Illegality of foreign funds questioned

Government claims NGOs foreign funding questionable to quash opposition in coming election, after Suaram publishes expose on scorpene scandal

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Picture: Officials from the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) conducting

an inspection of the Suaram office. Source: Aliran.com.

SUBANG JAYA

FOREIGN funding as the focus of government claims of illegality against non-governmental organisations has been regarded as a political move, to gain greater control over civil society and discredit known critics of the system.

Claims against human rights group, Suaram, and online news portal, Malaysiakini, read that they are under foreign control through foreign funding.

The government fear “that foreign elements are trying to make use of such NGOs as Suaram to weaken the Malaysian government,” said Mustafa Anuar, Secretary of Aliran.

A few months ago, Suaram published an expose on the scorpene scandal and called on French judiciaries for investigations, which was “too close for home for PM Najib,” he said.

Mustafa said criticisms of the NGOs are “meant to divert attention from the very issue raised by Suaram,” adding that the general election is close and it could be “costly for BN at the polls”.

Political scientist and activist, Wong Chin Huat said they don’t have a strong legal ground, “what they want to do is a political smearing campaign”.

Asked of foreign and opposition parties’ funds to media organisations, he said the problem is “restriction on media freedom, not about… media ownership”.

New Law Threatens Freedom and Fairness

Amendment to Section 114A of the Evidence Act seen as an assault on Malaysian democracy

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(Source: namnewsnetwork.org)

Adam Radhi

SUBANG JAYA

FREEDOM of expression and a fair judiciary came under threat with the recent amendment to the 1950 Evidence Act, which lawfully “presumes” an author or publisher of seditious, liable or defamatory content to be guilty until proven innocent.

The law shows a “reversal of the fundamental principle of justice,” said Abigail de Vries, Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) project coordinator.

“Current laws already protect people adequately, why do we need this which overreaches the boundaries of regulation.”

Chairperson of the Malaysian Bar Council’s Constitutional Law Committee, Syahredzan Johan said the impact on the judiciary system is the “change in evidential rules that govern court proceedings”.

Johan explained that the new rules make it legal and easy for the state to always charge an individual for any seditious content found online.

Blogger and treasurer of human rights group Aliran, Anil Netto said the law has a “chilling effect” on public expression, adding that anyone leaving a comment on a website and outlets providing a WiFi service “should be concerned”.

He added, the amendment – which echoes the Internal Security Act of 1960 – encourages self-censorship through fear, and offers a “catch-all clause” for authorities to apprehend people with little or no investigation.

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