Malaysia Bagus News
PETALING JAYA: Five years after Putrajaya approved a bridge project in Bau, Sarawak, under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP), its MP is still waiting for construction to begin.
Rural development minister Mahdzir Khalid said the Selampit bridge was approved in the second rolling plan of the 11MP in 2017, with a maximum allocation of RM27.9 million.
“However, approval for the siting application has yet to be obtained from Sarawak’s state planning authority (SPA).
“The allocation for the project remains at RM27.9 million, with only a small amount of the funds spent for the purpose of preliminary works,” he said in a written parliamentary reply to Mordi Bimol (PH-Mas Gading).
The Mas Gading constituency in Kuching covers the Bau and Lundu districts.
Mordi, of DAP, asked what had happened to the allocation for the Selampit bridge project under Budget 2019 since its implementation was still stuck at the SPA.
Last month, he had also complained about the delay in the RM72 million Jalan Kampung Kendaie project, which he said was approved in 2019 but work had not begun.
He told The Borneo Post the projects proposed for his constituency had been politicised, causing the prolonged delays.
He said the works department had submitted siting applications to Sarawak’s implementation and monitoring unit four times but still did not obtain approval.
PETALING JAYA: The Federal Court’s decision last Friday not to allow Najib Razak’s newly constituted legal team more time to prepare for his case has surprised some observers, with questions being raised as to whether the court is being unduly harsh on the former prime minister.
On July 26, law firm Zaid Ibrahim Suffian TH Liew & Partners notified the apex court that it had been appointed by Najib to take over conduct of his SRC International appeal in place of Shafee & Co, with senior criminal lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik named to replace Shafee Abdullah as lead counsel.
It was a change which Najib said became necessary following the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s refusal five days earlier to admit Jonathan Laidlaw, QC, a renowned white collar criminal lawyer in the UK, to lead submissions before Malaysia’s apex court.
Immediately following its appointment, Najib’s new legal firm, led by former law minister Zaid Ibrahim, wrote to the court seeking an adjournment of the appeal which had been scheduled to run from Aug 15 to 26, citing insufficient time to prepare for what is destined to be a landmark case in the nation’s 65-year history.
That request was shot down at case management last Friday, leaving the team a mere three weeks to prepare.
“The Federal Court has been very stringent in managing the timeline of this particular appeal,” a senior lawyer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told FMT.
“It gives the wrong impression of haste on the court’s part to dispose the appeal, which is something I find quite troubling.”
Najib’s present appeal was filed on Dec 8 last year, immediately after the Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed his appeal from a conviction by the High Court on July 28, 2020 on seven counts of abuse of power and misappropriation of RM42 million in funds belonging to SRC International.
Solicitors Shafee & Co followed this by filing Najib’s petition of appeal on April 25.
The Federal Court then fixed the present appeal dates and directed both the prosecution and defence teams to file their written submissions by July 31.
A change of solicitors is quite commonplace in legal cases, the senior lawyer told FMT, and in any case, it is one which Najib is legally entitled to make.
“Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution grants every accused person, including Najib, the constitutional right to a lawyer of his choice, which is a constituent of the right to a fair trial,” he said. “That necessarily includes the right to discharge counsel and appoint a replacement.”
No reasons need be given by an accused to justify the change, and no sanction of the court is required for the exercise of this right, he said.
The lawyer said that in Najib’s case, the court’s only concern should be whether to allow his new legal team’s request for more time to prepare.
“That calls for the court to exercise its judicial discretion by evaluating the circumstances giving rise to the request, guided by established principles of law,” he said.
In making that evaluation, he said, the court was obliged to take into account that Najib has a constitutional right to a fair hearing, which includes the right to legal representation of his choosing.
This is especially so because his personal liberty is at stake, he said, adding that since this was his final appeal, Najib stands to be incarcerated as soon as the Federal Court pronounces its verdict.
“Given those factors, a court should ordinarily be slow to deny a request to postpone the hearing so long as it was reasonable and provided it was not an attempt to abuse the court’s processes,” he said.
Commenting on the Federal Court’s directions, Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah pointed to Rule 6(a) of the Legal Profession (Practice and Etiquette) Rules 1978 which states that lawyers may only take over a case if they were able and ready to proceed with the dates fixed by the court.
Cheah said this meant that a litigant who changed lawyers was doing so at the risk of the courts disallowing requests for postponements, adding that the new counsel must be ready to follow court dates which have already been scheduled.
She added that the courts had a discretion as to whether to allow applications for the discharge of counsel and postponement of hearing dates.
“Quite apart from the courts’ discretion, the new lawyers may be liable for professional misconduct and open for disciplinary actions, unless they can justify with good reasons why a postponement was sought,” she said.
Najib’s was no ordinary trial. First charged on July 4, 2018, the case saw 86 witnesses testify (prosecution, 57; defence, 29) over 76 hearing days between April 2019 and March 2020.
Trial judge Nazlan Ghazali’s verdict was delivered orally on July 28, 2020 and was followed by an extensive written judgment spanning more than 500 pages in which he analysed multiple provisions in more than 20 pieces of legislation and cited some 350 precedent cases.
That judgment generated an appeal which was argued in the Court of Appeal over 15 hearing days and gave rise to another 317-page judgment, which is the subject matter of the present appeal.
On top of that, a motion filed by Najib in June this year asking the Federal Court to admit further evidence and order a retrial on the ground that Nazlan ought to have recused himself from presiding on account of an alleged conflict of interests has added numerous additional novel constitutional and legal issues which the apex court will have to contend with during the present appeal.
Shafee’s discharge means that Najib’s new defence team has its work cut out to get up to speed.
That work involves combing finely through thousands of pages of witness statements, documentary evidence tendered at trial, the written judgments of both the High Court and the Court of Appeal, as well as voluminous notes of evidence recorded over the course of the entire proceedings to identify and resolve the numerous legal and factual issues raised.
“On the face of it, the lawyers’ plea for more time appears entirely reasonable as it is obviously necessary to allow them to present their client’s case at a level of competence commensurate with the status and nature of the appeal,” the senior lawyer said.
“So far, there has been nothing to suggest that Najib and his legal team are abusing the processes of the court or otherwise acting improperly.”
Surprised by its rigidity in the matter, a veteran Umno politician, also speaking on condition of anonymity, believes that the Federal Court’s stand appears to be “out of character”.
“In recent years, the judiciary has been rightly lauded for its independence, especially in high-profile cases,” he said. “Our judges have repeatedly demonstrated virtues of integrity, fairness, honesty and transparency which, until recently, were thought to have been forever lost.”
Despite its complexities, Najib’s case has taken just over four years to reach the apex court, he noted.
“I suppose overwhelming public interest and outrage have dictated that the case move swiftly,” he added, noting that even Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy II trial ran for more than six years.
“My own observation is that throughout the proceedings, both Najib and his counsel have always accorded the courts due respect,” he said. “Never once has Najib mocked the courts.”
He said that some consideration must also go to the two personalities fronting Najib’s new legal team.
“Zaid Ibrahim and Hisyam Teh are both well-known in legal circles as professionals and gentlemen who will never lend their names to any attempt to abuse the court’s processes,” he said, “and it is unlikely that they would ask for anything beyond what is reasonable.”
“Whispers on the ground” suggest that Najib deserves fairer treatment than what he appears to be getting, he said.
“If, at the conclusion of the appeal, the Federal Court decides that the former prime minister must serve time for his crimes, let it be only because he has failed to raise a meritorious defence, not because he was prevented from doing so,” he said.
PETALING JAYA: The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) is still deciding whether there is enough evidence to prosecute a preacher who allegedly denounced Muslims for cleaning up other places of worship after last December’s massive floods.
“The investigation paper has been submitted to the AGC’s prosecution division,” said law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar in a written parliamentary reply.
“It is being studied before further instructions can be given by the AGC whether the available evidence meets elements of an offence under the law or otherwise.”
He was responding to a question by R Sivarasa (PH-Sungai Buloh), who wanted to know whether the AGC would take any action against preacher Idris Sulaiman for allegedly disparaging non-Islamic religions, specifically Hinduism.
Idris had reportedly said Muslims should not clean other places of worship, even during flood relief efforts.
He was responding to a video that went viral in January showing young volunteers, including students from International Islamic University Malaysia, cleaning a Hindu temple in Klang.
Sentul district police chief Beh Eng Lai had confirmed receiving a police report and said the case would be investigated for “wounding the religious feelings of any person” and internet abuse.
PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad has challenged former attorney-general Apandi Ali to prove that his children became millionaires while he was the prime minister.
This came after Apandi had reportedly asked, “Where else in this world can a prime minister’s children become millionaires?”
Mahathir said his children were not allowed to do any business with the government, let alone join a government party, when he was the prime minister.
“If my children had indeed become millionaires, please show proof of the dates they were declared millionaires and the evidence of them being millionaires,” he said in a statement.
He said that if the claim could not be proven, the statement would be considered slander and he had the right to take legal action.
He was responding to four questions posed by Apandi on Facebook last month, including on the Pulau Batu Puteh case, the Sulu claim, and Apandi’s dismissal suit as attorney-general.
Apandi had asked why the Mahathir government had chosen to settle a wrongful dismissal suit against him through a tacit agreement, and whether this meant Mahathir had acted arbitrarily and illegally in letting him go as AG.
Mahathir clarified that Apandi was dismissed because the US justice department and, subsequently, the local courts had found former prime minister Najib Razak guilty of wrongdoing. Yet, he said, Apandi had cleared him.
He said this showed Apandi was negligent in claiming that Najib had done no wrong.
“Apandi’s actions show that he does not adhere to the rule of law. He is not suitable to be AG. The government has the right to axe people who made wrong decisions and in the past, it had stripped many of their positions for doing so,” he said.
He said Malaysia dropped the Pulau Batu Puteh claim to respect an earlier agreement with Singapore. If Malaysia had not dropped the claim, then Indonesia also had grounds to claim Sipadan and Ligitan islands off Sabah. The International Court of Justice decided the two islands belonged to Malaysia in 2002.
“An international accord by a sovereign state must be fulfilled as a matter of trust. Otherwise, Malaysia will not be trusted to honour agreements with other countries. Malaysia will lose its credibility.
“It was a mistake when a Johor government officer told Britain that Batu Puteh did not belong to them. After all, we got Middle Rock which could be reclaimed similarly as Pulau Layang Layang,” he said.
As for the Sulu claim, Mahathir said Najib was to blame as he arbitrarily ceased payments to the Sulu heirs without advice from the AG at that time.
“The claim by the heirs of the Sulu sultanate was made during the BN (Barisan Nasional) government under Najib. The BN government did not act to reject the jurisdiction of the Spanish courts or to refund the payments that had been stopped,” he said.
PETALING JAYA: A Malaysian doctor has been deported from New Zealand after serving five years in prison for sexual assault.
David Lim, 46, was convicted for sexually assaulting four young men under anaesthesia during consultations for minor ailments in 2014. They woke up to find him touching their private parts, the hearing was told.
Lim, who now identifies as a female, was served with a deportation order at the end of her five-year sentence on June 1, the New Zealand Herald reported.
Foreigners risk deportation when convicted of a criminal offence in New Zealand. Lim is no longer allowed to return there.
Lim had moved to New Zealand in 2006 and had previously trained as a doctor in Scotland. She was a registrar at Hawke’s Bay Hospital in Hastings, New Zealand, for three years. She had declined parole on four occasions since 2019.
In 2018, a medical tribunal banned Lim from practising medicine in the country and ordered her to pay NZ$4,380 in costs.
KUALA TERENGGANU: An oil palm plantation worker was fined RM10,000 and sentenced to 14 days’ jail by the sessions court here today after he pleaded guilty to offering a bribe of RM200 to a policeman in Kemaman last month.
Judge Dazuki Ali, who handed down the sentence to Radzali Bahari, 41, also ordered him to serve 10 months’ jail if he fails to pay the fine.
Radzali pleaded guilty to offering a bribe of RM200 to a police officer on duty at the Ayer Puteh police station as an inducement not to be detained and have his urine tested at 4pm on July 12.
He was charged under Section 17(b) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009.
PETALING JAYA: Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional will face a gloomy future if Muhyiddin Yassin is no longer at the helm of the party and coalition, says a political analyst.
Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara said Bersatu mostly comprised “unoriginal” leaders, though they were perceived as having extensive experience in the political arena.
“If you were to exclude these ‘outsiders’, there aren’t many original Bersatu leaders, except for (deputy president) Ahmad Faizal Azumu. That’s Bersatu’s problem right now.
“If Muhyiddin were to retire, it will be difficult to look for his replacement. Faizal’s credibility has also been often questioned by others, which only makes it harder for Bersatu,” he told reporters.
Faizal, the former Perak menteri besar, is currently the youth and sports minister in Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s Cabinet.
Bersatu’s “unoriginal” leaders that Azmi cited include Hamzah Zainudin and Mustapa Mohamed, who were previously in Umno, and Azmin Ali, who defected from PKR in 2020.
On Saturday, Muhyiddin said he was prepared to retire from politics after the next general election (GE15), though he would contest in GE15 if that was what the grassroots wanted.
However, the former prime minister said GE15 would likely be the last time he will be standing in an election.
Azmi said Bersatu needed a breath of fresh air and to get away from Muhyiddin’s shadow after the PN lynchpin’s defeats in the Melaka and Johor state elections.
He said this was not about PN coming up with a new logo, but for its leadership to be changed in order to attract voters’ confidence.
Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid said Bersatu information chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan seemed the most qualified individual to take over the party should Muhyiddin choose to step down.
With other parties starting to put their own young leaders at the fore, he said, Bersatu could not afford to be left out, especially with young voters set to cast their ballots in GE15.
“For me, the most eligible individual when it comes to this is Wan Saiful, whose ideas reflect a maturity in understanding the realities of Malaysian politics.
“With political parties starting their transition to the generation born after the 1970s, such as Rafizi Ramli (PKR), Loke Siew Fook (DAP) and Khairy Jamaluddin (Umno), Bersatu cannot be left out in pushing up leaders who are in their 40s, who young voters will feel more connected with,” he said.
IPOH: Police arrested four foreigners for suspected involvement in the murder of another foreign national at a house in Buntong here on Sunday.
Perak police chief Mior Faridalathrash Wahid said the suspects, aged 33 to 46, who were related to the victim, were detained at 1.15pm yesterday.
He said police received a report from a 40-year-old man that his brother, aged 37, had been found unconscious in the house on Sunday morning.
The victim was confirmed dead by medical officers and the case was classified as sudden death.
However, the autopsy revealed that he died from injuries to his abdominal area inflicted by a blunt object, and the case was reclassified under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder.
He said police seized a hammer believed to be the murder weapon.
PETALING JAYA: A quota for Bumiputera traders at malls owned by government-linked companies (GLC) will not help these entrepreneurs compared to having a comprehensive plan aimed at encouraging them to do business, says a Malay business group.
The Malay Chamber of Commerce (DPMM) said these malls should offer packages that would cover the traders’ rentals to ensure the Bumiputera traders could be competitive.
Its president, Abdul Halim Husin, said a quota for Bumiputera-owned businesses at malls would not have much of an impact. He said the main issue was how goods and brands usually sold by the traders were not suitable for such malls.
Halim said more Bumiputera traders would dare to venture into malls if they were given more affordable rental rates and could set up shop alongside their non-Bumiputera counterparts.
“If there’s a 30% quota for Bumiputeras, they shouldn’t be all in one place,” he said, adding that segregating traders based on race would only see people interacting with those of their own ethnicity.
He said placing Bumiputera traders among their non-Bumiputera counterparts would add to the customers’ shopping experience, giving them a chance to see items they might not usually buy.
Last week, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government planned to review the management of shopping malls owned by GLCs to ensure they were managed by local companies.
He said this was to make certain that more Bumiputera traders would operate there.
In November, Ismail had said Putrajaya had proposed quotas for Bumiputera-owned businesses at “strategic” locations such as malls to increase the community’s economic participation.
PETALING JAYA: Selangor MCA has suggested the price of affordable homes in Selangor be reduced by 50% if Barisan Nasional manages to win power in the state at the coming general election.
Selangor MCA chief Ng Chok Sin suggested the price of affordable homes built under a state government programme be reduced from RM250,000 to RM125,000.
However, it was conditional on BN winning Selangor, the Star quoted him as saying.
Speaking at the Selangor BN convention, he said the MCA hoped that BN would look into aid for entrepreneurs, especially women, by providing them with capital and training.
“There will be a one-stop centre consisting of all relevant government agencies to benefit entrepreneurs, in a bid to make Selangor the biggest entrepreneurial hub in the nation,” he said.
JUSTCLICK & CONNECT