Archive for the ‘Ethics, Morality and Patriotism’ Category

Need for age discrimination law

Friday, April 13th, 2018
Discriminating against people because of their old age is not only harsh but also disrespectful. FILE PIC

People recognise racism and sexism rather easily but not ageism, a term that refers to discrimination on the basis of age.

Like racism and sexism, ageism is wrong and we should do all we can to put an end to it quickly.

Ageism, or age discrimination, happens when someone is treated in an unreasonable manner because of one’s age.

It is hard to say how ageism originated but some point to misplaced theories that state people of old age or seniors — as they are sometimes called — are incapable of performing certain tasks like one who is young.

This might be applicable to tasks that relate to physical and manual work, but not when it calls for mental fitness and intellectual prowess.

Such cerebral activities require experience and generally the older one is, the better one is at excelling at such activities.

For this reason alone, age discrimination must be legislated against. Otherwise, the talents of an ageing population such as that of Malaysia will go to waste.

Many jurisdictions have emplaced laws against age discrimination and we can look to them for guidance.

The United States has its Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which is essentially a labour law that forbids employment discrimination against anyone 40 years or older.

ADEA specifically prohibits discrimination in hiring, promotions, wages, and termination of employment and layoffs, specifications of age preference or limitations, and denial of certain benefits to older employees.


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Constitution, courts and free speech

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

IN the Federal Constitution, Article 10(1)(a) explicitly confers a “right to freedom of speech and expression”.

The inclusion of the word “expression” implies that the horizon of freedom extends to communication in all its forms – by word of mouth, signs, symbols, gestures, art, music, sculpture, photographs, films, videos, books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, banners, bunting and cyber speech.

Even symbolic speech (like the manner of one’s dressing and grooming) can be regarded as part of one’s freedom of expression. This was established in the cross-dressers’ case of Muhamad Juzaili (2015).

Elsewhere in the Constitution, there are rights to assemble peaceably, to form associations, and to practise and propagate one’s religion. These are also manifestations of free speech.

However, rights cannot be absolute and must be accompanied by responsibilities and restraints.

Therefore, Articles 10(2), 10(4), 11(4), 11(5), 149, 150 and Schedule 9 List 2 Para 1 supply 17 grounds on which federal or state law may impose restrictions on free speech.

These grounds include public order, national security, incitement to an offence, morality and defamation.

The 17 grounds are indeed very broad and have led some to believe that despite the theory of constitutional supremacy, Parliament’s power to restrict speech, assembly and association is almost limitless.

This view is bolstered by the existence of Article 4(2)(b), which excludes judicial review and makes Parliament the final judge of whether a restriction is necessary or expedient.

Relying on their constitutional powers, Parliament and the state assemblies have enacted about 35 statutes that impinge on freedom of speech and expression.

Prominent on the list are the Sedition Act, Printing Presses and Publications Act, Official Secrets Act, Communication and Multimedia Act, Peaceful Assembly Act, Penal Code, Film Censorship Act and Defamation Act.

Despite this phalanx of laws, the courts have tried gallantly to evolve some principles for testing the constitutionality of legislation.

In the SIS Forum case (2012), it was ruled that the restrictions imposed by Parliament must be confined to the permissible, enumerated grounds.

The Constitution must be read as a whole (conjunctively). Article 10 must be read along with the equality clause of Article 8, which requires fairness (Dr Mohd Nasir, 2006).

The law restricting rights must be precise and not vague (Pung Chen Choon, 1994). The restriction imposed must be reasonable and proportionate (Dr Mohd Nasir, 2006; Sivarasa, 2010; and Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei, 2014). However, the judiciary is deeply divided on this issue.

Fundamental rights are part of the basic structure of the Constitution (Sivarasa, 2010, and Semenyih Jaya, 2017).

A Constitution is a living and organic thing (Tan Tek Seng, 1996).

Regrettably, however, such scintillating principles have not produced much result.

In 60 years, there have been only a handful of cases of successful judicial review of legislation on the ground of violation of Article 10. These cases are Hilman Idham, Mohd Juzaili, Mat Shuhaimi, Nik Nazmi, Nik Noorhafizi, and Fathul Bari.

Only one case survived the appeal process and left a lasting impact. That was the “UKM Four” case of Hilman Idham (2011), which struck down Section 15 of the Universities and University Colleges Act.

In many instances of successful judicial review of legislation by the High Court or the Court of Appeal, the rulings were demolished by a conservative and cautious Federal Court – sometimes on very unconvincing technical grounds. See Muhamad Juzaili (2015) and Mat Shuhaimi (2014).

Judicial review of Article 10 legislation is obviously not a significant feature of our Constitution. But it would be overly pessimistic to conclude that citizens have no fundamental right to speech.

Though most judges do not question the power of Parliament, many of them show the willingness to review executive decisions under Article 10 legislation.

In the SIS Forum case, the court held that an executive order to ban a book must be pegged to the permissible restrictions in Article 10. The purported justification by the Home Minister that “the book may confuse Muslim women” is not an authorised ground.

In other orders to ban books or assemblies, courts have applied objective criterion to test the executive’s subjective satisfaction that public disorder is likely, such as in the cases of Berjaya Books (2015), SIS Forum (2012), Edge Communications (2016) and Mohd Faizal Musa (2018).

Courts have ruled that the anticipated danger must not be too remote or fanciful (Sepakat Efektif).

The “absolute discretion” of the minister under the Printing Presses and Publications Act cannot be interpreted literally.

Absolute discretions are a violation of Article 8’s promise of equal treatment.

There must be an objective basis for his exercise of discretion (Darma Suria, 2010).

Finality clauses in legislation cannot oust judicial review (Darma Suria).

Fundamental rights in the Constitution must be interpreted prismatically and broadly. Restrictions on fundamental rights must be read narrowly (SIS Forum, Sivarasa, Hilman Idham and Shamim Reza Abdul Samad).

In some cases, courts have thrown out the charge wrongly made (Tan Jye Yee, 2014).

In public interest privilege cases like BA Rao v Sapuran Kaur, the court and not the executive decides whether evidence should be disclosed or suppressed.

In sum, judicial review of legislation that curbs free speech is not a significant feature of our legal system.

Barring some honourable exceptions, judges speak boldly but act timidly.

However, there are glittering examples of judicial review of administrative action. Courts have evolved sterling principles to keep absolute powers in check.

What the future holds is difficult to predict. The seeds of human rights activism have already been planted by some judges. These seeds may blossom one day. The situation is akin to a forest in which there is no path.

by Shad Saleem Faruqi
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Call for UMS studies on indigenous laws

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum suggested Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) consider starting a programme which looks into the indigenous laws in Sabah and Sarawak.

“I am making this suggestion because we have a big problem about the indigenous laws in Sabah and Sarawak,” he said when launching the 7th International Conference on Law and Society at UMS, here, Wednesday.

He said it is a subject in some local universities in the peninsula but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

“Yesterday, I attended another meeting with the local communities. They can actually tell you the real meaning of life, the meaning of sustainable development, the meaning of how to live when there is nothing more to look at.

That’s the lesson I could draw from the discussion,” he said.

He said those are the things that should be preserved because one day we will need them.

“I think if only there could be a kind of certificate or diploma in indigenous studies that can be started by UMS possibly under the School of Humanities, that would be wonderful,” he said.

His promise to be the first to help out and to give lectures drew claps from the participants of the three-day conference.

On another note, Malanjum said they are already collecting materials everywhere, adding that they have in fact already had three meetings for all the indigenous leaders.

“We are actually documenting them and hopefully in a year or so we can get it fully done and conduct a workshop and so forth.

“Our biggest fear is the young generations. They seem to have forgotten their ancestors…they need to know their ancestries to be able to move forward.

“They think that WhatsApp is good enough in life. I don’t think that’s right, so that is how it is…the young are the ones we want to inculcate the love and also the attachment to their culture and identity.

“Once those are lost, you will have no identity as a human being, so that is the reason why we are so worried about the young, they have seemed to have forgotten that.

“I hope therefore that UMS can help us out in this,” he said.

On a lighter note, he encouraged participants, especially first time visitors here, to take time to visit the State capital.

“The night life in Kota Kinabalu is very interesting, with Jalan Gaya itself being literally a 24-hour celebration, a very pleasant and a peaceful place to walk around,” he said.

He said four years ago, there were some snatch thefts there and UMS Board of Directors Chairman Tun Zaki Tun Azmi, who was the Chief Justice then, said “look, we need to be serious about this.”

“So we started sending them to jail, imposing heavy sentences and whipping them, and so of course it has gone down, thanks to Zaki for alerting us on that.

“Now we don’t have many of those snatch thefts and of course the police force is very alert in all this, so walk around in Kota Kinabalu,” he said.

Towards this end, he congratulated the organisers for holding the talk in UMS and hoped more such conference will be held here to attract more intellectual discussions.

“UMS may even be a seat of wisdom in time to come,” he said.

Meanwhile, UMS Vice Chancellor Professor Datuk Dr D Kamarudin D Mudin, in his welcoming speech, said he had an earlier discussion with conference moderators who asked why they don’t have law programme in Sabah.

“It is actually a very interesting issue to discuss and I would like to mention that we cannot be starting something with a full programme maybe, but we probably will find a way to programme with our counterpart.

by Sherell Jeffrey.

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Fostering a true halal economy: Global Integration and Ethical Practice

Friday, April 6th, 2018
(File pix) Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah delivering his keynote address.

THE following is the keynote address by the Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah at the conference yesterday at Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur.

BISMILLAHI r-Rahmani r-Rahim. Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.

It is my great pleasure to be here at such a prestigious international event to discuss crucial questions about the future of the Islamic economy. Embedded within this economy is the concept of halal. As those of you gathered here today will know, halal refers to that which is permissible or lawful according to Islamic law. As such, the concept and practice of halal should be omnipresent in the end-to- end ecosystem of both production and consumption within the Islamic tradition. The halal industry has, therefore, always been of paramount importance to Malaysia as a Muslim-majority country. Indeed, I would like to take this opportunity to encourage the ongoing work of the Halal Industry Development Corporation (or HDC) in Malaysia, which has implemented various initiatives since its foundation in 2006, with the aim not only of furthering the development of the halal industry locally, but also, I hope, of fostering its ecosystem beyond Malaysia.

There are approximately 1.84 billion Muslims in the world today, making up around 24.4 per cent of the world’s population, or just under one quarter of humankind. By 2030, this number is expected to increase to 2.2 billion. It is important to recognise, however, that although Islam is one religion, the Muslim community is not one homogenous group. The worldwide Islamic community is spread over 200 countries, with an estimated one fifth of the world’s Muslim population living in non-Muslim- majority countries. Muslims throughout the globe are citizens of their respective countries, but they also have a sense of belonging to the ummah, the worldwide Muslim community.

The growing Muslim population worldwide translates into a rising international demand for halal products. Halal is now a truly global industry, and this ever-increasing globalisation represents an exciting opportunity for the Islamic economy, to grow more prominent within the world economy as a whole. However, it also presents a number of challenges, to do with international attitudes and rapid technological change; and it entails important responsibilities concerning the ethical governance of the halal industry and its proper regulation worldwide. I will be considering these aspects of the burgeoning global halal industry in my speech today.

These are, indeed, exciting times for the global halal economy. The value of the halal industry is growing at a remarkable rate: from approximately US$2.3 trillion (RM8.89 trillion) in 2012, the halal sector is expected to almost triple, to US$ 6.4 trillion by this year. This is an astonishing growth within a period of just six years, and represents a major success for the global halal industry. In Malaysia, there have been a number of concerted efforts and programmes, most notably, the formulation of the Halal Industry Blueprint for 2008-2020, to propel the international growth of the industry, and to make Malaysia a global leader in innovation and production.

While halal is perhaps most often associated with food and drink, there are in fact a wide range of halal products and services which can be offered, including healthcare and pharmaceuticals, personal care and cosmetics, travel and tourism, and financial services. According to Reuters, by the end of 2018, the halal food industry alone will be worth USS 1.6 trillion, the halal cosmetics industry will be worth USS 39 billion, and the halal pharmaceuticals industry will be worth US$ 97 billion. It is projected that the halal food and drink sector may be worth as much as US$ 2.1 trillion by 2030.

This vast and widespread growth is due to the increasing demand for halal alternatives across a variety of retail sectors, particularly in parts of the world with a rapidly growing Muslim population. The halal market is not only thriving in Muslim-majority countries, but also in major non-Muslim- majority economies, including China, Japan, the US and the UK. In the United Kingdom, for instance, food production companies are increasingly recognising the importance of the Muslim market, with around 20 per cent of sheep meat in England being consumed by the Muslim population. More and more companies are therefore catering to the Muslim market by producing halal food items. Indeed, one of Malaysia’s Department for Halal Industries has been collaborating with local councils in the North East of England to develop a business hub for producing halal meat. This is an excellent example of the way in which building bridges and establishing global links can help to foster the development of the halal industry worldwide.

There is also an increasing international awareness of the importance of halal tourism, with travel agents offering halal holiday packages. Halal tourism is thriving across Europe, to the extent that Spain even hosted the inaugural Halal Tourism Conference in 2014, and will also be hosting the Halal Expo conference, on food, tourism and lifestyle, later this year.

As these facts and figures attest, recent years have witnessed the rapid international growth of the halal industry across a variety of sectors, and this growth is predicted to continue. Countries are increasingly catering to Muslims at home, as well as appealing to Islamic tourists and holiday-makers overseas. There is a growing realisation, it seems, that halal is a way of life, and that businesses need to meet the needs and demands of Muslim consumers. In this way, the halal industry is propelling the growth of the Islamic economy on an international level.

Despite these success stories, however, the industry must address some significant challenges if this encouraging trend is to continue.

First and foremost, we must acknowledge that halal continues to face some opposition in non-Muslim majority countries. While many non-Muslims are also choosing halal products for their business and personal needs, recent years have witnessed the rise of what we might call “halal phobia” in certain countries. In December 2017, for instance, a French supermarket supplying halal products was ordered to close for not selling pork or alcohol. This kind of reactionary behaviour could potentially damage the globalisation of the halal industry.

I spoke several years ago at the Saïd Business School in Oxford University, about the role and importance of branding in relation to halal products. While we should be proud of the proliferation of Islamic brands in global markets, we must also ask ourselves to what extent we want to segment markets along identity and religious lines. Pushing Islamic brands too aggressively may affect the marketability of products in non-Muslim communities, and will almost inevitably invite reactions from other religious groups. There is, it seems, a delicate balancing act to be performed, between ensuring the availability of halal products and services to Muslims worldwide, and encouraging non-Muslims to see halal products as viable options for themselves as well.

Another potential challenge to the internationalisation of the halal industry is the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, or Industry 4.0. Rapid and unprecedented technological advances are currently transforming economies, jobs, and even civilisation itself. We must recognize that the world is changing. Billions of people are now instantly connected to each other via countless portable machines. Huge increases in processing power and storage capacity mean that data is being collected and harnessed like never before. Along with the incredible benefits of such developments come substantial risks, as evidenced by big data scandals such as the one high-profile case unfolding in the news at the moment.


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Human rights groups, lawyers express concern over swift passing of Anti-Fake News Bill

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

PETALING JAYA: Human rights groups and lawyers have expressed concern over the swift passing of the Anti-Fake News Bill in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday (April 2).

Lawyers for Liberty said it was regretful that the Bill was rushed through without enough debate, claiming that the lawmakers were rubber-stamping rather than carefully looking into the repercussions of the Bill.

“It is an extremely dangerous development and will seriously jeopardise the freedom of speech,” its executive director Eric Paulson said.

“Everyone is saying the same thing, that the law is disproportionate and that it is very open ended,” he added.

Paulsen said the two amendments to the Bill which includes reducing the jail term from 10 years to six years are not enough. He said the punishment is still too high.

“It’s unclear to what extent a piece of fake news has to reach before it can be acted upon. It does not say ‘fake news that leads to public disorder or threat of national security’, thus the authorities can act on it as long as they deem that it is fake,” he said.

He added that even the press is not exempted from the law and can easily be prosecuted for reporting any news that is considered to be “fake” by the authorities.

“The Bill is an exaggeration of the threat posed by fake news. It is ill defined and disproportionate,” Paulsen said, adding that Lawyers of Liberty is ready to fight it.

Malaysian Bar Council president George Varughese said Bills should go through the select committee process for consideration over the proper enactment of laws.

“It’s shocking how important legislations with serious ramifications are being rushed through Parliament without proper study and research.

“This is especially so when there are already in place various laws to address the issue of fake news,” he said.

He added that the Anti-Fake News Bill could potentially be abused when implemented, as it could be used to suppress the freedom to express views.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said the commission is firmly against the Anti-Fake News Bill.

He said Suhakam’s stand that the Bill is against freedom of speech was in line with public views.

Razali had previously said the implications of the proposed law could be enormous and “inspire an authoritarian form of government”.

He said the law can be used to exert government control over the media.

It also takes away judicial powers and denies the right to seek relief from the courts (on issues of free speech).

The Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 was passed with two amendments during the committee stage at the Dewan Rakyat on Monday.
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A call for equal justice

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

“Where the law is subject to some other authority and has none of its own, the collapse of the state is not far off. But if law is the master of the government and the government is its slave, then the situation is full of promise and men will enjoy all the blessings that the gods shower on a state.”

Plato, the most influential philosopher of all time, observed this around 350BC.

Equal justice under the law, a basic tenet of human rights, is central to functioning societies.

Essentially, it means no one should be above the law, especially those who rule over others, and that all should receive equal benefits and protection provided by it.

Lady Justice, as she is known, is an embodiment of two goddesses of justice and divine order – Iustitia of ancient Rome and Themis of Greece.

But equating law with justice has become a myth. Today, the perception is the law is a lot cosier to wealth and power than to ordinary folk.

Fair-minded Malaysians fear that against the face of power and money, justice could be disregarded in the legal process.

There is a pattern of peculiar judgments and punishments reflecting this. Let me cite some recent examples.

On July 25 last year, a magistrate fined Datuk Seri Chin Kok Wah, 50, RM1,000 after he pleaded guilty to injuring security guard T. Ramaraj, 44, at a luxury condominium.

Ramaraj was assaulted after he recorded Chin’s act of using a steel cutter to remove a tyre clamp on his wrongly parked vehicle.

Although the offence carries a maximum one-year jail term and a fine of up to RM2,000 or both, merely saying he was remorseful was enough for Chin to get off so easily.

On Nov 17, a magistrate sentenced Marmi Zabrin Mian, 34, to a year’s jail and fined RM1,500 for causing hurt to Bank Negara analyst Or Su Lin, 34, at a pedestrian bridge.

The jobless man, was identified as the “serial kicker” who had been sneaking up behind women and kicking them. There was no mention of him being ordered to undergo mental assessment.

On Feb 1, a married couple, both former lieutenant commanders of the Royal Malaysian Navy, were jailed and fined a total of RM30,000 by the Ipoh Sessions Court for bribery involving RM420,852.

Rizalman Ghazali, 38, was jailed nine months and fined RM20,000, while his wife, Rozlin Mustafa, 35, was sentenced to six months’ jail and fined RM10,000.

Compare this to another case a week later – M. Subramaniam, 56, a primary school headmaster in Rawang, received eight months’ jail for taking RM4,000 in bribes to extend the school’s canteen operator’s contract.

On Sept 21, Forestry officer Zainal Abidin Maskon, 33, was only sentenced to nine months’ jail and fined RM150,000 for five counts of bribery involving RM340,000 to speed up the approval of logging licences in two forest reserves.

Let’s not forget the case of Shashikumar Selvam, who was jailed 10 years for stealing rice and cans of sardines in 2015.

His story is even more tragic as he was found hanged in the Kluang prison shortly after serving time.

On Nov 14 last year, JB coroner Kamarudin Kamsun found that Shashikumar had not committed suicide but a person or persons unknown caused his death.

The latest appalling episode is the absurdly lenient sentence imposed on a Datin who inflicted horrific injuries on her Indonesian maid two years ago.

Datin Rozita Mohamed Ali, 44, was bound over for five years on a good behaviour bond of RM20,000 by Petaling Jaya Sessions Court judge Mohammed Mokhzani Mokhtar on March 15.

The housewife was first charged with the attempted murder of Suyanti Sutrinso, then 19, under Section 307 of the Penal Code which carries a maximum jail sentence of 20 years.

Among other things, Suyanti was attacked with a kitchen knife, a steel mop, a clothes hanger, and an umbrella. A security guard found the maid lying semi-conscious in Mutiara Damansara. Her face was swollen, and she had multiple injuries on her head, eyes, legs, hands, and internal organs.

She also suffered fractures on her jaw and cheekbones, a broken shoulder blade, injuries to her right lung and a blood clot near her brain.

In spite of the injuries, the charge against Rozita was later amended to causing grievous hurt under Section 326 of the Penal Code, to which she pleaded guilty.

Understandably, Malaysians are outraged by the unduly lenient punishment handed to her and regard the judgment as a gross travesty of justice.

Lawyer Ramkarpal Singh pointed out that the judge had erred as the law no longer provided for a good behaviour bond for cases involving serious offences that are punishable with a jail term of 10 years or more under the Penal Code.

by M. Veera Pandiyan,

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Criticism is part of democracy

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

ARE you easily annoyed? What does it take to get you annoyed?

Personally, I find that most annoyances are quite easily ignored (which is why I don’t use any form of social media).

Most annoyances are, except for that idiot with a ridiculously loud exhaust system who insists on revving his engines in the wee hours of the morning as he tears down the road in front of my house.

If I ever get my hands on him (and I presume it is a him as only men tend to do such stupid things), I will grab him by the lapels and gently tell him that such a loud car can only mean one thing: “You’re trying to compensate for something tiny, mate.”

The reason I raise this is because it is actually a crime in this country to be annoying.

You don’t believe me? Well then, allow me to quote the Communi­cations and Multimedia Act 1998, specifically Section 233, which states that it is an offence if a person intentionally uses the Internet to make “any comment, request, suggestion or other communication which is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person”.

You can get a pretty hefty punishment if you are found guilty. Fahmi Reza, the artist, was recently slapped with a 30-day jail sentence and a whopping RM30,000 fine under this law.

And according to the police, the rapper (I must admit to giggling every time the term “rapper” is used on a person who is not African-American) Namewee is being investigated under the same law.

Both men were deemed to be offensive and annoying, I suppose – Fahmi for a spot of drawing and Namewee for a bit of music video making.

I have of course seen both works. One is an obvious satirical dig at a person of power and another is either a more subtle dig at corruption or an advert for dog masks, I am not quite sure which.

The point is, it seems ridiculous that such things can be seen as a crime.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Internet is used for all sorts of nefarious purposes and this law was meant to deal with such things.

Threatening a person is not cool. Neither is sharing photos of people who at one point trusted you.

But these two men were both being critical of government via satire.

Could a law meant to be used to protect people from vindictive exes and criminals be used against government critics? Or to ask a more accurate question, should it?

I would say absolutely not. There are many ways to show displeasure at a government, and other than using violence or inciting violence, anything goes.

This includes satire. It is part and parcel of the democratic process.

Criticism, no matter how biting and crude, is something those in the public eye, especially those who wield power, will simply have to deal with. There is no place for using criminal law against such practices in a democracy.

There are limits to free speech, of course, but as was stated by the US Supreme Court, voices that are critical of public figures, particularly in matters of public interest, must be given as much freedom as possible with the highest level of protection.

Now, some will say that satire is not “our way”.

Well, I am sure there are historians and cultural anthropologists who could point out this is not so. I remember, for example, an old P. Ramlee movie that poked fun at a ruling political party.

But for me, that is not the point. If it is not “our way”, then you can criticise it, you can shun it, but if you criminalise it, then you are in effect placing another shackle on our democracy and stifling our freedom of expression.

by Azmi Sharom
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‘What meaning does your citizenship hold when you can’t even master BM?’

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018
Prof Datuk Dr Teo Kok Seng, a Bahasa Melayu professor says ethnic relations are now at a challenging stage. The challenges are primarily posed by the non-Malay youths who often question Malay traditions and refuse to accept Malay traditions.
IPOH: The deterioration of the level of unity and ethnic relations in Malaysia can be attributed to the country’s multi-stream education system.

Prof Datuk Dr Teo Kok Seng, a Bahasa Melayu professor who is also a Principal Fellow of the Institute of Ethnic Studies in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), said this is because various issues pertaining to the special rights of the Malays, which are enshrined in the Constitution, are being questioned by the youths of other ethnic groups

He said this stemmed from the education system, specifically the availability of multi-stream schools which allow for ethnic segregation at a very young age.

“Ethnic relations are now at a challenging stage. The challenges are primarily posed by the non-Malay youths who often question Malay traditions and refuse to accept Malay traditions as being among the key components of national development.

“The level of ethnic relations in Malaysia is akin to the phrase, ‘Kenal Cina’. What the phrase means is that the relationship is superficial and only at surface-level; this ties back to our education system,” he said while presenting his working paper on Malay traditions and the Constitution on the final day of the Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah Muzakarah 2018 at the Aman Jaya Convention Centre here today.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Principal Fellow of the Institute of Ethnic Studies Prof Datuk Dr Teo Kok Seng (left) listens during a session at the Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah Mahmood Muzakarah 2018 in Ipoh. Pic by MUHAIZAN YAHYA.

He said the act of allowing ethnic segregation at ages as young as five, from pre-school level to primary schools, which have three streams, will make it difficult for students to mingle when they eventually meet at secondary school-level.

“This (poor ethnic relations) must be addressed and it must head towards a single stream education system, as practised in neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.

“We have to dismantle the education system so that it becomes a single stream. Anywhere in the world, a single stream education system is used to unite the youths and create a nation with a single identity,” he said.

He said, what is even more disheartening is that, even in a country with a multitude of education systems, there is still a section of society who fail to possess a decent command of Bahasa Melayu despite it being the national language and effectively, the backbone of the nation.

“This is not right. As a citizen who cannot even master one’s own national language, what meaning does your citizenship hold? This is a very serious national matter but it is not raised by politicians for several reasons.


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CNY celebrations: A truly inclusive affair

Monday, February 19th, 2018
Chinese New Year is one of the most formidable holidays in the calendar. FILE PIC

IT is my eighteenth Chinese New Year (CNY) in Malaysia. My eighteenth week of sleepless nights due to firecrackers, invitation to celebratory food throwing, witnessing breath-taking acrobatics by lion dancers and hopeless overindulging on mandarin oranges and paper-thin love letter waffles.

But, let’s start from the beginning. To a foreigner in Asia, Chinese New Year is one of the most formidable holidays in the calendar. Without being privy to preparations happening in Chinese homes, hotels or department stores, we outsiders seem to wake up one morning to a sea of red lanterns blanketing the city skies.

In true Malaysian fashion, huge sales are being held in virtually every retail configuration in town, and some impatient kids in the neighbourhood light firecrackers days, or nights, rather, before the actual New Year’s Eve.

So far so good.

As is the human condition, however, many are the voices that lament the changes in recent years. Ah, the good old days.

“We used to be so excited to get ang pow from our elders,” I hear. Kids seem to expect much more these days.

“We always dressed up in traditional outfits,” they say. As long as it is red and bright, youngsters are good to go in casual attire nowadays.

“We loved the home-cooked goodies at Ah Ma’s house,” they regret. Family gatherings in res-taurants are fast becoming the new norm.

“We used to visit every member of the extended family at their homes.” Sending well wishes through Facebook or WhatsApp instead is probably the saddest change in the century-old traditions of CNY.

Expectations, habits and traditions change, but not all hope is lost, far from it.

Lion dances are a wonderful custom. Not only is the artistic and acrobatic prowess of the dancers and musicians quite formidable, but once the masks come off, it is always uplifting to see how young the participants are. This particular aspect of the CNY tradition is alive and well among the young, the not so young and the young at heart alike.

Many features of these celebrations have grown close to my heart over the years. And yet, I cherish one characteristic most of all. CNY celebrations are a truly inclusive affair. No other cultural festival is as embracing of others as this one.

Every New Year’s day sees a traffic jam not outside, but inside our gated community. Each resident stops at the guarded gate to hand out copious amounts of red envelopes and cases of mandarin oranges to the faithful foreign souls that keep us safe in our little enclave all year long.

Every car porch features red lanterns and long chains of giant, fake firecrackers, mine included, and this regardless of the provenance or cultural background of the resident.

“Gong Xi, Gong Xi, Gong Xi Ni Ya.”

Every child in Malaysia knows the lyrics to this song. Including my children and their American, Korean, Russian and Indian friends.

Every year, on a particularly auspicious day, we are invited to gather around a massive plate to louthe yee sang as high as we can. Although making a huge mess with our food is not at all part of our culture, we are always grateful for the opportunity to join in this particular merriment.

Although these CNY-related activities are common for our Chinese friends and neighbours, it is not all that evident for us to be welcomed to partake in them so openly.

Cultural appropriation is a big bone of contention all over the world these days.

Yet, no one minds the paper lanterns in my car porch, nobody gives me “the look” at a lion dance performance, nobody takes offence at my children trying, and probably failing miserably, at singing the Gong Xi-song in public. And it is perfectly acceptable for me to try to squeeze into a bright red cheongsam. Although I have to admit, I really should not, it is not easy on the eyes.


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Why human governance is needed

Monday, February 19th, 2018
According to Accountants Today (2009), human governance is an internal mechanism to guide human behaviour. FILE PIC
By Dr Hanudin Amin - February 19, 2018 @ 11:10am

HUMAN governance is about being a good human being. This letter expounds human governance from the context of Islamic banking.

According to Accountants Today (2009), human governance is an internal mechanism to guide human behaviour.

The target object for human governance is the human being since the soul of the corporation is human.

As the soul of the banks, the employees, as dedicated and sincere workers, must work towards meeting the goals of the banks for mardhatillah (blessings of God).

From the Islamic worldview, one’s soul is a key axis for human governance.

Unlike corporate governance, human governance deals with human behaviour that is inspired by sound intentions, guided by the Islamic worldview and Islamic business philosophy.

Human governance advocates good deeds, where God-fearing men and women walk down the right pathway. The consequence of such a human governance is a truthful person free of toxic behaviours and malpractices.

Why Islamic banks need human governance?

FIRSTLY, human governance is aimed at upholding maqasid al-Shariah (objectives of syariah) to promote qalb-based leadership — a leadership where the soul is considered in all the decisions of the individual for the benefit of the ummah or humanity in general. Qalb essentially means soul.

SECONDLY, human governance improves the individuals’ productivity as every deed is defined as ibadah (religious service). The employees work efficiently and ethically as God is watching them.

THIRDLY, human governance is a device that ensures shareholders and stakeholders work together, paving the way for an
Islamic banking operation consistent with the expectations of all.

It can be said that the human governance paradigm is still at the infancy stage in the banking industry and more effort is needed to make it accessible and manageable.

Banks that offer financial products are typically driven by commercial objectives per se at the expense of social welfare objective. In turn, this leads to unethical practices that mar the public image of the industry.

Having said that, the best way to curb unethical practices is by inculcating human governance in staff by providing personalised training.

By Dr Hanudin Amin.

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