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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Malaysia seeks another RTS extension

KUALA LUMPUR: There will still be no decision today by the Malaysian government on the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project. Despite the pressing need for the proposed Johor Baru-Singapore connection and the possibility of a hefty compensation payable to Singapore, Malaysia is seeking another six-month extension to review the RM4bil project.

This is the third request for more time.

The initial six-month grace period approved by Singapore expired on Sept 30.

This was followed by a one-month extension granted by the republic, which meant that the Malaysian government was to have made a decision by today.
The extra time was given without Singapore making any financial demands over the delay in the project.

Officials told The Star that the latest request for a six-month extension was made known to Singapore on Monday – 48 hours before today’s deadline.

It was learnt that the Transport Ministry was still unable to resolve certain issues on its side, prompting the need for more time for the review.

These issues include the relocation of the RTS depot, currently proposed to be in Singapore, and the rail system to be used.

An official said Singapore could reserve the right to backdate claims for damages relating to the delay, or even reduce the review period sought by Malaysia.

Work on the 4km link was suspended in May.

The proposed RTS will use the same rolling stock and signalling system like Singapore’s Thomson-East Coast line Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system.

According to one official, some observers said that an MRT system was costlier to build and maintain, and Malaysia could be looking for a less sophisticated system to bring down the cost of the project.

Last month, The Star reported that Malaysia was studying the option of getting the private sector to fund and operate the RTS.

The request for a further extension is expected to set off a storm in Johor, where officials have been pressing for an expedited resolution to the issue due to worsening congestion at the Causeway.

At present, more than 367,000 people use the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex daily, with 254,000 of them at the Johor Baru side and 113,000 at the Second Link.

In unveiling Budget 2020 on Oct 11, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced that the government would proceed with the RTS project.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad confirmed this but said “it will take some time”.

Both governments signed a bilateral agreement last year to build the cross-border MRT link from Woodlands in Singapore to Bukit Chagar in Johor to help alleviate congestion at the Causeway.

Under the proposal, the RTS will have two stations, with the Singapore terminus located at Woodlands North and the Malaysia terminus at Bukit Chagar.

Both stations will have co-located Singaporean and Malaysian customs, immigration and quarantine facilities.

Initially targeted for completion by Dec 31, 2024, the RTS will be the second rail link between the two countries after the KTM Tebrau shuttle service.

However, the agreement with Singapore spells out that the KTM shuttle train service will have to cease operating within six months after the RTS starts operating.

Should Malaysia choose to scrap the RTS project, it may have to pay Singapore up to RM200mil for the preparatory work that the republic has done on its side. - Star

ROADSHOW OF HYPOCRISY – DIDN’T ASYRAF CALL US ‘KAFIR’? WHY SHOULD NON-MALAYS BELIEVE OR BOTHER WITH BN – UNLESS & UNTIL UMNO’S YOUTH CHIEF APOLOGIZES FOR HIS RACISM & DELIBERATE INCITEMENT TO SOUR RELATIONS BETWEEN THE RACES

Firstly I would like to go on record to applaud the BN Youth in making the effort to go on a roadshow to help ease racial and religious tensions in this country. If there is any hope for this country, it is certainly in BN Youth being sound and considerate, not like BN Old which is responsible for all this mess that the young has to rectify. We all know and are familiar with the racist statements of the likes of MPs from the old Umno group. I don’t see any problem in Old MCA and MIC. Only Umno.
But before the BN Youth embark on this noble affair they must do two things first. Before the BN Youth engage with each community it has to address two main concerns to clear the air.
The first and foremost issue concerns the leader of the pack, Asyraf Wajdi. On one occasion, Asyraf stood tall in Masjid Negara calling Malaysians ‘kafir’ and asked for the defence of Islam at all cost. This was the occasion of an old Chinese man who wrote some offensive remark interpreted as an insult to the Prophet Muhammad. Asyraf was inciting Malays to think badly of others just because one incident that had yet to be proven. That, to me shows Asyraf to be a poor leader for Malaysia. Secondly, Asyraf allowed the name of a Chinese MP from DAP to be played with in a derogatory manner. This was the occasion of her explaining the Khat issue to the Chinese community. Although Asyraf did not use the derogatory name but he seems to egg the crowd on. As a leader Asyraf must bear full responsibility of his group of Malay supporters.
Thus, Asyraf must make a public apology to Malaysians for his Kafir remark and also for the derogatory name incident. If not, this roadshow is a farce as it has not started on good will by clearing the air. If Asyraf is not part of the road show, so much the better as the apology can be given by his second in command by saying that that was his own personal capacity. We Malaysians are forgiving.
The second thing that the BN Youth should do is to prepare some slides for presentation of the following three mains issues. Firstly, the BN Youth must make a clear stand on the Kongres Maruah Melayu. The MCA and MIC Youth must stand up and say that they were not part of the Kongres and never participated or agreed to the resolutions. The BN Youth might add that this was the work of academics looking for promotion and titles, not the interest of Malaysians or even the Malays.
Secondly, the slides should explain their stand on Zakir Naik. The BN Youth must wash their hands off this person and dismiss him as someone trying to realize his own personal agenda at the expense of our harmony as a nation by pandering to religious rhetoric. We Malaysians can accept that explanation.
The third thing must be explained by the Umno BN Youth. The Umno Youth must wash their hands off from the corruption done by their old guards to enrich themselves at the detriment of the sanctitiy and mortality of the Umno principles. The Umno Youth MUST make this declaration of guilt on behalf of Umno. I am sure the BN Youth did not get any 1MDB money or else Latheefa would be coming for them too. Just say that it is not the fault of the Youth wing and that this is orang tua tua punya kerja. As I said, Malaysians are a forgiving lot.
In conclusion, I reiterate that I support 101% BN Youth’s noble gesture in calming the race and religious tensions. I am offering my services free of charge to attend their town hall meetings. No need to pay any expenses for me for I and my civil society groups are willing to co-operate in any way and support this excellent gesture. May the destiny of our nation be forged and formed by courageous, honest and open minded youths to lead the way.
Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi 
– Mysinchew

BOMBSHELL – EIGHT MALAY TIGERS NOW FIGHTING EACH OTHER TO ENRICH THEIR FAMILIES & CRONIES BEHIND THE SCENES: IN MALAYSIA, POLITICS REMAINS THE MOST LUCRATIVE PROFESSION – THE QUICKEST WAY TO BECOME A MULTI-BILLIONAIRE IS TO BECOME A MALAY LEADER?

Malay unity is nothing but empty rhetoric trumpeted by Malay politicians desperate for gullible Malay votes, as did “Buy Muslim-made First (BMF)” campaign triggered by UMNO’s racism and extremism initiative to put Malays and non-Malays at loggerheads. Clever, moderate and right-thinking Malays do not believe in Malay unity, let alone a domestic trade war with non-Malays.

Like it or not, the Malays and non-Malays are too intertwined to decouple after 62 years since independence in 1957. It would be easier for the U.S. to decouple from China completely in their trade war than for the Malays and non-Malays to dissociate from each other. Utusan Malaysia, the country’s oldest Malay newspaper, would not have gone bankrupt if BMF works.
Despite BMF campaign, Malays continue flocking to Chinese shops like NSK, Giant, Econsave, Sogo, 7-Eleven, 99 Speedmart, KK Super Mart, Mr. D.I.Y., Secret Recipe, Manhattan Fish Market, Chicken Rice Shop, Tealive and whatnot, not to mention they religiously queuing at Magnum, Sports Toto and DaMaCai every Wed, Sat and Sun to try their luck betting on 4D and 5D numbers and Jackpot.
malaysian-muslims-freely-betting-4d-at-sports-toto
Smart Malays knew the so-called “Malay Unity” was a scam hatched by UMNO after the Malay nationalist party lost its power for the first time since the country’s independence 62 years ago. Prior to the May 2018 General Election, the arrogant and corrupt UMNO had never bothered about Malay unity otherwise former premier Najib would not have had been defeated.
Yes, had former UMNO president Najib Razak and PAS (Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party) president Hadi Awang joined forces against the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, the crooked prime minister would not be looking at spending years in prison today. But Mr. Najib thought he was super-smart paying only RM90 million to PAS to engage in three-cornered fights with PH.
Mr. Najib had admitted that the strategy to go for three-cornered fights had resulted in the coalition losing the 14th general election. He had confessed that his strategy was to split non-UMNO votes between PAS and Pakatan Harapan so that UMNO would get the majority. But clearly the simplistic strategy had backfired spectacularly. And UMNO lost its shirt.
Najib Razak - SRC Trial - Facing Defeat with Worry Expression
Since its defeat, UMNO talks about Malay unity every week because they need PAS zombielike-obedient voters. PAS talks about Malay unity every week because they need Mahathir government’s attention to get funding for the state of Kelantan and Terengganu. And Prime Minister Mahathir, due to his desperation for Malay voters, has recklessly played racial and religious extremism.
When PAS and UMNO, two largest Malay-based parties in the country, officially signed a political pact on September 14, the 94-year-old Mahathir Mohamad was incredibly panicked. He blinked. After all, the last time UMNO and PAS cooperated was during the 1974 General Election, when PAS candidates contested under the Barisan Nasional banner.
So the Malay Dignity Congress was hatched under the nose of Mahathir. The congress, which was jointly organised by Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), opened with a bang when the chief organiser – Zainal Kling – issued a warning to non-Malays about the suspension of their citizenship.
Malay Dignity Congress - MDC - Participants
Today, it has proven again that PAS and UMNO, despite their less than 2-month marriage, don’t actually trust each other. It seems Mahathir has become a sucker. PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Ibrahim has essentially told his new ally to fly kite when he announced that PAS administrations in Kelantan and Terengganu do not have space for UMNO lawmakers.
The No 2 strongman of PAS said – “The people have given us mandate in the 14th General Election and we agreed that PAS and UMNO will work as a team. They are not Opposition in the state, even if they are not directly involved in the running of the state. The “exco” (executive council) positions are full. Every quota is filled.” It seems UMNO has become a sucker too.
After the May 9 2018 general election, PAS won 37 seats while UMNO captured 7 seats in the 45-seat Kelantan State Legislative Assembly. PAS also won 23 seats while UMNO grabbed 10 seats in the 33-seat Terengganu State Legislative Assembly. So why can’t the stingy PAS give at least 1 seat in the executive council in both states to UMNO, its newly married partner?
UMNO-PAS Alliance - Zahid Hamidi and Hadi Awang
More importantly, the refusal to include UMNO in the government Terengganu is a humiliating slap in the face of Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the president of UMNO. Just 3 days ago (Oct 26), Mr. Zahid hinted at PAS to include his party’s lawmakers in the state government of Terengganu during his opening speech at UMNO Terengganu Convention.
Yes, not only did the Java-immigrant Zahid plead with a begging bowl to PAS Islamic party to be given some space in the administration of Terengganu, the former prime minister had also openly apologised – from head to toe – to PAS for “past deeds”. However, it appears Zahid’s sucking up to PAS leadership was seen as a sign of weakness – worse than a pariah beggar.
Interestingly, a day after both PAS and UMNO formed their grand political alliance on Sept 14, it was PAS president Hadi Awang who told all and sundry that his Islamist party planned to include bedfellow UMNO in the two states it currently rules, adding that they will make a public announcement in the near future. But nothing happened until Zahid begged three days ago.
PAS Hadi Awang and UMNO Zahid Hamidi - Whispering
So what had happened within a short span of 6 weeks since the fanfare signing ceremony of the UMNO-PAS charter at Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), where thousands of their supporters attended and even cried at the historic cooperation? What type of nonsense is the Malay unity that PAS has been chest-thumping if it can’t even allows UMNO in the Terengganu government?
At best, the mistrust between PAS and UMNO finally rear its ugly head. Hadi Awang could be toying with Zahid Hamidi when he promised to include UMNO in the administration of Kelantan and Terengganu. Even if the PAS president wanted to, he probably realised how much the PAS grassroots members reject and despise the idea of sharing power with their once bitter enemy.
At worst, PAS has started sabotaging ally UMNO to help PM Mahathir wins the coming Tanjung Piai by-election. Earlier on Oct 24, in order to stop prime minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim from becoming the next premier, 18 MPs from PAS and 6 MPs from UMNO have expressed support for Mahathir to remain prime minister for the full electoral term of five years.
Malay Dignity Congress - Azmin Ali, Hadi Awang, Mahathir Mohamad and Annuar Musa
An embarrassing defeat in the Tanjung Piai by-election could be used as a referendum that Mahathir’s premiership and leadership are rejected, pressuring him to pass the baton to Anwar. PAS’ latest rejection of Zahid’s request to running the state of Terengganu together could be a signal to PAS Johor machinery not to take the by-election seriously.
If PAS can’t even agree to a small sacrifice like sharing one “exco seat” at the state level, exactly how could both PAS and UMNO agree to a bigger sacrifice at the national level – seat negotiations and allocations for the next 15th General Election? This is precisely the reason why smart Malays do not believe in this junk called Malay unity.
There are simply too many greedy and corrupt Malay leaders wanted to become the next prime minister. Do you really think Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar Ibrahim, Azmin Ali, Hadi Awang, Najib Razak, Zahid Hamidi, Hishammuddin Hussein, Khairy Jamaluddin and whatnot really care about the Malay welfare, let alone the Malay dignity, as screamed by that Professor Kling?
UMNO Gravy Train - Hishammuddin Hussein and Zahid Hamidi Fool Malays
A Chinese idiom says, “One mountain cannot contain two tigers.” But in the case of Malaysia, there are at least eight Malay tigers fighting each other to enrich their families and cronies. Only a fool would think Mahathir, Hadi or Zahid genuinely desires Malay unity for the sake of the community. If they are genuine about it, UMNO, PAS and Bersatu would have been “merged” already.
Politics is the most lucrative business in Malaysia, especially for Malay elite politicians. Najib Razak provides the best example that a career in politics is the formula to become a multi-billionaire. What you need to do is to stir up racial and religious sentiments among the Malays that the Muslims and Malay Rulers have lost power to the “Chinese, Christians and Communists”.
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‘IT’S A KIND OF BULLYING BY THE VERY POWERFUL’ – STILL TALKING TOUGH BUT MAHATHIR CHICKENS OUT THIS TIME, MUSLIM BROTHER OR NOT: MALAYSIA ‘FORCED’ TO TOE THE U.S. LINE – CLOSES IRANIAN BANK ACCOUNTS AFTER REAPING NEAR DISASTER FROM DR M’S COMMENTS OVER INDIA’S KASHMIR POLICY

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today admitted that the country was pressured into closing bank accounts of Iranian individuals and companies, but maintained that ties with Tehran were good.
“We are forced to close the bank accounts. If we don’t, they will close our banks.
“It’s a kind of bullying by the very powerful,” he told reporters after attending the education ministry’s National Education Advisory Council (MPPK) meeting here.
Also present were Education Minister Maszlee Malik and his deputy Teo Nie Ching.
Earlier today, Reuters reported that banks in Malaysia are closing the accounts of Iranian individuals and companies, believed to be linked to sanctions imposed by Washington.
Despite Washington’s sanctions over Iran’s nuclear programme imposed late last year, Malaysia has kept up good diplomatic ties with Tehran, and last week, their leaders discussed ways to further strengthen ties.
It was not clear if the account closures were linked to the tracking of an Iranian oil tanker offshore Malaysia this year, a development that annoyed the US.

RELATED STORY: Malaysia scrambling to manage India palm oil boycott call

FREE MALAYSIA TODAY

FEAR & LOATHING FOR MAHATHIR & COHORTS RUN HIGH AFTER ‘MALAY DIGNITY’ DEBACLE: SHOULD NON-MALAYS BOTHER TO VOTE? IS IT TIME TO LET MALAYS TURN MALAYSIA INTO AN EXTREMIST ISLAMIC STATE RIDDLED WITH CORRUPTION & CRONYISM? WHY SHOULD NON-MALAYS ALWAYS HAVE TO SHOULDER THE RESPONSIBILITY OF PUSHING FOR A PROGRESSIVE, MODERN & BALANCED NATION? WHY NOT LET MALAYS GET A TASTE OF THE DOOMED FUTURE THEY SEEK UNDER AN IGNORANT PAS, CORRUPT UMNO & DISHONEST BERSATU?

The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.”
– James Branch Cabell, ‘The Silver Stallion’
I suppose, once you leave Malaysia, you are “Malaysian”. In Malaysia you remain a racial demographic and all that entails. The prime minister’s comment about how “Malaysians” overseas are valued for their professional “skill set” is indicative of how, once you leave our country, you truly become a citizen, or at least politicians talk as if you are a citizen and not belonging to a racial group.
The fallout from the “Malay Dignity” forum has brought upon some soul searching in people who viewed a change of government as the beginnings of a new Malaysia, or a repudiation of the failed policies of the former Barisan Nasional (BN) regime.
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The reality that Harapan is morphing into a neo-BN has reinvigorated the discourse surrounding the idea that non-Malays do not really have a place under the Malaysian sun.
There are three interesting comments – ‘A deep sense of despair’ by Michel Chng, ‘Totally hopeless now’ by Ho Lee Peing and ‘The Chinese dilemma’ by Kuik Cheng Kang, an attempt to frame the non-Malay discourse surrounding the Harapan win as one of failed expectations.
Chng’s reportage of the Malay dignity forum produced an emotional reaction: “I really thought we would finally see a New Malaysia following a change of guard in Putrajaya. I suddenly found myself choking back tears as I talked.”
Ho wonders if we should we leave this land out of sheer despair and concludes: “The nonsense uttered by our politicians and happily echoed by the black sheep in the academia serves to remind us that as co-authors of the Malaysian destiny, we cannot afford to become pessimistic, less so despair.”
Kuik’s ‘The Chinese dilemma’ is an answer to the Malay dignity forum: “To put things forthright, the dilemma of the Malays today has been a result of their own work. Unfortunately, the Chinese community is made to take the blame.”
The problem I have with all these pieces is that they fail to address the reality that non-Malays, for decades, were complicit in supporting a regime that eventually morphed into a kleptocratic state, the apogee of which was the Najib regime.
Failed Malay policies were not only the result of Malay stewardship, but also the enabling of non-Malay political power structures. This idea that a New Malaysia could be created by replacing the former kleptocrat with one of the chief architects of the old order is ludicrous.
I am not saying this with any schadenfreude. How could I, when I was one of those people who were advocating for Harapan to name the current prime minister as a seat warmer because overthrowing the Najib regime was of utmost importance?
To be fair, I was always clear-eyed about this strategy and leading up to the elections, I always attempted to point out how the Harapan coalition was slipping into Umno/BN mode. Close associates and partisans with rancour accused me, among other things, of being an Umno saboteur.
Even now, non-Malay politicians who, before the election claimed that MCA and MIC were “running dogs” for their Malay counterparts, are realising how difficult it is to manoeuvre in the racial and religious terrain that they inherited. Keep in mind that we are not talking about novice politicians, but seasoned veterans of decades-long political conflicts who should understand how the system works because they were in control of a few states.
Even now we have partisans who make excuses for Harapan, claiming they need more time, when before the election, politicians were telling their base that there was no time. Some folks thought that the old maverick had changed, but the reality is that there are many people who view his reign as a success, and that Old Malaysia under Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad (above) is the best we could hope for.
Meanwhile, Mahathir’s supporters, who are a legion, get frustrated with Harapan partisans who blame Bersatu for attempting to carry out the role Umno did. And this is not some sub rosa agenda of Bersatu. Harapan politicians, before the elections, told us that Bersatu was needed to shore up Malay support, which it did not manage to do.
Even now, some Harapan partisans are telling us that there is no one else to vote for. This was the official BN narrative for years. People think that we finally got the change we wanted, but for many people the country, its policies and racial dynamics were fine, and the only thing that was wrong with the country was Najib Abdul Razak.
There are people who are advocating leaving this country and there are people who say that we should stay and fight. My answer has always been the same. If you want people to stay and fight for their rights, you must be able to demonstrate that staying and fighting is something that is worthwhile.
We are not yet at the stage where you can point to incremental changes (elsewhere) and say that this is progress. We are a developed country with narratives that are evidence that religious and racial plurality is something we had, but lost, like many Islamic state narratives in countries all over the Middle East.
Either you refrain from voting until you have political coalitions that will fight for the Malaysia you want, or vote for coalitions that want to maintain the status quo.
At this point, either option is not a value judgment for me.

IN FACTION-TORN BERSATU, KARMAINE MAKES HIS FIRST BY-ELECTION MISTAKE – HIDES BEHIND HIS ‘BOSS’ MAHATHIR: 94 0R 66, AGE IS NOT THE ISSUE – IT’S WHETHER YOUR POLITICS ARE ‘STALE & DIRTY’ OR ‘FRESH & CLEAN’ THAT MATTER

PONTIAN — Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) Tanjung Piai candidate Karmaine Sardini today brushed off criticism over his age, saying that it should not be a factor in the upcoming by-election.
The 66-year-old said he personally did not care about the age factor, which has been played up by the Opposition, as it will not weaken his resolve to carry out his duties as a candidate for Tanjung Piai.
“My boss (Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad), who is 94 years old, is still a world leader,” said Karmaine when met at the Kukup state legislative coordinator’s office in Kukup here today.
Karmaine, a seasoned local politician, admitted that it was a challenge for him when his age (as a parliamentary candidate) was being questioned by many.
On Monday, Hasni was reported as saying that PH’s candidate “is 66, going to be 67 next year and hopefully, there won’t be another by-election as elections are tiring”.
He made his remarks about Karmaine’s age during the launch of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) machinery for the by-election in Pontian.
Karmaine, who is also the Tanjung Piai Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) division chief, also denied claims that he has fake education credentials.
He explained that he obtained an Advanced Diploma in Architecture in the 1980s, when Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) was then known as the Mara Institute of Technology (ITM).
“My qualification is on par with having a bachelor’s degree, which later allowed me to become an architect with the Kuala Lumpur City Hall,” said Karmaine who is also an imam at the Al-Muttaqin Mosque in Taman Sutera, near Taman Perling in Johor Baru.
BN is scheduled to officially announce its by-election candidate at 8.30pm here tonight.
On Monday, PH announced Karmaine as its by-election candidate, while earlier that same day, Gerakan named its deputy secretary-general Wendy Subramaniam as its candidate for the contest.
The Election Commission has set November 2 as Nomination Day and November 16 as polling day for the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election.
The by-election was triggered after incumbent, Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Rafik died of heart complications on September 21.
Dr Md Farid won the seat in the previous general election after he defeated BN’s Wee Jeck Seng and PAS’ Nordin Othman in a three-way contest.
The Tanjung Piai constituency is a mixed seat comprising 57 per cent Malays, 42 per cent Chinese and 1 per cent Indians.
The seat has been traditionally contested by MCA and DAP since 2004. In 2018, DAP ceded the seat to Bersatu to contest under its PH campaign.
MALAY MAIL

In health, some rights are wrong



Oct 29 was a momentous day for Malaysian public health, following the court’s decision to reaffirm a nationwide smoking ban in restaurants which came into force this year, after it was challenged by a group of smokers who claim their constitutional rights had been violated.
For Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad and other health advocates, the decision reaffirms an important point: that health is, in the Federal Constitution, an important human right.
Human rights is a difficult topic in our highly charged political climate.
Although everyone is pretty much on board with the idea of human rights as being universally inherent, inalienable and inviolable rights for all man, not many countries agree on the definition and context of these rights.
It was the French Revolution that first kicked off the concepts of liberty, equality and fraternity.
Today, these form the core of what is termed as human rights – the right to life, the right to liberty, security of individuals, freedom to assemble, freedom of association, and freedom of religion.
Expansion of these rights which emerged later includes the right to employment, housing and equal wages. Today, concepts included into human rights include group and collective rights, the right to self-determination, the right to environment and the right to development.
So when did health get added to the mix?
The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 provides that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and his family including food, clothing and medical care.”
This document sees health as an essential human right, and has been so for more than seven odd decades or so.
But what do we mean when we say that health is a human right, especially in the Malaysian context?
Accepting that health is human right means that the government must ensure that all Malaysians have the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
They must be able to access quality healthcare, available to all equitably as and when needed, as well as sanitation, adequate food, decent housing, healthy working conditions and a clean environment.
It was in the protection of the healthy environment that there occurred a clash between the alleged infringement of the smokers’ “individual” rights against the “right to health” in terms of providing a clean, healthy environment to all Malaysians.
The seven smokers challenged the ban for three reasons. Among them, they claimed the minister had exceeded his ministerial powers allotted to the role in declaring the ban.
They also said that their rights under Article 5 and 8 of the Federal Constitution were breached.
According to Article 5, no person may be deprived of life or personal liberty except in accordance with law, while Article 8 states that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection.
By prohibiting their right to smoke in restaurants, the smokers felt that these individual rights were being denied them and that they were being discriminated against.
Weighing against this was the Ministry of Health’s scientific rationale that smoking in public places constituted a greater danger to a larger part of the population, and that by instituting the ban, the greater public’s right to health was being protected.
How important are the rights of the individual then?
In health at least, our constitution is crystal clear. The drafters in their spirit and intent were strongly in favour of the greater good, i.e. public health far above the rights of any individual.
Take, for example, Article 9 where even the freedom of movement, one of the most basic rights, can be restricted by the government in the interest of public health.
Similarly, another fundamental right, the right to religious freedom, is assured under Article 11. Even this right cannot be exercised by ignoring public health. Did you know this?
This was the spirit alluded to by Justice Mariana Yahya in dismissing the application of the smokers.
Contrary to what the smokers alleged, she said their rights were not compromised as they could still smoke outside the three-metre stipulated radius from the restaurants and that there was no discrimination discernible between smokers and non-smokers in this regard.
The judge also mentioned that smokers and non-smokers had equal rights in terms of visiting and spending their time in food premises for as long as they wished. This was an important point, and one which most smokers choose to conveniently overlook.
The majority of Malaysians are not smokers. We have an equal amount of “rights” as do smokers.
The court has clearly spoken. The right to health for all Malaysians, including smokers, is the most important thing and is the law of the land.
In health especially, some rights are wrong. - FMT