Rilek lah, said AG Tommy Thomas to people who've been calling for his sacking following a decision to drop two additional charges against a DAP assemblyman for alleged links to a defunct militant organisation.

In other news, a Cambodian politicians detention here became a political hot potato. Meanwhile, once-loved electoral watchdog Bersih is slammed by Muhyiddin Yassin for making a statement which only makes sense.

Overkill in court and in Tg Piai

Keep calm and carry on

AG Tommy Thomas has explained why two charges which were supposed to have been read against a DAP assemblyman in connection with allegedly supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were dropped at the very last minute.

Overkill lah, Thomas said, pointing out that there were similar charges against Seremban Jaya assemblyman P. Gunasekaran. Why do it, when Gunasekaran is already facing life imprisonment? Besides, there’s nothing to stop us from charging him down the road, so says the AG.

Tommy may be right, but the sequence of events is really rather bizarre. Here’s what went down:

  • Prosecution submits e-filing to bring two more charges against Gunasekaran
  • Prosecution changes its mind and informs defence it won’t be proceeding
  • Defence tells prosecution it needs to withdraw charges in open court
  • Prosecution applies to withdraw charges, which is granted by the court

The entire process is really rather messy, and one wonders what’s going on at the AG’s Chambers. Why file, and then withdraw? Why decide to withdraw, and have to be told by the defence (well, according to the defence lawyer lah!how to do it?

The strategy looks simple and solid enough: if the existing charges fall through, the AGC still has the option of charging Gunasekaran again. But procedurally, this whole thing just looks like a dog’s dinner.

The dropping of the charges against Gunasekaran had prompted opposition politicians to call for the AG’s sacking, but PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad is standing firm behind the nation’s top prosecutor. In true form, Maddey instead said he wished he could sack certain opposition MPs. No word on whether Maddey is considering stand up comedy as an alternative career option.

Meanwhile, some 100 people from the Tamil community in London staged a protest outside the Malaysian High Commission to the UK against the arrests and charging of the “LTTE Dozen”. They said the government’s rationale that a defunct militant organisation was a security threat in Malaysia was not valid and “very peculiar”.

We couldn’t agree more. That being said, I guess we’ll have to wait for the trial to know if authorities had good reason for their crackdown. Namely, was our anti-terrorism chief right to claim there are efforts to revive LTTE ideology here and if so, did these men pose a danger to us all?

The Mu issue

Confusion reigned yesterday, and it was all over a foreign national in our country and whether this person should be deported.

No, we’re not talking about Zakir Naik (this time!), but Mu Sochua, the vice-president of a banned Cambodian opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). First, we heard, via a Reuters report, that Mu had been arrested by Immigration officers here. She was said to have been planning a return to Cambodia along with party founder Sam Rainsy.

Foreign Affairs Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said Mu wasn’t arrested, rather was detained as the good men and women at immigration merely wanted to interview her. He said Cambodia had requested that anyone who was linked to CNRP be deported back to Phnom Penh, but Malaysia will make its own decision on what to do. 

Mighty Maddey, meanwhile, says Malaysia was looking for a third country to which Mu could be deported. We don’t want to be at odds with any government, he says, because of their own internal affairs.

So let’s break this down – Saifuddin’s stance is admirable. The CNRP came very close to defeating Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party in 2013, winning 55 seats compared to Hun Sen’s 68 seats. And this was an election which was widely accused of being dirty as f***, with Hun Sen pulling every nasty trick he could. In 2017, the Cambodian courts then declared the CNRP illegal. Sending Mu back would most definitely mean she would become a political prisoner, despite what the official reasons would be.

But Maddey’s statement is as Maddey-ish as usual. The man doesn’t want to be at odds with a government – one that’s known for corruption, political detention and human rights abuses – but is fine being at odds with another government – one which has a much more independent judicial system – who wants to extradite a person with far more serious allegations levelled against him. (We don’t need to mention names; you know who we’re talking about).

Note the difference in language Maddey used too. With Mu, he says Malaysia is looking for a country to take her. With the other guy, he says any country can have him if they want him. One sounds awfully active while the other sounds like the worst kind of passive. 

But, all’s well that ends well – for now. Mu and the two other people detained with her were released and last we heard, had been allowed to make their way to their hotel. Mu may just want to thank her lucky stars that the Asean Extradition Treaty hasn’t been formalised yet.

The Moo issue

Bersih 2.0, long considered a friend by parties such as DAP and PKR, then Amanah and Bersatu, must now be a pain in their asses.

The election watchdog has slammed Pakatan government officials for handing out aid to fishermen in Tanjung Piai, saying while it was not against the law, it was unethical. While government programmes shouldn’t be interrupted by by-elections, it said, as soon as one is declared, all programmes there should be stopped, as a matter of principle.

We went into this whole thing earlier this week, and if you’ve been reading BTL, you’d know the laundry list of projects announced in Tg Piai (If you haven’t read BTL this week, consider yourself scolded!).

Anyway, Bersih’s statement, of course, drew Pakatan’s ire, with Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin in particular taking umbrage.

The Moo, in fact, became a little dramatic even, which is a bit different for someone usually so boring you want to cry. “If people (are) about to die, are we (the government) going to let them die?” he asked.

Really Muhyiddin? Bersih’s just asking you to stop for a while. Not indefinitely. Nobody’s gonna die. If they were, then you guys weren’t doing your job in the first place.

But then again, Moo’s hissy fit is understandable. The man must be worried as he himself admitted Chinese voters are none too pleased with the Pakatan government. 

Meanwhile, the Election Commission has denied being biased towards certain parties in the by-election. This follows the taking down of campaign materials hung on the fence of a market in Tanjung Piai.

Chairman Azhar “Art” Harun says the EC acted in accordance with election laws as the materials were hung on public infrastructure, which is against the regulations.

Odds and ends

Several other things happened yesterday which we thought you should read or would like to read. Here they are in brief:

  • 1MDB transferred US$330 million meant for joint venture company PetroSaudi International into Jho Low’s Good Star. “I wasn’t negligent”, insists former CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi. Alrightyyyyy then.
  • The Malaysian Bar has called for the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act to be repealed in its entirety and not amended.
  • Five men were jailed, caned and fined for “attempting gay sex” in Selangor. The sentencing judge said the men’s attempt was not “in the early stages of preparation”, whatever that means. This entire episode is yet another sign of the growing conservatism and intolerance of the LGBT community.
  • Malaysia does not agree that the US should host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next year, following the cancellation of this year’s summit in Chile.
  • Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman says basikal lajak riders need guidance, not punishment. He’s right – to a point. Rehabilitation is important for the bulk of ’em, but the worst miscreants need to have the book thrown at ’em.
  • And speaking of basikal lajak, former DPM and current Umno leader Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is taking flak for his incendiary statements over the recently concluded case involving the deaths of eight teenage cyclists in a road accident.
  • Malaysia apparently ranks one of the highest in the world when it comes to women’s educational attainment, according to the Global Gender Gap Report of 2018. Girl power!

“If you know a lot, know enough to make them respect you. If you are stupid, be stupid enough so they can pity you.”

- Cambodian Proverb -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Good news for those worried about the US-China trade war. The two countries have agreed to cancel tariffs in stages.
  • French President Emmanuelle Macron has called NATO “brain dead”, saying this was because of a lack of commitment on the part of the US.
  • Controversial elections in Bolivia have led to a number of violent protests, with the latest one against the mayor of a small town. The mayor was dragged barefoot through the town, doused with red paint and then has her hair forcibly cut.
  • Lilian Segre, an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor in Italy, has been put under police protection after receiving hundreds of death threats. And what had she done to “earn” this bile? Segre had called for Italy’s parliament to establish a committee to fight hate. We’re gonna repeat this: an octogenarian Auschwitz survivor’s life is in danger because she called for an end to hate. 

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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