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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activist Honey Tan said as the crime of rape was against the state, a police report on rape could technically not be withdrawn.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.
Press Statement by Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir in response to Isma's allegation (13 November 2013)
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Press Statement by Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir in response to Isma's allegation

13 November 2013

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 which for twenty 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 Quran and the 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 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 Comango 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 Comngo 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 ISMA mendakwa beliau merupakan 'dalang' disebalik COMANGO. (11 November 2013)
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Kenyataan Akhbar oleh Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir tentang tuduhan ISMA mendakwa beliau merupakan 'dalang' disebalik COMANGO.

11 November 2013

Pada hari Jumaat 8hb November, Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) telah mengedarkan 70,000 risalah di masjid-masjid di seluruh negara yang menuduh saya sebagai salah seorang 'dalang' di belakang gabungan NGO yang dikenali sebagai COMANGO. Tuduhan ini adalah palsu sama sekali  Walaupun saya adalah ahli Lembaga Pengarah Sisters in Islam yang juga diantara 54 NGO dalam COMANGO, tetapi saya tidak langsung terlibat dalam proses mengeluarkan laporan COMANGO.

Saya menganggap kata-kata palsu dalam risalah ISMA ini memberi gambaran yang amat buruk mengenai diri saya dan mencemarkan nama baik saya. Oleh itu, saya meminta ISMA dan pemegang jawatan tertinggi ISMA menarik balik tuduhan ini dari semua media massa, termasuk media online, mengikut syarat-syarat yang saya tetapkan, dengan serta-merta. Jika ISMA gagal membuat sedemikian, saya akan mengambil tindakan undang-undang terhadap mereka.

Saya juga memandang berat penerbitan semula risalah ISMA di media cetak dan online dan juga menganggap tindakan ini sebagai turut mencemar nama baik saya. Oleh itu saya juga meminta semua media massa menarik balik penerbitan risalah ini atau saya akan mengambil tindakan undang-undang terhadap penerbitan tersebut.

Sekian, terima kasih.
Press Statement by Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir in response to ISMA's recent claim that she is one of the masterminds behind COMANGO (11 November 2013)
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Press Statement by Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir in response to ISMA's recent claim that she is one of the masterminds behind COMANGO

11 November 2013

Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA), in a flyer distributed at mosques throughout the country at prayers on Friday Nov 8, accused me of being one of the 'dalangs' (masterminds) behind COMANGO. This is wholly untrue. Although I am a Board member of Sisters in Islam, one of the NGOs in the coalition, I was not involved in any way in the COMANGO process.

Therefore I view this allegation by ISMA as defamatory and demand that ISMA and its office bearers withdraw it immediately with a public clarification in all media, including social media, on my terms. Failure to do so will result in my taking legal action against them.

I also view very seriously the republication of ISMA's flyer in various media, both mainstream and online, and regard this also as defamatory. I therefore request that all media publish my clarification immediately as well or also face legal action.



The Star - Sharing The Nation - New BEE is from same old mould (3 November 2013)
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New BEE is from same old mould

Sharing The Nation by zainah anwar


Making progress?: Bumiputras employed in the professional and management category have outstripped Chinese and Indians, while those qualified as doctors, engineers, and architects are almost proportional to the country’s racial composition.
Making progress?: Bumiputras employed in the professional and management category have outstripped Chinese and Indians, while those qualified as doctors, engineers, and architects are almost proportional to the country’s racial composition.

There is need for a thorough evidence-based review of Malaysia’s affirmative action policies that began with noble objectives 40 years ago.

THAT the New Economic Policy has succeeded in eradicating poverty and eliminating the identification of race with economic function is not disputed.

Malaysia’s poverty rate has plummeted from over 50% in the 1970s to only 1.7%, according to the 2012 Household Income Survey.

Bumiputras employed in the professional and management category have outstripped Chinese and Indians, while those qualified as doctors, engineers, and architects are almost proportional to the country’s racial composition.

Similarly, bumiputra corporate equity has gone up from only 2.4% in the 1970s to 23.5% in 2011, and according to other measurements, even higher.

These are all laudable achievements. No one is questioning the twin objectives of the New Economic Policy.

However, the debate today remains how best to achieve these objectives in the context of a more globally competitive environment, persistent income inequality over the past 10 years, growing intra-ethnic income inequality and other divides such as rural/urban, and peninsula Malaysia/Sabah-Sarawak.

Given these inequities and the rising intra-ethnic income inequality among the bumiputras and between Malay and non-Malay bumiputras, most of whom live in Sabah and Sarawak, isn’t it time for the Federal government to start addressing the needs of poor bumiputras through a differentiated approach?

Can an affirmative action policy targeted at bumpitras continue to treat this ethnic group as one homogenous community when data show increased intra-ethnic inequality as one outcome?

Should a policy designed to build national unity from the ashes of May 13, 1969, continue on the basis of ethnicity when this has resulted in increased communal tensions and undermine social cohesion?

What should be done?

Many Malaysians believe the unexpected announcement of the Bumiputra Economic Empowerment (BEE) programme was more of the same and politically motivated to appease Umno’s own Tea Party hardliners in the run-up to party elections.

It is short-term in approach and does not address weaknesses in policy-making and implementation, which has seen billions allocated to bumiputra economic empowerment and dozens of policy instruments and schemes over the decades still failing to build the resilient bumiputra commercial and industrial community and address the needs of those left behind.

What is really needed today is not more handouts to bumiputra but a serious policy review of affirmative action policies of the past 40 years, where they have worked and where they have failed, and what best long-term steps should be taken to address the various inequities in this country.

This review should be based on empirical evidence and data, not on emotions, threats and accusations.

Should the NEP continue to be race-based or needs-based to end poverty, regardless of ethnicity?

A persuasive argument can be made that even if affirmative action is based on need, the bumiputras being the majority population of this country will still be the group that will benefit the most. As reported in the New Economic Model for Malaysia, of the bottom 40% of households that earn less than RM2,000 a month, 77.2% are bumiputras.

In effect, 80% of Malaysian households earn less than RM5,000 per month.

It is no wonder that, according to the Internal Revenue Board, only one million of the 12.7 million Malaysians in the work force are eligible to pay tax, making wages and salaries contribution to Malaysia’s GDP very low.

The EPF reported that 78.6% of its contributors earn less than RM3,000 monthly. The low salary can be explained by the fact that some 77% of Malaysian workers have only SPM qualifications.

These are all troubling data in a country that aims to attain developed country status, with per capita income of RM48,000 by 2020.

Even if this is achievable, without addressing the gaping income inequality, this high income country status will remain an illusion for the individuals making up 80% of Malaysian households earning less than RM5,000 a month.

Obviously, the details of the BEE still need to be worked out. A major concern is that the policy announcement made no mention of targeting the bottom 40%, to reduce the inequity gaps between the rich and poor, the urban and rural, the bumiputras in the peninsula and those in Sabah and Sarawak, where poverty rates are higher.

There is also worry that a resort to quotas yet again will further reduce bumiputra competitiveness and resilience in an increasingly interconnected, globally competitive world economy.

Much has been written and debated on the effectiveness of affirmative action policies to redress historical injustices. A new book on the New Economic Policy, The New Economic Policy in Malaysia: Affirmative Action, Horizontal Inequalities and Social Justice (National University of Singapore Press, 2013), edited by Edmund Terrence Gomez and Johan Saravanamuttu, suggests four lessons to be learnt.

> First, the duration of affirmative action. Any such policy based on horizontal inequalities (inequalities based on culturally defined groups, rather than individuals or households) must have a time limit. Research shows that the most successful period of the NEP was its social restructuring phase in the first 15 years.

Significant progress was made to eradicate poverty, increase bumiputra ownership of share capital, increase bumiputras in the professional and management category of occupations, and reduce income disparity between bumiputras and non-bumiputras. The focus on education for bumiputras paid high dividends in creating a bumiputra professional and middle-class group.

The question being asked today is whether the results of continuing affirmative action policies and instruments are worth the billions of resources poured in, and worth the impact on economic growth, efficiency and competitiveness, and bumiputra independence and resilience.

> Second is inequality of access. This has led to growing intra bumiputra income inequality. Who are those who have benefited most from IPOs allocated to bumiputras?

Even then, the government has admitted of the RM54bil worth of stocks allocated to bumiputras since 1971, only RM2bil remains in bumiputra hands.
A clear spatial divide (disparities between beneficiaries in different regions) has appeared where poverty is most severe in the Malay heartland of Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Perlis and among the orang asli and non-Malay bumiputras, with Sabah being the country’s poorest state with a poverty rate of close to 20%.

> Third, affirmative action should focus on providing high quality primary and secondary education to better prepare bumiputras to take advantage of the tertiary educational opportunities offered to them.

The high unemployment rate among bumiputra graduates, and the high percentage of local bumiputra graduates being absorbed into Government and statutory bodies show a lack of capacity to acquire a sound education that can lead to more competitive advantage in the labour market.

A study on the impact of exclusive bumiputra admissions quotas and academic performance was revealing.

Of the 271 first semester students studying linear algebra in an engineering faculty, only 13.6% of those who scored an A in matriculation mathematics scored an A in the university course, while 61.6% of those who scored an A in STPM mathematics scored an A in university algebra.

Evidently, the STPM of the national school system prepared the students better for university than the specially set-up matriculation system to improve bumiputra performance in maths and science.

> Fourth, preferential treatment in business to produce a bumiputra commercial and industrial community has failed to propel the growth of a large robust pool of independent bumiputra businesses.

According to a study, in spite of intensive privatisation and a policy of “picking winners”, no bumiputra-owned firm appears in the Top 10 lists of companies either by revenue, profit or return on revenues.

State support for development of Malay capital has fostered the expansion of a bumiputra rentier class and a corrupting intertwining of business and politics that undermine economic confidence, growth and competition.

Before more handouts are given out in the name of a presumed homogenous bumiputra community, there is need for a thorough evidence-based review of Malaysia’s affirmative action policies that began with noble objectives 40 years ago, now mired in cynicism that the policy has largely benefited and enriched an elite class of hand-picked cronies the most.

Already, questions are being asked on who will benefit most from the RM10bil being pumped into ASB2, when some 75% of unit holders of ASB actually own only an average of RM611 per person.
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