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March 10, 2008

Malaysian opposition gains in elections, conquers four new state legislatures

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Malaysian opposition gains in elections, conquers four new state legislatures

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Malaysia
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The elections in Malaysia have resulted in gains by opposition parties. The ruling Barisan National (BN) Coalition’s fraction has fallen below two thirds (The requisite supermajority to amend the constitution), while still maintaining an absolute majority to mass its legislation.

The elections, held on the March 8, were for the Parliament of Malaysia and all the state legislatures, except that of Sarawak. Opposition parties defeated the BN in five of the thirteen state legislatures, up from one in the 2004 elections.

A number of commentators noted that the results had been unexpected, including the BBC’s Robin Brant, who stated that “no one expected the opposition to do so well across the board.”



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May 31, 2007

Malaysian court rules Christian woman can\’t remove Islam from ID

Malaysian court rules Christian woman can’t remove Islam from ID

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Malaysia
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Location of Malaysia

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To write, edit, start or view other articles on Malaysia, see the Malaysia Portal
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A Malaysian Christian woman who has been fighting a six-year legal battle to have the word Islam removed from her national identification card has lost an appeal with the Malaysian Federal Court. The three-judge panel rejected the appeal in a 2-1 decision on Tuesday in Putrajaya.

Lina Joy, 42, was born Azlina Jailani to Malay parents, and was raised as a Muslim. Malaysia’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but by law, all ethnic Malays are Muslim.

Joy converted to Christianity at age 26, and after some bureaucratic difficulties had her named legally changed in 1999. However, on her MyKad national ID, the National Registration Department retained her stated religion as Islam. In order to have her religion changed, the National Registration Department said Joy would have to obtain a certificate of apostasy from the Muslim Sharia Court.

Cquote1.svg I am hoping that my case would have made a difference to the development of constitutional issues in the plight of many others. Cquote2.svg

—Lina Joy

But under Sharia law, Muslims are not allowed to convert, nor may they marry outside their religion. But since she is no longer a Muslim, Joy has said she should not be bound by that law.

She applied to Malaysia’s High Court in April 2001 to legally renounce her religion, but was refused, with the court saying the issue must be decided by the Sharia Court. The Court of Appeal rejected the case in September 2005.

In Tuesday’s ruling at the Palace of Justice, Justice Ahmad Fairuz and Federal Court Judge Alauddin Mohd Sheriff rejected the appeal, while Justice Richard Malanjum dissented. The hearing was the final legal step Joy could take, although her lawyer, Benjamin Dawson, said he was considering filing for a review of the judgment.

Joy received the verdict with “great sorrow”, the New Straits Times reported.

“I am disappointed that the Federal Court is not able to vindicate a simple but important fundamental right that exists in all persons; namely, the right to believe in the religion of one’s choice and equally important, the right to marry a person of one’s choice and to raise a family in the Malaysia context,” Joy was quoted in a statement from her lawyer, and published in The Star. “The Federal Court has not only denied me that right but to all Malaysians who value fundamental freedoms.

“I am hoping that my case would have made a difference to the development of constitutional issues in the plight of many others.”

Joy has since been disowned by her family, and forced to quit her job. A Muslim lawyer who supported her case received death threats. Joy went into hiding last year, and is believed to be living outside Malaysia. Now, it’s not likely she will return, The Star reported. “It would extremely difficult to exercise freedom of conscience in the present environment,” she was quoted as by the paper.

Muslim groups welcomed the verdict, while rights groups condemned it.

“It’s clearly justified and fair,” Yusri Muhd, president of The Defenders of Islam Coalition, was quoted as saying by Channel NewsAsia. “We hope that we’ve seen the last of such an attempt.”

Ivy Josiah of the Women’s Aid Organization said was “deeply disappointed” by the ruling, she said her group was encouraged by the dissenting judgment “which means there’s still light at the end of the tunnel.”

The lone dissenting justice, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum, wrote: “To expect the appellant to apply for a certificate of apostasy – when to do so would likely expose her to a range of offenses under the Islamic law – is, in my view, unreasonable.”

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October 6, 2006

Haze in South East Asia worsens

Haze in South East Asia worsens – Wikinews, the free news source

Haze in South East Asia worsens

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Friday, October 6, 2006

Stock photo of haze in Malaysia

The acrid haze situation in Southeast Asia is worsening. Visibility has been severely reduced in neighboring countries and some schools have been closed due to the health hazard posed. The annual smoke season is caused by illegal slash and burn clearance of land in Indonesia, particularly the island of Borneo.

The haze has spread over 2,250 miles (3,600 kilometers) into neighboring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and even drifting to Guam in the western Pacific.

Aviation has been severely impaired in Indonesia, where in certain areas, visibility is only a mere 200 to 300 meters. Helicopter service in Malaysia’s Sarawak state, a key mode of transportation there, has been halted due to the poor visibility. A Mandala Airlines Boeing 737-200 carrying a 110 people had overshot the runway at Tarakan airport in Kalimantan province in Indonesia. The aircraft came partly to rest in a nearby swamp. Visibility at the time was around 400 meters, 600 meters short of Indonesian landing safety regulations.

Schools in Thailand, and Indonesia have also been forced to closed, and look likely to stay closed well into next week.

Air pollution indices around the region have also registered a spike in poor air quality. Sarawak state’s index came in at 106-188 with 100-200 being unhealthy. In Malay peninsula, the air pollution index in five states came in at 101-116. In Singapore, the Pollution Standards Index registered between 80-130 with 81-100 in the moderate range and 101-200 in the unhealthy range.

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Wikinews journalist Timlee90 reports:

The air quality here in Singapore is so bad that I could feel the dust in my mouth as I was walking on the streets today. The air constantly smells of burning wood and visibility is never more than a kilometer. Singaporeans I know are concerned about the deteriorating situation.

Timothy Low, a Singaporean who’s just finished his national service says that he is concerned about the situation, “I can’t run to exercise. People with lung related problems have difficulty breathing; It causes tearing also.” The government here has advised citizens to reduce vigorous activity, especially those with existing heart or lung conditions.

– Timlee90, Singapore

The Indonesian government has been criticized by environmentalist groups such as Greenpeace, which claims that the allowed conversion of forests into cropland is the cause of the problem. The also call on the Indonesian government to “investigate and hold liable plantation companies responsible for slash and burn clearing”.

The Indonesian government has responded to the criticism that it is doing all that it can do. “We don’t know when we can put out the fires but we are working tirelessly and have spent billions of rupiah (hundreds of thousands of dollars) in our efforts,” Forestry Minister Malem Sambat Kaban said. “As for complaints from neighbouring countries, there’s nothing else we can do. We don’t cause the fires deliberately.”

In 1997-98, the haze cost the Southeast Asian region an estimated US$9.0 billion by disrupting air travel and other business activities

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