06 February 2021

Joint Media Statement

2 February 2021

NGOs ASK COURTS TO CONSIDER ROLE OF JUDICIARY AND PARLIAMENT IN ENSURING CHECKS AND BALANCES DURING EMERGENCY
We, the undersigned civil society organisations (CSOs), involved in various areas of advocacy to strengthen parliamentary democracy and the safeguarding of the civic space, filed a public interest suit today at the High Court against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and the government of Malaysia, to seek court declarations on issues related to the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021.
We are concerned that the proclamation of emergency and the Emergency Ordinance has resulted in both Houses of Parliament being unable to fulfil their constitutional role of debating and voting on the Emergency Ordinance. We are also concerned that the main effect of the emergency ordinance is the suspension of the Parliament while it is business as usual for both the government, judiciary and private sectors, subject to the restrictions imposed under the ongoing Movement Control Order (MCO).
We would like the courts to declare if they have the power to review any attempt that circumvents constitutional provisions which require these instruments to be brought before Parliament first.
In particular, we are seeking declarations on whether the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance; or Section 14 of the Ordinance, which suspends Parliament; and Article 150(8) of the Constitution, which oust the jurisdiction of the courts, are unconstitutional.
In our submission to the Kuala Lumpur High Court today, we posed the following questions of law.
1. Given that both Houses of Parliament had not been dissolved but only stood adjourned at the relevant times, whether the Proclamation of Emergency issued on 11 January 2021 (vide P.U.(A)7/2021) and the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 promulgated on 14 January 2021 had to be laid before both Houses of Parliament pursuant to Article 150(3) of the Federal Constitution?
2. Whether Section 14 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 relating to the suspension of Parliament is valid insofar as it prevents or frustrates the operation of Article 150(3) of the Federal Constitution? (Section 14 purports to, inter alia, disable the operation of the provisions of the Federal Constitution relating to the summoning, prorogation and dissolution of Parliament and to cancel any meeting of Parliament that had been summoned but not yet held).
3. Whether the 1981 constitutional amendment that added Article 150(8) of the Federal Constitution that purportedly ousts the jurisdiction of the courts is unconstitutional (for violating Articles 4 and 121 of the Federal Constitution and/or the basic structure of the Federal Constitution)?
4. Whether Article 150(8) of the Federal Constitution, even if valid, prevents the courts from reviewing the constitutionality of an ordinance made under Article 150(2B) that does not comply with, prevents or frustrates the requirements of Article 150(3) of the Federal Constitution (which require the proclamation/ordinance to be laid before Parliament)?
The suspension of Parliament is an extremely drastic measure. This Emergency overreaches the Constitution and is disproportionate. As citizens and public-spirited, interest groups fighting for reform, the suspension of Parliament affects our work greatly as we are unable to access and seek recourse during parliamentary sittings on matters of concern.
We believe the rule of law should be preserved and the spirit of the Federal Constitution is adhered to, where there is a clear separation of powers between the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary, and that no one branch of government should subjugate the others.
The loss of such checks and balances in our parliamentary democracy would have long-term irrevocable impact that could ruin our country, as an unchecked government could turn draconian and kleptocratic.
We believe the government already has enough powers to handle the COVID-19 crisis and they do not need to resort to suspending Parliament through the Emergency Ordinance.
Like all Malaysians, we are extremely concerned with the devastating impacts of this pandemic - the loss of lives, livelihood and rapid erosion of our economy. Political stability is necessary for the government to steer us out of this unprecedented crisis, but stability must not be achieved at the expense of institutional checks and balances provided by Parliament and the Judiciary.
For these reasons, it is in the public interest that we undertook this legal challenge to allow the court to determine the constitutional powers of Parliament and the Judiciary in upholding our system of checks and balances.
We undertook this litigation in the public interest to defend the rule of law and the system of checks and balances and to seek the judiciary’s determination on issues related to the Emergency Ordinance.
Signed by:
1. The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (BERSIH 2.0)
2. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
3. Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
4. Aliran
5. The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
6. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
7. Save Rivers


https://aliran.com/newsletters/aliran-and-other-ngos-seek-court-declarations-on-emergency-ordinance/

https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/seven-ngos-including-bersih-20-file-suit-state-emergency


17 January 2021

Academic Staff Association of IIUM

 STATEMENT ON THE NEED TO UPHOLD ACADEMIC FREEDOM


The Academic Staff Association (ASA) of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) would like to reiterate its stance on academic freedom which entails the right for academic members to voice their views and opinions. The 1997 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel defines academic freedom as “the right, without constriction by prescribed doctrine, to freedom of teaching and discussion, freedom in carrying out research and disseminating and publishing the results thereof, freedom to express freely their opinion about the institution or system in which they work, freedom from institutional censorship and freedom to participate in professional or representative academic bodies.” The Ministry of Higher Education and Institutions of Higher Education should not be seen to curb this fundamental freedom.


Nonetheless, ASA IIUM would like to remind academic members to exercise this right responsibly and that their views and opinions can also be challenged.


ASA IIUM would like to note its concerns on the ‘policing’ of social media posting which can be ‘subjectively’ construed as not in favour of any parties and subsequently subjected to rigorous questioning and accusations of ‘insubordination’.


وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۚ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَٰئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُولًا


Do not follow blindly what you do not know to be true: ears, eyes, and heart, you will be questioned about all these [al-Isrā’/17: 36]


عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ رضي الله عنه قَالَ: قَالَ لِي رَسُولُ اَللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: قُلِ اَلْحَقَّ, وَلَوْ كَانَ مُرًّا


Narrated Abū Dharr, Allah’s Messenger said to me: “Say the truth even though it is bitter (i.e. difficult to admit).” [Ibn Ḥibbān]


Academic Staff Association

International Islamic University Malaysia

Kenyataan PKAUM

 [07:50, 15/01/2021] Noraishah Um: JOINT STATEMENT BY PKAUM, KMUM, DEMOKRAT UM, GERAKAN PEMBEBASAN AKADEMIK (GPA), HARMONI MALAYSIA, ANGKATAN MAHASISWA UM AND UMANY IN RESPONSE TO THE 222 PhD HOLDERS STATING THEIR SUPPORT OF THE STATE OF EMERGENCY IN MALAYSIA


PKAUM, KMUM, Demokrat, GPA, HARMONI Malaysia, Angkatan Mahasiswa and UMANY are distressed by the statement in support of the state of emergency issued by the 222, intimating their intellectual superiority over other Malaysians on the basis of possessing a PhD qualification. In as much as the notion of freedom of expression is valued and held sacred by us, it is regrettable that the recent support of the 222 Pintar PhD holders has introduced a new division in this beloved country of ours.

A division of those with academic doctoral degrees apart from those with lesser or with no academic credentials whatsoever. This is indeed an alarming development in a country already torn apart along racial, economic and religious divides. We would like to remind every learned citizen of the important role they must play as the conscience of the nation. PhD holders working as academicians carry the heavy burden as bearer of the torch of hope based upon knowledge. The job of academicians is NOT to curry favours in exchange for promotion and career advancement. Instead what we see is a continuation and increase in numbers of sycophancy which began in March 2020. 

In these troubling and difficult times that the country is facing, it is paramount and most imperative for bright individuals and scholars to focus on studying, reasoning, developing and proposing solutions to take us out of the current dire straits thus elevating the country to a better condition for the benefit of each Malaysian. Who is in a better position to do so, other than those who have been trained to perform scholastic research, the degree the PhD was awarded for? Working together with everyone, including those without academic credentials but possessing the necessary experiences within all the relevant industries and sectors, positive proposals are most welcomed rather than harping on forlorn conclusions which are of no benefit, academically nor practically.

The Honourable Prime Minister has assured us that our lives will hardly be disrupted if we do not interfere with the running of our current government. Yet, the most vulnerable amongst the citizens of Malaysia bear the brunt of the consequences. Disabled children in Malaysia, both citizens and immigrants, are particularly at risk. They are currently denied their much-needed therapy during the MCO. Other vulnerable population include, those who suffer from chronic illnesses, the victims of the current floods, the women who are trapped at home suffering violence from perpetrators, the children who are unable to gain access to appropriate education, the workers who will lose more income during this emergency, the common person on the street who are all affected by the adverse effects on the economy. 

During a state of emergency, Parliament is not allowed to convene. The academics should therefore instead produce feasible solutions on how best to propel the economy further during this emergency, i.e. be the brains for the various possible solutions to protect our vulnerable population and help to rebuild our beloved nation. Therefore, the issue should not be nor should it revolve around the next General Election. In fact, academicians should be advocating for the people of the country and not the nation's politicians. The issue should be how do we save our beloved country from the scourge of Covid19 with the least disruption to the lives of the most hard-hit amongst the citizens of Malaysia.

The Declaration of the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia published on the 10th of November 2020 clearly stipulated that a transparent middle path would be best for Malaysia in overcoming the Covid19 scourge. We urge all academicians to do their jobs as effectively as possible and refrain from further ambiguous activities that will further mar the country's reputation globally. Let us all work together, hand in hand across all divides, to find solutions, beneficial to everyone.


 

Noraishah Mydin bt Haji Abdul Aziz, PhD
Secretary General
Academic Association of Universiti Malaya (PKAUM) 2020/2022

Muhammad Haziq Azfar Bin Ishak
President
Universiti Malaya Students’ Union (KMUM) 2020/2021

Farhan Amran
Koordinator
Demokrat Universiti Malaya

Yap Wen Qing
President
UMANY

Nik Azura Nik Nasron 
Chairperson
Gerakan Pembebasan Akademik

Usaid Asmadi 
Presiden
Persatuan Belia HARMONI Malaysia

Wan Afiq Ikhwan Wan Alias
Chairman
Angkatan Mahasiswa UM

Joint Statrment

 

















Joint Statement

 

Covid-19 Vaccines for Malaysia:

A Call for Transparency in Registration & Purchasing

 

 

Citizens’ Health Initiative

citizenhealthinitiative@gmail.com

 

 

December 28, 2020

 

 

With the exception of the People’s Republic of China and a few other countries like New Zealand, Vietnam, Cuba, Senegal, and Kerala state in India, which seem to have largely brought Covid-19 under control without the help of vaccines, most countries are struggling with succeeding waves of the pandemic and a likely global spread of a more contagious mutant of SARS-CoV-2. 

 The collateral damage to economic and social well-being worldwide has been unprecedented, and it underscores the urgently felt need for vaccines and a return to some semblance of normalcy.

 Despite a major lapse with a 16,000 plus person religious gathering which erupted into several clusters locally and in the region (March 2020), Malaysia had performed creditably earlier.


Sources of Current Outbreaks

Unfortunately, since October 2020, a resurgence of clusters emerged from non-compliant returnees from abroad, and porous Sabah state border controls, exacerbated by lax enforcement of SOPs during the September 2020 Sabah state elections.

 Immigration and health authorities were not sufficiently pro-active to prevent its further spread in the peninsula, resulting in numerous outbreaks, especially among workers in congested accommodations and workplaces, and in prisons and detention centres.

 Unlike Singapore’s experience with outbreaks in migrant dormitory complexes, we in Malaysia are additionally reaping the consequences of decades of corrupt mismanagement of labor migration, viz. a persistently large pool of undocumented migrant workers (currently estimated at 1.2-1.5 million) who have strong incentives to avoid contact with government agencies.  

Senior Minister Ismail Sabri’s disastrous U-turn in going after undocumented migrants (after initially promising them sanctuary and no arrests and deportation during the pandemic) greatly complicated pandemic control efforts, in particular the crucially important contact tracing.

As generally younger daily-paid workers, more likely to ride out the milder symptoms of Covid-19 infection, they are now even less inclined to cooperate in testing and isolation, given the risks of arrest, detention and deportation.

We thus face the prospect of protracted and repeated seeding of the general population by the asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, especially undocumented workers reluctant to seek treatment unless severely ill. (We should also note that active avoidance of contact tracing and testing involves others disinclined to divulge network contacts or contact history, e.g. underworld elements, drug and sexual encounters, etc).

As in many other countries, many Malaysians support efforts to secure vaccines to enhance pandemic control efforts.

Procuring Vaccines for Malaysia

The minister for Science, Technology, and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin has announced commitments to purchase a basket of Covid-19 vaccines, and options for further orders[1].

Khairy Jamaluddin needs to be transparent about the technical rationales, criteria, and pricing for his ministry’s purchasing decisions.  In particular, he needs to respond to very pertinent points raised by the Covid Research Centre (KL)[2], chest specialist Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj[3], and others, which include the following:

·         there is currently little information on long-term safety beyond 2 months or on durability of protection, for all candidate or approved vaccines (any late-manifesting adverse effects will only be detected by conscientious follow-up surveillance, monitoring, and reporting systems).  This is especially pertinent for novel mRNA vaccines, in comparison with the more familiar inactivated whole-virus vaccines with which we have decades of experience

·         the decision by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to grant immunity to Pfizer from legal liability for late-manifesting adverse effects, and the Pfizer CEO declining to be among the early vaccinees (claiming selflessness in prioritising those more vulnerable, in contrast to some vaccine researchers who vaccinated themselves even before phase 1 human trials) perhaps reflects the true risk perception or assessment of the pharmaceutical corporations (whose profitable research and development work has been highly subsidised by governments for ‘vaccine nationalist’ reasons)

·         stringent logistic requirements (deep-freeze or ultra-low temperature facilities) for the mass deployment of mRNA vaccines to under-served remote areas

·         one additional advantage of the inactivated whole-virus vaccine is that the host immune response is mounted against a spectrum of antigens from the whole virus, rather than against a much more limited array of antigenic sub-components of say, the spike protein.  This could provide some insurance against mutations, say in the coding sequences for the spike protein, which might render vaccines directed solely against the spike protein wholly or partially ineffective.

Beyond the immediate urgency of securing access to adequate quantities of safe, efficacious and affordable vaccines, the larger question of our continuing dependency on foreign vaccine developers, producers and suppliers remains unaddressed.

 

National Capabilities in Production of Medicines and Vaccines

Consider Cuba, a nation of 12 million citizens hamstrung by a 60-year economic blockade by the US, which has invested in human and material resources to become a biotech power-house:  recombinant hepatitis B vaccines, synthetic polysaccharide vaccine against Haemophilus influenzae type B[4], CIMAvax vaccine against lung cancer[5], and innovative treatment of diabetic foot ulcers.

Cuba’s repeated offers of scientific collaboration in R&D, and joint ventures to position Malaysia as a regional production and distribution platform for Southeast Asia[6], have elicited only a lukewarm response.  Tan Sri Dr Abu Bakar Suleiman, the retired Director General of Health, has shown greater foresight and entrepreneurial verve as chairman of Bioven[7], which is shepherding CIMAvax through US-FDA and UK phase 3 clinical trials[8].

It is not too late to make the necessary strategic decisions for a promising growth area (pharmaceuticals and vaccines) in the national and regional economies of the newly launched RCEP.

 

 for more information/clarifications, please contact:

 

Chan Chee Khoon     cheekhoon50@gmail.com

Chee Heng Leng        cheehengleng@gmail.com

 Endorsers

 

Aliran

Citizens’ Health Initiative

Freedom

Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)

North South Initiative

Pengguna Pahang

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)

Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

 

 

 

 

 



[3] COVID-19 vaccine: Hold your horses, let us play safe!  https://focusmalaysia.my/opinion/covid-19-vaccine-hold-your-horses-let-us-play-safe/   

[4] Synthetic Vaccine Is a Sweet Victory for Cuban Science https://science.sciencemag.org/content/305/5683/460

[6] Cuba exploring possibility of producing vaccines in M’sia  https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/410301

[8] Roswell Park Lung Cancer Expert Shares Initial Findings from First North American Study of CIMAvax https://www.roswellpark.org/newsroom/201809-roswell-park-lung-cancer-expert-shares-initial-findings-first-north-american-study; Bioven Begins Phase III Trial of Cuban NSCLC Vaccine in UK https://ihsmarkit.com/country-industry-forecasting.html?ID=1065971583