REFSA Rojak: Crisps of the Week (10-16 Feb)

In our Selected Exhortations category, we republish interesting stuff such as must-read articles and essays not originally written exclusively for the blawg, and which have come to our attention. Please feel free to email [email protected] if you would like to reproduce your writing, but first follow our Writer’s Guide here.

Sandra Rajoo brings to you another edition of REFSA Rojak, a weekly take on the goings-on in Malaysia by Research for Social Advancement (REFSA).

REFSA Rojak – “trawl the newsflow, cut to the core and focus on the really pertinent. Full of flavour, lots of crunch, this is the concise snapshot to help Malaysians keep abreast of the issues of the day.”

Keep not in captivity, justice nor conscience

Many perceive that our judiciary has lost its autonomy. And who is to blame for this state of affairs? Hackles rose when former Chief Justice Tun Dzaiddin said the 1988 amendment to article 121 of the Federal Constitution limits the courts to only such judicial powers that Parliament chooses to give.

In a strong rebuttal, former International Islamic University (UIA) law professor Abdul Aziz Bari said that pointing to the Article 121 amendment is a convenient line of  defence taken by judges who ‘lack courage and intellectual conviction to carry out the role as the guardians of the Constitution’.  He said they could have ruled the 1998 amendment as unconstitutional as it interferes with the doctrine of separation of powers inherent in the Constitution.

Abdul Aziz goes on to accuse judges of straying from the Constitutional ideals of democracy, citing the 2009 case when the judiciary ruled the Perak takeover as legitimate despite Datuk Seri Zambry ‘not winning a floor vote in the state assembly’.  He also characterised the ‘titles and post-retirement rewards’ such as GLC directorships as carrots dangled by the executive to keep the judiciary in line.

A separation of judicial and executive powers – is that too much to ask?

Why discriminate?

Over at the Education Ministry (MoE), actions speak louder than words. It advocates that everyone should have access to education. The reality is otherwise. It has refused to approve a school for autistic children. Besides this, construction of SJK(C) Yak Chee (2) and SMJK Katholik (2) is also pending approval. Do join us in supporting the pleas of these three schools through this petition.

The education spotlight is also on the long-festering sore of PPSMI (Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English). The MoE has ignored appeals and memos sent by Concerned Parents Selangor (CPS) who want PPSMI reinstated. To make ministry officials sit up and take notice, CPS will be holding a rally come March 10.

Election woes

Another agency we want to see sort itself out is the Election Commission. How loud the allegations of voter fraud have been these last couple of years. Now confirmation of the truth of these accusations has come from Mimos, an agency under the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti).  10,000 cases of multiple voters registered under the same addresses were discovered, among other discrepancies. Mimos also uncovered some 785 armed forces personnel registered in two different lists.

Lamb to the slaughter

The subject of justice crops up again in Malaysia’s handling of Hamza Kashgari, a Saudi journalist seeking asylum. He was arrested by Malaysian police while in transit in KL on the way to New Zealand, detained in a secret location, denied access to his lawyer and hastily sent back on a private jet to Saudi Arabia to face his detractors. This action – despite an interim court order stopping the deportation – was severely condemned. There was no injunction, declared Home Minister Hishammuddin. He blamed netizens for spreading rumours.

It appears the Home Ministry has breached the Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Under Article 14 of the UDHR, a person has the right to seek asylum from persecution in other countries. Hamza was accused of ‘insulting Islam’ and faces the death penalty back home. His ‘crime’ has yet to be proven, and Malaysians and human rights groups, including Suhakam, could not believe the action taken by the government, especially since it could lead to Kashgari’s execution.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Martin Luther King

Whitney Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012)

We close this week’s Rojak with a tribute to an amazing singer. It has been barely a week since the shocking news of Whitney Houston’s untimely death at the age of 48.

Inspiring in her songs, and extraordinary in her talent, Whitney had two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, and 22 American Music Awards to her name. Known as ‘The Voice‘ and ‘Queen of Pop’ in the music industry, she was unparalleled and unrivalled. In her strong, rich voice was a smoothness and fluidity that put her in a class of its own. Sadly, though she had the world in the palm of her hand, she was troubled, battling demons and struggling constantly to find contentment.

While investigations into the cause of her tragic death are ongoing, Whitney’s funeral is scheduled for this Saturday in Newark, New Jersey, at the very church where she first showcased her exceptional voice. We grieve the loss of this remarkable singer.  May her soul rest in peace.

What though the radiance which was once so bright Be now forever taken from my sight, Though nothing can bring back the hour Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;  We will grieve not, rather find Strength in what remains behind;
William Wordsworth

 

Why ‘Rojak’? Disparate flavours and textures come together in a harmonious mix to make this delicious but underrated concoction. Our Rojak weekly is much like this mix, making sense of the noise of daily newsflow and politicking.

It is also our ultimate dream that our multi-ethnic melange of communities can be made richer within the unique ‘sauce’ that is Malaysia. Let’s take pride in the ‘rojakness’ of our nation!

Click here for previous issues of REFSA Rojak.

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REFSA is an independent, not-for-profit research institute providing relevant and reliable information on social, economic and political issues affecting Malaysians with the aim of promoting open and constructive discussions that result in effective policies to address those issues. Visit us at www.refsa.org

Posted on 20 February 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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