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Saturday, October 10, 2015

1MDB – what the Bank Negara could do


In a stunning development yesterday, Bank Negara Malaysia (“BNM”) broke tradition to deliver a very public statement of its obvious disagreement and disenchantment with the Attorney General over the latter’s failure to proffer charges against those responsible for causing 1MDB to breach the provisions of the Exchange Control Act (“ECA”) 1953.

In a carefully, but strongly worded statement on its website, (http://www.bnm.gov.my/index.php?ch=en_press&pg=en_press_all&ac=3276&lang=en), the BN states that it “is duty bound to conduct its investigations with the highest professional care and diligence,” clearly implying that it has done everything that is expected of it in investigating 1MDB over various allegations of wrongdoings where such wrongdoings come within the purview and ambit of the BNM’s functions, duties and powers.

In the same statement, the BNM points out that “the decision to initiate criminal prosecution lies solely with the Attorney General,” thus implying that the Attorney General should be solely responsible and answerable for his decision not to charge anybody in respect of these matters.

I had in my article “The administration of justice in Malaysia - a glaring misconception” (http://art-harun.blogspot.my/2010/11/administration-of-justice-in-malaysia.html) explained how our administration of criminal justice works, or ought to work. Basically, our criminal justice system consists “of four separate, but essential, machinations.” They are the police or other investigative authorities, prosecution, defence and the Courts. The police investigates. The prosecution decides whether or not to prosecute and if so, it proffers the charge and prosecute. The lawyers defend the accused. The Courts  adjudicate.”

In the 1MDB matters, the BNM is the investigative authority. It has clearly completed its investigation. It then prepared an investigation paper and forwarded it to the Attorney General. In this case, the Attorney General has chosen not to follow the BNM’s recommendation for charges to be proffered against those responsible for the breaches of the ECA. The BN asked for a review of the Attorney General’s baffling and perplexing decision. The Attorney General stuck to his decision and declared that no offence has been committed.

That decision, in view of the BNM’s findings, is indeed perplexing. It makes a mockery of the investigative authority’s good work. While it is arguable that the Attorney General does not have to explain the reason for his inaction, clearly his decision in this case, where the investigative authority has deemed it fit to even list out the breaches of the ECA publicly, demands scrutiny from the public and the Parliament. He must answer this mystery and explain himself.

Like any other servant of the nation, no matter how high the position is, no one is above the law or is unanswerable to the nation and the people. The duty to explain can’t be more defined when the investigating authority, after a full and thorough investigation, strongly recommends that charges be filed, not once, but twice and yet the Attorney General had found it fit to not follow such recommendations.
The refusal by the Attorney General to explain his action or inaction will only deepen the trust deficit that is currently suffered by the government.

This will further erode investors’ confidence in our system of governance resulting in capital flights, slide of the ringgit and further downgrading of our sovereign rating as well as international snigger by the international community whenever our country is mentioned, more particularly when our PM champions moderation and the infusion of various Islamic teachings in our governance as well as a “transformation” of this blessed nation.

The Attorney General must bear in mind that it is not immune from legal scrutiny. In the celebrated case of Rosli Dahlan v The Attorney General and 11 Others, Justice Vazeer Alam bravely and correctly states:

“I am afraid that the notion of absolute immunity for a civil servant even when mala fide or abuse of power in the exercise of their prosecutorial power is alleged in the pleading is anathema to the modern day notions of accountability.
…..This is in keeping with developments in modern jurisprudence that absolute immunity for public servants has no place in a progressive democratic society.” (emphasis added).

The Attorney General should be well reminded of the above High Court decision that has since been approved by the Court of Appeal. After all, the Attorney General was a Federal Court Judge himself. He should also be reminded of his oath of office, lest the oath is just reduced into mere formality that is forgotten as soon as it has been uttered.

Meanwhile, the BN has taken a step further. It says,
on its part, the Bank concluded that permissions required under the ECA for 1MDB’s investments abroad were obtained based on inaccurate or without complete disclosure of material information relevant to the Bank’s assessment of 1MDB’s applications.
Therefore, the Bank has revoked three permissions granted to 1MDB under the ECA for investments abroad totalling USD1.83 billion and also issued a direction under the Financial Services Act 2013 to 1MDB to repatriate the amount of USD1.83 billion to Malaysia and submit a plan to the Bank for this purpose.”

In its response, 1MDB apparently has “acknowledged and respected the authority of Bank Negara Malaysia  (BNM) to revoke its permissions and to issue any direction it deems fit under the Financial Services Act 2013.” (http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/10/09/1MDB-Bank-Negara-accepts/) However, 1MDB says that it has spent all the money and is not a position to repatriate the money to Malaysia.

In other words, 1MDB has clearly stated its inability to comply with the BNM’s direction. 1MDB has failed to state whether it is willing to look at ways of repatriating the money. The way I read 1MDB’s statement is that it is nonchalant about the whole matter. “I have spent all the money and I don’t have the money anymore and so I can’t pay you.” That is in effect what 1MDB is saying.

So, what can the BNM do next?

Fear not. I am sure Tan Sri Zeti and the good team at BNM knows their powers. And I am sure further actions will be taken by BNM to deliver the full force of the BNM’s powers and the laws on 1MDB. Rosli Dahlan pointed out to me this very interesting thing today.

The answer lies in the Financial Services Act 2013. This is, among others what it says:


“Section 239  Civil action by Bank
Where it appears to the Bank that there is a reasonable likelihood that any person will contravene or has contravened or will breach or has breached or is likely to fail to comply with or has failed to comply with any-
(a) provisions of this Act;
(b) provisions of any regulations made pursuant to this Act;
(c) order made or direction issued by the Bank under this Act including an order made under section 94 or a direction issued under section 116 or 156, subsection 214(6) or section 216;
(d) standards, condition, restriction, specification, requirement or code made or issued pursuant to any provision of this Act; or
(e) action taken by the Bank under subsection 234(3),

the Bank may institute civil proceedings in the court seeking any order specified under subsection 240(1) against that person whether or not that person has been charged with an offence in respect of the contravention or breach or whether or not a contravention or breach has been proved in a prosecution.     
(1) The court may, on an application by the Bank under section 239, make one or more of the following orders:
(a) an order requiring the person to pay an amount which shall not exceed three times-
(i) the gross amount of pecuniary gain made or loss avoided by such person as a result of the contravention, breach or non-compliance; or
(ii) the amount of money which is the subject matter of the contravention, breach or non-compliance,
as the case may be;
(b) an order requiring the person to pay a civil penalty in such amount as the court considers appropriate having regard to the severity or gravity of the contravention, breach or non-compliance, but in any event not exceeding twenty-five million ringgit;
(c) an order-
(i) restraining the person from engaging in any specific conduct; or
(ii) requiring the cessation of the contravention, breach or non-compliance;
(d) an order directing a person to do a certain act;

(e) an order directing the person, or any other person who appears to have been involved in the contravention, breach or non-compliance to take such steps as the court may direct to mitigate the effect of such contravention breach or non-compliance;
(f) an order directing the authorized person, operator of a designated payment system, registered person or market participant to remedy the contravention, breach or noncompliance including making restitution to any other person aggrieved by such contravention, breach or noncompliance;
(g) where a person has refused or failed to comply with any action taken by the Bank under subsection 234(3), an order directing the person to comply with such action that is taken by the Bank; and
(h) any other order deemed appropriate by the court including any ancillary order deemed desirable in consequence of the making of an order under any provision in this subsection.

(2) The court may make an order under subsection (1) against a person-
(a) who is the director, controller, officer or partner, or was purporting to act in any such capacity; or
(b) who is concerned in the management of the affairs, of a body corporate or unincorporate in the event where the contravention, breach or non-compliance has been committed by the body corporate or unincorporate unless that person proves that the contravention, breach or non-compliance was committed without his consent or connivance and that he exercised such diligence to prevent the commission of the contravention, breach or non-compliance as he ought to have exercised, having regard to the nature of his function in that capacity and to the circumstances.

(3) If a contravention, breach or non-compliance is committed by a person-
(a) who is a director, controller, officer or partner of a body corporate or unincorporate, or was purporting to act in any such capacity; or
(b) who is concerned in the management of the affairs of a body corporate or unincorporate,
an order under subsection (1) can be made against the body corporate or unincorporate.

(4) Any sum ordered by the court under subsection (1), shall be applied-
(a) firstly, to reimburse the Bank for all costs of the proceedings in respect of the contravention, breach or non-compliance; and
(b) secondly, to pay persons aggrieved by the contravention, breach or non-compliance in the case of an order under paragraph (1)(f); or
(c) thirdly, to pay into and form part of the Federal Consolidated Fund unless the court orders for such sums or part thereof to be used to compensate persons who have suffered loss as a result of the contravention, breach or non-compliance.

(5) If the authorized person, operator of a designated payment system, registered person or market participant considers that it is not practicable to provide a remedy to the persons referred to in paragraph (1)(f), in view of the amount of any potential distribution to each person or the difficulty of ascertaining or notifying the person whom it is appropriate to provide a remedy, the authorized person, operator of a designated payment system, registered person or market participant shall lodge such amount with the Registrar of Unclaimed Moneys in accordance with the provisions of the Unclaimed Moneys Act 1965.

(6) The court may revoke or vary an order made by it under this section or suspend the operation of such an order.

(7) The powers conferred on the court under this section are in addition to any of its other powers, and do not derogate from its other powers provided under any other written law.

(8) Applications under this section may be commenced at any time within six years from the date on which the Bank discovered the contravention, breach.”

In a nutshell, the BNM can sue, by way of a civil action, the persons who fail to comply with its direction to repatriate the money to Malaysia. In that civil suit, the BMM may obtain orders for the persons to:
a)     Pay an amount which is three times of any monetary gains made by those persons; or,
b)     Pay an amount which is three times the amount involved in the matter;
c)     Pay a civil penalty in any amount the Court thinks appropriate considering the facts of the matter;
In addition, BNM may also ask for orders that the persons responsible should take step to comply with its direction or to mitigate the non-compliance. This kind of orders will, in my opinion, take the form of a mandatory injunction. The failure to comply with a mandatory injunction will of course expose those persons to contempt proceedings which may be punishable by imprisonment or fines or both.

When the offender is a company (as in this case, 1MDB is a company), all the above actions may be taken against:
who is concerned in the management of the affairs, of a body corporate or unincorporate in the event where the contravention, breach or non-compliance has been committed by the body corporate or unincorporate unless that person proves that the contravention, breach or non-compliance was committed without his consent or connivance and that he exercised such diligence to prevent the commission of the contravention, breach or non-compliance as he ought to have exercised, having regard to the nature of his function in that capacity and to the circumstances.”
The above provision is very wide in its purview. It appears even if the person is not a director or officer of the company involved, he might still be held liable if he was one “who is concerned in the management of the affairs” of that company. That person however can be excused if he “proves that the contravention, breach or non-compliance was committed without his consent or connivance and that he exercised such diligence to prevent the commission of the contravention, breach or non-compliance as he ought to have exercised, having regard to the nature of his function in that capacity and to the circumstances.”


Let’s wait and see whether the BNM will exercise these powers. Being a civil suit, the BNM can bring the action on its own without the involvement of the Attorney General. I am sure the firm of Messrs Lee Hishamuddin Allen and Gledhill, of which Rosli Dahlan is a Senior Partner, would be glad to help the BNM. That firm after all, is on the panel of the BNM.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Dismissal of the Attorney General – negotiating the Constitutional minefield




The dismissal of the Attorney General by the Prime Minister recently raises serious Constitutional issues affecting the legality and hence, validity, of the dismissal.

Not much detail is known publicly on how the dismissal was orchestrated and effected.

However, from various reports, we know that on the 28th July 2015, the Attorney General was relieved of his office with effect from the 27th July 2015. The Attorney General reportedly said that he did not know of the dismissal until he was informed of it on the 28th. He refused further comment and has since then remained silent.

Let us now visit the relevant Constitutional provisions affecting the office of the Attorney General.


Who appoints the Attorney General?

Article 145 (1) provides that the King shall appoint the Attorney General. In appointing him, the King acts on the advice of the Prime Minister. In this respect the King does not have any discretion but to follow the advice of the Prime Minister.

Upon his appointment, the Attorney General holds office “during the pleasure of” the King. This is provided by article 145 (5).

During the pleasure of the King – the meaning

Holding office during the pleasure of the Crown is a Common Law rule. It is the prerogative of the Crown where all servants of the Crown will hold office during the pleasure of the Crown. They can therefore be dismissed at will by the Crown. This is otherwise known as “at pleasure doctrine”.

Upon the advent of the British colonialism, this concept found its way into the Constitution of many Commonwealth countries. In India, for example, members of certain services, including the Governors and the Attorney General, hold office during the pleasure of the President.
Although the doctrine  sounds as if the King or President, as the case may be, holds an absolute power to hire and fire, the Constitutional make up does not, in reality, afford the King or the President such absolute power.

In India, for example, article 74 of the Constitution provides that the President, being only a nominal head, must always act in accordance with the “aid and advice” of the Council of Ministers.

In addition, case laws in India, such as B.P. Singhal v. Union of India & Another Writ Petition (Civil) No. 296 of 2004 established that the doctrine in its absolute unrestricted application does not exist in India. That decision put paid to the theory that the doctrine grants unfettered discretion to act arbitrarily or whimsically to the President.

It is further said that while the doctrine enables the removal of a servant at the pleasure of the appointing authority, even summarily and without notice, such removal can only be good for valid reason(s).

In Canada for example, in the case of Wells v. Newfoundland 1999 (177) DL (4th) 73(SCC), the Court held that the “at pleasure” doctrine is no longer justifiable in the context of modern employment concept.

In Malaysia, within the Constitutional framework of the country, it therefore remains to be seen whether Article 145 (1) would be interpreted by our Courts in a way that gives an unfettered discretion to the King to dismiss the Attorney General at will and without valid reason.

The argument that such unfettered discretion does not exist, considering the Constitution being modelled after the concept of democracy governed by rule of law, would however be difficult to resist. Any pronouncement that the discretion to dismiss the Attorney General based on “at pleasure” doctrine is unfettered and absolute would make a mockery of the doctrine of separation of powers and open the provision to abuse and misuse.


How does the King exercise his powers?

This is not the first time this question has arisen. During the Perak power snatch, questions also arose as to how the Sultan exercised his powers under the State Constitution.

We have to go back to the basic.

The King in Malaysia is a Constitutional Monarch. That means his powers, duties and functions are specified and defined by the Federal Constitution. He must therefore only acts in accordance with the Constitution.

There are generally two types of powers that the King is possessed of in the Constitution. Firstly, the discretionary powers. These are the powers that the King may exercise on his own and without the advice of any party. There are only three discretionary powers that the King has:

i)                The power to appoint the Prime Minister;



ii)                The power to withhold his consent to a request for the dissolution of parliament;



iii)             The power to requisition a meeting of the Conference of Rulers concerned solely with the    privileges, position, honours and dignities of their Royal highnesses, and any action at such a meeting.




Secondly, the non-discretionary powers. These are the powers that the King may only exercise on advice.


The power to dismiss the Attorney General

As stated above, the King appoints the Attorney General on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Attorney General than holds office during his pleasure. The King may therefore dismiss the Attorney General (it is arguable that he can only do so for valid reasons).

The question than is – how does the King dismiss the Attorney General? Can he do it on his own and without advice? If not, whose advice must he follow?

The power to dismiss the Attorney General is not a discretionary power. The King must therefore act only on advice.

Article 40 (1) is relevant in this respect. Essentially, this article provides that, whenever the Constitution does not expressly provide otherwise, the King shall only act:

i)                 on the advice of the Cabinet; or,



ii)               on the advice of a Minister acting under the general authority of the Cabinet.



In taking the advice, the King is also entitled to any information concerning the government which is available to the Cabinet.

As there is no express provision that says otherwise in the Constitution, it is clear that the in dismissing the Attorney General, the King must only act on the advice of the cabinet or a Minister acting under the general authority of the Cabinet.

Was there a cabinet meeting?

An important question than arises.

Did the cabinet meet and make a collective decision to dismiss the Attorney General? If so, when? Who attended? Were the reasons for the dismissal proffered, discussed and deliberated upon?

In other words, was there a meeting of the cabinet convened to discuss the dismissal of the Attorney General and a resolution for his dismissal duly passed at that meeting?

If there was no such meeting, the next question would be was there a Minister (the Prime Minister included) who was acting under the general authority of the cabinet who advised the King to dismiss the Attorney General? By convention, we can assume that the Prime Minister is the Minister who has the general authority of the cabinet.

However, is that really the case?

Even if the Prime Minister was the Minister who was under the general authority of the Cabinet to advise the King, two more important questions arise.

Firstly, can a Minister (or the Prime Minister) acting under a general authority of the cabinet act on his own and without consulting or at least, informing the cabinet, in advising the King to dismiss the Attorney General?

In this respect, it must be noted that under article 40 (1) cited above, the first option is for the cabinet to advise the King. For the cabinet to than properly and legally advise the King, the cabinet would have to meet and deliberate upon the matter and after addressing its collective mind to the issue at hand, the cabinet would then have to resolve to undertake such act.

Surely then, the Minister acting under the general authority of the cabinet would have to at least inform the cabinet of his or her decision to advise the King in any matter, more so, when the matter involves the removal from office of a person occupying a Constitutional position, such as the Attorney General.

Was the Prime Minister in a position of conflict?

Assuming the Prime Minister was acting under the general authority of the cabinet while advising the King to dismiss the Attorney General, another question arises.

This goes to the propriety of the advice and hence, its validity.

The question is – was the Prime Minister in a position of conflict to advise the King on the dismissal of the Attorney General?

It is common knowledge that the former Attorney General had established a special taskforce consisting of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency; the police and the Bank Negara to investigate into allegations of wrongdoings in 1MDB and SRC. In fact, he was the head of that special taskforce.

That investigation was to look into any wrongdoings in 1MDB and SRC. In the weeks preceding the investigation, we know that there were expose by the Wall Street Journal and other publications about the sum of USD 681 million being transferred into bank accounts believed to be the Prime Minister’s account. (The Prime Minister has since admitted that there were “political donations” in his account.)

It is without doubt that the Honourable Prime Minister may be implicated in the investigations by the said special taskforce. Being so, it is respectfully submitted that the Prime Minister was in a position of conflict or potential conflict. That conflict of interest would surely, under the law, disqualify him from advising the King to dismiss the Attorney General.

In those circumstances, the Prime Minister ought to have relinquished his power to advise the King. Arguably, the proper person to advise the King would then be the Deputy Prime Minister. This could be formalised by a cabinet resolution giving the Deputy Prime Minister authority to do so.

More so in a case where no acceptable reason was given for the dismissal. In this respect, it is noted that the official reason was one of health. Apparently the former Attorney General has health problems. However, it is a known fact among the legal circle that the former Attorney General has had the health problems for some time and he did not find the necessity to resign from the problems. In any event, his term would lapse in the month of October this year.

The Prime Minister’s failure to disqualify himself from advising the King due to his conflict of interest renders his advice invalid and unconstitutional. The King had in fact and in law acted on a non-advice.


Conclusion

There is quite obviously a strong arguable case that the dismissal of the Attorney General was unconstitutional. Added to the issues here are also the issues raised by the President of the Bar Council on July 28th this year.

The general public is of course not appraised of all the facts leading to the dismissal of the Attorney General. Utmost in the mind of the general populace is whether there were valid reasons for the dismissal and whether the dismissal was done in a proper manner.

Of course, had there been a cabinet decision on the matter, the chorus of objection and ridicule would be less strident.

Even then questions would still remain on whether the dismissal was politically motivated or worse still, whether it was a part of a series of acts that were designed to stultify investigations into alleged wrongdoings.

The people cannot be blamed for speculating.

Especially in a climate where transparency is at a premium.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Malaysia - the Moderate Country Which Bans a Website

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” – Newton’s 3d law of motion.

The Malaysian government has however, time and again, successfully modified that law. To the Malaysian government, Newton’s 3rd law of motion is also applicable to almost all its policies and initiatives within the political landscape that is unique to the Malaysian one. It is unique because Malaysia and its leaders are special. Not the kind of special that Jose Maurinho proudly ascribe to himself upon his entry to the English Premier League, but well, special nevertheless.

The Malaysian government rewrote that 3rd law thus:

“For every word spoken, there is an equal and absolutely opposite action.”

It is thus without surprise or any sense of irony that the website Sarawak Report has been blocked from access by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, the authority set up by the Malaysian government to regulate and govern, among others, the multimedia industry and usages.
A long time ago, – well, it feels like it was one thousand years ago – when Tun Dr Mahathir launched the Multimedia Super Corridor, he caused the Malaysian government to give a blanket Bill of Guarantee (“BoG”). That BoG, among others, unequivocally and absolutely said that there would not be any internet censorship.

Of course, over the years, like many other promises made by us, that BoG had been amended and changed. Various provisos has been added in order to water it down. It now reads as follows:

“While the Government will not censor the Internet, this does not mean that any person may disseminate illegal content with impunity and without regard to the law. To the extent that any act is illegal in the physical world, it will similarly be outlawed in the online environment. Hence, laws prohibiting dissemination of, for example, indecent / obscene or other illegal materials will continue to apply.

In this regard, relevant ministries and agencies will continue to take appropriate actions and enforce those laws that are under their respective purview.”

The banning of Sarawak Report flies in the face of the literal meaning of that guarantee, a guarantee given to the whole world who wishes to invest in Malaysia in the multimedia sector.

Of course, the MCMC now quotes “national security” and “public order” as the reason for banning Sarawak Report. It says Sarawak Report loves to publish “unverified facts” and that action may affect national security and disrupts public order.

That is laughable.

How many times has this country been invaded by, say, Singapore or Israel as a result of Sarawak Report’s articles? How many times have Malaysians go to the street brandishing parangs and other weapons disrupting public order? How many riots have Sarawak Report caused by its publications of “unverified facts”?

Or was the Low Yat ruckus caused by Sarawak Report’s articles? Or was it an ordinary theft case – yes, thefts have become ordinary in Malaysia – spun out of control by racial supremacists with fertile imagination?

It is amazing that while we move with super-efficient haste against a website that seeks to make the public aware of financial shenanigans within our leadership on “national security” ground, some years ago we allowed Sulu gunmen to invade us, terrorised our villages and citizens, encamped themselves within our territory and later killed 18 of our brave policemen while our then Home Minister was busy with his photo-op with a set of binoculars as his prop! Or was it the other way round? The binoculars was busy with a photo-op with the Minister as a prop?

Quite recently, we were caught unaware with a death camp with mass graves within our borders!
National security you say?

Unverified facts? Slanderous and in fact libelous statements? Our Prime Minister has not been shy to bring court actions against those whom he thinks have defamed him. Why don't the Prime Minister or the whole government sue the pants off of Sarawak Report and its administrators? And perhaps obtain an injunction to stop them from further publishing all these unverified facts?

Or, is the fact that Sarawak Report is based in the United Kingdom got anything to do with the lack of Court action?

By the way, it also does not escape observation that the latest Sarawak Report's allegation - as well as the Wall Street Journal's - has not been effectively nor properly denied. If the facts were unverified, why not deny it in a clear, unequivocal and absolute term? Why hide between jargons and lawyer's letter to seek "explanation"? Deny it and be damn with it. 

Our Prime Minister took pride as the founder of a Global Movement of Moderates, amidst some well written speech, delivered with the supreme talent of an actor in the mould of Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman, in front of an awestruck audience at the United Nation and the august Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

A website of that movement was immediately out up. A CEO and a stable of committees and what haves you were instantly appointed. All bell and whistles. Statements were made. Visions were stated. Logos were made.

At the International Conference on the Global Movement of Moderates (ICGMM), our Prime Minister said:

"Indeed history has shown us the greater civilisation had to overcome greater struggles.

However at this critical juncture of our material progress, although conflicts and clashes persist, the room for dialogue and peaceful co-existence had grown even broader.

 Hence it is imperative that we incorporate a vision of mutual trust based on a mixture of methodical arguments and normative aspirations."

How very lovely of him.

On the website, lofty aspirations were declared. Among others:

“Digital Diplomacy. The advent of ICT/new media makes it possible for diplomacy to be conducted online, widens people participation and exposes the world to new challenges such as cyber war. This necessitates countries to have two kinds of diplomacy: one that is formal and one that is digital.

Democracy and Governance. Conflicts can be avoided if citizens of the world enjoy a certain level of satisfaction that is made possible through the practise of democracy, freedom, human rights and good governance.

Social Cohesion and Inclusive Development. Harmony and prosperity is achieved when there is unity, fairness and equality in citizenship, opportunity and ownership. These are pertinent domestic issues. But foreign policy begins at home.

Youth, Woman and Civil Society. These groups are the most important stakeholders whose expectations are becoming more complex. Issues such as higher education, employment and migration are fast influencing foreign policy. The way forward is to increase their participation in foreign policy decision making.”

This one bears repeating, because it sounds oh-so-nice and good. It makes me cry.

“Democracy and Governance. Conflicts can be avoided if citizens of the world enjoy a certain level of satisfaction that is made possible through the practise of democracy, freedom, human rights and good governance.”

And today what did our great government do? Yes. It bans Sarawak Report.

Laughable. If only it was not so tragic!

In this day and age, our government would do better if it could think why is it that many Malaysians and foreigners choose to believe the “unverified facts” published by Sarawak Report rather than falling for the “verified facts” forced unto the world by those who are entrusted with the job of verifying such facts?

Has that got to do with the immediate witch-hunting by our authorities against those who dare publish and “facts” rather than investigating the wrong-doings that are so apparent from those facts? Yes. We do love to shoot the messengers, don’t we?

Lastly, but by no means the least, in this day and age, only morons and idiots would think that a website and its contents can be effectively blocked.


That is indeed a sad and frightening thought.