‘Baby-selling doctors are criminals’

PETALING JAYA — Doctors admitting to selling babies and procuring falsified documents have committed criminal acts in addition to breaching their ethical commitments, said former Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan.

“It is unbelievable that these doctors would take such risks and put their careers and practices in jeopardy by engaging in fraudulent and criminal activities,” he said.

“They should be investigated and if the allegations are indeed true, these doctors must have their licences revoked and struck off the register.”

An Al Jazeera report yesterday revealed widespread trafficking of babies in the country through syndicates and willing officials from the National Registration Department (NRD) furnishing false birth certificates.

At least three doctors were recorded via hidden camera by the network’s journalists boasting they could supply babies on demand and the accompanying paperwork.

Dr Tharmaseelan said despite the doctors involved claiming it was fool proof and that no one would find out, such cases were in fact very easy to detect.

“There are too many opportunities to get caught … medical personnel, relatives, friends and anyone along the supply chain could at any point report that a couple had bought a baby,” he said.

“Also a simple DNA test will quickly and conclusively prove if the child is related to the parents or not.”

Dr Tharmaseelan also said the report had highlighted the main factors behind the underground trade and urged the government to take serious action.

“Besides the usual willingness to accept money to turn a blind eye or comply with such activities, the root causes driving the industry must be addressed,” he said.

“If anything the revelations build a clear case to urgently reform and liberalise the way adoptions are done in the country.”

One doctor was recorded as saying: “In Malaysia can do everything, money can do anything. Malaysia is the second most corrupt country.”

Another bragged claiming they had eight NRD officers on their payroll.

“We have eight whom we pay, so we will tell you which department to get the documents from. If they reject the request … we will just pay them RM1,000 or RM2,000 and it will be done.”

Malaysian Medical Council chairman Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the case had caught the attention of the council and was being investigated by the Health Ministry.

“We are aware of the report and allegations and the ministry will take the necessary action against those found guilty,” he said adding that the Private Medical Practice Control Unit was investigating the claims.

The sickening trade exposed by Al Jazeera’s East 101 programme yesterday revealed:

l Easy access to birth certificates and

other documents.

l Price of babies based on several factors — race, skin colour, gender, weight.

Fair boys fetch highest price.

l Babies sold like any other merchandise

through the internet and social media

with prospective buyers picking through

options “like at supermarket”.

l One syndicate, operating with a pool of

78 Indonesian women, sold babies be

tween RM6,600 and RM11,000 while

others went as high as RM30,000 in

cluding paperwork.

l Some babies are sourced from sex

workers who decide to sell their child

instead of aborting.

l Most babies find good homes but lack

of background checks or regulation

means some end up with paedophile

rings or begging syndicates.

The National Registration Department refused to comment over the matter.

Lawyer hails landmark sedition ruling as win for free speech

KUALA LUMPUR ― The Court of Appeal’s landmark decision yesterday on a provision in the Sedition Act is a “victory” for the protection of free speech in Malaysia, a lawyer said.

Lawyer N. Surendran, who represented PKR’s Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei in the successful constitutional challenge against a Sedition Act clause, said that the court’s decision bolsters Malaysians’ right to freedom of speech.

“It’s a great day for freedom of speech for all of us. It upholds and strengthens the right to free speech contained in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution,” he told Malay Mail Online.

“It’s a victory for freedom of speech, constitutionalism and rule of law,” he added.

Surendran said the decision will affect all sedition cases in Malaysia ― whether ongoing or where convictions are being appealed ― as the prosecution must now prove the element of intent, which was previously not required to convict under the colonial-era law.

The Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that the Sedition Act provision of Section 3(3) ― which states that intention of the person charged with sedition is “irrelevant” and it was enough to prove their remarks had seditious tendency ― is unconstitutional.

“We order that there be the following declaration: Section 3(3) of the Sedition Act 1948 (Act 15), contravenes Article 10 of the Federal Constitution and therefore is invalid and of no effect in law,” the judgment delivered by Datuk Varghese George Varughese said.

The three-man panel was chaired by Justice Datuk Lim Yee Lan and also included Justice Datuk Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal.

According to Surendran, the appellate court’s ruling yesterday does not mean that the ongoing criminal case against Shuhaimi under the Sedition Act will be automatically struck out.

“His case is part-heard in the Sessions Court, so in light of the Court of Appeal’s decision, we have to go to the Sessions Court and inform the court of the new decision, which means in his trial, the prosecution will have to prove the element of intention.

“So we will have to consider what steps to take because the trial is part-heard. We may apply to quash the charges,” he said.

The ongoing trial for Shuhaimi’s sedition case under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act will resume on Jan 3 at the Shah Alam Sessions Court, Surendran said.

On Feb 7, 2011, Shuhaimi was charged in the Shah Alam Sessions Court with posting allegedly seditious material on his blog, with the Sri Muda assemblyman’s blog posting purportedly made on Dec 30, 2010 and captioned Pandangan saya berasaskan Undang-Undang Tubuh Kerajaan Negeri Selangor, 1959.

Shuhaimi kept his Sri Muda state seat in Election 2013 with a whopping majority, but a sedition conviction could potentially disqualify him from holding office as a lawmaker.

First-time offenders under the Sedition Act face a maximum three-year jail term or maximum fine of RM5,000 or both, with either a one-year jail term or a RM2,000 fine enough to make Shuhaimi lose his seat.
— Malay Mail Online

UN: Troops slaughter children, rape and loot

TEKNAF (Bangladesh) — Myanmar is carrying out “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims, a United Nations official has reportedly said, as horrifying stories of gang rape, torture and murder emerge from among the thousands who have fled to Bangladesh.

Up to 30,000 of the impoverished ethnic group have abandoned their homes in Myanmar to escape the unfolding violence, the UN says, after troops poured into the narrow strip where they live earlier this month.

John McKissick, head of the United Nations refugee agency in the Bangladeshi border town of Cox’s Bazar, told the BBC that troops were “killing men, shooting them, slaughtering children, raping women, burning and looting houses, forcing these people to cross the river” into Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has resisted urgent international appeals to open its border to avert a humanitarian crisis, instead telling Myanmar it must do more to prevent the stateless Rohingya minority from entering.

“It’s difficult for the Bangladeshi government to say the border is open because this would further encourage the government of Myanmar to continue the atrocities and push them out until they have achieved their ultimate goal of ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority in Myanmar,” said McKissick.

A spokesman for Myanmar President Htin Kyaw slammed the comments.

‘’I would like to question the professionalism and ethics which should be followed and respected by UN staff. He should speak based on concrete and true facts, he shouldn’t make accusations,” Zaw Htay told AFP.

It’s not the first time such claims have been made against Myanmar.

In April 2013, Human Rights Watch said it was conducting a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya — an accusation rejected by then president Thein Sein as a “smear campaign”.

But the scale of human suffering was becoming clear on Thursday, as desperate people like Mohammad Ayaz told how troops attacked his village and killed his pregnant wife.

Cradling his two-year-old son, he said troops killed at least 300 men in the village market and gang-raped dozens of women before setting fire to around 300 houses, Muslim-owned shops and the mosque where he served as imam.

“They shot dead my wife, Jannatun Naim. She was 25 and seven months pregnant. I took refuge at a canal with my two-year-old son, who was hit by a rifle butt,” Ayaz said.

Ayaz sold his watch and shoes to pay for the journey and has taken shelter at a camp for unregistered Rohingya refugees.

Many of those seeking shelter say they walked for days and used rickety boats to cross into Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of registered Rohingya refugees have been living for decades.

The Rohingya are loathed by many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar who see them as illegal immigrants and call them “Bengali”, even though many have lived there for generations.

Most live in impoverished western Rakhine state, but are denied citizenship and smothered by restrictions on movement and work.

As the crisis deepened, Bangladesh said on Wednesday it had summoned Myanmar’s ambassador to express “deep concern”.


Protests in Asean cities over Myanmar’s ethnic cleansing

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia will summon Myanmar’s ambassador over the crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in northwestern Rakhine state, the foreign ministry said yesterday, as hundreds of protesters across South-East Asia demonstrated against the escalating violence.

The conflict in Rakhine has sent hundreds of Rohingya Muslims fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh that poses a serious challenge to leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who swept to power last year on promises of national reconciliation.

At least 86 people are reported to have been killed in escalating violence that has displaced about 30,000 in the region’s most serious bloodshed since hundreds were killed in communal clashes in 2012.

Wisma Putra called on all parties involved to refrain from actions that could aggravate the situation.

“Malaysia also calls on the government of Myanmar to take all the necessary action to address the alleged ethnic cleansing in the northern Rakhine State,” it said in a statement.

“The ministry will summon the Myanmar ambassador to convey the government of Malaysia’s concern over this issue,” it added, without giving a timeframe.

Hundreds of Rohingya Muslims marched in Kuala Lumpur, condemning the bloody crackdown on the persecuted minority and slamming Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi for her inaction. A smaller group held a protest in Gelugor, Penang.

Protesters demanded humanitarian aid for Rakhine, and urged that the military arrest all attackers.

“The Myanmar government says the claims are all fabricated but they are not fabricated,” Rohingya community leader Muhammed Noor told reporters, referring to reports of incidents of killing, rape of wives and daughters and home burnings.

“This movement has to continue, to pressure the government to stop the killing.”

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had suggested that the national football team pull out from the ongoing Asean Football Federation tournament co-hosted by Myanmar in protest against the crackdown. But the Cabinet yesterday decided the team should continue playing.

Protests were also held simultaneously in Bangkok, and Jakarta.

Protesters in Jakarta called for the Nobel panel to cancel its award to Suu Kyi.

Indonesia is “ready and willing” to help Myanmar initiate dialogue, its foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, said this week.

Many among the Buddhist majority in Myanmar view its 1.1 million Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Persecution and poverty led thousands of Rohingya to flee Myanmar following the violence between Buddhists and Muslims there four years ago.

Many of them were smuggled or trafficked to Thailand, Malaysia and beyond. — Reuters

Umno distances itself from scuffle

PETALING JAYA — Umno distanced itself from Thursday’s scuffle outside Parliament, adding the incident had nothing to do with the party leadership.

“Umno does not support rowdy or violent actions but instead upholds and defends the nation’s constitution and its existing laws,” said party secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor in a statement yesterday.

“However, Umno views the behaviour of parlimentarians who use coarse language and negative terms that provoke the anger of other parlimentarians to be unethical, irrational and immature.”

Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said while he does not condone the incident that has happened to Khalid Samad, the Shah Alam MP must take responsibility for using foul language in the Dewan Rakyat.

“No matter how unhappy you are over someone’s remarks during the debate, you cannot simply use words like ‘sial’ within the confines of a respectable institution,” he said.

Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani said Tajuddin’s supporters should not have retaliated.

“I would have referred the matter to the committee … raise it through the proper channels,” he said.

He added the thuggish attitude should not be associated with Umno.

“Umno does not condone this type of behaviour. It all boils down to the individual, regardless of which side he or she represents.”


Mob disguised as ‘visitors from Pasir Salak’

KUALA LUMPUR — The group of assailants who attacked Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad in Parliament grounds yesterday had made a formal request to the secretariat to enter the restricted area.

Two Parliament security personnel, who protected Khalid during the scuffle yesterday, said the group filed a request “several days ago saying they were visitors from the Pasir Salak constituency.”

“The procedure dictates a request must be made at least three days before the visit. The assailants had with them a letter of approval from Parliament,” said a guard, who declined to be named.

He said visitors are required to leave their identification cards at the main security post where they will then be given a
visitor’s pass.

The other security personnel said his colleagues at the main gate found it odd when the visitors, after leaving their identification cards, asked if Khalid was around.

They immediately sensed something was not right.

“The group casually asked if Khalid was in the Dewan. Khalid had yet to arrive at that point in time. When Khalid arrived, the guards at the post informed the Shah Alam MP that a group of men and women had asked for him.

“Khalid decided to go in anyway and we escorted him to the building.”

The duo shielded Khalid in the 11am incident. The group was told to leave and collected their identification cards on their way out.

“We were just doing our job. Regardless the MP and his or her political affiliation, we have taken an oath as security personnel to ensure the safety of all 222 MPs.”

It is understood the secretariat and other ranking officials in Parliament are still reviewing the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage.

Khalid had called Pasir Salak MP Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman “sial” during a heated debate in Dewan Rakyat on Monday.

This was after Tajuddin referred to Seputeh MP Teresa Kok as the “only female MP with a Kok”.

Police had said Tajuddin’s son, Firdaus, 34, was among the group of 10 who were at the scene.

Who allowed thugs into Parliament, then off?

KUALA LUMPUR — Eleven people involved in the violent “Kok-Sial” ruckus outside the Parliament lobby on Thursday surrendered to police yesterday.

Ten, including Firdaus Tajuddin, 34, who is son of Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman and two women, earlier named by police showed up while another woman — Norbaiti Taha — turned up at Sentul police headquarters at 10.15am to facilitate investigations.

City police chief Datuk Amar Singh said the group would be investigated for rioting.

Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad was ambushed by a mob, raising questions about security at the Dewan Rakyat.

Earlier in the day, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar had a lot to answer, as reported by Malay Mail Afternoon E-Paper yesterday.

Why didn’t police arrest anyone immediately?

Khalid: When backup police arrived at the scene, they had left. Don’t worry, the troublemakers will be arrested.

There’s a possibility a minister allowed the rioters in. Have police seized the log book at the Parliament security post?

Khalid: That’ll be one of the subjects of investigation, to determine how they gained entry.

Were police immediately notified about the incident?

Khalid: We were notified only by police stationed at the Parliament.

Was anyone injured?

Khalid: There hasn’t been a report of anyone hurt in the scuffle.

How do you view the incident?

Khalid: This cannot be taken lightly. Rioting in Parliament is very embarrassing, and should never be tolerated. Police must maintain the peace and sanctity of Parliament. We’ll not let such things happen again.

Several ministers have urged the suspects to be detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma). Do you agree?

Khalid: We’re investigating the case for rioting. If we receive more information that can invoke other laws, we’ll act accordingly.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed described the attack as an “act of terrorism”. What’s your take?

Khalid: I don’t want to elaborate on that. Let us establish the actual reason behind the attack.

Thursday incident was believed to be the result of Khalid calling Tajuddin “sial” (damned minister) at the Dewan Rakyat on Monday.

This was after the Pasir Salak MP described Seputeh MP Teresa Kok as “the only woman here with a ‘Kok’.”

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