Pencerahan Kaitan Rapat

Artikel ini bertujuan membalas kepada artikel oleh Menara.my yang bertajuk, “Kristian Di Malaysia Bersimpati Dengan Negara Haram Israel?” [1] Saya sebenarnya berpeluang menghadiri dialog tersebut dan telah menulis sebuah artikel mengenainya. [2]

Pertama sekali, tajuk artikel Menara.my ini memberikan tanggapan bahawa semua umat Kristian di Malaysia bersimpati terhadap Israel, namun dalam perenggan pertama, penulis artikel tersebut dengan tepat melaporkan bahawa apa yang dikatakan oleh Rev Hwa Yung adalah, secara umumnya orang-orang Kristian di Malaysia sememangnya bersimpati dengan Israel, atas sebab “our two faith are so closely linked” (kedua-dua agama kami begitu berkait rapat).

Adakah penulis artikel tersebut ataupun editornya menggunakan tajuk yang bersensasi (“sensational) untuk mislead mereka yang hanya membaca tajuk artikel tanpa pedulikan isi kandungannya?

Selain itu, penulis artikel itu dengan tepat memerhati bahawa “… Rev Hwa Yung tidak pula memperincikan apakah yang dimaksudkan dengan “our two faith are so closely linked”?”. Kemungkinan besar Rev Hwa Yung tidak memperincikan apa yang dimaksudkannya, kerana topik dialog tersebut, iaitu ‘Deceitful? Distracting? Or Dedicated? Evangelicals And Current Controversies In Malaysia’, tidak pun secara langsung berkaitan dengan isu pandangan umat Kristian terhadap negara Israel.

Artikel ini akan memberikan beberapa sebab mengapakah negara Israel dan agama Yahudi berkait rapat dengan agama Kristian. Saya ingin menyatakan dengan jelas bahawa poin-poin yang akan saya bangkitkan tidak mewakili Rev Hwa Yung, tetapi merupakan pandangan saya, sebagai seorang umat Kristian. 

Pertamanya, terdapat persamaan dari segi teks suci dan nabi-nabi. Tanakh yang digunakan oleh penganut agama Yahudi di negara Israel sama dengan Perjanjian Lama (“Old Testament”) dalam Alkitab (“Bible”) agama Kristian, walaupun buku-buku dalam Tanakh dan Alkitab disusun sedikit berbeza. [3]

Nabi-nabi yang disebut dalam kedua-dua buku suci dipercayai penganut agama Kristian sebagai utusan yang dihantar oleh YHWH [4] kepada umat yang dipilihNya.

Di samping itu, umat yang dipilih YHWH dalam Perjanjian Lama merupakan umat Israel (“Israelites”). Ini jelas dilihat dalam ayat-ayat Alkitab yang berikut: [5]

a) Mazmur 105:8-10:

“8. Ia ingat untuk selama-lamanya akan perjanjian-Nya, firman yang diperintahkan-Nya kepada seribu angkatan,

9. yang diikat-Nya dengan Abraham, dan akan sumpah-Nya kepada Ishak;

10. diadakan-Nya hal itu menjadi ketetapan bagi Yakub, menjadi perjanjian kekal bagi Israel …” [6]

b) Yesaya 41:8:

Tetapi engkau, hai Israel, hamba-Ku, hai Yakub, yang telah Kupilih, keturunan Abraham, yang Kukasihi;” [7]

c) Jeremiah 31:1

“Pada waktu itu, demikianlah firman TUHAN, Aku akan menjadi Allah segala kaum keluarga Israel dan mereka akan menjadi umat-Ku.” [8]

Bukan sahaja itu malah terdapat ramalan (“prophecy”) dalam Alkitab bahawa Mesias (“Messiah”) merupakan seorang umat Israel. Mari kita mengambil contoh, Bilangan 24:17 menyatakan bahawa Mesias merupakan bintang terbit dari Yakub (“star coming out of Jacob”):

“Aku melihat dia, tetapi bukan sekarang; aku memandang dia, tetapi bukan dari dekat; bintang terbit dari Yakub, tongkat kerajaan timbul dari Israel, dan meremukkan pelipis-pelipis Moab, dan menghancurkan semua anak Set.” [9]

Mesias juga diramalkan sebagai keturunan Daud, dan ramalan ini menerima pemenuhan dalam Yesus Kristus. [10] 2 Samuel 7:12-13 menyatakan:

“12. Apabila umurmu sudah genap dan engkau telah mendapat perhentian bersama-sama dengan nenek moyangmu, maka Aku akan membangkitkan keturunanmu yang kemudian, anak kandungmu, dan Aku akan mengokohkan kerajaannya.

13. Dialah yang akan mendirikan rumah bagi nama-Ku dan Aku akan mengokohkan takhta kerajaannya untuk selama-lamanya.” [11]

Tambahan pula, Mesias dikatakan akan dilahirkan di Betlehem. Mikha 5:2:

“Tetapi engkau, hai Betlehem Efrata, hai yang terkecil di antara kaum-kaum Yehuda, dari padamu akan bangkit bagi-Ku seorang yang akan memerintah Israel, yang permulaannya sudah sejak purbakala, sejak dahulu kala.” [12]

Matius 2:1-6 [13] dan Yohanes 7:40-43 [14] dengan jelas mengindikasikan bahawa Yesus memenuhi ramalan ini.

Lanjutan daripada itu, Alkitab menceritakan bahawa YHWH masih ada rancangan untuk Israel. Dalam buku Roma, bab 11, ayat 1 dan 2, firman YHWH berkata,

“1. Maka aku bertanya: Adakah Allah mungkin telah menolak umat-Nya? Sekali-kali tidak! Karena aku sendiripun orang Israel, dari keturunan Abraham, dari suku Benyamin.

2. Allah tidak menolak umat-Nya yang dipilih-Nya …” [15]

Dalam bab yang sama, ayat 25 hingga 29 memberitahu kita bahawa,

“25. Sebab, saudara-saudara, supaya kamu jangan menganggap dirimu pandai, aku mau agar kamu mengetahui rahasia ini: Sebagian dari Israel telah menjadi tegar sampai jumlah yang penuh dari bangsa-bangsa lain telah masuk.

26. Dengan jalan demikian seluruh Israel akan diselamatkan, seperti ada tertulis: “Dari Sion akan datang Penebus, Ia akan menyingkirkan segala kefasikan dari pada Yakub.

27. Dan inilah perjanjian-Ku dengan mereka, apabila Aku menghapuskan dosa mereka.”

28. Mengenai Injil mereka adalah seteru Allah oleh karena kamu, tetapi mengenai pilihan mereka adalah kekasih Allah oleh karena nenek moyang.

29. Sebab Allah tidak menyesali kasih karunia dan panggilan-Nya.” [15]

Adalah diharapkan dengan artikel ini bahawa mereka yang bukan beragama Kristian dapat lebih memahami hubungan unik di antara negara Israel, agama Yahudi, dan agama Kristian. Walapun terbuktinya sebuah kaitan yang rapat, kita perlu mengingati kenyataan Rev Hwa Yung yang kebanyakan “orang-orang Kristian di Malaysia bukanlah Kristian Zionis.” Secara amnya, mereka hanya bersimpati dengan Israel kerana kaitan rapat yang telah diperincikan di atas.

[1] https://www.menara.my/kristian-di-malaysia-bersimpati-dengan-negara-haram-israel/

[2] https://rebuttedopinions.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/post-dialogue-reflections/

[3] https://simple.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/YHWH

[4] https://www.hsutx.edu/hsubb/learningobjects/overviewoftheoldtestament/attachments/Canons_of_the_Old_Testament.pdf)

[5] Lihat juga ayat-ayat seperti Ulangan 7:6-8 Ulangan 14:2, 2 Samuel 7:23-24, 1 Raja-raja 10:9
1 Tawarikh 17:20-21, Mazmur 135:4, dan Yesaya 44:21

[6] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=19&c=5

[7] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=23&c=41

[8] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=24&c=31

[9] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=4&c=24

[10] Lihat Matius 1:1, Lukas 1:32-33, dan Wahyu  22:16

[11] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=10&c=7

[12] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=mikha&c=5

[13] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=matius&c=2

[14] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=yohanes&c=7

[15] http://www.sabda.org/sabdaweb/bible/chapter/?b=Roma&c=11

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Post-Dialogue Reflections

I had the wonderful opportunity of attending a dialogue yesterday, entitled “Deceitful? Distracting? Or Dedicated? Evangelicals & Current Controversies”, which was organised by Kairos Dialogue Network (KDN) and the STM Centre for Religion and Society. [1]

First off, I have to say that I was greatly encouraged by the number of muslims who attended the dialogue, especially since the event was held on Wesley Methodist KL’s grounds, albeit in a multipurpose hall. There were also attendees from IKRAM (Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia), ABIM (Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia), and the CFM (Christian Federation of Malaysia).

Bishop Emeritus Dr Hwa Yung started off his presentation by briefly mentioning a few issues which have recently arisen, namely, accusations against YB Hannah Yeoh’s biography [2], the planned Jerusalem Jubilee event [3], the CEO of CENTHRA (Centre of Human Rights Research and Advocacy)
calling for evangelicalism to be outlawed in Malaysia [4], and YB Nik Abduh’s statement that Christians have infiltrated a major political party in the country to carry out their Christianisation agenda [5].

Dr Hwa Yung went on to say that such issues are based on a confusion of terms, a misrepresentation of who evangelicals are, and religion being highly politicised. He then explained the difference between evangelicals, evangelicalism, and evangelism, based on an article written by local Christian theologian, Dr Ng Kam Weng. [6]

The fact that the CEO of a think tank conflated such terms [7] are highly illustrative of why interfaith/interreligious dialogues are necessary! If the CEO of a think tank could make such a mistake, what more us ordinary folks?

Dr Mazlee, later in the dialogue, gave an example of Christians praying for the establishment of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, and how Muslims may be alarmed because they fail to understand what a Christian means when he/she says that. Understanding each other can most definitely, allay unnecessary fears and conflicts.

During his allotted time, Dr Mazlee Malik raised a good point, suggesting that one of the ways forward is by dialoguing, but more specifically, by engaging more mainline islamic groups such as ABIM, PERKIM (Pertubuhan Kebajikan Islam Malaysia), and MACMA (Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association). Or even figures like the Mufti of the Federal Territories and/or the Mufti of Perlis, both of whom represent the more mainstream Islam.

On top of Dr Mazlee’s suggestions, I would like to put forth certain propositions for the consideration of any party concerned in this matter.

Firstly, civil societies like Kairos Dialogue Network should go even further than what Dr Mazlee suggested, by engaging with groups like ISMA (Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia) which are perceived as more hard-line.

Its president, Dr Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman, has been under the spotlight in recent years due to a few controversial statements he has made [8] [9]. It would be good for him to be able to present his views on interfaith matters, free of any misrepresentation, and to be allowed defend them under scrutiny (either through the questions of fellow panellists or by way of questions from the audience).

Inviting speakers of differing views would also make the dialogues more productive. As much as I respect Dr Mazlee and his willingness to participate in these dialogues, his moderate views might result in the dialogues being an echo chamber or information cocoon of some sort.

Perhaps these dialogues could also be streamed live on platforms such as Facebook and/or Youtube. Although yesterday’s dialogue was recorded, a live stream would allow the entire discussion to be shared on social media, hence raising awareness about the existence of such events. People who could not attend the dialogue due to a plethora of reasons would be able to have access to the content of what was discussed, in the event there is a livestream.

Besides that, the moderator, Rev Dr Sivin Kit mentioned before the start of the Q&A sessions that the organisers are aware of suggestions that the dialogues should be conducted in the national language and be held elsewhere. It is my sincere hope that the organisers can implement these recommendations in the future. Having these dialogues in the national language would allow the information discussed to be heard and .understood by a greater majority of Malaysians.

Furthermore, if muslim groups are open to this idea, future dialogues could/should be held on mosque grounds (not necessarily at the area where prayers are conducted if that would be inappropriate). Understandably, not all Muslims are comfortable entering church grounds. Thus, having it on mosque grounds would it much easier for Muslims to participate in these dialogues.

It cannot be stressed how important interfaith dialogues are, especially in our multireligious society. Efforts by organisations such as KDN should be applauded. Ordinary Malaysians should make time to attend these events as it would allow them to have their misconceptions corrected, and to allow them to ask any pressing questions they may have been dealing with.

[1] http://bit.ly/2sY8Hxr

[2] https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/3574/

[3] https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/06/246100/home-minister-bans-jerusalem-jubilee-gathering-malaysia; see also Christ Church bishop Jason Selvaraj’s criticism of the planned event ( https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/06/246008/christian-leader-questions-insensitive-jerusalem-jubilee-celebration)

[4] https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/5196/

[5] https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/5405/

[6] http://www.krisispraxis.com/archives/2017/06/evangelical-essentials-correcting-ill-informed-muslim-activists-and-fitnah-against-christians

[7] https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/5196/; see also Joshua Woo Sze Zeng’s article addressing the history of evangelicalism (http://m.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/three-things-about-evangelicalism-malaysians-should-know-joshua-woo-sze-zen/)

[8] http://m.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/in-work-paper-isma-claims-multiple-global-conspiracies-to-wipe-out-malays/

[9] http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2014/01/13/isma-islam-under-threat/

*This article was featured in Free Malaysia Today

Proposal to have two rounds of voting

What do I mean by having two rounds of voting? I will explain by way of example.

Let us say there is a four-way fight in a particular constituency. There is a Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate, a Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate,  a PAS candidate, and an independent candidate.

After the first round of voting, let us assume that the BN candidate received 40% of the votes, while the PH candidate got 30%, the PAS candidate got 25%, and the independent candidate got 5%.

The two candidates with the most votes will then be shortlisted, the constituents will re-vote and based on my example, choose either the BN or PH candidate. At the end of the second round of voting, theoretically, either the BN or PH candidate should have a majority of the votes (barring any intentional spoilt votes as a form of boycotting the two shortlisted candidates).

This will encourage more people to stand for election (as is their democratic right) and yet reduce the current problem where the introduction of more candidates result in the splitting of Opposition votes.

Straight fights (one-on-one) based on merit will also be promoted. The best Opposition candidate (number of votes wise) – in my example being the PH candidate – will face off against the BN candidate.

Undeniably, getting the people to re-vote would mean extending polling day to at least two days (the first day for the first round of voting, tabulation of votes, and shortlisting of candidates for round two) which will lead to the spending of more taxpayer’s money. But isn’t the aim of electing an individual with a majority backing worth the cost involved?

Personally I am opposed to having a Member of Parliament/State Assemblyperson having won a seat by virtue of having the most votes AMONGST the candidates (assuming the most votes amounts to less than a majority of the votes). Such elected individuals can’t honestly say that they have the mandate of the people as they don’t necessarily have the majority of the voters in a particular constituency on their side.

An exceptions to the second round of voting could be made where a candidate has obtained at least 50.1% of the votes after the first round. In such an instance, it would be unnecessary to get the people to vote again as the aim of electing an individual with the majority of the votes has been achieved.

I acknowledge that this rough idea requires much fine tuning before it becomes a viable option. But isn’t the idea worth considering?

*This article was featured in The Malaysian Times

Unilateral Child Conversions

Mr K J John wrote an excellent piece on the Indira Gandhi case and his article inspired me to offer a legal perspective on the controversial issue of unilateral child conversions

So what does the supreme law of our land say about the religion of a child and how it is determined? Article 12(3) of the Federal Constitution expressly provides that “no person shall be required to take part in any ceremony or act of worship of a religion other than his own

The Constitution then goes on to say that for the purposes of Article 12(3), the religion of persons below the age of eighteen years shall be decided by his parent or guardian [Article 12(4)]

In reading Clause (3) in light of Clause (4), this is the long and short of it:

a) The religion of a child (i.e. a person below eighteen years old) will be determined by his/her parent or guardian [note the use of the nouns in a singular form]

b) Once the parent or guardian has determined the child’s religion, the child will have the right not to be forced to take part in any ceremony or act of worship of another religion

Upon literal inspection of the aforementioned provisions, one may come to the conclusion that the Federal Constitution permits unilateral conversion of a child’s religion

However, statutes are not only to be interpreted literally as the “English language is not an instrument of mathematical precision” (as per Lord Denning in Seaford Court Estates Ltd v Asher)

Judges have a broad arsenal of rules of construction to choose from. A particular provision can be interpreted using the golden rule, the mischief rule, the purposive approach, etc

The golden rule allows a judge to depart from the ordinary meaning of a word and modify it if adhering to the literal sense of a word would lead to a “manifest absurdity or repugnance” (Lord Wensleydale in Becke v Smith)

A practical application of the golden rule could involve construing that although the singular noun “parent” was used, it should actually mean both the parents of a child (the manifest absurdity or repugnance being the ability of one parent to unilaterally convert his/her child/children)

The purposive approach would involve the Judiciary looking at the intention of the Legislature for enacting the particular provision and for using particular word(s) before determining how the provision/word should be interpreted

In respect of the Federal Constitution, the Reid Commission’s 1957 report as well as the transcript of the debates of the Federal Legislative Council (the predecessors of the Malaysian Parliament who were responsible for the debate and passing of the Federal Constitition) are documents of extreme importance in ascertaining the Legislature’s intentions

Simply put, if our Malaysian judges were bold enough to render the single noun “parent” to include both parents, they would be able to circumvent the entire issue of unilateral child conversions

If a child cannot be converted by only one parent, the conversion of Indira Gandhi’s children (and the many other children unilaterally converted) would be void ab initio (i.e. from the beginning), thus there would not be the quandary of whether the Syariah court or Civil court has jurisdiction over the matter

However, in all honesty, if the judges did so, some groups (legal experts included) might render their actions as too extreme

The panacea would be for Parliament to amend the Federal Constitution to limit child conversions to both parents (save in exceptional circumstances, e.g. one of the parents absconded, one of the parents is dead)

In 2009, the Cabinet decided that in the event of any dispute, a child must be raised in the faith professed by both parents at the time of marriage (hence impliedly denouncing unilateral child conversions)

However, the Executive branch’s reassurance is good-for-nothing, as the fact of the matter is, the Federal Constitution, when applied literally, appears to provide for unilateral child conversions

So instead of dishing out false assurances, the Executive (who also has the majority of seats in the Legislature), should push for Article 12(4) to be ammended in light of their 2009 Cabinet decision (if indeed it is still their stance today)

*This article also appeared in Free Malaysia Today, The Malaysian Insider, Malaysiakini

Self Defence & Mohamad Zulkifli

It appears that Malaysians are up in arms about the fact that Mohamad Zulkifli Ismail, who allegedly stabbed two men who were trying to rob him at his house, was charged under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder and under Section 326 of the Penal Code for causing grevious bodily harm.

What many do not know is that what happened to Mohamad Zulkifli is quite normative. In most cases where prima facie, there appears to be legal defences available, the defences are pleaded by the defendant whilst he/she is on trial (the exception being where there are no criminal proceedings initiated as the Attorney General exercised his discretionary power to not institute prosecution)

For the sake of parallelism, the common law defence of automatism will be examined. This defence is pleaded when the wrongful act was done “by the muscles without any control by the mind” (as per Lord Denning in Bratty v A-G of Northern Ireland)

The defendant’s lack of physical control over his/her conduct renders the conduct involuntary and “no act is punishable if it is done involuntarily” (Lord Denning in Bratty v A-G of Northern Ireland)

Thus, even in a situation where automatism appears to be a part of the facts of the case, generally, the defendant will still be charged with an offence, plead not guilty, proceed to trial, and then attempt to prove the defence

As for the defence of self defence, the statutory provisions governing it can be found in Sections 96-106 of the Penal Code. The ones relevant to Mohamad Zulkifli will be delved into below

Section 96 of the Penal Code

“Nothing is an offence which is done in the exercise of the right of private defence”

The provision would clearly absolve Mohamad Zulkifli of liability if it can be proven that he was merely exercising his right of private defence

However, the Inspector General of Police was right to say that “it is not an absolute right to kill someone who tries to rob us”

The right to private defence is very much subject to other provisions, of which we will consider accordingly

Section 97 of the Penal Code

“Every person has the right, subject to the restrictions contained in section 99, to defend – … the property … against any act which is an offence falling under the definition of … robbery …”

Based on the minimal facts we are aware of, it is apparent that section 97 would further support Mohamad Zulkifili’s case as he was protecting his house in Kampung Labohan, in Kerteh, Terengganu, from two robbers

Section 103 of the Penal Code

“The right of private defence of property extends, under the restrictions mentioned in section 99, to the voluntary causing of death or of any other harm to the wrong-doer, if the offence … occasions the exercise of the right, be an offence of … robbery …”

Section 103 is merely an extension of Section 97. In Mohamad Zulkifli’s case, his exercise of his right of private defence lead to the voluntary causing of death of the two robbers, hence, it is submitted that section 103 is the more appropriate provision to be relied upon

Section 99 of the Penal Code

This section lists out acts against which there is no right of private defence. The fourth act is the only one which bears any potential relevance to the facts of Mohamad Zulkfili’s case

“The right of private defence in no case extends to the inflicting of more harm than it is necessary to inflict for the purpose of defence”

This is basically an issue of proportionality. Was Mohamad Zulkifli’s exercise of his right of private defence proportional to the need to defend his property from the two robbers?

A-G’s Reference (No.2 of 1983) established that the degree of force deemed reasonable varies according to the nature and degree of the threat. Regrettably, the question cannot be answered conclusively due to the lack of facts available at the time of writing

However, as a matter of principle, if the answer to the question of proportionality is in the negative, it would mean that Mohamad Zulkifli would have no right of private defence

The people need to let the law take its due course. However, the people also need to keep an eye out on how Mohamad Zulkifli’s case progresses and it is hoped that the continuous public attention associated to the case will prevent there being a miscarriage of justice

*This article was featured in Malaysiakini, The Malaysian Insider, The Rakyat Post, Malaysia Today

Penal Code Pun Boleh!

This article is in response to the recent protest outside a church in Taman Medan, Selangor

The Inspector General of Police’s brother (who was present at the protest), was quoted as saying that “the residents [of Taman Medan] just panicked after seeing the cross. They were uncomfortable and sensitive.”

“Some of them complained that the first thing they saw when they opened their windows was the cross.”

As a result of their “uncomfortableness”, a group of about 50 people decided to protest in front of the church, demanding that its leaders “remove the cross symbol on the outside of its shop lot premises”

It was then reported that the cross was taken down by church leaders a few hours after the protest

The ever impartial Inspector General of Police remarked that the protest was not seditious as “it did not touch on Christianity but only on the location of the church”

Is the whole issue truly on the location of the church as claimed by the IGP, or was it about the cross “affixed to the house of worship”?

It is widely reported that the protest was to get the church to remove the cross which was allegedly “challenging Islam” as well as “could sway the faith of the youth”

Clearly the issue is not about the location of the church, but about the presence of the cross. So, is the IGP trying to justify the unjustifiable? Or was he misinformed of the purpose of the entire protest?

The entire incident can easily be construed to fall under the ambit of Section 3(1)(a) of the Sedition Act 1948. The particular provision defines a seditious tendency as a tendency to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Malaysia

Any reasonable person would be able to come to the conclusion that the entire protest AT LEAST had the tendency (a very low standard) to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between the Muslims and the Christians

However, one need not rely on the Sedition Act as the Penal Code, specifically section 298A(1) makes it an offence if an action

(a) causes/attempts to cause/is likely to cause disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will, or

(b) prejudices/attempts to prejudice/is likely to prejudice the maintenance of harmony or unity

on grounds of religion

It is hard to see how our present facts does not satisfy the wordings of the above section. Similar to the Sedition Act, “likely to cause” and “likely to prejudice” imposes a very low standard to be satisfied

So dear IGP, you need not trouble yourself and even consider the controversial Sedition Act. You have the Penal Code at your disposal!

Whether or not the protesters should be charged in a court of law, is a task for the Attorney General. Whether it actually amounts to an offence, is for the Judiciary to decide. Considering the public interest in this case, it at least warrants an investigation on the part of the police force

*This article appeared in The Malaysian Insider, The Malay Mail Online and Free Malaysia Today

Developing A Litigation Culture

Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, through his lawyers has issued a letter of demand to PKR’s Rafizi Ramli and DAP’s Tony Pua over a few things the outspoken duo have said in recent times 

Our premier wants Tony Pua to publish a retraction and apologise within 14 days in two national newspapers, or face legal action for his speech recorded in the November 3 video: “Tony Pua: Najib is creating the biggest scandal ever in the history of Malaysia

Failure by Rafizi and/or Tony Pua to act as per the letter of demand would most definitely result in legal action being initiated against them

Some netizens take this as a sign of cowardice on the part of Najib because it comes across as an act to scare off his detractors. I, however, think it is a good thing that Najib wants the courts to adjudicate what has been said by the two Pakatan Rakyat leaders regarding the reduction of fuel subsidies and the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) respectively

I say so because if the issue reaches the courts, evidence will be have to be submitted by both parties. Through that and the court’s ruling, the people can ascertain objectively who is actually correct/telling the truth.

Does the money saved from the reduction of petrol subsidies go into Najib or Rosmah’s pocket? We will most assuredly find out. Regarding 1MDB, is there any hanky-panky use of the people’s money? We will undoubtedly find out

If Mrs Donoghue did not sue the manufacturing company of the ginger beer after finding a decomposed snail in her drink we would not have the landmark case of Donoghue v Stevenson

In that case, Lord Atkin established the all important ‘neighbour principle’ and it revolutionised the tort of negligence as we know it today.

This shows us that case law is an important contributor to the development of the law as it ensures that the law stays relevant in light of changing social, economic and cultural conditions

Moving on, the freedom of speech does not include the right to defame a person. Therefore, if Rafizi has no evidence to support his claim that Najib or Rosmah would directly/indirectly benefit monetary wise from the reduction of fuel subsidies, he should be liable for defamation

In Tony Pua’s case, he gave some immensely mind boggling statistics. However, if he does not have any solid admissible evidence to back his allegations about 1MDB, he would have to fork out a lot of money to compensate Najib for the “tremendous stress and embarrassment” caused

If Najib wins his lawsuit(s) against Rafizi and/or Tony Pua, the enormous amount of damages usually awarded in defamation cases should act as a precedent to teach our leaders to speak only when they have proof to attest to their claim.

If our public figures do not learn that lesson, we’d have more and more Mashitah cases whereby the irresponsible person speaks unsubstantiatedly and then gets whacked left, right and centre (metaphorically) by the public

In conclusion, while Dr Mahathir is of the opinion that taking legal action for political slander is useless, i beg to differ for the aforementioned reasons. The way I see it, litigation over controversial issues would be beneficial for the common folk who ardently follow our nation’s politics. Developing a litigation culture is good to a certain extent

*Check this awesome article out at The Malaysian Insider, The Malay Mail Online, and Free Malaysia Today