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The Malay Mail Online - Proposed 'syariah cop' a threat to country's unity, says Muslim NGO (19 December 2013)
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Proposed 'syariah cop' a threat to country's unity, says Muslim NGO

By Opalyn Mok

December 19, 2013

GEORGE TOWN, Dec 19 — Putrajaya’s proposal to form a special police unit to contain the spread of the banned Shiah school of Islam here will only serve to destroy the country’s peace and unity, Sisters in Islam (SIS) said today.

In a statement, the non-governmental organisation (NGO) criticised the proposal by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to embed police officers within the Malaysian Islamic Advancement Affairs Department (Jakim).

“We do not believe a punitive approach to monitor Muslims and how they practise their faith is the wisest way forward for a country that claims to lead a global movement of moderates,” it said.

The Muslim advocacy group expressed its concern that the set up of such a unit could lead to further harassment, intimidation and moral policing of Muslims and the violation of their fundamental liberties as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.

SIS called on the federal government to drop the “syariah police” proposal which was supposed to battle the spread of Shiah teachings.

“There are only 1,500 Shiah followers or 0.005 per cent of the population and how can the federal government justify this move when each state already have their own Syariah enforcement officers to deal with offences under Syariah law?” SIS asked.

In proposing the unit, Ahmad Zahid said it was a way to broaden the powers of the Jakim enforcement team to also arrest those they believed to be in breach of Islamic laws.

SIS pointed out that Jakim had admitted it lacked evidence to take individuals believed to be Shiah followers to Syariah court, which it said made the proposal sound like a means to enhance the enforcement powers of the state religious authorities.

“The Syariah Criminal Offences laws contain vaguely drafted “catch all” provisions, which provide wide discretion for interpretation and abuse by enforcement officers.

“Religious raids have often led to the violation of personal dignity and privacy, and in some cases death and yet, there have not been any investigations carried out to hold these religious enforcement officers to account,” the statement said.

SIS warned that the further expansion of the Syariah authorities’ enforcement powers and the establishment of yet another parallel Syariah institution to govern and punish Muslims will not bode well for the peace and unity of this country.

They said this development clearly undermines and contradicts the Malaysian government’s own ambition to create a global “Movement of Moderates” and to be an inclusive society that accepts diversity.

SIS reminded Putrajaya that when the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched the movement in January last year, he had stressed on “alwasatiyyah” (the practice of moderation).

Najib had in his speech said the country must continually strive to be harmonious and united predicated on the values of moderation and the 1Malaysia spirit and said the government must take the lead through moderation.

SIS then calls on the government to walk its talk and apply moderation to its actions instead of manufacturing fear and sowing divisiveness in society.

Putrajaya has in recent months stepped up its campaign against Shiah teachings and its followers in the nation but this was accompanied by suspicions that the action was politically motivated.

Ahmad Zahid had alleged that PAS deputy president Mohammad Sabu had ties to the Shiah movement and ordered for action to be taken against him.

Mohammad, popularly known as Mat Sabu, had labelled these allegations as lies and said he will sue the home minister for defamation.

Published by: The Malay Mail Online on
December 19, 2013
Drop Proposal of Syariah Police (19 December 2013)
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PRESS STATEMENT

Drop Proposal of Syariah Police

Sisters in Islam calls on the Government to drop the proposal to establish a special police unit dubbed “syariah police”.

We do not believe a punitive approach to monitor Muslims and how they practise their faith is the wisest way forward for a country that claims to lead a global movement of moderates.

Ostensibly, the “syariah police” is supposed to battle the spread of Shiite teachings. By JAKIM estimates, Shiahs number roughly 1500 or 0.005 per cent of the population. How can this justify federal intervention when the states already have their own Syariah enforcement officers to deal with offences under Syariah laws?

Coming as it did after JAKIM admitted it lacked evidence to take these individuals to Syariah court, this proposal sounds like a means to enhance the enforcement powers of the state religious authorities.

We are concerned that this could lead to further harassment, intimidation and moral policing of Muslims and the violation of their fundamental liberties as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.

The Syariah Criminal Offences laws contain vaguely drafted “catch all” provisions, which provide wide discretion for interpretation and abuse by enforcement officers. Religious raids have often led to the violation of personal dignity and privacy, and in some cases death. We have not read of any investigations carried out to hold these religious enforcement officers to account.

The further expansion of the Syariah authorities’ enforcement powers and the establishment of yet another parallel Syariah institution to govern and punish Muslims does not bode well for the peace and unity of this country.

This development undermines and contradicts the Malaysian government’s own ambition to create a global ‘Movement of Moderates’ and to be an inclusive society accepting of diversity. During the Movement’s launch in January 2012, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said:

“We have many ethnic groups, many religions, but we continually strive to be a harmonious and truly united nation predicated on the values of moderation and the spirit of 1Malaysia.”

“Governments must lead by example. For how can we expect moderation from others, if our own actions take us away from the middle of the road.”

“I believe that peace-loving Muslims – the overwhelming majority of Muslims – should unite against the extremists who use our religion as an excuse to commit violence. And one of the most powerful tools we have to do so is alwasatiyyah: the practice of moderation.”

Sisters in Islam therefore calls on the Government of Malaysia to walk its talk and apply moderation to its actions, instead of manufacturing fear and sowing divisiveness in society.

Sisters In Islam
19 December 2013

Malay Mail - Malaysia a trailblazer in Islamic feminism (10 December 2013)
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Malaysia a trailblazer in Islamic feminism

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 16:42
by Terence Netto

Malaysia’s position on some recently announced international gauges has been at the fag end of the scale.

Our sovereign credit rating outlook was revised from stable to negative. On the global perception of corruption index, we moved up a notch to 53rd place in the evaluations for 2012, a jump that can hardly count as laudable.

Dispiriting news was also to be had on the educational front where Malaysian students fared poorly in international aptitude tests for science, maths and reading.

However, all is not gloom and doom. While our poor ratings on credit, corruption and education hogged the headlines, unbeknown to most was the fact that Malaysia is a world leader in a sphere that does not receive much publicity if only because initiatives on this front tend to invite controversy.

Malaysia is a leader in a global movement called Musawah, which means ‘equality’ in Arabic.

The movement was formed in 2009 by Islamic feminists who desire to fight for justice and equality from within their religious tradition. By now you would have guessed that the Musawah movement takes its impetus and inspiration from Sisters in Islam.

Right. Sisters in Islam was formed in 1988 by Zainah Anwar who went on to become the moving force behind Musawah, which when it was initiated in KL in 2009, drew participants from 47 countries.

In part, the participants were inspired by a bill that was passed by the Moroccan Parliament in 2004 which defines marriage as an equal partnership between husband and wife with equal responsibility for the family. What made the law revolutionary in a Muslim country like Morocco is that it gave women the right to divorce and this affords them protection from capricious application of the Islamic practice of talaq which gives Muslim husbands the right to dissolve a marriage at will.

The Moroccan law enabled Musawah’s founders to tell Muslim feminists that they can fight for their rights through engagement with the Quran and Islamic jurisprudence.

Prior to the promulgation of this law, it was an uphill task to convince Muslim women that a fight for their rights would not entail abandoning their religion.

Proponents of human rights for Muslim women had long found it hard going relying on a purely human rights framework when canvassing for support among the faithful for the attainment of the goals of equality and justice. Merely invoking CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women), ratified by the United Nations in 1979, would not do the trick.

For Muslim women who believe that their religion is an important source of values, the pursuit of a secular manifesto of their rights such as spelled out in CEDAW was incompatible with their religious convictions.

Hence, Musawah’s strategy of making that pursuit integral to Islam provided the avenue to avert conflict between the justice and equality goal of the feminist agenda and the religious beliefs of Muslim women.

Of course, secular feminists look askance at this approach.

They argue that looking for a foundation of human rights in religious texts and Islamic jurisprudential sources is inherently shaky. They are apt to contend that a firmer basis for these rights would be arguments for the universality of human rights erected on a foundation of secular reason.

This debate between Islamic feminists and their secular counterparts will continue into the future with no resolution in sight until more Islamic countries like Morocco promulgate laws that further the cause of equality between men and women. Still, it’s cause for cheer that in this field, Malaysia is a trailblazer of sorts for having given impetus to a movement like Musawah.

It’s good news these days that in one significant field of the human quest for intellectual and moral advancement, Malaysia is not a laggard but a progressive.
The Star - Musings - NUCC has to tackle 'trust deficit' (5 December 2013)
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NUCC has to tackle 'trust  deficit'

Musings by Marina Mahathir

Thursday November 21, 2013

Members have been reassured that they can be as frank as they want.

MUCH to my surprise, I was appointed to the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) last week. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have plenty of trepidation when I was asked just a few days before the launch to sit on this council. Did it mean I have to tone down this column for instance?

But I felt a bit reassured when I saw some of the names of others appointed to the council, specifically the younger people there. To be sure there are not enough women there (only six) and it could do with more really young people, those in their 20s and 30s. There is only one Opposition MP on it and we hope that the still vacant spots in the line-up can be filled with more.

Of course, the cynicism started almost as soon as the news got out. Many of us on the NUCC had already predicted that. Several of us mentioned the “trust deficit” among the public of anything the government does and gave some reasons for why this was so.

This is probably going to be our biggest obstacle, establishing our credibility to do what we are tasked to do, which is to work out ways in which we can restore unity to our increasingly polarised country.

To do that, we have to be up front and clear about what is causing the polarisation. Several of us on the council are keen to do that, and indeed have said that if we cannot be very frank, then there is no point in doing this.

We were assured that we could be as frank as we want. We were also clear that we want to keep the process an open one. Hence, followers of those of us who have Twitter could follow what we were talking about in real time.

Indeed, one of our first suggestions was that the NUCC should be on social media, with a Facebook page and Twitter account. This way we can hear people’s views directly, besides the face-to-face meetings I believe are in the offing.

I can only speak for myself but I think for this council to work, it needs to do so in very different ways from any other similar bodies. It needs to innovate and be proactive.

Personally I would have liked if there had not been a president and deputy president appointed already, with all due respect to the current ones.

It would have been great if we either elected among ourselves who would chair or chose the less obvious people to chair.
That would immediately set it apart and break the normal protocol of doing things. Perhaps it’s my NGO background where we always try to operate more democratically but I think if we did things differently, we might make some progress on that trust deficit.

We haven’t had a real formal meeting yet but I’m hoping another NGO tradition can be transplanted to this. And that is, from the outset to get members to introduce themselves and state how they see the workings of this council and what they hope it will achieve.

We are a diverse group so it cannot be assumed that we all know each other. And more importantly, we need to know that we are all on the same page and want to achieve the same goal, unity.

To me, the first thing we should do is establish that this council will operate in a democratic way and because we are all going to roll up our sleeves to work, then we should all be treated equally. All protocol should be set aside.

The expectations on us are high, perhaps too high. Unity is not just a goal but a process, so all we can do in our two years is to set Malaysians back on the road to the togetherness we used to have.

It is ludicrous to think we would have all the answers in six months as some have suggested. If we can do one or two things that work, then I think we will build the confidence that it can be done.

So I think at this early stage, there is still some hope. I’m grateful that many people have kindly given the thumbs up to my appointment.

But it’s an awesome responsibility. Still I think at least we will give it a go and if we fail, it won’t be for want of trying. I always believe that you never really lose if you are sincere and willing to work hard.

2014 is round the corner and after a difficult rancorous year, perhaps we need to put aside our misgivings and cynicism and be optimistic. Positivity begets positivity, God willing.

> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.
The Star - Reopen the child bride rape case, say groups (30 November 2013)
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Reopen the child bride rape case, say groups
by tashny sukumaran

Saturday November 30, 2013

PETALING JAYA: Women’s groups have demanded better rape investigation procedures and have called for the case involving a child bride who was allegedly raped by a youth whom she later married to be reopened.

Sisters In Islam programme manager Suri Kempe said the case of 13-year-old Nor Fazira Saad had highlighted a legal loophole in the law, which allowed rapists to escape investigation and punishment through marriage.

“Muslim and non-Muslim children must not be treated differently. It is deplorable that marriage is being used by alleged rapists as a way to escape prosecution.

“The government must stop rapists from manipulating religion and culture. We urge the government to make child protection a priority by amending this flawed provision in the law.

“The practice of child marriages affects many economic, social and health risks and does not protect our girls or secure their future,” she said.

Suri said the best interests of the child “was clearly not a consideration” when the Syariah Court approved this marriage application.

She said the Child Act 2001 recognises a 13-year-old girl as a child but despite being legally a child, she is denied the protection normally afforded to children, including anonymity from public scrutiny, just because she is married.

“This is one of the perils of child marriage, a practice that has no place in a country that aims to be a developed nation by 2020.”

Human rights lawyer and activist Honey Tan said as the crime of rape was against the state, a police report on rape could technically not be withdrawn.

“In theory, you can carry on even though the victim doesn’t want to proceed. Ideally, we should not place so much weight on the complainant’s evidence,” she said.

“In other countries, police evidence, videos, photographs and doctors testimonies carry equal or more weight.”
Tan, who is also part of NGO Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower), said as it was common for young victims to have trouble testifying, it was important to have witnesses who were “completely objective” like doctors.

Women’s Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah said the case served to highlight the regressive idea that once a girl was no longer a “‘virgin”, she was regarded as worthless.

“If you’re raped, you’re seen as worthless and no one will marry you. There’s a cultural belief that a woman is nothing after being raped, leading to some using rape as coercion into marriage.”

Josiah called for the social welfare department to step in, adding that it was “appalling” that a child was allowed to wed.

“Where is child protection in this instance? The courts should be educated that child marriage should not be condoned at all.”

Josiah, too, called for the police to re-open the investigation.

“Withdrawing a report does not mean the crime was not committed,” she said.

Association of Women Lawyers president and WAO exco, Meera Samanther also said that the police could pursue the case themselves.

“Competent police will go the extra mile to try and find out why there was a withdrawal.

“In this case, a social worker should have stepped in to interview the girl and find out more. It’s the state’s duty to find out what happened as it’s their responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail said he would look into the case personally.

“We are now obtaining details of the case,” he said, adding that the A-G’s Chambers would respond to the issue soon.

Social Welfare department director-general Datuk Noraini Mohd Hashim said the department had to respect the wishes of Nor Fazira Saad’s parents as she was a minor and was under their responsibility.

“We have to respect the wishes of the parents. She is divorced now, she has parents and she must go back to them first. The responsibility is with them, and we cannot encroach on their rights,” she said.

Noraini said that if approached, the department would discuss the next step with the parents.

“If she needs counselling, we can provide that. If she would like to go back to school, we can help with that too.

“We don’t want to encroach on a family matter. We will approach only if they seek our help,” she said.
The Star - Sharing The Nation - Much ado about ethnic relations (1 December 2013)
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Much ado about ethnic relations

Sharing The Nation by Zainah Anwar

Sunday December 1, 2013

What went wrong over the past decades that today we need to establish yet another National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) to bring this country together?

I GREW up in a neighbourhood in Johor Baru with Malay, Chinese and Indian neighbours. I went to primary and secondary schools with Malays, Chinese and Indians, with no one race dominating. My best friend in secondary school was a Punjabi and my closest friends until today include Malays, Chinese and Indians.

I went to the Mara Institute of Technology in the 1970s, and not once did I feel I was in an all-Malay milieu. I had an education that was global and progressive in outlook, with lecturers from all races and religions committed to producing students who would be knowledgeable, confident, competitive and progressive in outlook. I went to religious school for five years and studied an Islam that was kind and compassionate that has kept my faith in a just God, not a punitive one.

It was my upbringing, my education and my exposure that make me today a “liberal” Malay-Muslim, as if that is such a bad thing. I have no problems embracing our Constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of religion and non-discrimination on the basis of religion, race, gender, descent or place of birth.

I love the Rukunegara, especially its much less known objectives to:
> achieve a greater unity of all her peoples;
> maintain a democratic way of life;
> create a just society in which the wealth of the nation shall be equitably shared;
> ensure a liberal approach to her rich and diverse cultural traditions;
> build a progressive society which shall be oriented to modern science and technology.

Over 40 years ago, liberal ideas such as “democratic way of life”, “just society”, “liberal approach”, “progressive society” were not spooky to Malay leaders and the Malay community. We embraced them in order to build a better, more inclusive Malaysia for all.

This was the Malaysia I knew, the Malaysia I grew up in, the Malaysia I loved.

So what went wrong over the past decades that today we need to establish yet another National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) to heal gaping wounds and provide a blueprint to bring this country together? How do we reach that ideal of looking at each other as human beings of equal worth and dignity, as citizens with equal rights and responsibilities, instead of being divided incessantly by the politics of race and religion?

I do believe that most Malaysians still have faith in the lofty ideals of the Rukunegara. But the challenge remains how do you translate them into action.

And what do you do with those bent on destroying these ideals, not least from among our own political and community leaders?

We seem to be great at planning and coming out with blueprints and transformation programmes. Wonderful words, hopes and aspirations, very often written by foreign consultants, but we fall short at the implementation and monitoring level. Obviously, the implementers do not own those words. Nor do the political masters have the courage and will to persevere with what is right for the nation in the face of opponents flying the flag of race and religion.

Going by the response on the Internet, there is much cynicism and scepticism about the NUCC, given the history of other government initiatives whose reports and recommendations were soon forgotten, or if implemented, whose impact is not felt or seen.

I remember the five-year National Unity and Integration Action Plan, introduced in 2006. It was supposed to stem the tide of racial segregation and build stronger ties across ethnic groups.

There would be no more single-race teams and societies in schools and universities, it was promised. Seven years later, what are the outcomes of this action plan? Has anyone evaluated its success or failure and its impact on race relations at the school and university levels? Are they still dominated by single-race teams and societies?

How about that Ethnic Relations course made compulsory for all university students? It got off to a bad start with a textbook condemned by many as revisionist history. A new team was brought together to come out with a new textbook.

What’s the impact of the course? Are our university students learning and socialising together, understanding and respecting each other’s religions and traditions and remaining as fast friends as they embark on their careers?

And, oh yes, what has happened to 1Malaysia? Who is talking about this today, monitoring its impact? What sticks in my mind the most is the sight of those men wearing 1Malaysia T-shirts and vests gyrating their behinds outside outgoing Bersih leader Ambiga Sreenivasen’s house.

What is most frustrating for many Malaysians who truly believe in a Malaysia that can thrive and prosper by living together and accommodating each other’s needs and interests is the fact that extremist and supremacist voices get rewarded with support from political leaders.

They rub shoulders with them, they get plenty of air time and front page headlines in government controlled media, their inflammatory statements and allegations are made without anyone in government challenging them. Nay, there are ministers who echo those statements, designed to incite hatred and build a siege mentality among their support base.

It is hard to be confident about nation building when voices that until today tell the Chinese and Indians that they have their own countries to return to are not upbraided by the country’s leaders.

That those who believe in the fundamental liberties as enshrined in the Federal Constitution are demonised as those out to “Membenarkan Kristianisasi dan Syiah”, “Hapuskan Hak Istimewa Melayu”, “Hapuskan Syariah”, “Membenarkan Seks Songsang”. What could be more designed to manufacture fear and incite hatred? And these tactics were echoed at the official level through a Cabinet minister and an official Friday sermon.

Perhaps the blueprint from the NUCC should really focus on providing guidelines to our political and community leaders on how to see this country and its contested issues through the lens of equal citizenship rights within a plural society, rather than the old and tired lens of the politics of race and religion. Let’s focus on moving on to doing good, rather than inciting bad for short term political gains.

We want our leaders to give us hope for a better future, to lead by example, and to translate their words into action because we are so tired of the endless politicking and the corrosive pessimism that has enveloped us all.

•    The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

The Star- Musings - The new Beijing beckons (21 November 2013)
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The new Beijing beckons

Musings by Marina Mahathir

Thursday November 21, 2013
Customers with bags containing first day purchases from a H&M fashion collection designed by French fashion designer Isabel Marant at a window display at a H&M store branch in Beijing, China. — EPA
Customers with bags containing first day purchases from a H&M fashion collection designed by French fashion designer Isabel Marant at a window display at a H&M store branch in Beijing, China. — EPA

Here, you are surrounded by optimistic and enthusiastic young people with the zeal to do well not only in China, but in the globalised world.

I JUST took a short trip to Beijing to attend a conference on women. It has been seven years since my last trip and 28 years since my first. In 1985, China was gingerly opening up to the world. People still wore blue Mao jackets and rode around mostly on bicycles. There were few hotels of the standard we were used to in Malaysia.

Today, so little of that Beijing remains. Tall glittery skyscrapers abound. Shopping malls carry every type of international luxury brand and people dressed as if they had just walked out of the pages of Vogue China that just celebrated its 100th edition by commissioning the photographer Mario Testino to shoot the entire issue.

Sitting at the French bakery chain Comptoirs du France, I saw a fashionable young couple walk by with their miniature dog. The dog wore a Chanel sweater....

When I arrived at the vast modern Beijing Capital airport, a young volunteer from the conference received me. She was a graduate student at Beijing University, spoke perfect English and was extremely efficient in getting me to my hotel and comfortably settled.

In fact, throughout the conference, a whole bevy of eager young volunteers shepherded us through the programme with remarkable efficiency, politeness and charm. Whenever a special request was made, they followed through until it was fulfilled.

I also met some impressive young female entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. There is now a generation of young Chinese who had been educated abroad and who are returning to start their own businesses or head companies.

The head of McKinsey in China is a Beijing-born woman as is the head of SK China, South Korea’s third largest company. Additionally, young women are using their cosmopolitan education to start businesses. The organiser of the conference was a 27-year-old former chess champion born in Chengdu.

Another 27-year-old has combined the experience of her education at both a Swiss finishing school and Harvard Business School to start a business giving etiquette lessons to Chinese wanting to venture out into the world beyond their own country. They have an acute sense that to succeed in this globalised world, they need to discard provincial habits and tastes.

The most impressive person I met, however, was Zhang, a taxi driver. I hopped into his taxi at my hotel and asked him to take me to Panjiayuan, the flea market. Taxis in Beijing are very clean and neat except that they tend to smell of cigarettes. But they are safe and as long as you get someone to explain to the taxi driver where you want to go in Mandarin, you will get there in one piece.

So I was not expecting Zhang to turn round and wish me a good afternoon. It turned out Zhang spoke pretty decent English. When I asked him why, he said he decided to learn it because he wanted to communicate with his international passengers and he loved to practise with them.

Indeed, Zhang proved to be a gem, not only did he take me to the flea market and wait until I was done but he also took me to find some other items I was looking for, drove me around Tiananmen Square so I could take photos and then took me back to my hotel, all the while chatting merrily in English.

(Some were however a bit cynical about Zhang, that he should by coincidence have picked me up that day. Apparently, there are no such coincidences in China.)

China does still have many problems, Beijing’s terrible pollution being just one. And no doubt there are huge gaps between the cities and the countryside. But there are enough eager young educated and entrepreneurial Chinese today ready to take the lead in almost everything, both domestically and perhaps even internationally. The socialist slogans are now found only on posters you can buy at the flea market.

For a few days, I had a break from home news because there is no Facebook or Twitter in China. It was nice to be with optimistic and enthusiastic young people wanting to do so much, instead of the angst-filled navel-gazing we indulge in back home and the thousands of ways we find to bring people down.

We seem to think that our country is special when we should be worrying about how this giant country only a few hours away is poised to leave us in the dust, despite our headstart.

I did meet one young Malaysian currently working in Shanghai who wants to come home to start a new IT enterprise. It was so refreshing to meet someone who is still eager to invest in his own country. I just hope that our daily nonsense does not crush his eagerness.

> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.
UPR (Semakan Berkala Sejagat) : Laporan Comango – Honey Tan Lay Ean (24 October 2013)
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UPR (Semakan Berkala Sejagat) : Laporan Comango – Honey Tan Lay Ean

24 Oktober merupakan tarikh sambutan Hari Pertubuhan  Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu. Kebetulan pula pada hari ini, Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia PBB akan mengkaji Malaysia dalam Proses Semakan Berkala Sejagat (UPR) untuk menilai tahap kemajuan Malaysia untuk memelihara, melindungi dan memenuhi hak-hak rakyat.

Sebagai sebahagian daripada proses UPR, gabungan NGO-NGO Malaysia dalam proses UPR (Comango) telah menghantar laporan ke Pejabat Pesuruhjaya Tinggi Hak Asasi Manusia PBB (OHCHR) pada Mac 2013. Ianya boleh dilihat di laman sesawang OHCHR. 

Laporan COMANGO yang dikemukakan telah banyak menerima kritikan negatif dari individu dan pihak bukan kerajaan  seperti Gagasan NGO Muslim dalam proses UPR (MUPRO) dan Persatuan Peguam Muslim Malaysia (PPMM). Satu seminar yang bertajuk ‘Ancaman Liberalisme’ telah dianjurkan oleh Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (Yadim) dan Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) dengan tujuan mempersoalkan isu-isu yang dikemukakan dalam laporan COMANGO. Kami juga menjadi mangsa sasaran serangan badan kerajaan iaitu Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (JAKIM). Apabila  khutbah Jumaat dikeluarkan pada 18 Oktober 2013, JAKIM menggesa pihak berkuasa untuk mengambil tindakan tegas terhadap kami.

Aduan mereka mengenai laporan COMANGO terbahagi kepada dua kategori : mengancam Islam sebagai agama rasmi Malaysia dan mengancam kedaulatan Malaysia. Justeru, Jakim telah membuat tuduhan yang tidak berasas mengenai COMANGO sebagai agen konspirasi liberal global. Kesemua tuduhan ini adalah tidak benar.

Sebagai bukti bahawa COMANGO mengancam posisi Islam sebagai agama rasmi Malaysia, mereka menyatakan bahawa kami membangkitkan isu murtad dan perkahwinan sama jantina walhal ianya tidak benar. Kami menyokong kebebasan beragama serta hak individu untuk bebas dari keganasan tidak kira wanita, kanak-kanak, orang tua, orang kurang upaya tanpa mengira orientasi seksual dan identiti jantina. COMANGO memperjuangkan hak untuk bekerja, hak untuk hidup, dan hak untuk privasi dan kita memperjuangkan kebebasan bersuara dan berpersatuan. Kesemua hak dan kebebasan ini terkandung dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan yang merupakan undang-undang tertinggi di Malaysia.

Cadangan yang dikemukakan oleh COMANGO supaya Malaysia  meratifikasi Konvensyen Antarabangsa mengenai Hak Sivil dan Politik (ICCPR) dikatakan sebagai sebuah langkah untuk meggalakkan murtad. Ini adalah tidak benar sama sekali kerana negara-negara Muslim seperti Mesir, Jordan, Bahrain, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia, Yemen dan Afghanistan telah meratifikasi ICCPR.

Apabila COMANGO menyeru Malaysia untuk meratifikasi Konvensyen Antarabangsa mengenai Pembanterasan Segala Bentuk Diskrimainasi Kaum (CERD), kononnya unsur-unsur perundangan Barat akan disemaikan ke dalam sistem keadilan tempatan dan ini akan memaksa Malaysia untuk mengikut telunjuk sekular Barat. Hakikatnya, sebahagian besar daripada sistem undang-undang Malaysia adalah berdasarkan sistem perundangan Inggeris – memang sejak Merdeka dan sebelum itu lagi. Dalam apa jua keadaan, tuduhan itu adalah palsu kerana banyak negara Islam telah mengesahkan CERD. Ini termasuk negara-negara seperti Arab Saudi, Emiriah Arab Bersatu, Indonesia, Jordan, Libya, Yemen dan Qatar.

Ancaman yang dianggap sebagai pemusnah kedaulatan Malaysia ini tidak mengambil kira situasi di mana Malaysia telah pun meratifikasikan tiga konvensyen hak asasi manusia yang utama dan juga banyak perjanjian ‘bi-lateral’ dan ‘multi-lateral’ yang lain, terutamanya yang berkaitan dengan pembangunan ekonomi negara. Sudah tentunya isu kedaulatan telah dipertimbangkan terlebih dahulu dan tidak dianggap sebagai ancaman. Ini menunjukkan bahawa isu kedaulatan yang dibangkitkan oleh MUPRO, JAKIM dan lain-lain boleh dipertikaikan.

Sekiranya terdapat sebarang kekeliruan mengenai perkara yang dikemukakan di dalam laporan COMANGO, ini adalah kesan daripada salah tafsir. Setakat ini, hanya satu e-mel sahaja dari seorang individu yang telah dihantar kepada kami untuk mendapatkan penjelasan . Malah, tiada usaha daripada mereka untuk meminta penjelasan atau perbincangan dengan pihak kami. Jelas ternyata tindakan mereka memilih media sebagai arena untuk menyuarakan ketidakpuasan hati mereka menandakan tujuan sebenar mereka.

Penglibatan Malaysia dalam proses UPR telah banyak memanfaatkan kita. Kerajaan menempuh kemajuan dalam arena hak-hak asasi manusia yang kami percaya adalah hasil daripada proses UPR itu. Beberapa contoh termasuk: pengecualian terhadap reservasi yang terdapat pada Konvensyen mengenai Penghapusan Segala Bentuk Diskriminasi Terhadap Wanita (CEDAW) dan Konvensyen mengenai Hak Kanak-Kanak (CRC); pengesahan dua Protokol Pilihan kepada CRC; pindaan kepada Akta Keganasan Rumah Tangga 1994; penarikan balik rayuan dalam kes Noorfadilla yang memutuskan bahawa CEDAW mempunyai kuasa undang-undang di Malaysia; dan jemputan rasmi untuk lawatan dari  Pelapor Khas PBB Keselamatan Makanan.

Penglibatan COMANGO dalam proses UPR adalah selaras dengan mukadimah Rukun Negara kita: kami berdedikasi bagi memastikan supaya hak-hak manusia dapat dipelihara dan dilindungi agar rakyat Malaysia dapat hidup dalam masyarakat yang adil, dengan pendekatan terbuka terhadap tradisi kita yang kaya dan pelbagai. Haluan ini telah ditetapkan: biarlah kita kekal tulus dan sambung apa yang kita sudah mulakan.

FZ.com - ISMA twisting my words, spreading falsehood (13 November 2013)
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'ISMA twisting my words, spreading falsehood'
13.11.2013
By Marina Mahathir

I REGRET that ISMA is maintaining its stand in slandering me in their flyers by calling me a 'mastermind' behind COMANGO. Further it is maintaining its bully tactics by twisting my words in my last statement.

I am indeed a proud member of Sisters in Islam (SIS) which for 20 years has fought for justice and equality for Muslim women in Malaysia. When we first established ourselves, we were among the first women's groups that insisted on referring to the al-Quran and Sunnah for the ethical principles underlying our fight for justice for women.

Today our work has inspired many other women's groups working in Muslim countries because we all believe that the message of the al-Quran is about justice and equality.

This is the basis of my beliefs, that all human beings are created by the One God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Beneficient and Most Merciful.

I believe that unlike human beings, God makes no mistakes and therefore he creates each human being as He wants them to be.

It is therefore our role to respect God's decisions and His creations and the imperative is for us to treat each and everyone of God's creations with respect, dignity and humaneness, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation and disability.

As God said in Surah Al-Hujurat, Verse 13: O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.

I reiterate that ISMA is spreading a falsehood by saying that I am a mastermind behind COMANGO. I was indeed well aware that SIS is a part of COMANGO and was certainly well aware of the report COMANGO was preparing for the UPR process. But I never attended any meetings nor was personally involved in the production of the report, which is only one of 28 NGO reports on human rights in Malaysia.

As anyone should know, NGO reports are part and parcel of the UN review process and there is nothing unusual about the report. I know the report, I support it not least because it is nothing that ISMA says it is, as anyone who would care to read it on the Office of the Commission on Human Rights website would know.

It is therefore disengenuous of ISMA to claim that COMANGO is deliberately going overseas to destroy the image of Malaysia and of Islam. The world actually already knows what goes on in Malaysia via the Internet.

As COMANGO has already pointed out, Malaysia regularly attends UN meetings to report on its progress in meeting its obligations under various UN treaties and conventions.

In many instances, it takes the UN recommendations and implements them. One very recent example is the 30% allocation for women on company Boards, recommended under the UN Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

ISMA is refusing to acknowledge that they have printed and distributed 70,000 flyers which contain a falsehood about me. This is my complaint. It is disingenuous of ISMA to try and distract from this issue.

Surah Al-Hujurat Verse 12 states: O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.

This is the Islam of my faith. I would hope it is also ISMA's.
Kenyataan Akhbar oleh Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir tentang tuduhan oleh ISMA (13 November 2013)
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Kenyataan Akhbar oleh Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir tentang tuduhan oleh ISMA

13 November 2013

Saya kecewa ISMA tetap menegaskan keputusan mereka untuk memfitnah saya sebagai ‘dalang ' di sebalik COMANGO. Tambahan pula, ISMA meneruskan taktik membuli dengan menyelewengkan kata-kata saya dalam
kenyataan mereka yang terkahir.

Memang saya bangga menjadi ahli Sisters in Islam yang telah giat berjuang selama dua puluh tahun untuk menegakkan keadilan dan kesaksamaan bagi golongan Muslimah di Malaysia. Sejak peringkat awal penubuhan lagi, Sisters in Islam adalah antara gerakan wanita yang utama yang merujuk kepada Quran dan Sunnah untuk menekankan prinsip-prinsip etika dalam membela keadilan untuk kaum wanita.


Kini, usaha kami sudah menjadi ilham kepada organisasi-organisasi wanita di negara-negara Muslim yang lain dalam pendirian kita bahawa Al-Quran ke arah keadilan dan kesaksamaan.


Ini adalah asas kepercayaan saya, bahawa semua manusia dicipta oleh Tuhan yang Satu, Maha Pengasih, Maha Pemurah dan Maha Penyayang. Berbeza dengan manusia, Tuhan tidak membuat kesilapan dan oleh itu dia
mencipta setiap insan mengikut kehendak-Nya.


Oleh itu, peranan kami adalah untuk menghormati keputusan Allah dan ciptaan-Nya.  Ia satu keharusan untuk kita menilai setiap insan ciptaan Tuhan dengan maruah, rasa hormat dan perikemanusiaan, tanpa mengira bangsa, agama, orientasi seksual dan keupayaannya.

Seperti yang difirman Allah dalam Surah Al -Hujurat, ayat 13:
Wahai umat manusia! Sesungguhnya Kami telah menciptakan kamu dari lelaki dan perempuan, dan Kami telah menjadikan kamu berbagai bangsa dan bersuku puak, supaya kamu berkenal-kenalan. Sesungguhnya
semulia-mulia kamu di sisi Allah ialah orang yang lebih taqwanya di antara kamu,. Sesungguhnya Allah Maha Mengetahui, lagi Maha Mendalam PengetahuanNya.


Saya ingin mengulang penegasan saya bahawa ISMA menyebar fitnah dengan mengatakan bahawa saya adalah dalang di sebalik COMANGO .

Saya sedar bahawa SIS adalah sebahagian daripada peserta Comango. Saya juga sedar bahawa laporan Comango disediakan untuk proses UPR. Tetapi saya tidak pernah menghadiri mana-mana mesyuarat atau terlibat secara
peribadi dalam menghasilkan laporan tersebut, yang hanya salah satu daripada 28 laporan NGO mengenai keadaan hak asasi manusia di Malaysia.


Sepertimana yang semua orang tahu, laporan-laporan NGO adalah sebahagian daripada proses kajian semula PBB dan tiada apa-apa yang luar biasa mengenai laporan Comango. Saya tahu mengenai laporan itu dan saya menyokongnya tidak kurang kerana ia bukan seperti apa yang ISMA katakana. Ini jelas bagi sesiapa yang cukup mengambil berat untuk membacanya melalui laman web Pejabat Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia akan tahu.


Jadi amatlah tidak jujur bagi ISMA untuk menyatakan bahawa COMANGO ke luar negara untuk memusnahkan imej Malaysia dan Islam. Seluruh dunia memangpun sudah peka terhadap apa yang berlaku di Malaysia dengan
adanya internet. Seperti apa yang dijelaskan COMANGO, kerajaan Malaysia sering hadir ke mesyuarat-mesyuarat PBB untuk melaporkan perekembangannya dalam  memenuhi kewajipan untuk akur kepada pelbagai perjanjian dan peretujuan PBB. Biasanya, kerajaan menyetujui dan melaksanakan perjanjian-perjanjian berikut. Satu contoh baru-baru ini ialah alokasi 30% untuk wanita menganggotai jawatankuasa sesebuah syarikat, dasar yang disarankan Penghapusan Segala Bentuk Diskriminasi Terhadap Wanita (Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women / CEDAW).


ISMA berkeberatan untuk mengaku bahawa mereka sudah mencetak dan menyebar 70,000 flyer yang mengandungi fitnah terhadap saya. Ini aduan saya. ISMA berlaku tidak jujur apabila mereka ingin mengubah isu.


Surah Al-Hujurat, Ayat 12 menyatakan:
Wahai orang-orang yang beriman! Jauhilah kebanyakan dari sangkaan kerana sesungguhnya sebahagian dari sangkaan itu adalah dosa; dan janganlah kamu mengintip atau mencari-cari kesalahan dan keaiban orang; dan janganlah setengah kamu mengumpat setengahnya yang lain. Adakah seseorang dari kamu suka memakan daging saudaranya yang telah mati? Maka sudah tentu kamu jijik kepadanya. dan bertaqwalah kamu kepada Allah; sesungguhnya Allah Penerima taubat, lagi Maha mengasihani.


Ini Islam kepercayaan saya. Saya amat berharap bahawa ia juga Islam kepercayaan ISMA.
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