06
Oct
11

ARE WE HASTENING ‘THE END’?

Are we contributing to the ‘end of the world’ by destroying the environment?

“Scientists agree world faces mass extinction”, reported CNN in 2002.[i]

            The Agence France Presse reported in 2008, “Half the world’s mammals are declining in population and more than a third probably face extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), publishers of the annual “Red List,” the most respected inventory of biodiversity”.[ii]

            “Life on Earth is under serious threat, despite the commitment by world leaders to reverse the trend”, according to the most recent IUCN Red List’[iii].

            The world’s eco-systems are at risk of “rapid degradation and collapse” according to the 2010 Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) published by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) and warns that unless “swift, radical and creative action” is taken “massive further loss is increasingly likely.”[iv]      
            The U.N. warns several eco-systems including the Amazon rainforest, freshwater lakes and rivers and coral reefs are approaching a “tipping point” which, if reached, may see them never recover.

            The earth’s temperature has increased by an average of 0.74 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years, according to the United Nations Environment Programme for Asiaand the Pacific.
            It said global warming had pushed up the temperature of the Himalayas by up to 0.6 degrees Celsius in the past 30 years. “If the temperature continues to rise as it is, there will be no snow and ice in the Himalayas in 50 years.”[v]

            Thousands of glaciers in the Himalayas are the source of water for nine major Asian rivers whose basins are home to 1.3 billion people fromPakistantoMyanmar, including parts ofIndiaandChina.


How It All Began …

 How were things allowed to degenerate to this alarming level? The answer would lie in the law, or the lack thereof, and can be effectively traced to the mid-1800s and the Industrial Revolution.

            In the 18th and 19th centuries, the common custom and tacit agreement amongst landowners inEngland was the strict prohibition on discarding waste into countryside rivers. However, in 1857, a paper factory owned by Alexander Cowan & Sons sprouted up next to the land owned by the Duke of Buccleuch in thecounty ofGloucestershire. There was a river running downstream from the factory into the Duke’s land.

            The paper factory in defiance of custom released all its factory waste and effluents into the river causing massive pollution and raising the ire of the Duke and other residents downstream.

            As at the time, there were no statutes preventing river pollution, the Duke sued the factory under the tort of nuisance. As this was during the height of the Industrial Revolution, the prevailing policy favoured industry over environmental preservation. As such, the case dragged on for 19 years with the Duke finally winning in the House of Lords (Duke of Buccleuch v Alexander Cowan & Sons[vi]). However, the overall sentiment and policy toward industrialisation in the name of ‘progress’ was further entrenched, as evidenced by the sheer absence of any legislation aimed at protecting the environment for the next one hundred or so years.
       

 The Damage Done … 

As it is human nature to be cognisant of law and to correspondingly conform, the lack of legislation coercing society into respecting the environment has exacerbated environmental degradation:

  • According to a 2007 study done by the Department of Environment (DOE) on 116 Malaysian rivers, some 10 percent of these rivers are heavily polluted or dead, 63 percent are polluted and only 27 percent are healthy. The study also showed that 70 percent of the pollution is caused by human activities such as wanton dumping of household and industrial wastes, the disposal of animal excrements and chemical sludge from farmlands and factories.[vii]
  • The unrestricted burning of fossil fuels and deforestation has led to increases in global temperatures, known as the “greenhouse effect”, resulting in the upsurge of extreme weather events and rising sea levels. Average Earth temperatures have climbed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius) around the world since 1880, much of this in recent decades, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The 20th century’s last two decades were the hottest in 400 years.[viii]
  •  The Air Pollutant Index [API] has, since the early 1980s recorded steadily deteriorating air quality over major Malaysian cities, to a certain extent caused by slash-and-burn activities in Indonesia[ix] but compounded by increased vehicle exhaust and factory emissions locally – statistics recorded in 2009 show that 60% of air pollution in Malaysia is caused by vehicle exhaust[x].


Rolling Back the Rot …

There have however been sporadic efforts in raising awareness; from the green activism by the ‘Flower Power’ movement of the 60s to awareness of the depletion of the ozone layer in the ‘70s and ‘80s to Al Gore’s seminal account of the dangers of global warming in “An Inconvenient Truth” in the early 21st century.

            However this has only led to piecemeal incentives and legislation like the United States’ Environmental Protection Act[xi] and ‘agreements’ to stem global warming such as the Kyoto Protocol.[xii]

            In Malaysia, there is the Environmental Quality Act and Environmental Protection Policy which provides a framework for laws against water and air pollution and ‘sustainable deforestation’[xiii]

            To address Malaysia’s expanding carbon footprint, the Federal Government has initiated “Green Technology” as part of the Ministry of Energy and Water’s portfolio and in July 2009 launched its National Green Technology Policy, although a plan has not yet been released. Prime Minister Najib made a bold pledge during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagenin December 2009 to reduce carbon emissions by 40 per cent within the next 10 years[xiv].

            However, the still-prevailing policy of encouraging and protecting ‘big business’ has resulted in a lack of enforcement. Despite the significant numbers of breaches of environmental law, the proportion of prosecutions or other enforcement action is extremely low. To date there are only five reported cases under the heading of environmental law in the law reports in Malaysia[xv].

            The Selangor and Penang state governments have, since coming into power in 2008, initiated several ‘green initiatives’, notably the crackdown on animal farmlands dumping waste into rivers, discouraging the use of plastic shopping bags, environmental policies of recycling, controlled deforestation, studying alternative energy resources, restricting hillslope development, reducing carbon emission rates, ensuring sustainable growth and green development by introducing infrastructure for a low-carbon economy, more green-based industries and the push to allow the State Government instead of developers, to conduct Environmental Impact Assessments [EIAs] before approving construction projects [xvi].     However, as always, the lack of political will where it matters most – in the immediate term – has encouraged the public’s apathy over taking personal responsibility over their environment and this will continue to stand in the way of any ‘green initiatives’.

            Household garbage collection is still sent wholesale to landfills and not to recycling centres, compounding our apathy towards separating our waste into separate containers for plastic, metal and paper.

            Open burning in one’s backyard and in plantations still continues openly.

            The scarcity and high price of biodegradable alternatives hamper efforts in reducing our use of polythene and polystyrene bags and containers.

            The absence of any law encouraging car-pooling and prohibiting single-occupant vehicles will ultimately suffocate us in a cloud of haze. Despite improving public transport systems, no one really wants to leave their cars at home.

 
Gaia Will Survive

Even if our Sun extinguishes itself in another 5 billion years[xvii], the Earth will survive, albeit in a form more resembling Venus – a freezing uninhabitable rock, but existing nonetheless. Therefore no amount of war, environmental destruction or natural calamity will bring about its complete destruction.      

            James Lovelock in his book, “Gaia”, hypothesised that the Earth is a living, breathing organism and like all living things, is prone to viruses. He hypothesised that we humans are the Earth’s biggest virus, hell-bent on destroying its host. However he also opined that the Earth has a natural immune system.[xviii]. The planet will always, as millennia of evolution have shown, regenerate itself and continue living.

            Our ongoing contributions toward pollution and global warming as stated above, has led to rising sea levels and consequent flooding, scarcity of clean water, poisonous air and increasingly extreme weather patterns which will in turn ultimately lead to our extinction.          Therefore in answer to the initial question posed at the head of this article, our ‘contributions’ toward environmental destruction, if left unchecked, will most likely lead to the end of the human race but not the end of the world itself.

            If we humans are the virus, are the consequences of environmental degradation the manifestation of Earth’s natural immune system? If the answer is ‘yes’, this would effectively mean we are actually assisting Mother Earth’s survival by helping her get rid of the virus that we humans are.

            Is Planet Earth better off without us?

            Based on the facts as stated above, it would seem so.


(This essay first appeared in Catholic Asian News’ November 2011 issue.)

[vi] (1866) 5 M 214 (CSess), (1876) 2 App Cas 344 (HL)

14
Apr
11

rpk, it looks like you’re an idiot

RPK has explained his TV3 drama in his blog:

http://www.malaysia-today.net/mtcolumns/no-holds-barred/39695-now-that-the-shit-has-hit-the-fan

RPK’s explanation distilled into a nutshell:

1. He was stupid enough to believe the story of one Nik Azmi Nik Daud aka Bul that a classified military intelligence document existed, which allegedly has proof that Rosmah was at the murder scene.

2. This Nik Azmi Nik Daud aka Bul believed that one Lt Kol Azmi Zainal Abidin had the document in question, and will reveal it if and when RPK gets arrested or if the police, upon investigating RPK’s statutory declaration, ask the Lt. Kol about it.

3. When RPK was arrested for criminal defamation and under the ISA, the document was then said to have been “shredded” – and RPK wonders if there was such a document in the first place.

4. So he goes on TV3 and suggests that the police go and ask this Lt Kol Azmi Zainal Abidin “to tell the truth” whether the document had existed or if he knew of its contents.

End of his explanation.

Now what do you think the Lt. Kol will say?

What about: “Gua ta tau apa-apa tentang ini punya dokumen … itu RPK bodoh punya gila punya orang”.

Therefore proving nothing but the fact that RPK is an idiot for sticking his neck out and repeating second-hand hearsay regarding a document which now does not and may never have existed.

In short, itu RPK bodoh punya gila punya orang.

At least that’s my conclusion based on RPK’s explanation in his blog, which thenceforth is bereft of the little credibility it ever had.

Unless of course there IS such a classified military intelligence document implicating Rosmah …. and Julian Assange has a copy of it!

More shall be revealed … ?

31
Jan
11

2 parties: our only hope

With two strong parties controlling Parliament – comprising of a Cabinet and shadow Cabinet – we can be assured that no government misdeed or negligence will remain unrevealed and unattended. Being adequately informed, we can vote to change governments at every GE if necessary (like we often see in the UK, Australia and US) if that is what it takes for true progress for this nation.         

 

MALAYSIA will go bust by 2019 if it continues to accumulate debt at the current rate of 12% a year, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Idris Jala and CEO of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) (NST 27/5/2010).                                                    

In response to public incredulity over his statement, he explained, “we could go bankrupt if we continue with the same trends as in the past 10 years; based on an annual increase of 12%, our debt will reach 100% of GDP in 2019 (a staggering RM1.158 trillion) and we could potentially go bankrupt then” (Malay Mail 2/6/2010).                                                             

The government capitalised on this bombshell to underscore the need to remove subsidies and impose the Goods and Services Tax (GST).


Poorer and poorer

Bank Negara reported that the Consumer Price Index [CPI] – denoting inflation – only rose 4% in the last forty years, which is a negligible amount. However, a price comparison shows otherwise – a plate of rice, meat and vegetables costs five times more today than what it was in 1970 – a rise of 500%.

You could buy a litre of UHT milk for RM3.50 in 2007. Today you would be hard-pressed to find a supermarket that sells it for less than RM4.50, with RM5.50 being the usual price at most sundry shops. A 300g pack of instant coffee was priced at RM16.90 in 2008. Today, this is almost the price of a 200g pack.

Our purchasing power has decreased – most of us are forced to buy the cheaper alternatives of items like rice, soap, detergent and toothpaste. A hundred ringgit can probably buy you two bags of groceries at best.

If subsidies are removed or GST imposed in June 2011, expect your hundred ringgit to perhaps get you a little more than a bagful.


Bad report card

The recently released United Nations World Investment Report 2010 brought to light the shape of the Malaysian economy: Foreign direct investment (FDI) has dropped 81% from 2008 to 2009, from US$ 7.32 billion in 2008 to US$ 1.38 billion in 2009.                            

Tony Pua, a Member of Parliament in the Democratic Action Party (DAP), wrote in his blog about what the statistics mean:                                                                                           

For the first time ever in history, Malaysia attracted less investment than the Philippines. Compared to the previous year 2008, Malaysia suffered by far the biggest decline of FDI in Southeast Asia.                                                                                               

Malaysia was the only country in Southeast Asia to have registered a net negative Foreign Direct Investment Flow.   

This is the first time we have attracted less than US$2 billion in FDI over the past 20 years.                                                                                                                                     

A Bank of America-Merrill Lynch survey has found Malaysia to be among the least attractive in the Asia-Pacific region for investors (Malaysian Insider).                                             

 The World Economic Forum reportedly showed that Malaysia had slipped two places in global competitiveness rankings to 26 in the past year, while Indonesia surged 10 places to 44th.                                                                                                                              

Malaysia’s growth rate dropped to an average of 5.5% a year from 2000 to 2008, from an average of about 9 percent a year from 1991 to 1997.                                         

Transparency international’s 2010 Corruption Perception Index for Malaysia indicated that corruption is slightly worse than it was last year, ranking at 56 out of 178 countries with a score of 4.4 out of 10 (Star26/10/2010).                                                                                

Despite the announcement by Home Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein that the crime index for the first four months of this year has been reduced by 15.3% and street crimes have dropped by 38.7% compared to the same period last year (NST 18/5/2010), 33,000 burglaries, 55,000 car thefts and 551 murders have been reported in the past year (Source: Transparency int’l and United Nations Survey on Crime Trends).

The number of fatal shootings by the police have risen 17-fold since 2001, said human rights and legal reform advocates Lawyers for Liberty.

 This conclusion was reached based on the testimony of a police officer from the federal police headquarters at a recent court case, who revealed there were 88 cases of fatal police shootings in 2009, while there were only five cases in 2001.                        

Yet again the 2009 Human Rights Report, released by the US Dept of State, revealed the perennial occurrences of oppression of opposition political parties and activists, detentions without trial, deaths in custody, religious conversion controversies and suppression of fundamental civil liberties.

These complaints have been met with the usual indignation of “foreign meddling in internal affairs” and the apparent “necessity” of placing human rights on the backseat in the name of ‘stability’and‘progress’.

Former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram said the judiciary has become so “executive-minded” that the judges have become “creatures of the government.” (Malaysiakini 16/10/2010).

Racism has been on the increase since Prime Minister Najib’s call for “1Malaysia”.     As such, there has been an increasing loss of confidence in BN’s race-based party system because of the irony it brings to the 1Malaysia concept.


Post-tsunami

It has been shown that opposition Pakatan Rakyat’s [PR] less than 50% hold on Parliament is hazardous.

The current BN majority in Parliament and its grip on the Federal government is playing havoc with Pakatan state governments who have the mandate but not the power.         

BN/UMNO are constantly trying to sabotage or blame Pakatan for their past misdeeds, as evidenced by the Penang State government increasingly having to fight tooth-and-nail with UMNO saboteurs who take any and every opportunity to undermine Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, despite his success in registering over RM1bil in revenue for the state for the first time in 52 years (Source: Auditor General’s Report 2010).

However all is also not well with the Opposition. The mainstream media has not hesitated to highlight any and every flaw of theirs and recently had a field day vilifying the admittedly shambolic PKR party elections. The public, once having great hopes in Pakatan Rakyat for the future governance of the country are now either having second thoughts or have at least grown weary of the political scenario and disillusioned about the future.

The numerous defections from formerly staunch Pakatan stalwarts who claim to have “lost faith” in the leadership have further dampened the hopes of the people.

Sources in the leadership say these defections are for the better, drawing similarities with the episode of Moses leading his people out of Egypt: they were not immediately led into the ‘promised land’ but were made to spend eight years in the wilderness, where the ‘idol-worshippers’ and other deadwood were naturally filtered out. Therefore it is far better the likes of these be culled from the party now than once Pakatan takes Putrajaya.

 

Verdict & Choices

According to the 2005 World Bank report, Malaysia has almost 1.5 million nationals living overseas. In 2009, 305,000 people left for greener pastures.

In a recent New York Times article, “Loss of Young Talent”, many interviewees when asked about their concerns about returning to Malaysia, cited racial tensions and the country’s affirmative action policy, the NEP.                                                                                          
Prime Minister Najib has repeatedly emphasised that affirmative action would be made “market-friendly, merit-based, transparent and needs-based” under the country’s latest plan, the New Economic Model, but this proposal has been met with fiery opposition from Malay supremacists even within his government.

Foreign investors are wary of placing their money in Malaysia given the above and their mistrust of the judiciary, the increasing crime rate and the attitude of the police.                        

“As long as the government does not develop a system of governance that is just, corruption-free and instils confidence, the country will continue to lose the attention of foreign investors,” said Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim (Malaysiakini 18 Sept 2010).                           

CIMB CEO and brother of our PM, Nazir Razak asserted that affirmative action policies involving bumiputera equity quotas are causing investors to hold back (Malaysiakini 21 Sept 2010).                         

The verdict is clear: there is apparently no hope for Malaysia unless something is done, and fast. Our choices are also clear: we can ‘abandon ship’ and migrate to ‘greener pastures’ or stay and force a change through the ballot box despite the poor choice of alternatives to the present government. 


Reform proposals:

The immediate need for Malaysia to regain investor and public confidence is:

i) A new government comprising of non-race based parties;

ii) A revamp of the judiciary and police force – judges and police in upper echelons must be replaced;

 iii) A revamp of the education system with emphasis on revamping teacher training and remuneration, while instilling creative and analytical thinking amongst students;

iv) The removal of the NEP with a merit-based affirmative action system;

v) Greater civil liberties, inter alia freedom of the press, speech and choice;

vi) An emphasis on neo-liberal policies to attract global investment while entrenching an effective welfare and subsidy structure to aid the poor, especially small business owners, farmers etc who may be affected by these globalisation policies.


Solution: 2-party system

Both the ruling and opposition coalitions have to some extent vowed to implement the above reforms, but the only way to ensure these proposals come into fruition is for a greater, more transparent check-and-balance in Parliament.

In order to implement this effective check-and-balance, voters must vote in a manner that would firmly establish an effective Two-Party System. And the only way to do that is for every right-thinking voter, at least in the next General Election (GE), to vote Pakatan to form the next government. Not because that they are a flawless alternative, but because the current BN/UMNO political monopoly is taking us nowhere but down.

Simply denying the incumbent their two-third majority is not enough, as evidenced by the scenario “post-tsunami”.

With two strong parties controlling Parliament – comprising of a Cabinet and shadow Cabinet – we can be assured that no government misdeed or negligence will remain unrevealed and unattended. Being adequately informed, we can vote to change governments at every GE if necessary (like we often see in the UK, Australia and US) if that is what it takes for true progress for this nation.                                                                                             

When politicians and their parties know that it is the people who hold their political future in their hand, they will only work harder for us in order to stay in power.

And that is why the avenue to that is a two-party system, just like other modern democracies.

Our hopes for a two-party system lie in how we vote in the upcoming GE. The PM has tacitly agreed, saying that this GE will be “judgment day for BN” – they know their monopoly on power is fast fading and are scrambling desperately to regain favour amongst the electorate. However, another win for the BN will extinguish our hope for a two-party system, perhaps forever.   

We get the public officials we deserve. Their virtue – or lack thereof – is a judgment not only on them, but on us.      

Therefore, let us remind ourselves that we are not voting for the Opposition candidate or his party because we believe they are our saviours, but are planning to give them a thumping landslide victory on the principle of entrenching a working two-party system, which is the only way we can ensure a safe and equitable future for us all.

 

02
Jan
11

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,100 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 8 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 94 posts.

The busiest day of the year was September 21st with 145 views. The most popular post that day was Plotting to overthrow the BN govt – one day at a time….

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were mail.yahoo.com, mail.live.com, facebook.com, mail.google.com, and langkawicentre.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for teoh beng hock, polis diraja malaysia, malaysiakini, polis malaysia, and utusan malaysia.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Plotting to overthrow the BN govt – one day at a time… June 2008

2

1malaise-ya poll – the results!! December 2009

3

freaky friday: four fierce feories January 2010

4

Natural Law – Pakatan’s Dangerous Tool (layman’s version) July 2010
1 comment

5

quran burning and freedom of expression September 2010
1 comment and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

11
Sep
10

quran burning and freedom of expression

Should burning the Quran be protected under ‘freedom of expression’?

Pastor Terry Jones has now decided to “suspend” his plan to burn copies of the Quran.

While the whole a distasteful scenario reeks of a highly successful attempt to garner cheap publicity for himself, it has also sparked a debate on the boundaries of freedom of expression.

The right to burn books is protected by the US First Amendment under “freedom of expression”.

Undoubtedly, freedom of expression does not include arson/property destruction – you cannot freely express yourself by committing a criminal offence. But, what if the books were your own property?

So would it not follow that – as long as you’re not breaking any law – protest all you want even one as extreme as burning the Quran?

While I do not endorse burning religious or any texts for that matter, should we not protect everyone’s right to freedom of expression even if we strongly disagree with the content and method of such expression? As Voltaire famously said, “I may not agree with what you say, but I am prepared to die defending your right to say it.”

Condoning a protest based on whether we ourselves agree with the manner and subject matter is to apply double standards and is therefore dictatorial.

Some have said that there is a difference between “freedom of expression” and “incitement/provocation”.

However, “incitement/provocation” is subjective – what may incite/provoke one group may not incite/provoke another – some groups are more self-righteous or sensitive while others take a more laid-back or forgiving attitude. Just because one group is more sensitive, does that mean we should apply a different, softer approach on one and a harder, uncompromising approach to the other?

So where do you draw a line on what would incite/provoke? Self censorship based on the lowest common denominator on what may be ‘appropriate’ is not the answer.

Furthermore, “incitement” only applies when one is clearly urging others to commit a crime. A violent and criminal reaction to a statement does not fall within the ambit of “incitement”, while “provocation” is no defence save in the most limited of circumstances.

Yet others were urging the authorities to clamp down on Pastor Terry’s plans on “moral grounds” as his proposed action is seen as “un-Christian”, unbecoming of a religious leader or simply abhorrent.

Again, curtailing another’s actions on “moral grounds” could lead down a slippery slope – today the authorities stop a pastor, tomorrow they may be allowed to police the actions of laypersons for “irreligious” behaviour.

The same arguments can apply to rebut those who call for the enactment of ‘hate crime’ laws. When does hating a person, group or institution become a crime? Should rousing a community’s feelings of anger be made a crime? If so, should we also outlaw hurting another’s feelings?

Perhaps the solution lies not with the perpetrator, but with the audience – we must come to accept that we are never able to control another’s actions, but we can control the way we react to it.

When confronted with expressions that revolt us, instead of baying for blood or crying for somebody to stop them, we can turn off the television, turn the page or turn the other cheek.

Better still, when faced with hate and hateful acts, should we not instead, ‘love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who mistreat us’ ?

07
Aug
10

Dire need for Unfair Contracts & Terms Act

It’s time we had an Unfair Contacts and Terms Act (UCTA), along the lines of the United Kingdom’s UCTA 1977.

For too long now, the public has been at the mercy of the exploitative, ruthless and profit-driven motives of capitalist businessmen and local authorities.

The sad fact is that many an average member of the public does not know his rights and the legal reasoning behind them.

A few examples of unfair terms:

i) “Park at your own risk” or “Operator will not be held liable for loss, theft or damage …” This goes against the principle in Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking, whose principle holds that the above clauses cannot be announced on signboards after a person has taken a ticket and entered into a parking lot because “a clause cannot be incorporated after a contract has been concluded, without reasonable notice before.”

Further a person who pays to park can reasonably expect the owner of the lot to take steps to ensure the safety of his vehicle. Under the UCTA ’77, any exclusion of negligence liability for personal injury (and damage to property) by businesses is prohibited.

ii) Astro employs a policy whereby a customer’s service can be “interrupted” “anytime” and “at random” (quoting from a customer service representative whom I spoke to) for failure to pay any overdue amount. It is submitted that this is arbitrary, as a debtor should be given a finite grace period after the overdue date – say, ten days, before the service is interrupted.

As it stands, depending on the computer program’s random selection, some customers could get their service cut one day after the due date, while others, a week or even ten days later. A customer should be also given a chance to inform Astro if payment has been made in order for them to acknowledge and ‘stay execution’.

As it stands, if I settle an overdue amount, my service can still be interrupted while payment is being processed, as I was told by the above customer service representative that, Astro’s “computer is not programmed to defer service interruption while payment is being processed”.

An UCTA would require interruption and termination schedules to be clearly spelt out and also allow for a debtor’s notice of payment made to be duly recorded.

iii) Parking summonses written out and left under one’s windshield wiper goes against two important principles: “You are only bound by what you sign.” (L’Estrange v Graucob Ltd) and “Silence does not amount to acceptance.” (Felthouse v Bindley). A person who has flouted parking laws should be made aware that he is being summoned and accept/acknowledge this vide his signature. These principles also apply to “saman ekor” speed trap cases.

There have also been cases where an owner’s vehicle has been towed away for flouting parking laws. This, it is submitted, is ultra vires as it is a disproportionate action (Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corporation) unless the vehicle in question is obstructing traffic flow or posing a danger to other road users.

It is therefore submitted that legislation be tabled to address the above issues in order to better protect a citizen’s rights under the Law. An Unfair Contracts and Terms Act would thus be timely and appropriate.

08
Jul
10

Natural Law – Pakatan’s Dangerous Tool (layman’s version)

Wuar … it’s been a long time since I wrote a blog. I wrote this last week – available in 7″ single and 12″ extended remix versions (see below) – after six months of studying Jurisprudence …

Natural Law – Pakatan Rakyat’s Dangerous Tool

 Pakatan Rakyat’s policies are based on Natural Law principles and this can ultimately be a threat to justice and liberalism.

 By Aneel David Kannabhiran

 

 What is Natural Law?

 “Lex iniusta non est lex” – an unjust law is not a law. This is the single most important theoretical issue in the realm of Natural Law.

            Natural Law theory stands on the proposition that, “law cannot be properly understood except in moral terms,” and therefore law and morality are inextricably linked, according to Dr. Roger Cottrell in his seminal book, “The Politics of Jurisprudence”.

            Natural Law is derived, according to St. Thomas Aquinas in “Summa Theologica” from a higher, Divine Law; and with this exalted status, Natural Law becomes the yardstick by which the worth or authority of man-made law can be judged.

Reformasi, Pakatan-style

 Prof J.M. Finnis asserted that unjust laws may give rise to a moral obligation to criticise and protest against them, and in extreme conditions disobey them and force change.                      

             This has been Pakatan’s main thrust, as evidenced from the days of the Reformasi movement in 1998 to the Bersih and Anti-ISA rallies to the perennial and continuing UMNO-BN bashing by opposition MPs in the alternative media.

            Pakatan’s agenda is centred on its mission to constantly prove that the ruling Barisan Nasional party has held onto power with the aid of laws that have been employed to protect and cover up their policies and practices of corruption, nepotism, cronyism and rent-seeking that has bled the nation’s coffers and the tax-payer. These practices, if seen in the Natural Law context are in no uncertain terms immoral.

            Therefore Natural Law would prescribe nothing less than an unequivocal overthrowing of this immoral regime through the ballot box, and this is the unwavering message sent forth by Pakatan supporters across the nation.

 Pakatan’s Trajectory

 Once the UMNO-BN regime is overthrown, the new Pakatan government, guided by Natural Law principles, will undoubtedly want to enact laws which promote moral order for the greater good of the nation.

            This, it is submitted, can prove dangerous, for ultimately, the one who uses this Natural Law yardstick to judge, influence and shape man-made laws is none but a human himself, with a finite and often skewed impression of ‘God’s will’.

            As Cottrell describes, “Moral reasoning applied to such a social and public matter like legal regulation will typically produce prescriptions as to how the power of the State should be exercised in controlling citizen’s actions.”

            Laws will be enacted for the ‘common good’, appealing to the lowest common denominator of what is “moral” – influenced by the religious credentials of PAS and the conservative elements within KeADILan and DAP.

            JAIS’ (Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor) moral police continue to barge into hotel rooms and pubs searching for Muslim drinkers or unmarried or gay couples inevitably distressing and disturbing the peace of non-Muslim patrons as well. The Pakatan-led Selangor State government makes nary a sound in response, giving one the impression they actually condone moral policing.

            The recent Pakatan-led uproar over the legalisation of sports betting is yet another example of Natural Law holding sway over an individual’s right. In a surprising development, the DAP has apparently now taken to riding the moral high horse, long ridden by PAS and KeADILan, as evidenced by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s rejection of sports betting licenses in the state.

            UMNO-BN have joined the bandwagon by their sudden policy reversal on the sports betting issue.

 Pakatan’s Division

 If Pakatan’s track record has been shown to pander to the majority’s (read Muslim) conservative requirements, one wonders what would become of legalised gambling institutions, nightclubs or other forms of “immoral” entertainment should Natural Law become entrenched into Pakatan’s policymaking formula once it comes into power.

            One also wonders about “controversial” minority rights such as that of gays, drug or pornography users, sex workers and the like.

            Because morality is subjective, many may applaud Pakatan’s moral policing while others may find it an affront to their freedom of choice. There are also supporters who admire Pakatan’s battle to overthrow UMNO-BN but at the same time abhor Pakatan’s moral conservatism. 

            As such, there exists a real, but yet underlying division within the ranks of members and supporters of Pakatan – conservative and liberal – united only by the dogged determination to overthrow the common enemy, BN. After this is achieved, the division will become painfully apparent – those who stood together as political allies will discover they were actually political enemies all along.

            The more liberal elements within Pakatan and in society must, without delay, demand Pakatan answer hard and direct questions on its policy trajectory, especially the question on whether our Constitutional freedoms: of movement, of association, of expression and of choice will be subject to, and limited by moral considerations as dictated by religion.

            It is submitted that the possible removal of Anwar Ibrahim (and his liberal ideology) will see Pakatan, helmed by the majority theocrats and conservatives, travelling deeper into the realm of moral conservatism, their journey paved by Natural Law.

            Anwar must prepare for the likelihood of facing a jail term by appointing more liberalists to the leadership to check and balance the conservatives, or better still, outnumber them.

            For the electorate, we must all remember H.L.A. Hart’s dicta, “law is not morality, let it not be subsumed by morality” and thereupon renew our commitment to resist in the strongest manner possible, any attempts at the ‘religionisation of law’.

            If we do not resist the more conservative quarters in Pakatan, we may end up exchanging one authoritarian regime for another at the next general election.

            In the interests of justice and individual rights, Pakatan must discard its Natural Law leanings and rein in its more conservative leaders in favour of those with a more liberal democratic approach.

Aneel David Kannabhiran, 45, is an occasional writer, DJ and blogger who is interested in Law Reform.
 He is currently awaiting the results of his final year LLB exams.

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