Wednesday, 17 February 2010

No 'Kopi' at Kopitiam

Visited Singapore just before CNY, and was at this place called 'Lo Pa Sat' which in hokkien means, the old market.

Ann, Myke and I met Teh there at about 11pm. We were hoping to have some coffee and we were happy to see a stall called 'Kopitiam' similar to the photo above.

I lined up to order our drinks (in Singapore, they line up for almost everything), and when it was my turn, I ordered:-

"Uncle, One Nescafe, please".

Before I could say "and another kopi-o", the indian man who manned the stall said this, "Sorry, no nescafe".

A little surprised, I then when on to ask for the 2nd drink, "What about kopi-O, uncle?". And this was the amazing answer I got:-

"Sorry lah, we dont sell coffee here, kopi or nescafe, we dont sell".

I took a step back and read the sign again, which clearly states "KOPItiam". I suppose there is a 'tiam' but no 'kopi'.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

"Allah" case - a misrepresentation by our government?

I know this is an old issue, so this is a little late.

The 'Allah' decision back in middle January by the High Court of Malaya may include the subject matter of the word 'Allah' but the legal substance and principle matter in issue in that case is the extent of the Home Minister's power to curtail the usage of a certain word.

I do not wish to bore the readers with a legal cross reference of this case and that statute, but safe to say, the High Court Judge in that case had to decide if a Home Minister can ban the word like "Allah" from being used by non-muslims. This is significant! For, if the High Court confirms that the Home Minister has such a power, then the next question to ask is 'To what extent?".

It is a simple logic. If a Home Minister can ban usage of that word, can it also mean that the Home Minister can also ban words like 'Tuhan", "Geraja", "Masjid" etc. Is it also possible that if the Home Minister is a big football fan, and happen to support a team like, say Everton; can he ban that word from being used by any other fan? And to say in the ban that any usage of that word by a non-fan will be dealt with by the law?

The High Court has, in my view, accurately decided the issue, and held that the Minister does not have such a power. A perusal of the Federal Constitution and the relevant Federal statutes, which clearly evidence that the law does not accord such a power to the Home Minister.

Long story short - the Home Minister does not have the power to ban such words of any words, for that matter.

The Home Minister now informs us Malaysians, that the Ministry intends to appeal to the Court of Appeal. What he is appealing against is not about the usage of that word "Allah" but whether the Ministry has such a power.

Will the Court of Appeal rise and defend the law? Will they be influenced by top Judge(s) who were formerly member(s) of the ruling party, now sitting in the Palace of Justice?

I believe, if the Judges at the Court of Appeal, do what they are suppose to do; and that is to apply the law then they will dismiss the Appeal.

I am aware that I will receive brickbats for being critical of the Judiciary at Putra Jaya, but I am only a wee tax-paying Malaysian, wanting our Courts to defend the law; hoping that the law will not be skewed.

So long as practise my freedom to speak responsibly, I believe I have a right to gently remind our Judges at the Court of Appeal (and Federal Court if the case may be) to just apply the law, and nothing else but the law.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Trial with queer twists baffles lawyers

Christine Chan
Feb 4, 10

After more than a decade, the Malaysian public's daily news diet is once again topped with a large serving of salacious details.

Following the first day of trial, the media had trained its spotlight on Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan and his scandalous revelations about the alleged sexual advances by Anwar Ibrahim.

And just like his first sodomy case in 1999, the ongoing trial, dubbed 'Sodomy II', is drawing much media attention, both locally and abroad.

However, several lawyers expressed puzzlement over the proceedings, arguing that what transpired does not conform with commonly accepted practices.

The in camera testimony, for example, is one such incidence, noted experienced criminal lawyer Richard Wee.

According to him, when it comes to trials concerning sexual offences, it is the prosecutors and not the defence lawyers who would make the request.

Agreeing with this view, former Bar Council chairperson Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari said this is done to protect the victim.

In Anwar's trial, however, it was his lead counsel Karpal Singh who requested for the proceedings to go in camera.

Explaining further, another prominent lawyer who requested anonymity, said: "Conventionally, the defence would want the victim's testimony to be in open court as they would have a chance to expose and discredit him.”

"However, in this case, it seems like Karpal was trying to protect his client's reputation from Saiful's testimony," he added.

Najib, Rosmah issue

najib and rosmah 250608 02
The other issue which raised eyebrows was Anwar's announcement that his defence team would subpoena Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor.

Although the prosecution and the defence have the power to subpoena anyone for the trial, Wee is of the opinion that this call is too premature at this stage.

"The defence would only call up their witnesses during the defence stage, which would be after the prosecution has proven that there is a prima facie case," he said.

Meanwhile, the lawyer who requested anonymity is befuddled by the defence's strategy to have the premier and his wife take the witness stand.

He explained that when a witness is subpoenaed, the lawyer must be sure of what the witness would reveal in court, otherwise it would have an adverse impact on the defence's argument.

"I really do not see how these two witnesses could help prove that Anwar is innocent as they are not eye-witnesses," he added.

Why Saiful first?

Wee, on the other hand, wondered why the prosecution decided to call Saiful as its first witness.

mohd saiful bukhari azlan 3 at jawi 271108
"This is because the prosecution would usually build up the case by cross-examining secondary witnesses first.

"If the defence lawyers successfully cross-examines the most important witness to the effect that his credibility becomes questionable, then it would adversely affect the entire case (for the prosecution)," he said.

In view of this, Wee said by Saiful taking the stand first, it has created an "irresistible inference among the public that it is a case calculated to humiliate Anwar and sensationalise the trial."

Bar Council secretary George Varughese however saw nothing wrong with this.

"It is perfectly normal for the prosecution to call Saiful as the first witness because he is the complainant," he said.

Furthermore, he added that the sequence as to which witness would testify depends on the prosecutor.

"The prosecutor decides on the order of the witness as a matter of style and considering the expediency of the case," he added.

Sordid Trial

In a country where the Home Ministry prides itself as custodian of Islam, when the Ministry banned the word Allah from being used by non-muslims, it is amazing we have a Government eager to prosecute Anwar Ibrahim and chose to call Saiful as first witness to give all this sordid details of Anwar's alleged advances on him.

And Saiful must be the most un-credible witness ever. It was reported in papers that he said no to Anwar when Anwar advanced himself on him, but yet, said when he was 'ordered' by Anwar to go change, he sheepishly changed to a white towel and when he came out of the bathroom, he saw Anwar clad in towel too.

Not bad for some one who does not want to be sodomised; but did not make any effort to run away or escape. And best still, has time to change to a nice white towel.

Only one irresistible conclusion - the trial is calculated to destroy Anwar's credibility.