Posts Tagged ‘pro-democracy’

Hong Kong: Pan-democrats could be the “kingmakers” in a tight political race

February 17, 2017

By Joyce Lim
Hong Kong Correspondent
The Straits Times

Holding over 25% of the votes, they aim to stop Beijing’s preferred candidate Carrie Lam

On March 26, Hong Kong’s next leader will be voted in by an Election Committee of 1,194 members. That only so few have a say reflects the failure of the 2014 Occupy Protests, where protesters demanded “one man, one vote” in choosing the chief executive.

But the experience has galvanised the pan-democratic, or pro-democracy camp, to be more pragmatic. Previously, they would cast blank votes to show that they do not support pro-establishment contenders. This time, they hold 326 votes – which is more than a quarter of the votes in the Election Committee – and are determined to make them count.

With the election featuring three pro-establishment figures – Mrs Carrie Lam, Mr John Tsang and Ms Regina Ip – for the first time, the pan-democrats could be the “kingmakers” in a tight race.

Former security chief Ip, 66, who won the most votes for a female lawmaker in last September’s Legislative Council Election, was the first among the three to announce her candidacy, followed by Mr Tsang, 65, a former finance chief, and Mrs Lam, 59, a former chief secretary. Others include retired judge Woo Kwok Hing, 70, and radical pan-democrat Leung Kwok Hung, 60.

To become the next chief executive, at least 601 votes are needed. To qualify, each contender needs at least 150 nominations from the Election Committee made up of mostly pro-Beijing property tycoons, lawmakers as well as representatives of professional bodies and trade associations.

That’s the challenge for all but Mrs Lam, who has been endorsed by Beijing. She has reportedly secured 300 to 400 nominations while Mr Tsang has 24 nominations from pan-democrats.

Mr Tsang, who is leading in popularity polls, is seen as the strongest contender to Mrs Lam.

Some see Beijing’s move to name its preferred candidate as its bid to control the election, said Professor Lau Siu Kai, vice-chairman of the Beijing-backed Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies. And it is the pan-democrats’ aim to stop Beijing’s choice candidate from becoming the next chief executive.

“If John Tsang and Woo Kwok Hing are able to join the race, there may be unexpected results,” said Prof Lau, referring to the duo deemed acceptable by the pan-democrats. That is because the next leader would be picked by a secret ballot system, which could see Mrs Lam’s supporters switching sides.

Still, if Beijing had not declared its preferred candidate, it is unlikely that any contender would be able to win enough votes.

Last week, radical lawmaker Leung, better known as “Long Hair”, declared his intention to run and urged pan-democrats not to vote for the other four contenders who “do not represent (the) pro-democracy camp”.

But lawmaker Dennis Kwok, who is coordinating votes from the pan-democrats, told reporters the bloc is considering voting for Mr Tsang, Mr Woo and a third nominee picked from a mock online poll.

With nomination closing on March 1, pan-democrats should decide by next week, he said.

Critics have said Mr Leung’s intention to run has further split the pan-democratic camp already faced with the dilemma of whether to support Mr Tsang. Some worry about the possible backlash from endorsing someone who wants to enact the unpopular national security law.

But with Mr Tsang having a huge lead in popularity polls, even if he turns out to be like incumbent Leung Chun Ying, whose policies are unpopular with Hong Kongers, the pan-democrats could say that the candidate they have endorsed was the people’s choice.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/pan-democratspragmatic-approach-to-upcoming-polls

China Marks Lunar New Year With Prayers, Incense, Fireworks

January 28, 2017

BEIJING — Chinese are heading to temples and fairs to wish for an auspicious start to the Lunar New Year.

Thousands gathered at Beijing’s major temples on Saturday, the first day of the Year of the Rooster. Wearing heavy winter coats, they lit incense sticks and bowed as they prayed for good fortune and health. As many as 80,000 people were expected at the Lama Temple in central Beijing, state television reported.

Beijing’s sprawling spring festival temple fair opened at Ditan Park, where empty tree branches were festooned with red lanterns and traditional goods and foods were for sale.

Other New Year’s traditions include the eating of dumplings in northern China and the lighting of fireworks. Beijing’s government called on Communist Party cadres and government staff not to set off firecrackers due to environmental concerns, but local media reported air pollution levels in Beijing and several other cities still shot up Friday night and early Saturday morning.

Ethnic Chinese and others around the world also marked the holiday with celebrations and visits to temples.

Large crowds gathered in Hong Kong and Malaysia Friday night as the holiday began. In Rio de Janeiro, crowds watched a dragon dance and a performance of tai chi in front of a picture of Rio’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue. New York brought in the holiday with fireworks over the Hudson River.

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Filipinos perform the traditional dragon dance along Session Road in Baguio City ahead of the celebration of the Chinese New Year today.

ANDY ZAPATA JR.

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People watch fireworks explode on the streets of Beijing.

The Lunar New Year: Millions welcome the Year of the Rooster

BEIJING — Residents of China’s capital awoke on Saturday to dense, choking smog after many set off a barrage of fireworks overnight to ring in the Lunar New Year, despite limits and public admonitions against such displays in the congested city.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said harmful particulate matter in the air had hit the second-highest level in five years by Saturday morning, the state-owned China News Service reported.

Beijing launched a “war against pollution” in 2014 as part of a central government promise to reverse damage done by decades of breakneck growth and strengthen powers to shut down and punish polluters. Efforts to clean up the skies in the industrial heartland around Beijing are being thwarted by coal-burning industry and indoor heating, which increases during China’s winter months.

Public health concerns over air pollution have grown and the government has found no source of pollution too small to ignore. They have even taken on outdoor food vendors in recent years, as well as the annual battle against China’s long tradition of lighting fireworks to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

“In setting off fireworks, be conscious of ‘setting off the (pollution) index’,” read an editorial on Saturday in the People’s Daily newspaper, the Communist Party mouthpiece.

Hundreds of millions of people criss-cross China to visit family and friends during the Lunar New Year period, with the government predicting up to 3 billion trips.

In Beijing, efforts to ease smog included neighbourhood postings asking residents not to light fireworks, fewer approvals for firework stalls and officials being warned to lead by example and abstain from the pyrotechnics.

Although state-owned Xinhua reported that purchases of fireworks fell 4.9 percent in Beijing this year, the measures weren’t enough to avoid a spike in pollution from healthy to hazardous levels in a matter of hours.

Beijing’s level of PM2.5, a measure of small particulate matter particularly damaging to health, peaked at 647 micrograms per cubic metre early on Saturday, the national Ministry of Environmental Protection said in a statement on its website.

That was well beyond the upper limit of 500 on China’s air quality index and double the threshold considered hazardous.

The greater region of Beijing, the nearby port city of Tianjin and surrounding Hebei province surpassed peak levels of PM2.5 in 2016, it said.

In response, many on the streets of Beijing wore masks to welcome the Year of the Rooster, including paramilitary police stationed at Beijing’s Lama Temple and spectators at outdoor performances.

Dispersal of the pollution largely depends on weather conditions, with two cold air fronts likely to help reduce pollution in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region through to Wednesday, the environmental ministry said, before conditions deteriorate again and potentially lead to another heavy bout of pollution.

(Reporting by Jake Spring; Additional reporting by Damir Sagolj; Editing by Paul Tait)

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At Hong Kong New Year Fair, Defiance Gives Way to Resignation

HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s Lunar New Year fairs draw thousands of visitors who stroll past stalls of potted narcissus, snack on fish balls and snap up the latest plush toys. In recent years, the largest of the fairs, at Victoria Park, has also become a prime site for political expression.

Two years ago, after street protests failed to achieve greater public participation in the selection of the leader of Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese territory, some holiday stalls offered clothing and other items carrying pointed messages of resistance. This year — before the March election of the leader in which the outcome will, as usual, be decided by pro-Beijing loyalists voting on a short list of vetted candidates — defiance appears to have given way to indignant resignation.

“I feel so helpless that as a Hong Konger, as a citizen, I don’t even have a vote,” said Priscilla Pang, a 22-year-old student, frowning at a wheel of fortune featuring the faces of several potential candidates for the leader, or chief executive. Given a choice, she would pick none of them, she said. “We’re like chickens having food forced down their throats. There’s no use fighting.”

The wheel of fortune was set up by the pro-democracy Civic Party to highlight the closed nature of the election, said Alvin Yeung, the party leader and a legislator.

“Most of the Hong Kong people who came and played the wheel, they don’t have the right to vote,” Mr. Yeung said. “We allow people to take their turn and see who will be the one, but at the end of the day our message is, ‘None of them are your real choice because this election is not a genuine election.’”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/world/asia/hong-kong-new-years-fair-election.html?&moduleDetail=section-news-1&action=click&contentCollection=Asia%20Pacific&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&pgtype=article

Hong Kong: Crowds poured into Victoria Park on Lunar New Year’s eve on Friday

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/education-community/article/2066074/hong-kongs-largest-lunar-new-year-fair-crowded

New Year’s Day rally in Hong Kong — Against heavy handed direction from Beijing — “Sovereignty belongs to the people!”

January 1, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Protesters including pro-democracy lawmakers Lau Siu-lai (bottom C), Edward Yiu (behind Lau) and Nathan Law (bottom L) carry a banner reading “Sovereignty belongs to the people!” during a New Year’s Day rally in Hong Kong on January 1, 2017

HONG KONG (AFP) – Thousands of protesters, chanting “Sovereignty belongs to the people!” marched through Hong Kong on New Year’s Day to protest at the government’s legal bid to unseat some pro-democracy lawmakers.

The four popularly elected legislators, who led the rally, were the latest targets of a government move which pro-democracy parties describe as a witch hunt.

It came after the city’s courts ousted two pro-independence lawmakers for failing to swear their oaths of office correctly, a move backed by Beijing.

The Hong Kong government now wants to bar the other four legislators for alleged breaches in their swearing-in ceremony and in their oaths of allegiance.

“We can see that under Hong Kong’s rule of law, the government, with its unlimited resources, will use legal procedures to bully leaders and representatives with fewer resources,” Joshua Wong, a prominent student leader, told AFP at the rally.

“This has shown that ‘One Country, Two Systems’ is a failure and we should use the 20th anniversary of the handover to reflect on our political situation.”

Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997 under a deal which gives it broad autonomy and preserves its freedoms and the rule of law for 50 years. But there are fears these freedoms are being eroded by Beijing.

“The four lawmakers are genuinely concerned about the future of Hong Kong to ensure that our core values will be maintained,” Peggy Ng, a retired civil servant, told AFP at the rally.

“Particularly, that our next generations will enjoy the freedoms that I have enjoyed before.”

A protester raises a picture of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying with a Chinese word “Prisoner” on his face during a rally on the first day of 2017 in Hong Kong, Sunday, Jan. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

A protester raises a picture of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying with a Chinese word “Prisoner” on his face during a rally on the first day of 2017 in Hong Kong, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. They protest against Beijing’s… (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Court proceedings against the four are scheduled to start in February.

Organisers of the march said 9,150 people attended, while police estimated an maximum attendance of 4,800.

A 1,200-strong pro-Beijing committee will elect Hong Kong’s next leader in March.

The current unpopular chief executive Leung Chun-ying has announced he will not seek re-election, citing family reasons.

Banners at the march caricatured the likely election candidates and highlighted their pro-establishment positions.

Sunday’s rally also sought to raise funds for the four lawmakers to fight the government’s challenge in court.

The two ousted pro-independence lawmakers separately announced last week they were making a final legal bid to overturn their exclusion from the legislature.

Image may contain: one or more people, crowd and outdoor

Thousands of people march on the first day of 2017 at a downtown street in Hong Kong Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, to protest against Beijing’s interpretation of Basic Law and Hong Kong government’s bid to ban pro-democracy… (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Hong Kong’s ousted anti-China lawmakers make final appeal over ban

December 28, 2016

AFP

© AFP/File | Pro-independence lawmakers Baggio Leung (L) and Yau Wai-ching were elected in citywide Hong Kong polls in September but deliberately misread their oaths of office during their swearing-in ceremony

HONG KONG (AFP) – Two ousted pro-independence Hong Kong lawmakers on Wednesday announced they were making a final bid to overturn a controversial Beijing-linked ban preventing them from taking up their seats in parliament.

Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung were elected in citywide polls in September but deliberately misread their oaths of office during their swearing-in ceremony, inserting expletives and draping themselves with “Hong Kong is not China” flags.

This prompted a rare interference by Chinese authorities.

The pair were amongst a handful of rebel candidates who took seats for the first time after the September polls, advocating either independence or self-determination for the southern Chinese city.

The new movement supporting a possible split from Beijing for the semi-autonomous city has gained traction as young pro-democracy campaigners grow increasingly frustrated with a lack of political reform.

Beijing took aim at the pair in a special “interpretation” of the city’s constitution in early November that effectively barred them from taking up their seats because of the way they took the oath.

Following that decision, Yau and Leung were disqualified by the city’s High Court in mid November and lost an appeal to overturn that ban later in the month.

On Wednesday the pair said they had filed appeal documents with the city’s Court of Final Appeal, in hopes of setting a precedent for future elections in Hong Kong.

“It is shaping Hong Kong’s constitutional environment, and even the legitimacy of Legislative Council elections hinge on this case,” Yau told AFP.

The pair are still struggling to raise the funds to bring the case to the city’s highest court.

“We’re determined to appeal because we can?t stop at the Court of Appeal. The impact this case will have on Hong Kong is too big.”

Following Yau and Leung’s failed appeal last month, the government launched another legal bid to unseat an additional four pro-democracy lawmakers for failing to take their oaths properly, in what the opposition camp has called a witch hunt.

Proceedings against the four lawmakers are scheduled to start in February.

Thousands are expected to join a rally on New Year’s Day calling for the government to drop their bid to disqualify the four lawmakers and to press for universal suffrage.

Hong Kong Government Seeks to Ban Four More Pro-Democracy Legislators

December 3, 2016

Moves against opposition lawmakers have already seen two barred from office

Newly elected pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmaker Lau Siu-lai, center, is accompanied by other pro-democracy lawmakers during a press conference in November. Hong Kong’s government said Friday it was seeking to ban four pro-democracy legislators, including Ms. Lau.
Newly elected pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmaker Lau Siu-lai, center, is accompanied by other pro-democracy lawmakers during a press conference in November. Hong Kong’s government said Friday it was seeking to ban four pro-democracy legislators, including Ms. Lau. PHOTO: VINCENT YU/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Updated Dec. 3, 2016 1:54 a.m. ET

Hong Kong’s government said Friday it was seeking to ban four pro-democracy legislators, in another move against opposition lawmakers that has already seen two barred from office.

The government said in a statement that it requested a court to declare the four legislators’ oaths of office invalid and vacate their seats. The legislators, Lau Siu-lai,Leung Kwok-hung,Edward Yiu, and Nathan Law, marched to the offices of Hong Kong’s chief executive to protest the move.

The government’s action is “total war launched against all democrats and all voters supporting democracy,” Mr. Law, a leader of Occupy Central protests in 2014, said in a statement.

On Wednesday, two other legislators, Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung, lost an appeal of a court ruling banning them from office after they altered their oaths at a swearing-in ceremony in October. The two pledged allegiance to a “Hong Kong nation” and displayed a banner stating, “Hong Kong is not China.”

Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung

In November, Beijing issued a rare interpretation of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, effectively barring Ms. Yau and Mr. Leung from office. Chinese officials said that talk of independence threatened the principle of “one country, two systems” under which Hong Kong has been governed since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Beijing’s interpretation of the Basic Law said that oaths of office must be taken sincerely and solemnly, with no alterations to substance.

Each of the four legislators targeted Friday had their own takes on the oath of office at the same October ceremony. Some added phrases to the oath. Ms. Lau delivered her oath at an exaggeratedly slow pace, while Leung Kwok-hung, a veteran pro-democracy activist known by the nickname “Long Hair,” held a yellow umbrella in a nod to the Occupy Central movement.

Write to Ned Levin at ned.levin@wsj.com

http://www.wsj.com/articles/hong-kong-government-seeks-to-ban-four-more-pro-democracy-legislators-1480684822

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Malaysian PM eyes snap poll, vows fight to the death

December 1, 2016

AFP

December 1, 2016

© AFP | Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) inspects a ceremonial guard of honour during the annual congress of his ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO)

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Malaysia will hold polls soon, embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak said Thursday, vowing “to fight until the death” and showing no sign of succumbing to calls to quit over a massive financial scandal.

It was the first time the Malaysian leader has signalled he may bring forward polls not due until mid-2018, as he addressed the annual assembly of his ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and called for party unity.

“I know, many can feel the heat … and are waiting for directions to battle in the polls that will be held soon,” he said.

Speaking to some 2,600 delegates of UMNO, which represents the Malay heartland whose support is crucial for any Malaysian leader, Najib promised to uphold Islam and protect the community’s interests.

The party has been in power ever since independence in 1957 and its annual gathering is the country’s most closely watched political event.

“God willing, we will fight until the death and until the last drop of blood,” Najib told delegates, who had earlier greeted him with enthusiastic applause, signalling their support for his leadership.

“Please realise my (Malay) race, do not falter for a moment as we are facing unprecedented challenges,” he added.

Ruslee Bedol, a delegate from southern Johor state, told AFP that UMNO had already started preparing for a vote and said “we expect elections in the next six months.”

Najib is holding on to power despite damaging allegations he took part in the alleged looting of billions in state fund 1MDB.

Najib, 63, and 1MDB deny any wrongdoing.

Najib’s position in the party is secure because he is backed by most of the party’s 191 powerful division chiefs.

The premier has also purged the party of any critics over the 1MDB scandal, which he mentioned only once in his speech.

Last July, Najib fired his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin, after being criticised over the 1MDB scandal, shook up his cabinet and surrounded himself with party loyalists.

Prime Minister Naji

Malaysia has been seized since last year by the scandal, which has sparked investigations in several countries.

The US Justice Department, which has filed lawsuits to seize assets it says were purchased with stolen 1MDB money, says the fund was pillaged in an audacious campaign of fraud and theft that involved an unnamed top Malaysian official.

A Malaysian cabinet official has since admitted that individual was Najib.

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Malaysia’s Najib warns of ‘nightmares’ if ruling party loses power — Promoting strict Islamic law to hide corruption, slumping economy

December 1, 2016

Thu Dec 1, 2016 | 12:28am EST

Reuters

By Joseph Sipalan | KUALA LUMPUR

Scandal-tainted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak vowed to fight to the end for Malays and Islam on Thursday, as he called on his ruling party to prepare for elections that are “coming soon”.

Addressing the annual meeting of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Najib set the tone for early polls and warned of “nightmares” if the ethnic Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) opposition group came to power.

“We pledge to fight to the end and to the last drop of blood, even if our lives are lost,” Najib told a cheering crowd.

“Let us realise, my people, not to falter for even a moment as we are faced with challenges that we have never seen before.”

The prime minister repeated his support for a bill promoting strict Islamic law, called hudud, adding that it would be taking up for discussion by the federal government.

Najib has been buffeted by graft allegations and faced the biggest challenge to his leadership last year after reports that hundreds of millions of dollars was misappropriated from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which he founded.

Lawsuits filed by the U.S. Justice Department in July said more than $700 million of the misappropriated funds flowed into the accounts of “Malaysian Official 1”,  who U.S. and Malaysian officials have identified as Najib.

Najib has denied wrongdoing.

He has shrugged off persistent attempts to unseat him, securing emphatic victories in a state election and two by-elections earlier this year.

But although he retains support of nearly all 200 powerful division chiefs of UMNO’s 3.5 million-member organisation, frustration has been growing over graft and a slumping economy.

Tens of thousands of protesters, undeterred by the arrests of opposition leaders and activists, marched in the capital last month demanding that he step down.

“I know, many can feel the heat at this assembly, and are waiting for directives to prepare to battle in the elections that are coming soon,” said Najib.

Elections must be called by 2018 but Najib may call for polls in the second half of next year, a government source told Reuters.

Concerns are mounting among Najib’s supporters that a new party, led by Najib’s mentor-turned-nemesis Mahathir Mohamad and former deputy premier Muhyiddin Yassin, may split the Malay vote.

Najib was particularly critical of Mahathir, who the prime minister said has abandoned the party by consorting with the opposition and pro-democracy group Bersih, among other organisations.

In a racial charged hour-long speech, Najib warned that Islam will be belittled if DAP came to power and Malays must fear the “adverse effects” and “nightmares” that they may face.

“Because of that, the people should keep choosing us forever,” Najib said.

(Additional reporting by Emily Chow and Liz Lee; Writing by Praveen Menon; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak has expressed support for strict Islamic laws as he seeks to consolidate support of ethnic Malay Muslims at a party meeting this week, as frustration over graft and the economy cloud his prospects for the next election.

Mr Najib has battled calls to resign over the past 18 months as a scandal at his pet project, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), drew the anger of the public, opponents and members of his own United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) ruling party.

A new opposition party, led by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin — who Mr Najib sacked for questioning his handling of 1MDB — is threatening to split the majority Malay vote that has given UMNO victory in every election since independence in 1957.

Ahead of the annual party meeting, Mr Najib said it was the responsibility of Muslims to support a plan by the rival Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party to push for the adoption of ‘hudud’, the Islamic penal code, that sets out punishments like amputation and stoning.

“We want to develop Islam,” Mr Najib said in an interview with a pro-government broadcaster.

“Non-Muslims must understand that this is not about ‘hudud’, but about empowering the sharia courts.”

With rising prices and poor economic prospects for next year, Mr Najib is expected to bank on ethnic and religious sentiment to woo majority Malay voters.

An election is due by 2018.

UMNO meeting to focus on Malay, Islamic interests

Mr Najib said his policy speech at this year’s UMNO meeting would focus on the interests of Malays and Islam.

“This is my speech as UMNO President, so my main audience are UMNO members and the Malays and ‘bumiputera’,” he said, using a term that roughly translates as ‘sons of the soil’, and includes Malays but not members of the ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.

“It doesn’t mean we don’t care at all about the others, but this is an UMNO assembly.”

Mr Najib faced the biggest challenge to his leadership last year, after reports that hundreds of millions of dollars was misappropriated from state fund 1MDB, which he founded.

He acted swiftly to preserve his position, sacking critics in his administration and closing a graft investigation.

Nevertheless, the scandal clouds prospects for an early election that Mr Najib could call to cement his position, with multiple international investigations going on and a suit related to the case filed by the US Department of Justice.

Reuters

How Money and Politics Can Destroy The Human Brain — Malaysian “Cyber Court” Charges Editors with “Intent to Annoy” in Chinese-Style Kangaroo Court After Reporting on 1MDB (We Think 1MDB Is a Really Good Thing — Chinese Courts Also)

November 18, 2016

Amnesty International says hauling of Malaysiakini journalists before specially convened ‘cyber court’ is the latest move to stifle non-government media

Najib says “he was the first to order an investigation” into the corruption of 1MDB

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said he was the first to order an investigation into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

PETALING JAYA – In an interview with a Japanese weekly, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said he was the first to order an investigation into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

In an interview published in the Nikkei Asian Review yesterday, he said the Malaysian authorities have led investigations into 1MDB

“It was I who first instructed multiple authorities in Malaysia to conduct investigations,” he stated.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Auditor-General, the police and the bipartisan Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee have conducted probes.

“I have always made clear that full co-operation should be extended to any investigation, provided it is in accordance with the laws of our country,” said Mr Najib.

“Furthermore, as I have consistently stated, if any wrongdoing is proven, the law will be enforced without exception,” he added.

He noted that the 1MDB issue has been highly politicised by “certain elements within Malaysia” attempting to exploit the issue for their personal “political benefit”.

He also accused certain people of feeding the foreign authorities with “false or incomplete information”.

Read also: Najib’s stepdaughter speaks out against family for 1MDB crisis

“Those outside Malaysia cannot always appreciate these complexities, but it is something they should bear in mind to avoid becoming entangled in what has become a domestic political matter,” he said.

Mr Najib was responding to questions from Japan’s Nikkei Asian Review ahead of his three-day visit to Tokyo yesterday.

The Malaysian investigation into 1MDB concluded that weaknesses existed in the management but none of its executives have been charged on allegations of embezzlement.

However, the authorities in Singapore, Switzerland and the United States are probing entities and people related to 1MDB for possible money laundering and other offences.

In the interview with Nikkei Asian Review, Mr Najib also spoke about the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, Malaysia’s ties with China and Malaysia’s bilateral relationship with Japan.

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– See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/malaysia/najib-says-he-initiated-1mdb-probe#sthash.XBJ1Te8e.dpuf

“Malaysian Leader 1” (Left) Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung and China’s “Core Leader” Xi Jinping.

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The co-founders of an independent news website that has reported extensively on a corruption scandal involving Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, have been charged with offences including “intent to annoy”.

Facing up to one year in jail, the editors appeared before a recently set up “special cyber court” in Kuala Lumpur on Friday. Human Rights Watch said the use of the court was part of a strategy aimed at “shutting down the vibrant and diverse online news environment”.

The charges relate to a video posted on the Malaysiakini website of sacked ruling party member Khairuddin Abu Hassan criticising the attorney general at a press conference for being close with cabinet ministers, which he argued would undermine his independence to investigate government corruption.

 
MalaysiaKini.com editor Steven Gan, in 2001. Photo by Reuters

The Najib scandal emerged in July 2015 when media reports said investigators had found that hundreds of millions of dollars from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund was transferred into the prime minister’s bank accounts .

But attorney general Mohamed Apandi Ali closed all domestic investigations in January, clearing Najib and saying US$681 million transferred into his personal bank account was a gift from the royal family in Saudi Arabia.

Malaysiakini’s editor-in-chief, Steven Gan, and co-founder, Premesh Chandran, have faced repeated harassment from Najib’s supporters, including when hundreds of protesters tried to forcibly shut down their offices earlier in November.

Gan told his staff this week that he would challenge the charges and “prove in court that by covering the press conference, we did not commit any crime but were merely doing our job as journalists”.

He added: “We have been investigated many times over the past years but this is the first time we are being charged.”

The charges relate to a 1998 law , written before Malaysiakini was founded, that sought to address complaints relating to “offensive content in the internet”.

 Malaysian pro-democracy activists have vowed to go ahead with a massive rally on Saturday, November 19 to demand Najib’s resignation over the 1MDB scandal. Photo: AP

It bans “content which is indecent, obscene, false, menacing, or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person”.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said the charges against Malaysiakini were “a serious violation of the freedom of press and show the increasingly dictatorial side of [Najib] and his government”.

“By using rights-abusing laws, ludicrous arguments and special cyber courts, Malaysia appears to be aiming at shutting down the vibrant and diverse online news environment that has grown up because of the government’s control and censorship of the mainline print and TV media,” he said.

On November 6, officers from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission raided the portal’s office and seized two computers.

Malaysia’s biggest civil society group, Bersih, has organised a rally in Kuala Lumpur that will again call for Najib to step down. Pro-Najib groups also have plans to demonstrate that day, leading to concerns about potential clashes.

The co-founders of an independent news website that has reported extensively on a corruption scandal involving Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, have been charged with offences including “intent to annoy”.

Facing up to one year in jail, the editors appeared before a recently set up “special cyber court” in Kuala Lumpur on Friday. Human Rights Watch said the use of the court was part of a strategy aimed at “shutting down the vibrant and diverse online news environment.”

The charges relate to a video posted on the Malaysiakini website of sacked ruling party member Khairuddin Abu Hassan criticising the attorney general at a press conference for being close with cabinet ministers, which he argued would undermine his independence to investigate government corruption.

The Najib scandal emerged in July 2015 when media reports said investigators had found that hundreds of millions of dollars from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund was transferred into the prime minister’s bank accounts.

But attorney general Mohamed Apandi Ali closed all domestic investigations in January, clearing Najib and saying $681m transferred into his personal bank account was a gift from the royal family in Saudi Arabia.

Read the rest:

http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2047287/malaysian-website-editors-charged-intent-annoy-over-1mdb

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/18/malaysian-editors-charged-with-intent-to-annoy-after-reporting-on-1mdb

Photo credit at the top: Fazry Ismail/EPA

People that believe in democracy, freedom and human right are under fire in several places including China, Vietnam, Turkey, and Hong Kong. When news media in these nations finds government corruption, the media is often relentlessly attacked.

Related:

Hong Kong courts can decide fate of at least more 10 lawmakers that Beijing says broke the law

November 11, 2016

Law professor says interpretation of the Basic Law on oath-taking did not state if it applied retrospectively

By Jeffie Lam  and Joyce Ng
South China Morning Post
Friday, November 11, 2016, 8:55 p.m.
 

Albert Chen Hung-yee, an expert in constitutional law at the University of Hong Kong who sits on the body, said on Friday that the city’s courts were free to determine two issues: whether Beijing’s ruling had retroactive effect, and whether a court itself can overturn a verdict by the oath administrator.

These two issues were not covered in the decision by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Monday, he said.

 Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching. Photo: Sam Tsang

“It did not state clearly whether the interpretation would bring any retrospective effect. It will be up to the Hong Kong courts to decide after considering common law principles and the Standing Committee’s interpretation system,” Chen said.

The Standing Committee’s interpretation of Article 104 of the city’s mini-constitution – which stated a lawmaker must be “sincere” and “solemn” in taking their oaths – is widely seen as effectively disqualifying two pro-independence lawmakers, who were already facing a judicial review launched by the government to stop them retaking their oaths.

Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang used a derogatory term to describe China and pledged allegiance to the “Hong Kong nation” during their swearing-in at the Legislative Council in October.

 Pan-democrat lawmakers confront security guards during another flare up in Legco on Wednesday after a lawmaker was ordered to be ejected. Photo: Felix Wong

Following Beijing’s ruling, eight more pro-democracy legislators – who had either chanted slogans or bought along props during the oath-taking ceremony – are embroiled in the saga as the High Court was asked by a citizen on Wednesday to declare their seats to be vacated, even though their oaths were validated by the Legco secretary general or president.

Chen suggested local courts still had a role to play despite the stringent ruling. He said that in the Lau Kong-yung case in 1999, the Court of Final Appeal had established that interpretations from Beijing had retroactive effect.

But he said the court was still free to apply common law reasoning to decide whether it should follow the precedent on retroactivity, and whether it could review the oath administrator’s decision.

Cora Chan, Chen’s colleague at HKU who specialises in constitutional theory, said local courts’ understanding of a Chinese interpretation “might take Beijing by surprise”.

She argued in a Post article this week that the retroactivity decision in the Lau Kong-yung case, which involved right of abode in Hong Kong, should not apply to the current situation because “common law courts … handle cases differently if they are of the view that the facts are not similar enough to apply previous principles”.

She said the latest Beijing interpretation, different from the interpretation in the Lau case, “clearly added new content to the law”.

Meanwhile, Andy Chan Ho-tin and Jason Chow Ho-fai, of the Hong Kong National Party, met Mongolian exiles at the inaugural meeting of the world conference for Southern Mongolia in Tokyo on Thursday. Chan, who was disqualified from running in the Legco elections in September for his political stance, said he would meet the chairman of the Inner Mongolian People’s Party, Temtsiltu Shobtsood, to exchange independence ideas.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/2045224/hong-kong-courts-can-decide-fate-least-10-lawmakers-despite

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More Pro-Democracy Lawmakers in Hong Kong May Lose Seats

Protesters set up barriers against the police outside the office of the Chinese liaison in Hong Kong on Sunday.CreditVincent Yu/Associated Press

HONG KONG — The number of pro-democracy lawmakers elected to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council who may lose their seats has grown to 10, after a court was asked to rule whether eight people did not make proper oaths of office.

Earlier, two legislators had infuriated the Chinese government when they inserted a derogatory term for China into their oaths, taken last month, and pledged loyalty to the “Hong Kong nation.”

The actions of the pair, Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching, prompted Beijingto announce new guidelines on Monday specifying that oaths must be made “sincerely and solemnly” and be read accurately, with no chance of retaking them.

On Sunday, news of the impending ruling from Beijing set off large street protests in Hong Kong, ending with a clash between the police and protesters in which officers in riot gear used pepper spray on demonstrators.

Philippines: Straying away from long-held democratic principles? — “Duterte seems determined to lead a socialist revolution.”

November 6, 2016

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FORMER President Fidel V. Ramos must have seen so many red flags when he was allowed into the inner corridors of the Duterte administration that he was impelled to express alarm over the regime’s straying away from long-held democratic principles.

Ramos did not explicitly say it, but he must have seen also the ship of state – with an avowed socialist President Rodrigo Duterte at the helm – veering precariously to the left.

We see an impending ideological clash among some power players in the Palace, with its repercussions disturbing the alliances of convenience in the Congress, and the pro-democracy stance of the armed forces.

Last Aug. 2, as Malacañang was preparing for negotiations in Oslo with communist rebels under the umbrella of the National Democratic Front and the Communist Party of the Philippines, we said in Postscript:

“Does President Duterte really believe that communist leader Jose Ma. Sison and his cohorts in Utrecht could be talked into signing and honoring a ‘peace agreement’ with the government?

“Why would Sison et al. agree to stop shooting and give up their life of comfort and safety in the Netherlands, their host that has allowed them to run by remote control a rebellion in their home country?

“Has President Duterte anything to offer to compensate for ‘het goede leven’ (the good life) that they will miss?”

We noted: “Actually there is no more reason for the NDF/CPP to continue its avowed fight for reforms. Duterte, a confessed socialist, has broken into the inner sanctum of the despised Establishment and captured it from inside and from the top.

“With him as a populist president, change for the long-suffering Filipino is at hand – if we are reading Duterte’s lips correctly.”

Duterte leads shift to socialism

WE WERE casting our line in murky waters when we hinted of leftists gaining a grip on the levers of power.

Then last Friday, we were astounded to read in our colleague Francisco S. Tatad’s column in The Manila Times what looked like a roll of left-leaning individuals who he said have been imbedded into Duterte’s coterie.

Agreeing with a description of Duterte as an autocrat, Tatad said:

Duterte is in earnest in his effort to turn the Philippines into a socialist state with the help of his closest childhood friends, former classmates, dormitory roommates, fraternity brothers, and political allies, who now compose the inner core of his government.

“This is what should concern all our people, beginning with his supporters. Where Marcos waged a revolution to turn back the communist movement, Duterte seems determined to lead a socialist revolution.

“This is spelled out in the organizing document of Kilusang Pagbabago (Movement for Change), the mass indoctrination movement under Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., which is now being organized at barangay level throughout the Philippines. The postponement of the barangay elections until October next year will allow Duterte to appoint all the CPP/NPA/NDF barangay officials who will form the base of the Kilusan.

“Seasoned communists are already entrenched in the Cabinet, even without the benefit of a peace agreement, which mandates a coalition government with the CPP/NPA/NDF. Until now, the popular impression in the media is that only four active CPP/NPA/NDF members have been named to sensitive government positions.”

‘Reds’ in Duterte’s coterie listed

TATAD cited a secret document from highly authoritative sources saying that the apparently non-ideological Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea is allegedly a full member of the CPP. Others named in the document were:

> Leoncio Evasco Jr., former priest, former mayor of Maribojoc, Bohol, Duterte’s presidential campaign manager, in control of Kilusang Pagbabago and 12 strategic government agencies under his supervision as Cabinet Secretary was elected CPP Central Committee member at the 8th CPP Plenum at Susung Dalaga in Bicol in 1981.

> Rafael Mariano, secretary of Agrarian Reform; elected CPP Central Committee member at the 10th CPP Plenum in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, in August 1997; Anakpawis, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas; Pambansang Kaisahan ng Magbubukid.

> Judy Taguiwalo, secretary of Social Welfare and Development; chair, Women’s Committee of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers; elected to the CPP Central Committee at the 9th Plenum in 1985.

> Silvestre Bello III, secretary of Labor; chief negotiator, GRP panel; active National Democrat, Davao.

> Liza Maza, chief convenor, National Anti-Poverty Commission; elected CPP Central Committee member at the 10th CPP Plenum in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, in August 1997; former Gabriela party-list representative.

> Peter Lavina, undersecretary, Office of the Cabinet Secretary; NDF.

> Joel Maglunsod, undersecretary for Labor Relations, DOLE; elected CPP Central Committee member at the 10th Plenum in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur, in 1997.

> Marcelino P. Escalada Jr., National Housing Authority administration; full member, CPP.

> Ednar Dayanghirang, administrator, National Commission for Indigenous Peoples; NDF.

> Delfin Cabrera, undersecretary, Office of the Cabinet Undersecretary; elected CPP Central Committee member at the 12th Plenum in Sariaya, Quezon, in 2008; member, NDF National Council.

> Terry Ridon, chairman, Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor; elected CPP Central Committee member at the 13th Plenum in Quezon City, 2012.

Tatad said: “By striking a sharp contrast between his discontents with the US and his fascination with China, Duterte has succeeded in diverting public attention from the nation’s real struggle to the merely sensational one. The real struggle is between a morally righteous society and an amoral or immoral one, between our present democratic and republican Philippine state and the CPP/NPA/NDF’s projected socialist state.”

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ADVISORY: To access Postscript archives, go to www.manilamail.com (if necessary, copy/paste the urlon your browser’s address bar). Follow us on Twitter as @FDPascual. Email feedback to fdp333@yahoo.com

http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2016/11/06/1640917/reds-imbedded-du30-cabinet