Archive for category Human Rights

Will criticising Umno now be labelled seditious?

by Sheridan Mahavera
The Malaysian Insider
28 November 2014

The hardliners in Umno have won and they want every Malaysian to know this.

Any criticism that even touches on Islam, the Malays and the rulers will be seen as an attack against Umno, and vice versa.

This is the message from the first day of the Umno assembly and the party’s conservatives have proved how influential they are as they have managed to get their president, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, to go back on his own word.

And this has serious repercussions for the man on the street, said noted political analyst Prof James Chin, as it could signal an increased clamp down on legitimate dissent. Read the rest of this entry »

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Greater democratic space and a just and inclusive economy are the two great challenges for democrats, whether socialist, Muslim or any other denomination

I would firstly like to thank the organisers for allowing me the opportunity to address this distinguished audience gathered here at the inaugural “World Forum of Muslim Democrats” conference.

The objective of the forum, as stated in its concept paper, is to “moderate and ameliorate the negative voices of intolerance, extremism and exclusivism with the voices of moderation, tolerance, understanding and inclusivism.” Our discussion here is most timely, given the recent rise of religious bigotry and extremism all over the world.

In war-torn Middle East, a militant force that originated as a regional branch of al-Qaeda has forcibly gained control over parts of western Iraq and north-eastern Syria, styling their unrecognised territory as the “Islamic State.”

Whilst claiming religious authority over Muslims the world over as a born-again “caliphate,” the Islamic State has in fact been carrying out a systematic campaign of sectarian brutality particularly against Muslim minorities. Just yesterday, reports have come in about the massacre of 322 members of an Iraqi tribe in the western Anbar province, including some 50 women and children whose bodies were dumped unceremoniously into a well.

Though the Islamic State has committed great crimes through its inhumane “executions” and ruthless massacres, they have committed a greater crime by misusing the name Islam in the propagation of its abhorrent ideology. Read the rest of this entry »

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The regression of our society

– Joshua Wu
The Malaysian Insider
17 October 2014

I refer to the video on YouTube on the attack on Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan’s (GHAH) Penang coordinator Ong Jing Cheng as well as a few others during their peaceful gathering at Speaker’s Square in Penang.

“Unacceptable, abhorrent, repulsive, barbaric, uncivilized, undemocratic, illegal, insolent, untenable, quixotic, unscrupulous, boorish, cockamamie, craven, dastardly, egregious, odious, and asinine” were some of the words that flashed through my mind as I watched the seven minutes and thirty seconds video.

Aren’t the troublemakers worried about the civil and criminal repercussions of their actions? Read the rest of this entry »

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We are the weeds with fire

By Sharon Chin
Malaysiakini
Sep 30, 2014

COMMENT I’ve wondered what it was like to be grown-up during Operasi Lalang. I was seven that year – truly a child of former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who came to power in 1981, and ordered the government crackdown on political dissidents and activists in 1987. Over a hundred people were arrested under the Internal Security Act, and many of them got sent to jail.

People who lived through that time are calling this recent spate of arrests and convictions under the Sedition Act ‘Ops Lalang 2′. DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang blogged about a “…climate of fear in the country, as if we are in the midst of a ‘white terror’…” Former Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan declared to rousing applause at a forum: “…We are no ‘lalang’ (weed). We’re going to stand up today.”

Perhaps the confusion and fear in 1987 was the same as ours is now. Maybe parents chided in lowered voices about being careful what you write or say, at least until “this blows over. You never know”.

The same but not the same. Read the rest of this entry »

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Saying one thing but doing another

Terence Fernandez
The Malaysian Insider
17 September 2014

“Sedition and seditious and defamatory libel are arcane offences – from a bygone era when freedom of expression wasn’t seen as the right it is today.

“Freedom of speech is now seen as the touchstone of democracy, and the ability of individuals to criticise the state is crucial to maintaining freedom.

“The existence of these obsolete offences in this country had been used by other countries as justification for the retention of similar laws which have been actively used to suppress political dissent and restrict press freedom.”

The above statement is the words of UK justice minister Claire Ward in 2009 when she announced that the government was doing away with sedition offences. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib must take a clear stand – whether he is with the moderates or the extremists, whether he is for 1Malaysia or the very antithesis of 1Malaysia

On 5th May 2014, the first anniversary of the 13th General Elections, Malaysians were torn by grave disillusionment with the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for a year of failed policies and the dire prospect of a break-up of Pakatan Rakyat over hudud law.

The next day, the beginning of the second year of Najib’s second administration as Prime Minister could not have started on a more ominous note, heralding that Malaysia is heading for a new dark age where all the grandiloquent pledges and slogans of 1Malaysia, World’s Best Democracy and Government Transformation Programme would be consigned to the dustbins of history and replaced by undemocratic, repressive, unjust and draconian rule.

In the morning, the PR/DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok was charged in Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court with sedition over her Chinese New Year “Onederful Malaysia” video, a 11-minute clip lampooning and criticising various failures of government policies.

It is supreme irony that one of the five criticisms in her video alleged to be seditious was about the security situation in East Sabah especially after the abduction of the Taiwan tourist in an island resort off Semporna in November last year – as on the morning that Teresa was charged, news were received of another abduction of a Chinese national in a nearby island off Lahad Datu at about 2.45 a.m. the same day!

Teresa was telling the truth, but telling the truth has become sedition in Najib’s Malaysia as the Prime Minister has forgotten his promises to repeal the draconian and colonial Sedition Act. Read the rest of this entry »

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Obama’s Visit: Any Value and Is Anyone Listening?

Koon Yew Yin
30.4.2014

President Obama has come and gone. His visit to KL has generated much feedback. Analysts concerned with the political direction of the country have been especially disappointed with his refusal to meet the opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim. It was like him visiting Myanmar and refusing to meet Aung San Suu Kyi.

One commentator, Dennis Ignatius, has called this decision “an astonishing betrayal by a country that has often portrayed itself as a world champion of democracy and human rights. It sends an unmistakable signal to corrupt and abusive governments everywhere that disrespect for human rights and the curtailing of democratic governance will be overlooked in exchange for pro-American policies.”

The critic noted that surely the US leader is not “unaware of what is going on in Malaysia – the corruption and abuse of power, the tainted elections, the harassment and jailing of opposition leaders, the racial and religious incitement, the intolerance of dissent, the narrowing of our democratic space.”

In one sense, I share the above view of the critic who incidentally is not any ordinary Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »

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Open letter to the President of the United States

– Tony Pua
The Malaysian Insider
April 26, 2014

Dear President Barack Obama,

Welcome to my country, my home, my beautiful Malaysia.

We Malaysians are extremely proud that an American president, the first in 48 years, decided to visit our humble country.

Although you are an American, Malaysians together with the rest of the world celebrated with you when you won the historic presidential election in 2008.

To quote your predecessor, President George Bush, your “journey represents a triumph of the American story”.

I was personally moved and inspired by your victory acceptance speech in Chicago, “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer… at this defining moment, change has come to America.”

Hence you would surely remember and appreciate the struggles of African Americans in the history of the United States for freedom, justice and equality. Read the rest of this entry »

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Will Obama assist democracy in Malaysia?

By Anwar Ibrahim

Washington Post
April 25

For 15 years, the people of Malaysia have been immersed in our own Arab Spring. After enduring a corrupt and authoritarian regime for more than five decades, an era has emerged in which we are standing up for our rights.

For the first time in our history, the voices of reform and democracy represent the majority. In last year’s general election, the popular vote in favor of the opposition would have swept from power the authoritarian regime of Najib Razak and the party that has ruled Malaysia since its independence in 1957. In its place would have been the Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance), poised to push the nation on the path to greater freedom and democracy. Alas, widespread fraud and devious gerrymandering perpetrated by the ruling party, a situation the White House noted, affected the outcome. A study conducted by Harvard ranked Malaysia as having one of the worst records on electoral integrity in the world.

Despite this setback, the Malaysian people have remained steadfast. Despite anger and frustration over our government’s continued corruption and abuse of power, we have pursued a peaceful approach to educating and engaging with the masses. Thousands have come to hear our message and embrace our cause.

President Obama’s visit to Malaysia this weekend comes at a pivotal time. It would be an opportune moment to live up to the ideals Obama espoused in his campaign and the early days of his administration. Then, there was hope that U.S. engagement with Muslim countries would be based on mutual respect and mutual interest. Yet as the Arab Spring came and went, hope was eclipsed by disappointment. It is baffling that the United States can talk about a democratic transition in Egypt today as hundreds of innocent people are sentenced to death while thousands languish in prison.

In Malaysia, there is an opportunity to take a different path. Read the rest of this entry »

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Obama should rap Putrajaya’s human rights record, says lawyer in Wall Street Journal

by Eileen Ng
The Malaysian Insider
April 26, 2014

With Kuala Lumpur keen to present its best image as a moderate country during Barack Obama’s visit this weekend, a prominent lawyer has called on the US president not to be hoodwinked and instead, to rap Putrajaya’s human rights record and be aware of rising extremism.

In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Bar Council Human Rights Committee co-chair Andrew Khoo said Obama should not buy into the fiction that Putrajaya is trying to showcase; that Malaysia is a moderate Muslim-majority democracy, a model of interracial and interreligious diversity heading for developed nation status by 2020.

The Barisan Nasional-led federal government will also try to present itself as an ally in combating arms proliferation and transnational crime, and friend of the United States in Asia, Khoo wrote.

“President Obama should not accept this fiction or defer to the Malaysian government because of regional security concerns. Instead, he would do well to note the sorry state of its human rights and call for greater respect for civil liberties.

“President Obama needs to deftly use his public appearances and statements to demonstrate concern about what is happening in Malaysia – and to say what many Malaysians fearfully cannot.

“The usual mantra of moderation can no longer conceal the escalation of extremism and repression,” Khoo wrote in the international news and business daily. Read the rest of this entry »

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Assemble peacefully without fear, Malaysians told

BY V. ANBALAGAN AND EILEEN NG
The Malaysian Insider
April 26, 2014

The public can now assemble without fear following a Court of Appeal ruling yesterday that a breach of a provision in the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) does not amount to an offence, human rights lawyers and lawmakers said.

They said the unanimous decision of the three-man bench led by judge Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof upheld a fundamental right under the Federal Constitution, which is the right to assemble peacefully.

This means the upcoming May Day anti-GST (goods and services tax) rally will no longer be deemed “illegal” and the public need not worry about the any action being taken against them unless they destroyed properties or committed criminal offences.

The lawyers also saluted the judges who were prepared to uphold the supreme law of the land instead of allowing a basic right that should be enjoyed by citizens to be a mere illusion.

The judgment also said those who went against public order could only be charged under the Penal Code, the Road Transport Act or local government by-laws.

In declaring the punishment provided under the PAA as unconstitutional because it violated the right to assemble peacefully, the appellate court also struck out the charge against Selangor legislative assembly deputy speaker Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad for failing to give 10 days notice under the Act before organising the May 5 Blackout Rally last year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Karpal’s sedition conviction has brought Malaysia back under international radar as a “rogue nation” in its system of justice

DAP National Chairman and MP for Bukit Gelugor Karpal Singh’s sedition conviction has brought Malaysia back under the international radar as a “rogue nation” in its system of justice.

When a veteran political leader and senior lawyer could be convicted of sedition for stating the law and giving his opinion on the 2008 constitutional crisis in Perak as there was a belief by certain quarters that the rulers enjoyed immunity and no legal action could be taken against them, Malaysia has undone all the “puny” efforts in the past decade to restore national and international respect and confidence in a truly independent judiciary and a just rule of law in Malaysia.

The convergence of recent events, with blatant examples of the police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers involved in a series of unprofessional activities and selective prosecutions, have not helped in restoring public esteem in the independence, efficiency and integrity of these two key institutions – and the judiciary – in the nation’s system of justice. Read the rest of this entry »

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Shame of shame! Worst setback to Najib’s “best democracy in the world” claim with Malaysia’s 2014 Press Freedom Index falling to the lowest point in nation’s history, even below that of Myanmar

Shame of shame! This is the worst setback to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s “best democracy in the world” claim with Malaysia’s 2014 Press Freedom Index falling to the lowest point in nation’s history, even below that of Myanmar.

Malaysia already plunged last year to a historic low of No. 145 ranking out of 179 countries in the 2013 World Press Freedom Index – the worst since the start of the annual index by Reporters Without Border (RSF) in 2002.

Malaysia fell by 23 rungs last year, as it was ranked at 122 in the 2011/2012 Press Freedom Index.

In the latest 2014 World Press Freedom Index just released, Malaysia fell further to 147 out of 180 countries, two places behind Myanmar which climbed from 151st ranking to 145th position this year.

ASEAN nations which outperformed Malaysia include Brunei 117, Thailand 130, Indonesia 132 and Cambodia 144 and Myanmar 145. Philippines is ranked 149, Singapore 150, Laos 171 and Vietnam 174.

Malaysia’s World Press Freedom Index 2014 would have been more abysmal falling even behind Philippines and Singapore if the government’s latest press freedom repression had been taken into account, i.e. revocation of the publishing permit for FZ daily, hours just after the publisher The Edge Communications Sdn. Bhd. was granted leave to initiate proceedings against the Home Ministry for deferring its initial approval of the permit. Read the rest of this entry »

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When satire is seen as a national threat

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
February 03, 2014

Can Malaysians take a joke? Can Malaysians take satire or parodies?

Well, it would seem that there is a segment of society that takes offence at jokes, satires or parodies – and these people are usually your generic Umno member.

This past few days, Malaysians have been treated to the spectacle of some Umno members, including Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, taking offence at Seputeh MP Teresa Kok’s Lunar New Year greeting video clip.

And they want action taken against her, notwithstanding that she has a right to self-expression and not be dictated by others on what she should say in her new year greeting and how she should say it.

Has Malaysia reached a point where everything said is seen as an attack against Umno or the Malays? Read the rest of this entry »

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Stop harassing Rafizi – Malaysian Police should conduct itself as a mature, efficient, professional and world-class police force fully mindful of its primary task of “democratic policing” and liberated from the obsession of “upholding the regime” to oppose democratic change at all costs

The Malaysian Police force has presented a sorry spectacle of itself recently, undermining its professional image as an independent, efficient and world-class police force, but what is worse, tarnishing the international image of Malaysia by trumpeting to the world as if Malaysia has become a “basket case country” on the verge of political and economic collapse.

And the person who led the charge to undermine the professional image of the police and the international image of the country is none other than the country’s No. 1 policeman, the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, who shocked the country and the world with the wild and reckless “fairy tale” two weeks ago of a plot to “topple the government” on New Year’s eve.

Neither the IGP nor the police force have been be able to produce any evidence of a “topple government” plot on New Year’s eve, as Khalid was only acting on a “hunch” or brainwave (planted or inspired by Umno conspirators), and I cannot think of a more “anti-national” act than this to end 2013.

Yesterday, the Kuala Lumpur deputy police chief Datuk Amar Singh Ishar Singh said that the police had received 588 reports nationwide in protest against the New Year’s eve rally to “bring down the government”, alleging that four NGOs were out to “create chaos” in Dataran Merdeka and would be bringing various weapons, including grenades and gas mark to stir up a commotion.

My first reaction to the 588 police reports (probably the 600 mark would be crossed by now) is the amount of wasted national energies provoked by the IGP’s “fairy tale” plot to topple the government – or was this the whole intention of the IGP in the first place?

Are there no better, more useful and productive things for Malaysians to do than to lodge 588, or over 600, police reports on a “fairy tale” plot? No wonder Malaysia is losing her competitiveness in the global marketplace. Read the rest of this entry »

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Polls results set back democracy in Malaysia, say analysts

by Lee Shi-Ian
The Malaysian Insider
December 17, 2013

The May 5 general election results have set back democracy in Malaysia rather than advancing democratic change, as the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) has put more restrictive laws for politics, an analyst said in a Commonwealth magazine.

Professor William Case of the Hong Kong City University said Umno used the 13th general election results to instigate racial polarisation, which proved to be helpful in launching attacks on DAP and the Chinese community.

“If Umno elites had grown fractious after Malaysia’s 12th general election, they displayed new unity, even defiance, after Malaysia’s 13th general election (GE13). Thus, they perpetuated the ethnic suspicions of the Chinese that they had heightened during the campaigning; and they imposed new controls on opposition party leaders and organisers.

“Far from advancing democratic change, then, GE13 has served to roll democracy back,” Case said in the abstract of his analysis in the latest issue of The Round Table, the Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs. Read the rest of this entry »

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David Cameron says Sri Lanka need to go ‘further and faster’ in answering human rights concerns

The Telegraph
AFP
16 Nov 2013

David Cameron put Sri Lanka on notice on Saturday to address allegations of war crimes within months or else he would lead a push for action at the United Nations.

Speaking at a troubled Commonwealth summit in Colombo, the British Prime Minister warned his hosts that pressure over alleged abuses at the end of Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict was not about to go away.

He also told of how he had “frank” exchanges with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa after he returned from a historic visit to the war-torn Jaffna region. Read the rest of this entry »

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Uthayakumar was in solitary confinement, not in a “dark room”, says Prison Department

The Malaysian Insider
October 25, 2013

The Prisons Department has denied placing Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar in a “dark room” during his solitary confinement at Kajang Prison.

In a letter sent to the home minister and prime minister, the department said that there were “no dark rooms” in any prison in Malaysia.

The letter, read out by Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar in Parliament yesterday, also said that Uthayakumar had been placed in solitary confinement for a total of 13 days on two separate occasions as he had “refused to take instructions”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Prisoner of conscience Uthaya paying dearly for defying the government

CPI introduction

We are reproducing below the letter of P. Uthayakumar addressed to the Prime Minister, Najib Razak, and Home Minister, Zahid Hamidi, describing the horrific conditions of his imprisonment in Kajang Prison.

No prisoner in our country – or indeed any other civilized country – deserves such brutal and abusive treatment. It is clear that the prison authorities, with the tacit agreement of their political masters, are determined to break Uthayakumar’s health and spirit and to make him pay dearly for his defiance of the government in pursuing the cause of marginalized Indians in the country.

Uthaya’s plight is little known to most Malaysians with the mainstream mass media complicit in erecting a wall of silence on his case and refusing to share with the public the various appeals made by Hindraf; his family and Uthaya himself.

CPI hopes that other stakeholders, besides those to whom it is directly addressed, will be catalyzed by this letter to urgently take up his case as well as the larger issue of abusive and inhumane prison conditions, and the selective harsh treatment meted out to special cases that have been highlighted.

Immediate action is needed to ensure that Uthaya, who in our view clearly qualifies as a political prisoner of conscience, is treated with the decency, humanity and respect that he deserves, and for the vindictive and abusive treatment meted out to him to be stopped.
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Discrepancy and inconsistency: Calls for withdrawal of PCA from Parliament

- Datuk Kuthbul Zaman Bukhari and Dr Denison Jayasooria
The Malaysian Insider
October 01, 2013

Proham has identified discrepancy and inconsistency between what is said and what is written in the proposed amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) and calls on the Federal Government to withdraw the bill from Parliament for further consultation and redrafting.

Proham hosted a discussion on the proposed amendments to the PCA yesterday. The review was undertaken by Datuk Kuthbul Zaman Bukhari who led the discussion –paragraph by paragraph.

We identified a number of major concerns and acknowledge that this proposed piece of legislation is a clear backward step away from human rights compliance. We are of the opinion that this is a major assault on human rights since Datuk Seri Najib Razak took office as Prime Minister. We also note that this is inconsistent with the promises he made when he took office as the Prime Minister and in the promises for democratic reform made during the general election (GE13).

We also note that there are major discrepancies and inconsistencies between the verbal statements and assurance made by the Prime Minister, Home Affairs Minister and other ministers and the actual text of the proposed amendments to the PCA. We are told verbally that this new legislation is not a return of the ISA, that this is focused only on criminal-violent gangs and that the decisions will be made by a judge. Read the rest of this entry »

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