A Real End of ISA?


I thought it will never be repealed…

(It may finally end but the question is why now and why not in 2009 or in 2010? Any law that allows the Government to hold anyone without any trials, no recourse to the courts and at the sole discretion of certain politicians in power is dangerous, unfair and allows for gross abuse. Poster source: Mob’s Crib)

Mention of the Internal Security Act (ISA) in the past, one would think of national security, proactive actions to curtail attempts to create chaos and violence – that is until this happened in 2008:-

Tan Hoon Cheng, a reporter of the Chinese-language newspaper Sin Chew, was arrested Friday under the Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial. She was, however, freed Saturday. An opposition lawmaker and the editor of a pro-opposition news Web site were also detained under the ISA on Friday, but have not been released.

The action has drawn widespread criticism from opposition politicians, the Bar Council, human rights groups and now even by some in the government-controlled media.

Tan’s arrest “will go down in Malaysian history as the most controversial, if not most ridiculous,” Wong Chun Wai, the editor of the influential Sunday Star, wrote in a signed opinion piece.

On Saturday, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar defended the three detentions by saying they were necessary to prevent racial conflict. He said Tan, an ethnic Chinese, was arrested because police received information that her life had been threatened.

If that was the case, police should have given her protection instead of arresting her, said Malaysian Chinese Association youth wing chief Liow Tiong Lai. “It is not a clever excuse,” he said in a statement.

“To put it bluntly, the arrest was outrageous and went against the grain of natural justice,” Wong wrote. “In the eyes of the world, we are becoming more like a political basket case each day as old politicians attempt to bring back their outdated tricks,” he wrote.

(Source)

When Najib took over the PM seat in April 2009, one of the first right thing he did was to release 13 people including the 2 key Hindraf activists from ISA detention. That act was laudable even though the arrests under ISA should not have happened in the first place. But back then there were no immediate plans to abolish ISA. Not in 2009 or in 2010.

So it was a big surprise to hear Najib in late 2011 announcing that the ISA will be abolished. It is a big surprise because only recently we saw the manner of his administration reacting on the Bersih 2.0′s electoral reforms rallies.

At this point, it is not clear if the announcement was made in good faith or to deny the Oppositions an important issue for up-coming general elections or simply a delaying tactic whilst a more terrible, severe laws are put in place (perhaps to ensure those in power remains in power?). We will only know what was the real intention once ISA has been actually repealed and the details of the new laws (which Najib says will be enacted to maintain peace, harmony and prosperity) comes under greater scrutiny.

But first, let’s look at the quotable quotes namely the “180 degree turn statements” from the politicians from ruling party who earlier did not actively pushed for abolishment of such draconian laws:-

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek – the announcement made by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on the Internal Security Act (ISA) repeal was not a mere “proposal”. “It is something which will be implemented,”

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin – There should be no doubt over the government’s intention to do away with the Internal Security Act

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak – Barisan Nasional heeded the voice of the people when it decided that the emergency ordinance and Internal Security Act should be abolished

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad – the move to abolish the ISA would place Malaysia “on the moral high ground”

Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – The Government’s move to abolish the Internal Security Act (ISA) is in accordance with efforts to uphold basic human rights

After hearing words like “basic human rights”, “moral high grounds”, “heeded the voice of the people” from the very people who failed to uphold it when it was badly needed – don’t you feel you want to puke?

I say this because these are very people (namely Mahathir and Badawi) who were in a position to do something on ISA in the past and yet did nothing but when Najib announced it, they jump into wagon band applauding it. And despite that, it is apparent that on the other end – assuming the PM is serious with his plans for ISA, it is not going to be smooth road ahead:-

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz – we can’t just abolish the acts overnight without considering national security,

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein – Those currently detained under the Internal Security Act would remain in custody until the new laws are passed

A reader at The People’s Parliament – It’s a gimmick. Just like when the Anti-corruption Agency was replaced by the MACC, it was promised that the MACC would be like the Hong Kong Anti-corruption Agency where corruption would have zero-tolerance

Former PM, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – Datuk Seri Najib Razak should expect hardliners in Barisan Nasional (BN) to resist his plans to repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA) and other security laws because they want to maintain the old ways to silence critics.

There is no doubt that many especially the Oppositions are taking the stand of waiting and see whether the abolishment of ISA will actually take. At this point, there are many uncertainties.

What is the form of the new laws that is going to replace ISA? Will it end up as another “new wine in old bottle”? And the Home Minister have ruled out the immediate release of ISA detainees until the new law comes in force. That means these detainees will remained locked up in Kamunting with an uncertain future. And why the PM did not call for emergency sitting of the Parliament for the abolishment of ISA and amendments of other restrictive laws to be tabled and approved?

Najib have been talking about transformation, high-income nation and of course, the role of 1Malaysia in his administration. No doubt there have some success in this but implementation of it have somehow tainted by inter-party politics and anti-Opposition political driven motives, driven by people who put the politics ahead of the country.

The promise to abolish draconian laws like ISA is always welcomed. No doubt, the Government of the day has the right to take drastic actions to ensure peace and security for its citizens and in doing so, may do so in denial of individual basic rights. But it has to be done without any double standards. Reasons used by the Government in the past to arrests citizens under ISA unfortunately have not been applied in the same manner & force on those closely linked to the Government and ruling political party. This is why there have been a greater call for the repeal of such laws. Laws that lately seemed to be frequently used to enforce the power position of the Government and silencing of those who are against the Government.

We are not sure sure the nature and the scope of the new laws that will replace ISA. We just hope it does not turn to be another case of ACA turned MACC gone bad (after Teong Beng Hock, it seems they still have problems at its end). And if Najib is indeed serious in making positive changes to promote the uphold of human rights and dispel the doubts that Government is indeed serious to do away with laws like ISA, he should not waste time getting repeal process in motion. And it should be done before the next general elections (the same goes for his promise on electoral reforms).

Najib have spoken but whether things spoken will translate to actual action, we need to wait and see. Najib is moving in the right direction and he need to keep up the momentum to ensure his promise cascades down his administration and political circle, otherwise it will end up as another election gimmick.

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Email for Everyone?


UPDATE 1: Some of the questions raised has been answered in this FAQ by Tricubes Bhd but still, it is a real wonder why spend so much on something is available for free even it involves sensitive information

UPDATE 2: 05.10.2011 – Loss-making Tricubes Bhd has managed to sign up only 3,000 users for the free web-based myemail.my service — some six months after the company was picked to launch the service. CEO Khairun conceded that the target now looked “very, very stretched,” although he remained confident that the service will get “a couple of million” subscribers by the end of next year (Source)

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(Is there a real and valid reasons to have email address? How about when the Government have decided to create one email for all Malaysians? Image source: http://www.itsngenius.com)

You have read about it in the papers by now and you may be in a state of disbelief.

From Malaysiakini:-

Local IT player Tricubes Bhd will invest RM50 million in the 1Malaysia Email Project to provide an account each for official purposes, to all Malaysians aged 18 and above.

“We will focus on delivery of notices and bills, MYEG is about online payment,” CEO Khairun Zainal Mokhtar told a press conference after the announcement. However the description of the project in handouts distributed during the event, said the 1Malaysia email and portal will be a ‘one-stop centre for government services, providing value-added services such as social networking, checking bills online and payment’.

Khairun also said that his company will own the portal and email infrastructure once it is completed sometime in July. However, he failed to address a question as to how the company will recoup the millions of ringgit in investment. It was also not apparent how having an email system as an Entry Point Project (EPP) will help to drive Malaysia’s transformation to a high-income nation.

I still recall when I got my very first email address 10 years ago. It was a hotmail email, first opened to the public in 1997 and with an email address in my pocket, my steps into the online world looked complete (it was not but back then, I was ignorant on what the internet has to offer as well). The hotmail email was my personal email which I used to communicate with my friends. I also had a company email for formal communications. Fast forward to the present day, it will be almost impossible to get on with working life without an email address (I have 3 email addresses now – 2 personal and 1 company emails).

Yes, it will be difficult to get on with our daily routine and communications without a proper email address. And yet, there are some of us without any email address (one good example, my parents). They don’t see the point of having one – they are not applying for any job online and for communications, they just rely on a good phone call and for official businesses, they rather go to the government office and get things done.

So, it may sound good if the Government is taking the initiatives to get an email address for all Malaysians above 18 years old but there are some questions that need to be answered before we, as the tax-payers and probably the end-user of this 1Malaysia email, can roll out the red-carpet.

1. Before we can even talk about emails, first ask – is high speed internet available for all and at the right rate – enough for lower income Malaysians to use on a regular basis? No point having an email address if you cannot retrieve your emails. No doubt the Government has been working hard to roll-out high speed and cost effective broadband services for all but have all areas have high speed, cheap internet in place?

2. Ok fine, let’s assume we have cheap and fast internet available, what is the percentage of Malaysians without any email address? Is it that bad that the Government had to take the steps to provide Malaysians with one? When most of us have a Facebook account these days, what more of a more basic thing called email? If I already have a valid & working email address, can I decline having this dubious 1Malaysia email?

3. RM50 million may be invested by Tricubes Bhd but how they going to recover this huge investment and cost of maintenance? Some form of reimbursement from the Government? Some form of yearly fees charged to the end-users? Intrusive advertisements in emails? Or tax-payers’ money? These days you register for email from Microsoft, Yahoo or Google for free. Why need to spend RM50 million to create emails for Malaysians then?

4. Just how secure is this 1Malaysia email? I am not talking about secure from hackers and spasm – I am sure that all this would be in place before it is rolled out to the public. I am talking about secure to the end-users. Imagine emails of all Malaysians which contain sensitive information & communications with Government all in one place, controlled by one private company. What is the guarantee that the contents of the email will remain private and not opened for scrutiny by certain Government agencies?

And here’s more trouble news with the whole affair:-

Tricubes Bhd’s RM50 million contract to develop the 1 Malaysia email service could be the financial lifeline of the information technology firm which is at risk of being delisted from Bursa Malaysia as early as October 29 unless it gets its finances in order.

(Source)

Does it sounds like a bail-out? How a company who cannot manage its own finances is entrusted to manage millions of sensitive emails belonging to all Malaysians? Having email address no doubt is necessary and also essential but there are far more important things.

A friend IM-ed me with this interesting but valid point this morning “Sarawakians in the interior with no electricity, education, water, health support and welfare but they have government-granted email accounts that they can’t access. Bull”. A point well made!

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RPK Revelation


UPDATE: Read Art Harun’s The RPK Factor as why we should not blame RPK for the revelations on Anwar

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Talk about bad timing for Anwar…

(Once a thorn for the ruling party, RPK’s latest admission has played in favor of the ruling party and at the right time too – when Sarawak State Elections is just around the corner. Najib can breathe a bit better now, we are pretty sure. Image source: http://www.selangortoday.wordpress.com)

Always been the man with controversy, RPK’s latest admission will not only put a dent on Anwar Ibrahim who not only facing sodomy charges but also entangled with sex video, it also puts a severe creditability poser on RPK himself and Malaysia Today.

From TheStar:-

Controversial fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin had doubts about his statutory declaration (SD) implicating Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor in the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.

In a sensational interview over TV3 last night, Raja Petra said he had made the allegations on the belief that the order came from PKR adviser and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The Malaysia Today founder and editor said his SD in 2008 which stated he was reliably informed that Rosmah was among those present at the crime scene on Oct 19, 2006 when Altantuya was killed was based on information and demand by several individuals aimed at preventing Najib from becoming prime minister.

Ok, it somehow clears Najib and his wife from the murder allegations but it does not clear the air as why Altantuya was killed and whether there was huge commission paid unnecessarily. Perhaps we have to wait for another revelation in the future.

But for now, RPK’s latest admission is a serious blow to Anwar Ibrahim