The Case for Tommy Thomas as the next AG


Note 1: Got this from OutSyedtheBox and it makes alot of sense
Note 2: It is reproduced verbatim (I only edited the layout for clarity) – the authentication is not confirmed

(After the major screw-up and yet to accept the reality of things, the guy on the left does not have enough trust and credibility to continue to be the Attorney General. The country needs a change – a drastic change that it. Image source: Free Malaysia Today)

DOES THE AG NEED TO BE A MALAY OR A MUSLIM? DOES HE HAVE TO ADVISE ON SYARIAH LAW?
By GK Ganesan Kasinathan, Advocate and Solicitor, Kuala Lumpur
03 June 2018

The nation is trundling towards a calamitous constitutional misunderstanding. Someone has to do something about it and set matters straight. Let us identify what is happening. A debate has begun to rage. It concerns the identity of the person who should be the next Attorney General.

It is about constitutional provisions regarding what characteristics the Attorney General should have—and whether the current nominee, Mr. Tommy Thomas has them.

Two conflicting ideas

At the heart of the debate are two conflicting statements:-

  • The first is the altruistic proposition that certain quarters ‘have no objection at all to a non-Malay being nominated as AG.’
  • The second is an opposite argument. It is that the AG should be ‘in a position to advise the palace on Syariah matters.’
  • And the third proposition, being a conclusionary one, is the argument ‘… that therefore a judge, or a retired judge of the Court of Appeal or the Federal Court ought to be appointed as AG.’ These arguments are deeply flawed.

Here are the reasons..

These arguments have no constitutional basis at all. In fact, the Federal Constitution says the opposite. Why is that? The rakyat should be allowed to interpret the Constitution. The rakyat should take part in this debate. They should look at the Constitution and inform themselves of the important aspects of this confusion. They should be taught to interpret the Constitution. It is their right. Lawyers should not be the only ones telling people what the law is.

So let us look at the Constitution.

The starting point is Article 145.

Answer to the claim AG ‘must advise on Syariah law.’ The first and most important opposition to the Administration — and Mahathir — comes from the argument that the ‘AG must be able to advise the King on Syariah matters’. This demand contradicts Constitutional provisions. This is because the Constitution exempts the AG from such a requirement. You will understand this readily, because the relevant part of Article 145(2), states:

– ‘145(2): It shall be the duty of the [AG] to advise the [King] or the Cabinet or any Minister upon… legal matters, and to perform… duties of a legal character,… and to discharge the functions conferred on him by or under this Constitution or any other written law.

So what it says here is that the AG must discharge the duties that the Constitution asks him to. What power does the Constitution give him? That is explained by Art 145(3). It states:

– ‘145(3): The [AG] shall have power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a Syariah court, a native court or a court-martial.’ Clause 3 prohibits the AG from dealing with proceedings before Syariah Courts and Military Courts.

As far as Syariah matters are concerned the AG has no role. No one would disagree that the King must have the very best Syariah advisor—an expert. Were previous AGs experts on Syariah Law? Was Gani Patail an expert on Syariah law? Was Apandi? How come no one objected then?

So how can the AG be now compelled to perform a duty — or exercise a power — that the Constitution has taken away from him? Why is the AG now being asked to advise on something that the Constitution tells him is none of his business? The person to advise the King on Syariah law cannot be a retired judge.

The fifth argument is that the nominee for the AG ‘must be either an existing or a retired Federal Court judge or a Court of Appeal judge; for, that way he can render legal advise on Syariah matters’. This argument is a non-starter. Again there is a clear instruction from the Constitution on this.

Apart from informing the AG what matters over which the AG has powers to act on, the Constitution goes one step further.

Secular courts are non-Syariah courts: i.e. the Magistrate Courts, Sessions Courts, High Court, Court of Appeal and the Federal Courts: [Article 121 defines the secular courts].

The Constitution expressly removes from all secular courts any power that is only a Syariah Court can exercise.

Clause (1A) says:- ‘The courts referred to in Clause (1) [read, ‘secular courts’] shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts.’

The Syariah judicial system works under a different set of laws. They have their own courts, their own judges, and their own lawyers. They are independent of the Judiciary.

Therefore if Syariah law advice is needed, their Highnesses have ample Syariah resources available at their disposal. If so, how can candidates be chosen from the retired or existing list of the secular Federal Court or the Court of Appeal judges? From them have been removed the power to deal with Syariah matters. It stands to reason that they, no matter what race or religion they profess, would have had no formal legal training on Syariah law at all.

So why ask to choose from a group who possess no Syariah knowledge at all? So the argument that the AG ‘must be able to advise on Syariah matters’ argument is a red fish! It is simply not true.

What qualities must a candidate for an AG have?

The next question to ask oneself is, who can be appointed as the AG? Article 145(1) answers the question in this way:

– ‘145(1): The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court to be the Attorney General for the Federation.’

Note the phrase, ‘a person qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court’. Who is that?

That is explained in Article 123. It prescribes that a nominee for an AG must be (a) a citizen and (b) for the last 10 years before his appointment he shall have been ‘an advocate’; or ‘a member of the Judicial and Legal service’ (this differs from judges in the Courts – do not confuse them as one), or a mixture of both. It does not mean he must be a Federal Court or Court of Appeal Judge. He must only be one who is ‘qualified to be’ one.

From which pool would you choose your AG, given the choice?

As a matter of choice where would you choose the AG to come from? Let us examine the pool of resources available to the Prime Minister. Suppose there are about 1,800 lawyers in the AG’s Chambers [AGC]: that is about right. Suppose we assume that at least 500 AGC lawyers in AGC have crossed the ‘10 year practice’ mark (the numbers could be far lower]. Then at least 500 persons qualify to be the AG.

Now, the Malaysian Bar has ten times more lawyers than the AGC. It had, at the latest count, over 18,000 members. Of that number [I extrapolate] there are over 9,000 lawyers who qualify under this Art 123 — they have crossed the ‘10 years of continued practice’ requirement. They are all citizens.

Go now to the judiciary as a source. If you add the total number of judges in the Federal Court and the Court of Appeal that does not cross 45. A great proportion of those judges are from the AG’s Chambers: some say as high as 90%. As a matter of choice, where would you choose the AG from? From the largest pool of 9,00 members, or a lesser pool of 500 lawyers from AG’s chambers, or from a smaller pool of 45 judges from the Judiciary— the latter of which is already under attack?

Equality of all candidates not matter of race

The sixth point is, the Constitution, which upholds equality as its central core (read Article 8 of the Constitution), does not prevent a non-Malay from being appointed an AG. If our forefathers thought it necessary, they would have inserted that proscription into the Constitution. Had they done it, that would have been against all known conventions of human rights. They have not.

Our forebears were reasonable people. They saw this issue and catered for it. The framers of the Constitution were men of great foresight. So why manipulate that intent by specious arguments of non-existent ‘conventions,’ conventions which are against human rights?

So there is no racial restriction in the Constitution. So that argument too goes out of the window.

The King ‘shall appoint’ Clause (1) of Article 145 states that His Majesty the King ‘shall’ on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint as AG a person proposed by the Prime Minister. This is what it says:

– ‘145(1): The yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court to be the Attorney General for the Federation.’

Note the word, ‘shall’. It is mandatory.

The binding nature of the Prime Minister’s proposal is buttressed by an explanatory clause in Art. 40(1A): It says:

– ‘In in the exercise of his functions under this Constitution or federal law, where the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is to act in accordance with advice, on advice, or after considering advice, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall accept and act in accordance with such advice.’

The phrase ‘shall accept and act in accordance with such advice’ points to a mandatory requirement. There is a reason for this. The functioning of a valid government cannot be stultified by delay.

The Manifesto Point

The seventh argument is: ‘In appointing a non-Parliamentarian, Mahathir has departed from the Harapan manifesto that the AG shall be an MP.’

Many points answer this vacuous argument. The manifesto point is readily overcome. Second, I have said elsewhere, the AG ought to be an MP answerable to the people, through parliament. I have suggested that the Constitution ought to be changed to effect that. The Committee for Institutional Reform is engaged in just that.

Like the Council of Eminent Persons, they have had no rest. They are burning the candle at both ends. They are inundated with all manner of papers. They will suggest amendments—in good time. But until that change is done, the law, as it stands, must be complied with. There is no countervailing argument against that. There is, fortunately, a Half-Way House solution.

It is embedded into the Constitution. Art. 61 of the Constitution, which states, ‘(2) Either house of parliament may appoint as a member of any of its committees the [AG]… notwithstanding that he is not a member of that house.’

So, through this side-door, Parliament may, after it convenes, ask the AG to be appointed into its committees. The Committees may ask him to answer questions. In this way the current AG can be brought into Parliament’s deliberations.

So these concerns are easily alleviated. So any allegation that ‘Harapan has breached its Manifesto’ is really no issue at all.

Parliament has a right to override the King on executive matters

The King has executive authority over the Federation. That authority is, however, not absolute. It is subject to the dictates of Parliament: this is because Art 39 states:

‘The executive authority of the Federation shall be vested in the yang di Pertuan Agong and exercisable… by him or by the Cabinet or any Minister authorised by the Cabinet, … but parliament may by law confer executive functions on other persons.’

The AG’s appointment, under the current law, is an exercise of executive authority. If the King does not act on the advice of the Prime Minister, the Constitution grants another route to Parliament. In matters of governance, the primacy of Parliament is constitutionally entrenched. But Parliament has not been convened. That time is not yet come. It will. But can we wait till then?

The power of the Conference of Rulers

The final argument in the opposition’s quiver is that the Conference of Rulers have an absolute power to object to any suggestion of the Prime Minister. This is incorrect. True it is that the Conference of Rulers have certain ‘discretionary’ powers. Article 38 lays it out in great detail. They have a right to be consulted on certain matters.

These are listed with some care: these deal with matters relating the appointment of the King, e.g., include any matter relating to the special position of the Malay rulers, the Islamic religion or the rights of Malays under Article 153 (Reservation of quotas in the services, permits etc. for Malays). True also it is that that Art. 38(2)(c) states that the Conference of Rulers shall exercise its functions of consultation by —

‘… consenting or withholding consent to any law and making or giving advice on any appointment which under this Constitution requires the consent of the Conference or is to be made by or after consultation with the Conference’.

Some argue that Clause (6) gives the Conference of Rulers the right of carte blanche— blank cheque; that that it is ‘an absolute right’. This is what the relevant part of Clause (6) says — … the members of the Conference of Rulers may act in their discretion in any proceedings relating to the following functions, that is to say… (c) consenting or withholding consent to any law and making or giving advice on any appointment which under this Constitution requires the consent of the Conference or is to be made by or after consultation with the Conference; In constitutional theory, the personal prerogative of the monarch is said to contradict democracy.

On a proper reading of Clause 6, this personal power is not absolute.

  • First, much of the strength of these prerogative power are diluted by constitutional principles.
  • Second, other clauses in the Constitution severely limit that power.
  • Third, the ‘right to consultation’ cannot mean an ‘absolute right to refuse.’

That is why the Constitution, with great care, has said, their Highnesses ‘may act in their discretion.’ This discretion is called ‘royal prerogative.’ Blackstone described it as the powers that ‘the king enjoys alone, in contradistinction to others, and not to those he enjoys in common with any of his subjects.’ So they are are ‘personal prerogatives.’ But the principles underlying the exercise of prerogatives have been uniformly accepted without contradiction across the world.

It is for that reason such prerogatives are carefully circumscribed. The way the words in clause 6 are crafted is a call to exercise, in their Highnesses discretion, one of the most fundamental provisions of the Rule of Law: when a constitutional discretion is granted, it cannot be exercised arbitrarily.

So the exercise of the ‘personal prerogative’ must seek to achieve the equality principle rooted as the basic fabric of the Constitution. It must be subject to transparency and good governance. It cannot be exercised arbitrarily. It cannot be exploited capriciously. Such a discretion must be exercised in a way that will aid democracy and uphold the Rule of Law. The words must be construed to comply with the spirit of the Constitution and the Will of the People.

Conclusion

Parliament is not in session. Not yet. Yet someone has to carry the burden of the AG. Charges have to be filed. People have to be hauled up before the courts.

The Cabinet is busy answering a hundred, perhaps a thousand urgent calls upon its time. This amidst the urgent concern that economic matters should be dealt with alacrity. Manifesto or no, Mahathir has to stop the haemorrhage.

The Cabinet cannot hang about. Time is of the essence. Mahathir has to act now. Those who delay the appointment of the AG are doing a great disservice to the toils of an elderly patriot trying to right a wayward ship. These detractors are playing into the hands of the pilferers who have purloined billions from our coffers. They sit pretty, smiling from their strongholds. They think nothing will come upon them so long as they keep raising one constitutional crises after another, and trigger as much unease and delay as possible.

That is why they are delaying the appointment of the AG. They wish to feel safe. They think the GE 14 is a pyrrhic victory. They feel they are untouchable. They must be stopped. As a nation we cannot sit idly by, while these detractors stultify the rakyat’s hard-won victory

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Trump’s Immigration Ban


170131_slate_chart-banned-trump-correctio-jpg-crop-promo-xlarge2

(The omission was too glaring and that simply add to the unfairness of the whole affair. Image source: http://www.slate.com)

Well, it finally happened – that “The Apprentice” guy, Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States of America on 20th January 2017.

So it was not a big surprise when he decided to “shake” things down once he had officially taken office – he have been talking about throughout his election campaign. And that includes his promise to build the wall against Mexico (funding aside) and stopping people from certain countries entering the country.

President Trump on Friday closed the nation’s borders to refugees from around the world, ordering that families fleeing the slaughter in Syria be indefinitely blocked from entering the United States, and temporarily suspending immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries.

The executive order suspends the entry of refugees into the United States for 120 days and directs officials to determine additional screening ”to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.”

The order also stops the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and bars entry into the United States for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries linked to concerns about terrorism. Those countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

(Source)

The funny part of the whole affair is that the Iranian Government seems to be very upset that they have been listed under the list of countries to be banned from entering the US. It is funny because the Iranian Government had always perceived US as the Great Satan. So if the Great Satan is stopping your people from entering it’s Hell, why you get upset? Anyway it is just something for your thoughts.

Noticeably there were some countries missing from the immigration ban.

US-based researcher Arif Jamal argues that President Donald Trump cannot defeat radical Islam by excluding Saudi Arabia and Pakistan from his contentious move barring US entry to people from some Muslim nations.

On the contrary, all major terrorist groups that have attacked the United States and other Western countries over the past couple of decades – from al Qaeda to the Taliban to the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) – can trace their roots back to Sunni-led countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Qatar. But conspicuously these countries didn’t make the list.

(Source)

Well, I can see where Trump is coming from and how the recent terrorist attacks in Europe may have shaped this policy. After all, before he signed off the order, he did called the German Chancellor Angela Merkel ‘insane’ for her immigration decisions. But are the ban valid?

Mail Online has analysed all the terrorist attacks in Europe, including Turkey, since 9/11.

No individuals from five of the countries on the list – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – had been linked to any terrorist attacks in Europe in the last 15 years, although some could be linked to Islamist bases and training camps in Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

Raffaello Pantucci, a counter-terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London, told Mail Online: ‘Most terrorist attacks in America are carried out by Americans.

(Source)

terrorist-list-malaysia

(In this 2011 Department of Homeland Security report, Malaysia is listed as a “Specially Designated Country”. SDC are countries that have shown a tendency to promote, produce or protect terrorist organisations or their members. Image source: OutSyed The Box)

We can breathe in relief that Malaysia is not in the immediate Trump’s list of banned countries. However it may change if we do not keep extremism in check.

Police neutralised 14 attempted terrorist attacks in 2016

Malaysians were given a reality check when the first ever Islamic State-orchestrated attack hit Malaysian soil on June 28 when a hand grenade was hurled at an entertainment outlet in Puchong, resulting in eight people injured.

However, Malaysians know little about the behind-the-scene pre-emptive actions taken by the police that foiled at least 14 planned terror attacks in Malaysia by IS militants, said a senior anti-terrorism official.

Security officials were reluctant to share details of the attempted attacks due to the sensitive nature of the information.

(Source)

Kudos to the police for their hard work and diligence in crushing terrorist attacks in this country. However the headlines “Police neutralised 14 attempted terrorist attacks in 2016” is very worrying. Who knows the number of terrorist attacks that did not take place because of a lost opportunity or the terrorists changed their mind at the last minute or they have a different objective & location to terrorise.

It is not a secret (and the world knows this too) that there are plenty of Malaysians in Syria fighting for the ISIS and they have threatened to unleash the same acts of terrorism in this country. News of ISIS sympathizers or agents being caught by the police have become a norm these days.

Then we have people like Zakir Naik who is on the run from his home country, coming into this country freely and doing public sermons.

Fugitive televangelist Dr Zakir Naik will be delivering a Friday sermon in Perlis on February 10, according to a poster shared by the state’s mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin yesterday

Last month, Dr Zakir visited a private Islamic-centric university in Shah Alam, Selangor, which is also under investigation for radical teachings after two students were arrested on suspicion of being Islamic State recruits planning a terror attack locally.

Although a fugitive in India, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the controversial Islamic preacher is free to travel in Malaysia because he is not on the terror list here.

He has been reported by several Indian newspapers to be on the run to avoid prosecution in India.

The Salafist preacher has also been banned from several countries like Bangladesh, Canada and the UK.

(Source)

Frankly speaking, there is nothing wrong in bringing foreign speakers for sermons and religion functions. And I say that it does not only happens for Muslims but also other religions. In fact, we have Hindu gurus and priests, Buddhist monks and Christian preachers (some of them super rich) coming to this country on a regular basis and devotees signs up for such sermons / religion talks months upfront. Religion is a very big and profitable business nowadays. So I don’t really see a fuss and the logic of my fellow Malaysians questioning foreigners coming to the country for sermons. Sometimes it is good to get out from our comfort zone and get a different perspective of religion from outside experts aka holy men.

But when you have someone who is not only banned and wanted for links with terrorism in other countries (including Bangladesh – a Muslim majority country), one need to exercise great caution.

Just watch this talk by Zakir Naik who questions the propagation of faith (in forms of allowing places of religion to be built) by non Muslims. This kind of talk does not fit a multi racial, religion model country like Malaysia. In fact, it works against it and makes one Malaysian to look at fellow Malaysians as a threat due to different faith & beliefs. It sows the seeds of disunity and intolerance. We need more avenues to unite us and not foreigners who will disunite us even more.

In this video, using a very bad example of a maths teacher, he claims that only in his own religion, the computation is correct i.e. 2 + 2 = 4 whilst all other religion will compute wrongly. But does it really happens that way? All religion teaches one to be tolerant and exercising good behaviors. To shoot down other’s religion does not necessarily elevates your own religion – I have always said this.

Every religion have their share of extremism as well but it does not mean it is wrong (or evil). At the end of the day, it all depends on how you use religion in your daily life and religion is something that should be personal and ends there. So it is not right to say that “I am right, you are wrong” when it comes to something personal. In fact, the more you talk bad about others, it will back fire and will cause others to look at religion as something intolerant, rigid and enforces compulsion when it should be the other around. And if you claim that others have failed religion, why then they have a very prosperous and matured society? It is the same case where Iranians for ages have labelled the US as the Great Satan but get upset when the same Great Satan closes its doors.

We already have “funny but disbelief” incidents such as the protest that forced a church to take down a sign of cross back in 2015 (the excuse for the protest – the cross will confuse Muslims). Are you saying that Muslims in this country had never seen a cross before and all the sudden, one fine morning, they wake up and seeing it for the first time and it will confuse them? It sounds dumb, right? But interestingly, that is very premise that smooth talking preachers like Zakir Naik is doing in his talks and whilst the implications may not be so obvious but the outcome can be very grave indeed.

And then we also have a spew of misinformation and made up facts (yes, it called fiction) that is used rather sparingly to justify his talk on religion. Watch this video where Naik attacks Darwin and the notion of evolution and he simply wrongly quotes or uses wrong facts to show that he is correct (which is not the case):-

For someone who is not familiar with Darwinism or even have a good command of the English language, Zakir may sound like a God send angel with good information at his finger tips. Perhaps this is why at one point of time, Darwin’s book on the evolution was actually got banned? I don’t know. It is not a secret that science and religion is like water and oil – it does not mix that well but at the point when wrong information is used to justify someone interpretation of religion, it is dangerous and irresponsible.

Now looking back at President Trump’s decision to ban entry to a selected immigrants, it may sound harsh and cruel and unfair but think again, that itself should make others to wake up and look at the cause of the ban in the first place. And if it is unfair, then what are the other countries around the world is going to do about it? No Middle East country have come out in the open and made the commitment to take in the refugees and other immigrants in the droves – perhaps they should look into it now (they are nearer too). And talking about terrorism, banning entry is just one of the short term solution although it is a bad solution if implemented blindly and in general. They should have a proper solution in place and allow people are genuinely in need of help whilst identifying and stopping red flags and potential sleeper agents at their tracks.

One cannot run away from this – not at this age of human civilization.

Wiper Scare & Kapchai Ban


Read these

wipers-signs-of-wear

(Things to keep an eye for – failing wipers. Image source: http://www.kempenfeltauto.com)

It has been raining cats and dogs lately…

It was raining heavily when I went to work one fine morning – I predicted an increased traffic jam due to the rain and a couple of morons speeding and changing lane without any indicators during the heavy rain. I switched on the wipers and immediately I noticed something not right. It was squeaking and as the wipers goes up and down, it started to bend considerably. Damn, something indeed was not right. And half way as I was nearing my kid’s school, one of the wiper bent and dislocated. I now left with only one working wiper and it also started to bend. I know that wipers was due for a replacement but I did not expect it to be too soon and too obvious. It was still raining but I could not use the wipers – so I slowed down and drive with extra caution. It was too late to drive back home as I was nearer office by then and I managed to reach it without any incidents.

Lunch time, I had only 1 mission – to get the wipers replaced. I headed to a workshop near to office and picked silicon blade wipers. It was not cheap though but at least the wipers were new. The mechanic was fast to replace them but he took the wrong size as when I tried the wipers on, both wipers got entangled and got stuck. He quickly replaced the wiper to a lower size and it looked well (it did not get entangled this time around).

That evening, it started to rain again but this time, I was very confident – I had brand new wipers. I happily switched it on but then noticed, it was not wiping effectively – as if the blades was not touching the windscreen in some places. There was a loud squeaking noise as well. I was pissed off and was cursing the workshop for selling a defective wipers. I intended to reach home first and then head to the nearest hypermarket to buy new wipers (I was ready to go to workshop next day to make noise and get my money back). And as I was driving back in the heavy rain, only using the wipers when I had no other choice, I noticed that some kind of strip hanging from the tip of the wiper. Was the silicon coming apart? I could not see for sure.

I reached home and in the rain, I checked the wipers and soon felt relived – the mechanic who replaced the wipers had forgotten to strip away the protective plastic from the silicon blades and that was what making the squeaking noise and unlevel wiping. Once the plastic strip was removed, I had a very effective and silent wipers. Phew!

Anyway, that ended rather nicely – it has not been a cheap month for me when it came to fixing my car to the best level of driving. I have a phobia whenever I hear some funny noise from the car these days, especially after the accident last year.

(One reason to ban kapchais in this country. Image source: http://meuzangelo.blogspot.com)

Recently there was a very interesting piece of development when it comes to pesky motorcyclists in this country:-

The government is considering banning underbone motorcycles, known locally as the “kap chai”, from entering Kuala Lumpur as part of its effort to reduce carbon emission.

Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Mansor was quoted by The Star as saying that the government may prohibit these motorcycles and other commuters from driving into the capital city once public transportation reaches a more reasonable price.

“During the day, the population (in the city) increases to between five and seven million because workers commute to work,” he said at the launch of the Kibar Bendera Wilayah Persekutuan campaign on Sunday (Jan 15).

“Many cities do not allow ‘kap chai’ to come in. But studies have shown that a lot of people still need them because they are poor and can’t afford [other modes of transport] as their salaries are low.

“Once cheaper public transport is available, we will be looking at the possibility of not allowing ‘kap chai’ motorcycles into the city,” he added

(Source)

And of course, there was immediate opposition to that idea:-

The government’s proposal to ban underbone motorcycles in Kuala Lumpur could burden low-income earners who are already under pressure from rising living costs, employers’ and workers’ groups warned.

Criticising the idea as “ridiculous”, associations like The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) and the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said the proposal would push traveling costs up for the bottom 40 per cent of income earners, most of whom rely on small capacity bikes to commute to work.

They said fuel costs for the bike, popularly called “kap chais”, are much cheaper than current public transportation fees, which can go up to RM10 a day. In contrast, someone who uses a “kap chai” will only need to pay RM7 for a full tank of fuel, which can give the bike at least five days worth of travelling.

(Source)

And it seems that there was a major impact on the businesses as well:-

Putrajaya’s proposal to bar the kapcai (small motorcycles) from entering Kuala Lumpur will cause a significant decline in the sale of motorcycles in the country.

“The ban will have negative effects on the motorcycle industry, which sees more than 500,000 motorcycles registered each year,” said PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil in a statement today.

Fahmi called the proposal “nonsensical and irresponsible”, coming as it did in a time of economic decline.

(Source)

Before I put down my take on the proposed ban (the idea have been shelved anyway), let me emphasize that I was a biker once and I rode a “kapchai” bike too. I rode second handed Honda Cub (one of the best bike around) and the iconic Yamaha RXZ before I decided to buy a new bike. Main reason for that is because I used to ride pillion on my brother’s bike but he gets so tense up when I ask him to slow down and follow the rules. It was time for me to get my own bike and ride like a big biker. I rode a small bike but I had tear-proof jacket, leather gloves and a good, branded helmet. I opted for a Malaysian made Modenas because firstly it was cheap and secondly the bike shop was just next to the house which makes service easy but due to some problem with the Modenas dealer (he was half bankrupt and my deposit got stuck), I changed my option to a Yamaha Y110SS which was stylish, very dependable (even though it was on 2 stroke) and fast (I preferred Yamaha 125ZR but it was too expensive and was “hot” with bike thieves). And the reason for me using kapchai was because that was one of the cheapest mode of transportation that I could afford without taking the bus (petrol last me almost a week) and riding a kapchai in KL was the best way to avoid the crazy traffic jam in the city. So I do understand the situation from a biker’s point of view.

But over the years, seeing the number of deaths on the road and being menace to other road users, I do think that kapchai’s should be banned.

It should be banned not because of the nonsense excuse of controlling the emission (car, truck and bus emissions are even worse) but because of the number of traffic rule offences incurred by these kapchai riders. Too many bikes on the road are of poor condition too. Never passes a day without me seeing a bike without lights at the front and back – endangering themselves and their pillion riders. The worse of the worse are those sending their kids to school in the morning without any helmet or having more than one pillion rider including babies. And breaking the law is the signature of most (I say most) kapchai riders – you name it, they do it – riding without helmet, riding against the traffic, changing lanes without any signals, running traffic lights, illegal racing and doing stunts on public roads (aka as Mat Rempits). Kapchai is also the preferred mode of transportation of snatch thieves as it is easy for them to make a getaway.

And it should not be banned on in the city but rather banned nationwide – in the cities, towns, small towns, residential areas, etc. You may ask what happens to the motorbike manufacturers and distributors? Push for sale for bigger capacity bikes – yes, it will be more expensive but in the end, there will be enough demands to meet up the loss. 250cc bikes which was out of reach during my time is actually cheaper nowadays. You can get a KTM Duke 250 for less than RM20,000 or a Benelli TNT 250 for less than RM15,000. And with bigger bikes, push for proper safety gears to be worn by riders & pillion riders (jacket, gloves, boots, etc). Not cheap I agree but we need to move from a small bike nation to a bigger bike nation mentality eventually.

Interestingly the same notion was made in a letter to The Sun:-

REPORTS of opposition to the proposal to ban small motorcycles from Kuala Lumpur are off-target. On the contrary, such a ban will be welcomed by those who live and work in the city. Let me explain.

First, nobody feels safe when motorcyclists are around except the motorcyclists themselves. Even drivers of four-wheel vehicles are harassed and forced to brake suddenly to avoid hitting them.

Second, traffic rules seemingly do not apply to motorcyclists. They ignore traffic lights, no-entry signs and other rules, perhaps because they can evade the law so easily.

Third, many pedestrians are menaced by motorcyclists who ride on the walkways. I have not seen a motorcyclist booked for this offence.

Fourth, snatch thieves love the motorcycle as it best suits their modus operandi.

Fifth, pollution. Random comments are made that all vehicles pollute and motorcycles are not the worst culprits. That needs to be proven. One needs to look not only at the vehicle size but also their numbers, and the noise.

Surprisingly, I have seen no reports on urban pollution in Malaysia. As a rapidly urbanising society, Malaysians need to know how healthy the air is.

To understand the situation at street level those involved should take public transport for a day. Personal experience would be a far more impactful experience than third-party stories.

There are other reasons that argue against small motorcycles on city streets, including comparative costs. While petrol consumption may be low, there are repair and parking costs, which would make the bus cheaper.

(Source)

Do I need to say more – who knows once we start to ban the small kapchais, the incidents of Mat Rempit and snatch thieves may just go down. Just a wishful thought – who knows, right?

Dashcams: Another Source for Enforcement


Let’s start with some interesting videos



The above videos, whilst may seemed impressive demonstrates how some morons rather endanger other road users so that they can have cheap thrills on the road. Why they can’t book the racing track for a day and burn rubbers to their heart’s content?

While the country may be buzzing with the findings by the PAC on 1MDB, the Citizen Declaration and now the “admission” from the Saudi Foreign Minister (is it?). For me, it is a foregone conclusion. It is rather pointless to talk about accountability, transparency and responsibility at this point of time. After all, it is now argued that putting signature on a formal document does not mean you know what is happening and as such you are not liable. Didn’t I say that the whole affair is a foregone conclusion? Now the focus would be on the upcoming Sarawak Elections and one hopes that the voters would be able to see beyond the sweet promises to do this and that and look at what is best for the nation in the long run.

Anyway if you have not been busy keeping up with the local political circus, you would have heard that the Government is fine tuning the enforcement of traffic laws in the country. Finally something worth the taxpayers money and time. Firstly as many of the “good things” that they have done in the past, they looked what they had in their pockets and decided to merge and RENAME them (effectiveness comes much later):-

The Automated Enforcement System (AES) will be merged with the Kejara demerit system and renamed as AWAS (Awareness Automated Safety System).

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai (pic), who disclosed this, said this was to ensure a more holistic approach to reduce the number of road accidents.

“Whether you pay your fines or not, your marks will still be deducted if you are found to have committed a traffic offence,” he said during an interview on TV3 last night.

(Source)

Hmmm, that sounded fair enough but it only addresses the punishment aspect of the traffic law and not the enforcement. Still, it is a start. If you are caught, you will be slapped with both fine and demerit points but you need to be caught in the first place. No word on increasing the number of AES cameras in this country – just 14 of them and I know for sure that most motorists well behave before they pass the AES camera and become a speed demon once they have passed it. What about drivers who are driving dangerously, abuse the emergency lanes, changing lanes without any indicators and use vehicles are not safe to be on the road (I even saw a police car last night without any rear nights on).

Then there was more news on the traffic law fines (which did not go well with the police’s earlier plans to increase the fine):-

The Ministry of Transport is proposing to reduce the rate of traffic summons from RM300 to RM150 for certain traffic offences, said its Deputy Minister Datuk Ab Aziz Kaprawi.

He said, however the proposal must be approved by the Cabinet and amendments to the Road Transport Act 1987 must be made before implementing it.

“It is still a proposal between the ministry and the government for certain offences with a certain time period given, for instance RM150 must be paid within six months, if they fail to do so, the amount would be increased, you delay, you pay more,” he told reporters at Parliament lobby here today.

(Source)

Seriously I don’t get the rationale to go soft on traffic law offenders by giving huge discounts, cooling off period, close of one eyes and reduction of the fine for some traffic laws? Didn’t they break the law in the first place? Didn’t they cause inconvenience to others (imagine the idiots who double parked and blocked the roads? We don’t have huge trucks to plough our way through) or those had posed serious danger to other road users (and themselves)?

One ex-IGP even went on to say this:-

Given the gloomy economic outlook with many Malaysians struggling with higher living costs and the threat of layoffs loom for many job sectors, the IGP’s threat to hit motorists where it hurts most – their wallets, seem like an inspired approach to tackle the perennial problem of traffic accidents and fatalities.

This move, as expected are not well received by the public saying that it is a burden with the current economy situation.

In a phone interview with Malaysian Digest, former IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan expressed his opinion that the move is untimely.“I think with the current high cost of living the suggestion is not relevant. Imposing higher fines now is like pouring fuel on a fire.” – Former IGP Tan Sri
Musa Hassan

“I think with the current high cost of living the suggestion is not relevant. Imposing higher fines now is like pouring fuel on a fire.

“Because it will cause resentment from the people,” he pointed out.

(Source)

Sorry to say this but the traffic fines are not taxes. It is not GST. It is imposed on people who break the traffic laws. If they feel that it is going to be a burden in this current economy situation then they should abide by the traffic laws, follow the speed limit, they should use the indicators when changing lane, they should drive responsively, blah, blah. No one forces the traffic fines down their throat. The opposition morons used to say the same thing.

The problem in Malaysia have always been enforcement, enforcement and enforcement.

I have wrote on enforcement in the past (no point repeating them again in detail here) and you can read them here:-

Some of the hardcore traffic offenders know that the enforcement is seriously lacking and it takes months or even years before the law comes to collect the unpaid summonses (by then, there will be a huge discount waiting for them). Some politicians will capitalise on the situation and argue that the fines / punishment are burdensome to the people and the whole strict enforcement would be on hold until further studies are made. This is the wrong way to do it.

Strict enforcement is the only way to do it.

Start off with AES cameras – so far it has been very effective and operates 24 x 7, rain or shine and it had done a good job to date (almost 2 million summonses issued). The present 14 AES cameras are simply not enough. Then the enforcement on the ground need to be revamped as well – if you break the law, you have to pay for the consequences.

In addition to AES, there is another source for enforcement – dash cams (either from law abiding road users or from the traffic offenders themselves). Look at the videos in the beginning post again. Don’t you think there is enough video evidence to book some of the thrill seekers who treat the public road as their own personal race track, oblivious of the danger posed to other road users? Start looking into this angle as well as another mean to identify traffic offenders and coming hard, very hard on them.

Don’t give discounts, don’t treat these traffic fines like some mandatory tax that is burdening some poor souls out there – it will not help to reduce number of traffic laws broken but instead will only encourage them. Besides, some of these traffic offenders are driving cars that costs more than what an average Joe earns the whole year.

The Lovable Mat Rempits?


I think internally there is a competition among the politicians in this country to come up with the wildest, dumbest ideas. And the latest one that have hit the headlines is the one that deals with allowing pesky Mat Rempits aka public nuisance to race on public streets.

Road safety experts expressed regret and disbelief over a proposal to legalise ‘Mat Rempit‘ racing. The experts who spoke to theSun, raised grave concerns on whether the government would take responsibility should bodily injury or loss of lives occur during such races.

Their concerns come in the wake of a proposal earlier this week by Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor to allow bikers to race in certain parts of the capital city to curb the tendency of “Mat Rempits” who speed in residential and commercial areas.

Universiti Sains Malaysia deputy vice-chancellor Professor Dr Ahmad Farhan Mohd Sadullah described the proposal as risky and a disservice to road safety.

(Source)

And even it leaves the police in disbelief with the Minister’s ambitions (remember the police declared war on Mat Rempits calling them the cancer of the society?):-

Inspector-General Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar wants to meet Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor over the plan to close certain city roads and allow motorcyclists to race.

“I believe he has his reasons to propose it. I want to meet him to discuss it,” Khalid told reporters at the Bukit Aman police headquarters here.

“I will meet him first to see what his views are,” he said when asked to comment further on the matter.

(Source)

And not leaving the nuisance in the West Malaysia, there were even plans to bring over the nuisance to the East Malaysia:-

The plan to provide motorcycle racing tracks in the city is still on the table, with the possibility of extending the proposal to East Malaysia as well.

Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said that the matter was among the issues discussed at a meeting with other Federal Territories Members of Parliament (MPs) at the ministry today.

“I have discussed the ‘Mat Motor’ issues, and I want to solve the matter at hand,” he said, adding that he is looking for a way to provide space to allow motorcycle racers to do what they are interested in.

He said the move would also help tackle syndicates involved in illegal betting who use “Mat Rempits” for their own financial gains.

(Source)

And the insurance companies were quick to wash their hands off of the proposed plan by the Minister:-

Meanwhile, Persatuan Insurans Am Malaysia (PIAM) said motorcycle insurance policy does not cover activities as racing and it is an exclusion under the policy.

PIAM said any such activity is done at the rider’s own risk and if they injure a third party or damage another person’s property, they will be personally responsible for any damage costs.

“In the event an Insurer (Insurance Company) is held liable to pay by virtue of the provisions under Section 96 of the Road Transport Act, the insurer can seek indemnity from the motorcycle owner and/or rider,” it said.

(Source)

At the end of the day, everyone is against the idea of allowing Mat Rempits running loose on public roads – all except the Honorable Minister. What the police need to do is this – agree to the Minister’s idea and when the Mat Rempits shows up with their bikes, round them up like rounding up some cattles and charge them on endangering other road users.

Misdirection of Dress Codes


(If you ask me, this is a better video to watch for the first time visitors to Malaysia and Asha Gill is lovely as usual)

I was flying in to Malaysia just the other day and yes, I was flying on MAS. It was kind of painful to see the good, hardworking people in MAS facing some uncertainty as MAS undergoes a major restructuring. But that did not stopped the stewardess on my flight from ensuring that service was and always first class.

As we were starting to descend, the onboard entertainment system was switched off and a short video on KLIA and Malaysia were shown for the benefit of the first time visitors to the country. It was not the usual video (starring Asha Gill which is many times better) but a different one. It often happens, just as I watch a video of the good things of the country – the good places to visit, the people from different background of culture, race and religion and of course, the food – I would have tears on my eyes. This time, it was no exception either. I simply love my “tanahair” no matter how long I am out of the country.

As I watched the video, something was not right. The scene is duty free shops in KLIA and the narrator mentions “items found in no other part of the world”. The next scene once this statement completes is a picture of Star Buck. Items found in no other part of the world, eh? It must have crossed the family from Australia who was sitting in front of me. They were smiling when they saw this.

Anyway, the landing was perfect and throughout the immigration & customs, it was breeze too. When I got home, the family had gone out so I took a quick shower and after an easy meal, I went to sleep only to be rudely awaken a couple of hours later by my daughter. Yup, I was back home already.

Interesting, “home” is undergoing some form of transformation as well. And I am not talking about the latest scandal to hit Najib administration – the one that was committed outside the country and one that got the Australian police in action. Nothing at moved on the biggest scandal of the century in this country, so this news was a welcome change indeed (already the IGP was quick to clear those involved from any form of CBT).

No, I am talking about the silly, petty hoo-haa on the recent misdirection of enforcing the dress codes

And it probably started with this:-

A double gold medal winning gymnast has been accused of breaking strict Islamic dress code by performing in a ‘revealing’ leotard at a top international event.

Malaysian double gold medallist Farah Ann Abdul Hadi has been slammed by some in the majority Muslim nation for her outfit.

Thousands have taken to social media to express their support for Ms Abdul Hadi after the controversy emerged while she competed at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

(Source)

Things somehow quiet down after the Sultan of Selangor himself slammed the critics of her attire and praised Farah for her win:-

Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah fully backs national artistic gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi and has expressed disapproval at those who picked on her attire during the 28th SEA Games in Singapore.

In his congratulatory letter to Farah, Sultan Sharafuddin said her achievement had made the whole country, including Selangor, proud.

The Sultan, as quoted by local daily The Star said in his letter, “Criticising your attire should be the last matter in the minds of those who commented negatively on social media.

He added, “They should be celebrating your achievements for Malaysia and Selangor.”

In his letter, the Selangor ruler said that he hoped Farah would not take the comments of narrow-minded people to heart and continue to strive to be the best in her field.

(Source)

Then more of dress code mishaps started to trickle in , starting with the famed Sarong-gate at JPJ office:-

A woman had a shock at a Road Transport Department (JPJ) office when she was forced to wear a sarong or be refused service.

(Source)

Interestingly soon after the incident went viral on the net, they were quick to admit that there was no such rule and they went too far with this and issued an apology. At least they admitted it was the wrong thing to do.

Then we had the visitor barred from seeing her father who was admitted in the hospital at a local hospital and in the end, she was forced to wear a towel to see him:-

In a third incident at public institutions here, a woman has come forward alleging that she was forbidden from entering the Sungai Buloh Hospital here recently because she was dressed in shorts.

In her Facebook post accessible to the public that is being shared on social media, the woman who goes by the moniker Nisha Daddygal said she was then forced to borrow a towel to cover up her legs before she was allowed to visit her father who had been warded there.

(Source)

Just imagine if this was an emergency and in the wee hours of the morning. And once again, there was a public apology and the hospital administrators informed that it was just a misunderstanding on the guidelines and a newly joined security guard to be blamed.

Then we had the ultimate dress code incident – of all places, at an international airport:-

Blogger Wilson Ng wrote about his experience at KLIA’s Baggage Services Lost and Found area, where he was forced to don long black pants and shoes because the knee-length pink shorts and sandals he was wearing was deemed inappropriate.

Ng who had gone to pick up his luggage which he had accidentally left at the baggage carousel following a trip to Taipei was denied entry by a security officer at the enquiry counter who told him to go home and change because there is a dress code to enter the KLIA building and the lost and found baggage office.

(Source)

Public apology was then duly rendered and MAHB stated that it has investigated the matter and found it to be due to miscommunication on the implementation of a policy pertaining to the issuance of visitor passes at the airport.

Wrong dress code incidents since I was back is unlikely to be small mistake, oversight or “opps, they misunderstood the instructions”. We never had these problems in the past – so why now and why so frequent in recent weeks?

Then one guy opened his mouth:-

Non-Muslims should dress more “appropriately” in public places out of “respect” for Muslims who will sin upon seeing people, including non-Muslims, who do not cover their “aurat”, Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria said amid the controversy surrounding conservative dress codes enforced at government departments.

“Even when we wear properly but we see other people who show their ‘aurat’, it is haram,” Harussani told Malay Mail Online yesterday.

“They should show respect for Muslims and dress more appropriately; they cannot be showing their thighs. It is not wrong for them to dress how they like, but they must be considerate because when we bump into them at public places and see this, it is considered haram for us (Muslims),” the conservative cleric added.

(Source)

Perhaps that explains why Marina Mahathir is having a tough time shopping for a good Baju Melayu for the upcoming hari raya – she calls it the Arab Colonialism. But then again, I too stopped wearing jippa some years ago already – it is more on the change of fashion, environment and preference, I guess.

But then, it seems like things were getting out of hand and it was not big surprise when ex-civil servants and lawyers commented back as follows:-

Former high-ranking civil servants and lawyers have blamed the recent spate of strict enforcement of dress codes at government buildings on the intolerant attitude of certain “holier-than-thou” Muslims imposing their Islamic values on Malaysians of other faiths.

It was also a case of little Napoleons trying to be “more pious than the Pope”, they said. They added that it was time Putrajaya put a stop to this moral policing, saying the leadership must take a firm stand against those who abused the rights of the people seeking services at government departments. They also said Cuepacs, the umbrella group of civil service unions, had no business endorsing such actions.

(Source)

Even the Old Man noticed the stupidity in enforcing the silly dress code and commented:-

Malaysia is now sliding backwards and is acting like Saudi Arabia in its zeal to impose a dress code on the public, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed said today.

He said it was a person’s right to wear shorts in public, and, “as long as they aren’t naked”, they should be allowed to enter a government building or hospital. “In government offices, certainly there is a dress code. But that is an office matter.

“Public matters are different. We shouldn’t be telling others what to do, they aren’t Muslim,” he told a press conference after a buka puasa event with Perkasa in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur.

He said dress codes in government buildings should only apply to its staff, and not visitors, especially those who are not Muslim.‎ “We are now sliding backwards. Soon, not only shorts will be an issue. If a woman leaves a house without a burqa, it will be considered wrong.

(Source)

If you ask me, as far as I could remember, Malaysians have generally dressed well and they know their limits when they are in the public areas (although there are some exception to this but they are in the smallish minority).

And one wearing shorts or skirts that is knee level is nothing compared to some Mat Salleh backpackers who come to this country wearing nothing but T-shirts that looks like rags from our mamak stalls and very short, shorts. Some even looks unwashed for weeks. And yet we welcome them with open arms and a very big smile. It is not like they have committed high treason wearing short pants. It is just how they dress themselves as they backpack to this part of the world and there is nothing wrong with it.

angkorwat dress code

(No doubt there must be some sense of protocols and dress code in place when one visits Government departments for official business, temples and even one’s home even in other countries. One cannot be wearing their sleeping dress or be half naked when they are there on official businesses or when they are on holy grounds. Image source: http://www.happinessplunge.com)

In the 1980s when me and group of friends from my neighborhood decided to attend the Open House at Istana Negara, our parents made sure that we are dressed well and wore proper shoes (we wore our finest on that day). And I also remember whilst we were waiting in the long queue to see the King, a policeman stopped a man in front and informed that he could not meet the King as he was wearing a sandal seemed extreme but even back then, we understood that there was minimal adherence to protocols.

And couple years ago when we are at resort’s swimming pool, the life guard on duty barred couple of guests from entering the swimming pool because they did not have their swimming attires on (they only had t-shirts and short pants). There is places when one cannot simply walk in wearing just any clothes.

But whilst one can understand the minimal need for protocols, it does not make any sense to impose the same for a visitor who is visiting a patient or a passenger looking for a lost luggage. And even if one goes by the arguments of the Perak Mufti that the non-Muslims must show respect to the Muslims by dressing properly, one must remember that:-

1. Respect is a mutual thing – it cannot be forced upon by rules and regulations. And respect should not be limited to just wearing the right clothes. There are many other aspect of respect that can be done without the need to force another to wear a different clothes

2. Wearing shorts or skirts that shows the knee is nothing new in this multi racial country. Even our police used to be in khaki shorts many years ago (still remember?). And I even saw a number of Muslims wearing short pants when they were at a local hypermarket after they had opened fast couple days ago. Even at night, it was terribly warm. Why now it had become a big issue? Why a show of knees can shake up one’s faith on God? If someone gets all too excited by seeing the knees, then something is not right with that person.

3. And we are not expected to “cover up” from head to toe in this hot, humid environment. There must be a reason why people in the Middle East historically cover themselves up in the first place (and it had nothing to do with religion) but please don’t expect us to be idiots and cover up under the Malaysian weather and end up with foul stinky sweat and smell at the end of the day.

4. And more importantly, there are more pressing issues facing the individuals, society and the country than what one wears to a Government office. Someone who just wears sandals, shorts and t-shirts but hard-working, earns his money from legal means and is good to his family, friends and neighbors is thousand time better than someone who may wear that seems to be conforming to one’s faith but living off from dubious means of income, spread lies, hatred and confusion.

Petrol price just went up and recent survey shows that all not well with the implementation of GST and the Government is stuck with scandals – one after another and the implications on the country’s economy is dreadful especially after what we saw happened with Greece. Are we becoming the next Greece in this part of the world – the question may not be if but when? And yet, some people hardly moved by the fact that MARA overpaid RM66 million more for some property in Australia and sees no wrong done on this. No one had even offered to tender their resignation on this.

And if these silly trends are left unchecked, don’t be surprised if one day, these same people who is very very much afraid of short pants and low skirts places a menacing guard at the entrance to check the color of your underwear and if it is not to their color of liking (or brand), you are forced to go back and change them before you are allowed in to do your official business.