EC should consider racial harmony

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Though in some constituencies it is inevitable to have a single race dominance electorate, the Election Commission should consider the multiracial aspect particularly in the urban seats.

The amendment of the boundaries with no extra seats in the recent recommendation can be a repercussion in term of unity, hence it can’t be fait accompli.

At the outset by looking into number of voters in the redelineation, with our support concentrated in densely populated urban or semi-urban seats, EC’s proposal would likely be detrimental to Gerakan.

The proposal also reflects the election now has torn apart any remaining fictions about interethnic harmony in Malaysia.

The redelineation  supposed to look at the composition of ethnic Malay, Indian, and Chinese, in short representing all Malaysians instead of domination of a single race.

Peninsular Malaysia now has a situation in which ethnic Malays dominate the ruling party, and minorities, including the Chinese, have almost completely gone to the opposition. Not a recipe for interethnic harmony.

Gerakan are studying the implication seriously and will likely file in the any objection in due course.

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Proposed amendment of Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976 need to be fine-tuned.

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Other contradictory laws should be amended otherwise the LRA Bill will render problematic and invalid

I have recently scrutinized the proposed draft of the Bill to amend Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) 1976 (LRA) which was slated to affirm precedence enjoyed by civil courts in mediating divorce and child custody cases involving spouses who convert to Islam after marriage. I noted that the proposed draft of the LRA Bill includes 6 amendments of existing sections with an addition of 2 new sections. However, I am concerned on the omission of any proposed amendments to the Bill that would seek to resolve the longstanding issue of unilateral conversion of minors.

After carefully studied the Bill, I conclude that it needs to be fine-tuned not to mention some technical errors, I have had lengthy discussions on the Bill among party colleagues and felt that despite being exhaustive, the Bill fails to address the pressing concern that minor children should not be unilaterally converted, we will engage with the Home Ministry to express our views and recommendations.

It is important that the tabling of LRA Bill is met with similar effort to amend Article 12 (4), 121 (1A), Item 1 List 2 of the 9th Schedule of the Federal Constitution and Section 46 (2) of the Islamic Family Law Act and Section 95 (b) of the Administration of Islamic Law Act. For instance, he pointed out that “ibu atau bapa” in Article 12 (4) of the Federal Constitution in Bahasa Malaysia version should streamline with its English version of “parent” or “ibubapa” allowing both parent to determine the religion of a person under the age of 18. He also pointed out that Section 46 (2) of the Islamic Family Law Act has jurisdiction to decide on divorce from civil marriages, and Section 95 (b) of the Administration of Islamic Law Act enables single parent to convert the child unilaterally.

I assert that these existing legal provisions contradict with the spirit and objective of the LRA Bill that should be also be addressed.  The law reform should be conducted comprehensively and concurrently to eliminate legal confusion or misinterpretation stemmed from technical glitches and contradiction. He added that otherwise the proposed LRA Bill will be problematic and render invalid.

I reiterate that the amendments proposed in the LRA Bill seek to remedy the issue of conversion in marriage and child custody, but it has not achieved the intended objective which is to prevent the conversion of minors that proven to be the most delicate and intricate issue affecting today’s society. I am hopeful that a positive outcome could be reached with a sincere and practical approach to seek a permanent solution to the issue.

Universal Suffrage for PM and AG?

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Corruption and abuse of power are the main reasons why our country is not progressing to where it should be.  It has been said it is the Prime Minister (PM) who can change it and an independent Attorney General  (AG) to execute the laws (as the MACC has no prosecution power) in oder to make it happens.

Under the Article 43(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution, our PM who is a member of the Dewan Rakyat is appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to preside over the Cabinet, who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of that DR.  It has been a convention that the President of Umno is usually the person commands the majority confidence when BN wins in the past GE.

Whether such convention is good or not is subject to argument especially with today’s scenario.  This is so when the PM has to rely on Umno members in order to secure his position. It could well be the reason why his hands are tight in order to implement policies that are not in favour of the warlords etc. Simply put regardless of how noble or visionary the PM is, he can be under threat or manipulated, hence he is obliged to some of the leaders in order to hold on to his position.

Perhaps it is high time to change such grossly over centralised politics or outdated system.  We may consider whether the PM should be directly elected by the people.  This would considerably increase accountability, independence and lead to a much clearer separation of powers ( I know some are against such reform by quoting Israel or the rejected similar proposal in UK and Thailand previously as an example.  We need to realise the present situation in our country is different).

In principle, a directly elected PM may be more accountable and “stronger” in the sense that he can be removed from office by popular vote.

I believe with direct election of the PM, he can concentrate on his power and could possibly makes our nation more sustainable and predictable (I am referring to any PM and not DS Najib only).

As for the AG enough has been said about his controversial dual-role which often seen as favouring the ruling government.  We must admit it, there is a breakdown in the balance of operation in our government system here.

Under Article 145, he is appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the PM.

It is the AG’s responsibility to ensure that the laws are enforced, regardless of who is he or she.  Yet in our current system the AG’s loyalty is torn between the laws he swears to uphold and the PM.

The answer to this issue lies not in decrying the politicisation  of the AG’s office by PM but instead in making the AG independent and politically accountable through nationwide election.  He will be then has the democratic legitimacy and mandate to even check the power of the PM (again I am not referring to DS Najib) and his cabinet while ensuring the laws of the land are enforced.

In addition if an elected AG gain his position from voter preferences, his independence would not create conflicts with the PM’s ability to implement his policies.

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