Trial of Opposition Leader Proceeding Unfairly

Source: Human Rights Watch
(New York) - Government prosecutors in the trial of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim should turn over their evidence to the defense before hearings resume in order to comply with fair trial requirements, Human Rights Watch said today. The government has charged Anwar, head of Malaysia's opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance or PKR) with "sodomy" for alleged consensual homosexual conduct.
Anwar, 63, faces a possible 20-year prison term and whipping under a colonial-era law that criminalizes "carnal intercourse against the order of nature."

Even if he is imprisoned for only one day or fined as little as 2,000 ringgit (US$625), Anwar would be forbidden by election law from running for office for five years. In 2008, the PKR had made political gains that ended the two-thirds parliamentary majority long enjoyed by the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (National Front or BN).

"Basic fair trial rights require giving Anwar access to the prosecutor's evidence so he can defend himself," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Unfortunately, the prosecutors have tilted the playing field against Anwar by keeping key documents from his lawyers."

Human Rights Watch said that the government has yet to fulfill a February 9, 2010 promise by Nazri Abdul Aziz, a senior government minister in the Prime Minister's Department, that the "rights of both the accuser and the accused will be respected during the trial of Mr. Anwar."

Since Anwar's arrest on July 16, 2008, the case has featured repeated court rulings denying defense requests to provide crucial prosecution documents. The courts have denied access to the list of proposed prosecution witnesses and their statements to prosecutors, including those of Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a former aide to Anwar and his accuser. They have also denied defense access to a security video recording from the condominium where the alleged crime occurred.

The courts have also denied defense requests for copies of clinical and other notes, reports, materials, and specimens related to Saiful's examination by three Kuala Lumpur Hospital doctors on June 28, 2008, two days after the alleged incident. Additional requests for the accuser's complete medical history, for the doctors' qualifications and experience, and for the standard sexual assault equipment and kits used to examine alleged victims were also denied. A forensic expert hired by the defense complained that lack of such evidentiary materials would hinder his ability to assist the defense during the cross examination of the three doctors.

In the latest development, the Court of Appeal has scheduled a hearing for August 6 on Anwar's appeal seeking access to the medical records, which will be several days after the three doctors are scheduled to be cross-examined by the defense.
General practice in Malaysia is for the prosecution to make all evidence available to the defense during the pre-trial period. In Anwar's case, the court concluded that the defense could request the information during the course of the trial. However, when the trial got under way on February 2, 2010, and the defense asked for disclosure, the judge said he was restricted by the pre-trial disclosure decision. The only information available to the defense comes from the in-court testimony of prosecution witnesses.

"Anwar's lawyers have been forced to defend their client with one arm tied behind their back," Robertson said. "By failing to turn over critical evidence, the courts and the prosecutors are only raising doubts about the fairness of the proceedings, and demonstrating again that the charges are politically motivated."

The proceedings appear to contravene section 51A, a March 2006 amendment to Malaysia's Criminal Procedure Code designed to encourage wider access to prosecution evidence. The section includes a provision for the prosecution to turn over "any" document that it will use as evidence and a written statement of facts favorable to the defense with the exception of any fact that "would be contrary to public interest."

"The Malaysian government asks the international community to honor its democracy and commitment to rule of law, but there is a wide gap between government rhetoric and the reality," Robertson said. "If the government is sincere about holding a fair trial, then it needs to order the prosecutors to turn over the documents Anwar's lawyers have requested immediately."

Home Minister Hishamuddin Should be Sacked

Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein has spoken out against criticising of the police force. But one cannot turn a blind eye to the reputation the force has brought upon itself, says Ms Batik.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has spoken out against criticising the police force. “If these attacks continue, how can we teach the younger generation about nationhood?” he apparently asked at a Warriors Remembrance Dinner organised by the Ex-Policemen’s Association of Malaysia recently (theSun, 5 July 2010).

What has criticising the police got to do with teaching the younger generation about nationhood? Has the man lost the plot completely? While not belittling the efforts put in by our police force to fight crime and acknowledging the many difficulties the police force faces in terms of inadequate personnel, funding etc., one cannot turn a blind eye to the reputation the police force has brought upon itself. In a written parliamentary reply recently, the Home Minister himself revealed that a total of 279 suspects had been shot dead by the police between 2000 and 2009, while 147 died in police lockups during the same period (Malaysiakini, 28 June 2010). And let’s not even go into allegations of corruption and cover-ups. The Home Minister cannot expect the public to keep quiet if they know and feel that something is wrong with PDRM.

Perhaps the Home Minister might consider this: “One of the most elementary requirements for public confidence in the police force is a trust in the fact that members of the service will be accountable should they mistreat citizens or their public responsibility..... And the best way of generating that confidence is to convince people that in the case of grievances, there is a speedy, effective and independent mechanism for getting it remedied” (Police and Human Rights: A Manual for Training Police. Danish Inst. of Human Rights). Our country had a chance at this but the lack of political will to implement the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) put an abrupt stop to this endeavour.

Improving the police force is not just a Malaysian concern. In the United Kingdom (UK), the Human Rights Act 1998 brought the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) into UK law in 2000 ( “The Act makes it unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right. Police officers are "public authorities" for the purposes of the Act because their role includes certain public duties. Six principles applicable to each area of policing to reach compliance with Human Rights were identified:

1. LEGALITY - is there a legal basis for police actions? Is that legal basis in statute, regulations, case law and is it available to a member of the public?

2. PROPORTIONALITY - can the police demonstrate that actions taken were "proportionate" to the threat or problem it sought to prevent?

3. RELEVANCE/NECESSITY - was the police action strictly relevant to the particular threat/problem.

4. SUBSIDIARITY - was the police action the least "force/intrusive" available?

5. EQUALITY OF ARMS - in any trial process did the defendant have the same information and access to information as the police/prosecution?

6. REMEDY - is there an independent public remedy available to the citizen?

The article at the website ends with the line “Your decisions and those of the officers you supervise are liable to be tested against these criteria to ensure compliance with human rights.”

Now why can’t we do something like this here, Home Minister? Take courage and have some backbone for there will be no lack of ideas as to how to reform PDRM and you can be assured of public support.

Don’t worry about teaching the younger generation about nationhood. But if you feel you must worry, then worry about the current examples being set by your government - for our young people learn by example!

Abdul Razak Baginda is innocent - it is Najib : says P Bala

P Balasubramaniam, the private investigator involved in the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case has claimed that Abdul Razak Baginda was not involved in the murder case and that he was made a scapegoat instead. Abdul Razak was a close associate of the prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, was charged but was acquitted in the case. Bala is currently in London in self-exile.

He said “As far as I am concerned, Razak is a scapegoat. He has got nothing to do with the murder. Yes, he was financing her and he had a relationship with her, but as far as I am concerned, he is innocent. In fact, my testimony in court saved him,” His lawyer Manjeet Singh Dhillon said “What we had intended, if MACC had turned up, was for Bala to highlight the series of events in that are a conspiracy web at the highest level to keep out references to Najib. Why did they miss a golden opportunity? Because it is dangerous to people who hold the reins of power. Never in theory nor practice, do you make that decision beforehand. You collect all statements and investigate and then you decide on witnesses,”

41% of Malaysia's civil servants suspected to be involved in corruption

From: zero
Subject: 418,200 or 41% of Malaysia's civil servants suspected to be involved in corruption many Malaysia civil servants suspected of corruption...

But having said that I chanced upon a visit to a low ranking Malaysian
civil servant in Malaysia and found he and his family actually lived in
a big bungalow house furnished with fancy gold lined furniture plus many
high tech household amenities.

I was shocked at I saw! He lived more like a "Malay sultan" than a lowly
Malay civil servant ! How does a Malay civil with less than Rm2000 a
month salary afford all that as well as raise so many children !

In contrast, I am very much comforted that our Singapore lowly paid
civil servant are made of much humbler stuff and kept straight and
honest by the system itself.

Greed has no boundary and if not kept in check, it will destroy the soul.
Seriously speaking internal actions cultivate a perception that the
Govt is seeking to protect them.... and even then the possibly with
the protection of the higher-ups or some connecte persons and
compnaies are even higher. It happens even first world or developed
countries too.
418,200 or 41% of Malaysia's civil servants suspected to be involved in

It is shocking that it has been revealed that 41% of public servants
(normally referred to as government servants by governments seeking to
create a mindset that they should be supporters for...and vote for only
the UMNO-led BN. The correct term is 'public servants' and they are
meant to serve the Malaysian public - their loyalty is first to
Malaysians - not the government of the day).

41% - this was revealed by their own union, and the question is why the
lack of actions against these public servants. Maybe, the law need to be
amended to add 'special punishments' for civil servants, i.e.
termination, and maybe even loss of other benefits, including pension
for the more serious offenses.

There must also be publicity as to the nature of these offences - and
the punishments meted out. This will help educate the public - and will
certainly be a deterrent.

TEMERLOH: Cuepacs is alleging that 418,200 or 41% of the 1.2 million
civil servants were suspected to be involved in corruption last year.

Its president Omar Osman said this was worrying and needed to be tackled

“To combat the scourge, Cuepacs will work closely with the Malaysian
Anti-Corruption Commission,” Omar told reporters after opening the
triennial general meeting of one of the affiliates of the umbrella union
here yesterday.

Omar said besides corruption, Cuepacs would also not protect civil
servants with disciplinary problems. For example, playing truant or
forging medical certificates.

“There have been cases where a one-day medical leave was doctored to
read as 11 days,” said Omar. - Star, 3/6/2010, 41% of civil servants
involved in corruption
Should the actions taken against these corrupt civil servants be
internal...and hidden from the public? Or should they be charged in
court, and accorded a fair and open trial? I believe that they should be
charged and tried. Internal actions always gives the perception that the
government is seeking to protect some - possibly the 'higher-ups' or
some connected persons/companies.