigate the possible breach of conduct exhibited in the video tape.

“We come here to seek the goodwill of the King to look into the matters of the judiciary and the separation of powers,” said PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail after submitting the letter at Istana Negara - Malaysiakini.

And meanwhile a lawyer, Haris Ibrahim of The People's Parliament, has launched a Rakyat's Petition to DYMM Yang di Pertuan Agong. Read all about it here and sign. It is not just for the video scandal but also to set right the Judiciary. A very laudable and commendable effort by a citizen who cares about his country and the judiciary and deserves the support all.

"Last night, the number of signatories to the petition stood at 1,600. As at 1.30 pm this afternoon (5.10.2007), the total number of signatories was 1,794. If each person who has signed on can get another 2 persons to sign the petition, we would have come within striking distance of the target of 5,000. Please help to set right our judiciary," says Haris Ibrahim.

Friday, October 5, 2007

10. Myanmars Protest

Myanmar protesters sit outside the Myanmar's embassy during last week's demonstration in Kuala Lumpur - The Star.

About 2,000 Myanmars living in Malaysia held a street protest in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Jalan Ampang Hilir on Thursday ( yesterday) morning.

The banners carried by protesters highlighted their objection to the country’s military junta using violence and killing monks and civilians. The protesters urged the junta to stop killing pro-democracy protesters.

The groups representing National League for Democracy (LA) Malaysia (NLD), Burma-Workers’ Rights Protective Committee (BWRPC) and Democratic People New Society (DPNS) then walked to the Russian and Chinese embassies to hand over memoranda to each of the countries’ representatives.

The four-point memorandum asks for the military to stop the crackdown on monks, the release of NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the release of student leaders from the 1988 demonstrations, and the implementation of national reconciliation and trilateral talks.

Coalition spokesman, Ye Min Tun, who is also BWRPC general-secretary, said that the people of Myanmar had been suffering long enough under the oppression of the military regime.

Cheras OCPD Assist Comm Ahmad Amir Mohd Hashim said the protesters staged an hour-long peaceful demonstration before being allowed to hand over the memoranda - The Star.

9. Junta Chief to Suu Kyi

Myanmar's junta chief has offered to meet detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi if she ends her support for sanctions against the regime, state media said Thursday.

The announcement came as the junta announced that more than 2,000 people were arrested during its deadly crackdown on anti-government protests during the last week, acknowledging that some of the detainees were simply bystanders.

( pic left - face of a Myanmar dissident reflected over a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi )

Myanmar's Senior General Than Shwe made the offer to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi during his talks Tuesday with UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, state television reported.

However, his offer was contingent on the 62-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has been held under house arrest for more than a decade, making a series of concessions that made any hope of talks appear a distant possibility.

"Senior General Than Shwe said during his meeting with Mr. Gambari that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been promoting four things -- confrontation, utter devastation, economic sanctions on Myanmar, and other sanctions," state television said.

"Then he passed his message that he would meet directly with her for dialogue if she announces that she has given up these four things," it added.

Myanmar again accused foreign media of stoking the protests that drew 100,000 people into the streets of Yangon on successive days last week.

"The United Nations had to send Mr. Gambari because of the one-sided reporting of the foreign media," state television said.

( pic right - demonstrators protest outside the Myanmar embassy in downtown Kuala Lumpur)

Myanmar also made its first public account of the arrests in its crackdown that left at least 13 dead as security forces used baton charges, tear gas, and live weapons fire to break up the peaceful protests last week.

A total of 2,093 people were arrested since September 25, but 692 have already been released, state television said.

The protests were the greatest challenge in nearly two decades to the military, which has ruled the country also known as Burma for 45 years.

While a semblance of normality has returned during daytime, long-simmering discontent had been "heightened by anger by what has been done against the demonstrators, the atrocities that have been committed against the monks," she said.

Myanmar on Thursday released a 38-year-old local UN staff member, her two relatives and driver, a day after they were detained, the UN's country chief Charles Petrie said.

China, which has in the past blocked steps to punish Myanmar, praised the UN mediation efforts and called for calm.

"We are pleased with the results achieved by Gambari's visit," said a Chinese government statement without specifying what those results were.

On Saturday, supporters of the pro-democracy movement are set to join a global day of protest called by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other groups - AFP.

8. First things First

PKR vice-president R Sivarasa and party worker Sim Tze Tzin were both served notices today (by ACA) to reveal the source within seven days.

Sivarasa said he would discuss the matter with party officials and legal advisors before deciding on the next course of action.

“If we have to take the punishment to protect our source, so be it,” he told reporters after receiving the notices at the Federal Territories ACA headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

The notice stated that failure to comply with the demand would be a breach of Section 29 (c) of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997.

Under Section 58 of the same Act, offenders would be liable to a fine of no more than RM10,000 or a two-year jail term.

The video, released by PKR on Sept 19, shows a lawyer having a telephone conversation with a judge about ‘fixing’ judicial appointments.

Following this, Sivarasa lodged a report with the ACA urging them to investigate the details in the video.

The PKR vice-president said today that the ACA appeared to be skewed towards investigating the complainant and the source of the video clip.

Read full news from Malaysiakini, 5.10 2007.


Agreed that the individuals implicated in the tape be probed. But first things first. The authenticity of the tape has to be established first. The Independent Panel has to do this before the real investigation will be done by another Royal Commission later. If no immunity was required for the tape to be revealed in the first instance, what more immunity is required for revealing the source, from a Royal Commission? If the source was unwilling to be revealed, then why release the tape? Let's get on with the job of cleaning the judiciary. Please co-operate with the ACA and the Panel for justice ! We want the truth.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

7. Calling for Evidence


BREAKING NEWS: 10.10 am

Datuk Mahadev Shankar:

If any person out there, the public, has got any material information which bears on the authenticity of this tape, feel free to come to us. Please I repeat, feel free to come to us, but make sure the evidence that you are bringing here is reliable, relevant and we would have to decide on its admissibility.

Don’t say ‘Mr X’, ‘Mr Y’ and so on. If you’re coming with a statement, please give your name, identity card number, (and) where that person can be contacted.

Let me put it this way to you - the responsibility of a stable and orderly society is not on the government alone. You know every citizen has got that same duty. As far as the public is concerned, with respect to all of you, a lot of noises being made in the blogs and Internet, anybody can say anything. But what is your responsibility? Somebody out there is holding the original video, has he got a responsibility?

To have the video produced so that we can look at it and see what is contained or whatever it is. Somebody out there took that video, has he got a responsibility? They may have been others there who saw what was happening and so on, have they got a responsibility? It is not just talking and talking. You create a situation and then the whole country is going up and down, worrying and wondering what is going on.

The truth is the best armour, justice is the best protection. You can’t pick that out of the air. The people who has got knowledge must be bold enough to come, if not for anything but for the sake of Malaysia.

We don’t want to force anybody. If you want to come, come, but if you don’t come, don’t complain. At the end of the day, we will write our report based on the materials that (are) made available to us. We will make our mind straight and we will do that.

They, ACA, will decide what is relevant, what is good and whether it helps us. If we are not satisfied, we need more, we can tell them ‘why can’t you give us this, why can’t you give us that...’.

- above from Malaysiakini, transcript of interview with Panel, 3.10.2007.


I say now, based on the above, go to the Independent Panel and give the evidence. The panel, based on the Evidence Act, will decide on its admissibility and call for the evidence. This will establish the authenticity of the tape. Datuk Shankar specifically mentioned the holder of the original video, the person who took the video, and others who saw what was happening to come forward. Come clean now and don't complain later!

6. News in Pictures

1. Indian cricketers pose with turbans, before a one-day international against Australia.


2. A portrait of the late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung is seen at a festival coinciding with the two Koreas summit in Pyongyang.

3. Adults watch children play beneath a display of national flags at a park in Beijing, during the week-long holiday celebrating the 58th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.


4. A 70-metre long banner is laid out on Sydney's Bondi Beach by protesters against a proposed pulp mill on Australia's island state of Tasmania - ( All pictures by BBC).

5. Stop the Rot

Two former United Nations' officials urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to act firmly to stop the rot and further destruction of judicial independence.

Former UN special adviser to UN Secretary-General on Ethics Tunku Abdul Aziz and former UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Datuk Param Cumaraswamy say the video clip showing a named lawyer discussing over the handphone how he is influencing judicial appointments should be treated seriously.

"We urge the Prime Minister to present to his Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to set up a tribunal for the removal any judge found guilty of gross misconduct and abuse of power. In the mean time, suspect or suspects must be suspended from office," they said in a joint-statement.

Abdul Aziz and Param, both past presidents of Transparency International Malaysia, said in a press conference that they had also handed over a letter, containing further allegations against a judge, to the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA).

Param said the three-page anonymous letter, written in English, but in crude and intemperate language, was received by him three to four days prior to July 20.

Param said he had written to the judge on July 20, and also attached a copy of the anonymous letter containing the allegations, but there was no response.

Among the several allegations in the anonymous letter was judges had discussed a recent decision in a suit involving a named lawyer featured in the video recording.

Param said the judgment eventually was delivered in favour of the named lawyer.

Abdul Aziz and Param also urged the Bar Council to act swiftly and institute disciplinary proceedings against the named lawyer under Section 88A of the Legal Profession Act and suspend him from practice until the disposal of the disciplinary process.

They said it was not the first time the named lawyer has been seen "unusually friendly" with the named judge.

They said the Federal Constitution should be amended to provide for an independent judicial commission for selection and recommendation of judicial appointments, promotions and to deal with receiving and investigating complaints against judges.

"We acknowledge that there are some fine judges of integrity within the system. We urge them to remain steadfast and uphold their oath of office amidst the present crisis of confidence in the system," they said.

Abdul Aziz said it would send a "terribly wrong signal" not only to the nation but also internationally, if the government did not act - The Sun (Earlier Edition).