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The Star Online: Nation

‘Isolated’ cases of shortage

Posted: 11 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Cases of water shortage among the orang asli are isolated, said the Department of Orang Asli Development (Jakoa).

Its director-general Datuk Mohd Sani Mistam said almost all orang asli villages had implemented the Water Supply and Environment Safety programme under the Health Ministry.

"Nevertheless, the department is still monitoring the water shortage crisis by communicating closely with orang asli village chiefs as well as Village Security and Development Committees," he said in an e-mail to The Star.

He was responding to the crisis affecting orang asli communities in Tanjong Keruing in Pekan, Pahang, and Kampung Keliat in the Lojing district of Kelantan.

Mohd Sani said Jakoa was also getting the Pahang Water Supply Department to help the communities in Tanjung Keruing.

It had also informed the Rural and Regional Development Ministry of the status in Kampung Keliat as the matter was under the ministry's purview, he added.

"If the water shortage crisis prolongs, Jakoa will request for help from the states to provide water supply trucks to the communities," he said.

Centre for Orang Asli Concerns coordinator Dr Colin Nicholas said the cases of orang asli suffering from drought might be isolated.

However he added that they were likely to affect around 100 villages – between 10% and 15% of orang asli in Peninsular Malaysia.

An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 orang asli live in low-lying areas and they rely on water from swamps and wells, he said.

Dr Nicholas said the orang asli had been suffering from water access problems for many years.

This happened when their sources of water were polluted by mining and logging and the use of pesticides and fertilisers in plantations.

"The water sources in Kampung Keliat in Kelantan, for instance, were polluted by iron-ore mining.

"The drought has made it worse," he said.

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Zahid: BOC holders in for a long wait to be Malaysians again

Posted: 11 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysians who have allegedly become stateless after failing to get British citizenship may have to wait at least 17 years before they can regain their Malaysian citizenship.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said this in reference to hundreds who had renounced their Malaysian citizenship allegedly in order to receive British citizenship through the British Overseas Citizenship (BOC).

The approval of Malaysian citizenship for these former citizens would also be subjected to their show of loyalty to the country and passing a Bahasa Malaysia proficiency test, he added.

"The Malaysian Government will not automatically grant citizenship to anyone who has already let go of their Malaysian citizenship.

"Anyone who wishes to re-apply for citizenship will have their application reviewed carefully while they are given only a residence pass, not citizenship or permanent residence.

"This is because there were those among them who had torn up their (Malaysian) passports with feelings of hatred towards the country and an intention to no longer return to this country – there was no more loyalty in them," Dr Ahmad Zahid said at a press conference here yesterday.

He said 673 individuals – and not 1,000 as previously reported – had renounced their Malaysian citizenship allegedly to obtain the BOC between 2005 and 2013, ending up in this predicament of being stateless.

The British government had on July 4, 2002, decided that it would no longer consider citizenship applications involving BOC holders from Malaysia.

The BOC is a travel document that is not equivalent to British citizenship, even though BOC holders could be considered for British citizenship before the British Nationality Act 1981 was amended in 2002.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said a residence pass would permit those re-applying for Malaysian citizenship to reside in the country for up to five years, after which the pass will be up for renewal.

"These individuals should apply for the residence pass while in the United Kingdom through the Malaysian High Commission in London.

"They can only take off for Malaysia after their application (for a residence pass) has been approved by the Malaysian Immigration Department.

"A special counter will be opened at the KL International Airport on their arrival day, where the BOC document-holder will be issued with the residence pass and briefed on the rules pertaining to the pass," he said.

Deepa’s remedy going to involve more face time with legal system

Posted: 11 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

MUCH as the public is stumped over police inaction in the case of a Muslim convert who is said to have taken his son from his ex-wife's house, the police might just be right in this case.

Unlike a kidnapping, which is an offence under the Penal Code, this is a father who has taken custody of his child.

The dispute between S. Deepa and Izwan Abdullah, who was N. Viran before his conversion to Islam, is a civil one.

There are two competing civil court orders in play here – one issued by the Syariah High Court on Aug 26 and one by the civil High Court in Seremban on Monday.

Under Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution, both the civil and Syariah courts have equal but separate powers.

Section 20(3)(f) of the Police Act states that a police officer is duty-bound to take lawful measures to execute summonses, subpoenas, warrants, commitments and other process lawfully issued by any "competent authority".

In this case, both courts are competent authorities, leaving the cops in a fix.

The only things they can act upon and have said that they are investigating are in regard to Deepa's police reports against Izwan for:

(i) BREACHING the interim protection order awarded by a magistrate's court under the Domestic Violence Act when he went to her house on Wednesday and allegedly abducted their six-year-old son; and

(ii) ALLEGEDLY assaulting her at a salon last year, which is an offence under the Penal Code.

As for Deepa, her remedy is unfortunately going to involve more face time with the legal system as she will have to file an application to institute contempt proceedings against Izwan for breaching the custody order.

But she will first have to serve it on him because he has to be made aware of it as a finding of contempt will mean punishment for Izwan.

If he cannot be found, the law allows Deepa to substitute service on his lawyer; and if he still cannot be found after he is convicted of contempt, the court will issue a warrant of arrest for Izwan.

But it cannot be fair that while Izwan can go to the High Court to challenge the custody order in favour of Deepa, she is unable to challenge the custody order he was given by the Syariah court because she has no standing as a non-Muslim.

The Government must find a solution or their meaningless fluttering about will only result in an increasing number of torn families as one parent and the children go into hiding here or overseas and add to religious tension.

All Malaysian leaders, regardless of their political leanings, must be prepared to make decisions that will propagate social cohesion.

Surely the time has come for the 133 Barisan Nasional MPs and 89 Pakatan Rakyat MPs to demand a law requiring a spouse to first settle his or her responsibilities in a civil marriage before embracing Islam?

The matter of a child's religion is not just a problem where one parent is a Muslim.

Fierce arguments even occur in many civil mixed marriages between spouses of different faiths.

Faith is a personal thing and no one should be coerced into a religion, especially children.

They should receive instruction in both their parents' faiths and be free to choose later.

This is the best solution because unlike embracing Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism or Sikhism, when one becomes a Muslim in Malaysia, the parallel Syariah legal system makes it nigh impossible for a convert to change his or her faith.

There have been other conversion cases where cross-jurisdictional issues worsened the situation like the ones involving R. Subashini, S. Syamala and M. Indira Gandhi.

A Muslim lawyer who practises in both the civil and Syariah courts probably said it best: "Encouraging conversion is good but if it encourages injustice, it is a disservice to the faith."


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