Paulsen, Arulchelvan cleared of sedition charges

KUALA LUMPUR — The prosecution yesterday withdrew its two sedition cases against Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) politician S. Arulchelvan and human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen.

Judge Edwin Paramjothy Michael Muniandy made the order after Deputy Public Prosecutor Norinna Bahadun informed the court that the prosecution would like to withdraw the charges against the two.

Arul was charged on Nov 23, 2015 with sedition over his Feb 10 statement calling the Federal Court’s decision to uphold Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction in his second sodomy case a “political judgement”.

The charge, under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act, provides for a maximum fine of RM5,000 or a maximum jail term of three years, or both, for
first-time offenders.

Arul had also claimed trial to an alternative charge under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for allegedly posting a statement on Facebook with the intention to injure the feelings of others.

The offence is punishable with a maximum fine of RM50,000 or a maximum one-year jail term or both.

Paulsen was charged on Feb 5, 2015 under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act over a tweet accusing the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) of promoting extremism.

Lawyers New Sin Yew represented Arul and Latheefa Koya represented Paulsen respectively.

Paulsen told reporters later there was no reason for the government to retain the colonial-era Sedition Act 1948.

“It is Malaysia Baru, but the Sedition Act we all have is 1948, that is a pre-Merdeka, colonial law that was used against independence fighters in Malaya and Singapore, so there’s no reason for this cruel law to be continued today,” he said.

He noted the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition’s promised in its manifesto to abolish the law.

However, he said no investigations should be carried out now as it would go against government policy to scrap the law as promised, adding that all sedition cases in court should be dropped.

He said a Bill to repeal the Sedition Act should be tabled in Parliament.

Latheefa said there were other pending sedition cases in court and urged the federal government to keep its promise of abolishing the Sedition Act.

“This is not going to end so fast, while we are definitely happy that there’s progress, but it’s not enough,” she said.

“This is about freedom of expression and freedom of speech and we will continue. If we can speak out during BN’s time, we don’t see why we should stop now.”

Paulsen said: “I hope the government and people in power right now listen because I don’t think people will wait for another 60 years this time around.”

Arul thanked his lawyer who provided his services for free, noting that New had to forego his Chinese New Year reunion dinner when Arul was called in for investigations in February 2015.

Arul also urged for the Sedition Act to be abolished and for a moratorium on investigations under the British-era law, telling reporters: “It needs to be repealed, no more investigations under the sedition law.”

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Prosecution drops appeal against dance coach

KUALA LUMPUR — Dance producer Bilqis Hijjas, who released yellow balloons at an event attended by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, remains free after the prosecution dropped its appeal against her second aquittal.

Bilqis, 39, said she was happy to be free this Merdeka month and “extremely relieved” she no longer faced the criminal charge of “insulting behaviour”, noting that it had been a “long journey.”

“It was three years ago in this same Merdeka month when it [said offence] took place,” she told reporters outside the High Court here yesterday.

“I’m extremely happy to be free of this in Merdeka month and hoping for the same for other people who have other charges still being levelled against them,” she said immediately after the prosecution dropped an appeal against her second acquittal.

Bilqis was accused of dropping yellow balloons with the words “Free media,” “Democracy” and “Justice”, on Aug 31, 2015 at the Pavilion mall in Bukit Bintang while Najib and his wife Datin Rosmah Mansor were attending the opening ceremony of the Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival.

She was charged under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955 for behaving in an insulting manner with the purpose of stirring anger, which would likely cause a disturbance.

The offence carries a fine of not more than RM100 upon conviction.

The charge did not specify who was allegedly insulted.

Lawyer Eric Paulsen, said a letter was written to urge the Attorney-General to drop its appeal against Bilqis’ second acquittal as it was a “frivolous” matter that involved a peaceful expression of speech.

“It seems very petty because she has been acquitted twice and it was appealed yet again, so I think it doesn’t bode well for the prosecution because you seem to be quite vindictive in nature,” he told reporters.

Deputy public prosecutor Nur Hafizah Rajuni confirmed the A-G’s Chambers accepted the letter of representation from Bilqis.

Paulsen also said credit should be given to Bilqis for choosing as a “matter of principle” to continue going to the courts for the past three years to challenge her prosecution, despite it being a minor criminal offence.

“It was a frivolous case to begin with. Bilqis was only defending her right to freedom of expression, freedom of speech, but as you know, things that are political in nature in Malaysia under the old administration are often exaggerated,” he said.

“I hope this is no longer the case in Malaysia Baru. It’s a very good start and we hope all politically-motivated cases will be withdrawn, and there will be no further investigation for cases like those under the Peaceful Assembly Act and the Sedition Act.”

Bilqis said Malaysians must continue to hold the government accountable even after the change in power.

“In our new government, obviously we have great hopes for our future and great hopes for change,” she said.

“But as always, as citizens, we have a responsibility to hold our government to account and to ensure that they work for us. And that is our responsibility and we need to continue to uphold that.”

When asked if she had any more yellow balloons, Bilqis, who has been dubbed the “balloon girl”, quipped that she could get more if required.

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Top cop says transfer career progression

PORT KLANG — Commissioner Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abdullah said his transfer from the Federal Internal Security and Public Order Department to the National Anti-Drugs Agency will allow him improve his career.

Zulkifli added that he will officially step down as director of the department and become the director-general of AADK on Monday.

“I’m excited and in fact this role, which I’m assigned to head, is a big step for me as I see this as an important role to combat drug abuse,” he told reporters after visiting the marine police headquarters.

Malay Mail reported news of Zulkifli’s transfer on Tuesday night, confirming speculation that he will be moved out from the police department.

Zulkifli told reporters that he only received his letter of transfer to the agency yesterday morning.

He refused to elaborate on the reason for his transfer, however, saying he will hold a press conference when he assumes his new position on Monday.

A source had told Malay Mail that the directive came straight from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

According to an internal letter sighted by Malay Mail, Zulkifli will assume the position of director-general of the agency while maintaining his grade A, commissioner rank together with his pay. The agency is under the Home Ministry.

The internal letter was written by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa to Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun on Tuesday.

The letter also states that Zulkifli’s position will be reviewed should his performance at the agency be deemed unsatisfactory.

Zulkifli’s transfer has been speculated for the past few weeks.

According to sources, the senior policeman had been told about the transfer two weeks prior to the official letter from chief secretary to the government yesterday.

Jong-nam murder suspect Siti was tricked, says mum

KUALA LUMPUR — The Indonesian girl charged with killing North Korea’s Kim Jong-nam had always dreamt of becoming a television star, according to her mother Benah.

In their last meeting in January last year, Benah said Siti Aisyah told her an opportunity had finally presented itself, when she was purportedly offered a role as an actress in a prank show.

“I asked her to make sure it was halal (permissible in Islam), and she said ‘Of course mum, it is halal’.

“Finally she was on TV. But not how I expected,” Benah said in an interview with British daily The Guardian.

Last year, Siti, 26, and a Vietnamese woman, Doan Thi Huong, 30, were charged with murdering Kim by smearing a lethal VX nerve agent over his face at KLIA2 on Feb 13.

Following her arrest, Siti quickly became the talk of the small village of Rancasumur in the Banten province, where she originally hails from.

Horrified by the “surreal” news, Benah admitted that she would pretend not to know her daughter when the subject arose in random conversation with the locals.

With the High Court here due to make a ruling to decide whether the duo should enter their defence today, Benah still believes that her daughter is innocent.

She said Siti, through regular phone calls from prison, maintained that they were tricked into believing they were taking part in a prank show.

Benah said, “She told me: ‘Mum this whole thing is a set up, I was tricked’.”

She said that her daughter seemed to be coping with the stress but felt sorry for Doan, who rarely gets visitors in prison.

Benah added that Siti’s calls are capped at five minutes — barely enough time for her to hear the full story of how her daughter became embroiled in the Kim saga.

After Siti was arrested, the Foreign Ministry helped arrange a passport, but Benah says going to Kuala Lumpur is a daunting idea as neither her nor husband Asria has left the country before.

“I don’t think I could go there (to Kuala Lumpur) alone, I know nothing about the streets or where to go. Where would I sleep and eat?”

“I’m from the village so the city is a culture shock for me,” she reportedly said.

Benah said she can only pray for her daughter’s release from afar, adding that they would do all sorts of activities together, like cooking and reciting the al-Quran, when Siti comes home.

“I believe she will be freed because she is not guilty. She never intended to kill anyone. She is my daughter and I believe her,” she said.

The duo had pleaded not guilty to the charge under Section 302 of the Penal Code, which provides for the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.

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Kiwi fined for trying to open door mid-flight

SEPANG — A New Zealand restaurant manager was fined RM6,000, in default 12 months’ jail, by the Magistrate’s Court yesterday for attempting to open the door of a Malaysia Airlines (MAS) aircraft during a flight from New Zealand to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) last Sunday.

Magistrate Mohamad Izwan Mohamed Noh fined Cranwell Frazer Harry, 32, who was clad in the orange prison uniform, after he pleaded guilty to the charge.

Before handing down the sentence​​​​​​​, the magistrate warned Harry, who is from Auckland, New Zealand, to not repeat his action, which was a serious offence and could endanger the lives of other passengers and crew onboard.

Harry, who was in the dock and with tears rolling down his cheeks, nodded and said, “I promise Sir.”

He was charged with endangering an aircraft and the lives of those onboard by attempting to open the emergency door of flight MH0130 on its journey from Auckland to KLIA at 11pm on Aug 12.

The charge was made under Regulation 97 of the Civil Aviation Regulations 2016, which provides a fine of up to RM50,000 or three years’ imprisonment, or both, upon conviction.

According to the facts of the case, an air stewardess on a flight from New Zealand to Vietnam, with a transit at KLIA, saw Harry holding the handle of the emergency door of the aircraft and attempting to open it.

He was believed to have been under the influence of alcohol, having consumed beer and a glass of liquor during the flight.

The stewardess then asked Harry to move to another seat and informed the chief stewardess and the captain of the incident.

In mitigation, lawyer ​​​​​​​Zaflee Pakwanteh, representing Harry, said his client was on the way to Vietnam for a holiday with friends and he regretted his action and apologised for it.

The two days spent in the police lockup had taught him a lesson, said the lawyer.

Deputy public prosecutor ​​​​​​​Aziatul Afrizan Alias prosecuted. — Bernama

Granting blue ICs won’t fix statelessness, says group

KUALA LUMPUR — Thousands more undocumented people will be marginalised by the government’s decision to grant citizenship to permanent residents over 60, an NGO, Lawyers for Liberty said.

Its director N. Surendran lauded Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s announcement on the matter yesterday, but said the proposal would only benefit a small section of those unable to obtain Malaysian citizenship

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister said the government will make holders of red MyKad over the age of 60 full citizens so long as they had applied for this, directly addressing the woes of 3,407 ethnic Indian applicants.

Surendran argued the group was only the tip of the iceberg from a problem that predates the current government.

“They do not comprise the total number of Indians over 60 who hold red ICs. The actual number of red IC holders over 60 must be known to the Home Ministry, but that figure is not in the public domain.

“In short, the granting of blue ICs to these persons will not resolve the statelessness of thousands of others who are not among the 3,407 applicants,” he said.

The former Padang Serai MP also questioned the value of Dr Mahathir’s corollary announcement that applicants under 60, born in Malaysia to at least one Malaysian parent would also be granted citizenships.

He said these were subject to the requirement of having resided in Malaysia for 10 out of 12 years and being conversant in Bahasa Malaysia, which was no different than the criteria applied to ordinary applicants for citizenships as laid out in the Federal Constitution.

Dismissing the second announcement as “irrelevant”, the lawyer claimed most stateless people here already fulfilled such requirements but were still unsuccessful in their citizenship applications due to inadequate birth and marriage documentation.

“To resolve the problem, the policies, operating procedures and methodologies of the Home Ministry and the NRD must be thoroughly reviewed and restructured by the new PH government.

“It is the inflexible and unnecessary demands for non-existent documents, evidence and witnesses insisted upon by the Home Ministry and NRD that is responsible for both creating and perpetuating the problem of statelessness in Malaysia,” Surendran said.

He asserted the problem was intentionally created by the NRD acting on alleged direction from the Barisan Nasional previously.

He urged the government via Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to introduce lasting and comprehensive measures to permanently resolve the issue, saying Malaysia’s problem with statelessness would not be addressed otherwise.

Ministry yet to discuss anti-LGBT doctor

KOTA BARU — The Health Ministry has yet to discuss whether action will be taken against a medical officer who penned an open letter on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues.

Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said Dr Nur Ilyani Mohamed Nawawi, who reported for duty as usual at the Raja Perempuan Zainab Hospital II, had stated that her letter regarding LGBT issue was her personal opinion.

“I will take this into consideration and I can’t do anything about it yet because there is no discussion held on the matter,” he told reporters after launching the Integrative Medicine Seminar at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Kubang Kerian yesterday.

An open letter written by Dr Nur Ilyani addressed to social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir on LGBT issues, posted on her Facebook account on Aug 6 has since gone viral.

Following her open letter, she was alleged to have been referred to the Public Complaints Bureau by a group that called for punitive action against the doctor by her employer, the Health Ministry.

In another development, Dzulkefly said his ministry would expand the traditional and complementary medicine services, including traditional massage, acupuncture, shirodhara, and herbal treatment, to primary healthcare following positive acceptance and high demand from the public.
— Bernama

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Mother of nine charged with negligence

IPOH — A 46-year-old babysitter was charged at the Sessions Court with negligence that led to physical injuries of a three-month-old boy in her care.

Ros Azlina Mohd Ismail, who claimed trial, was accused of injuring Muhammad Zaheen Affan Mohamad Zulkarnain at 28, Persiaran Iskandar Perdana 9, Seksyen 2 in Seri Iskandar at about 11.30am on Aug 8.

The mother of nine was charged under Section 31(1) (a) of the Child Act 2001 which carries a maximum fine of RM50,000 or jail up to 20 years or both upon conviction.

Judge Datuk Julie Lack fixed bail at RM10,000 with one surety and set Sept 18 for mention and to allow the accused
appoint a lawyer.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Naidatul Athirah Azman prosecuted.

It was reported that the infant suffered a broken right arm after it had been twisted.

The infant’s father was contacted by the accused who informed him that his son was crying non-stop.

‘I never interfered with Umno administration’

KUALA LUMPUR — Datuk Seri Najib Razak denied interfering with Umno since stepping down as party president, saying its new leader has full authority over the direction of the party.

“Since I left as president I have not interfered in the administration of Umno, Zahid is very free to decide,” he said referring to party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

“I am backing him as president giving full cooperation but I am entitled to defend my policies and to clear the misconceptions and some of the manipulation of facts and figures.

“I think to be fair, self-defence is a right given to any individual and citizen that’s why I’m exercising my rights to explain,” he said.

This comes after former tourism minister and Umno former supreme council member Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz suggested that Najib distance himself from the party.

Nazri had said this would allow Zahid to lead Umno as party president freely and without interference.

Najib also defended his statements aimed at the government, saying it was still his duty to do so as an elected member of Parliament.

“I’m a member of Parliament and I will speak in Parliament because that’s my duty; I’ve been voted in by the people,” he said.

Najib said among the misconceptions he felt needed defence was the real figure of the national debt, of which he refuted the RM1 trillion figure mentioned by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“For example, the national debt needs to be explained; it’s not RM1 trillion, it was RM686 million when I left.

“The so-called RM19 billion missing; I believe it’s not missing and I’d like the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) to do a full investigation and come up with a report as soon as possible,” he added.

He then compared the current situation to Dr Mahathir’s first spell as Prime Minister, saying he never questioned his leaders’ decision and trusted their judgements.

“In the era of Dr Mahathir, when he quit we never questioned the things he had done even though there are things that we don’t agree.

“But now, they want to find our faults so my responsibility is to defend myself.

“As far as the Umno administration is concerned they are free to do as they deem fit and I will support the decisions of the new leadership,” he added.

Khairy: Give Zahid room to forge vision

KUALA LUMPUR — Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin agreed with fellow Umno member Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz Abdullah that the party’s new leadership must be allowed to shape the direction of the party.

While demurring from Nazri’s suggestion that Umno distance itself from former president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Khairy concurred that Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi should be given adequate freedom to lead Umno.

“I agree the new president be given the space to set a new direction for the party.

“That is why the former president and the presidential candidates should also give space to the new leader to lead,” he said.

Nazri had said on Tuesday that Najib should keep some distance from the party to provide for a smooth transition to the new leadership.

Khairy also confirmed he had since resigned as the Commander of the 508th Regiment of the Volunteer Corps.

He said he given the letter of resignation to remove him of his credentials to the Corps’ deputy chief Maj Gen Datuk Zainal Abidin M Said.

“I met with the chief and handed over my resignation today at the Ministry of Defence.

“My presence was no longer welcomed, so I feel it’s better I retreat from the position,” he said when asked to cite reasons for tendering his resignation.

Khairy initially made the announcement of his resignation over his Twitter account yesterday.

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