Archive for category Human Rights
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 »
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 »
Koon Yew Yin
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 »
– 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 »
By Anwar Ibrahim
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
Read the rest of this entry »
- 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 »
By Kee Thuan Chye
30th Sept. 2013
“Transformational” is getting to be a hollow word. And the Cabinet ministers who brandish it at will don’t seem to understand its meaning. Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi just showed he doesn’t when he said the bringing back of detention without trial in the newly proposed Prevention of Crime (Amendment and Extension) Bill was “transformational”. Was he using it simply to be in fashionable sync with the Government Transformation Programme?
Is something retrogressive transformational? Is a return to the provisions of the repealed draconian Emergency Ordinance (EO) and Internal Security Act (ISA) transformational? If it is so, then Malaysians are in for a big surprise. And a nasty one too.
Both acts were considered reprehensible to the public, and therefore the Government was forced to remove them. But that was before the 13th general election was called. Now that it’s over, the Government apparently sees no more need in appeasing the public. Pre-election pledges have gone out the window.
A government that is transformational would not hark back to the dark days of Mahathir Mohamad’s reign, when fear was the instrument used to keep people in line. It should instead be demolishing Mahathirism and restoring the damage done to our institutions. No wonder Mahathir is applauding the Bill and blaming the public for “not (being) that developed or educated to appreciate that the law is for their own good”. But then, that’s Mahathir. Always blaming other people. And always asserting that might is right.
The new Bill proposes detaining a suspect for an initial two years, after which period if a review finds that the suspect should be detained further, he will be held for a further two years. This could go on indefinitely in a series of two-year periods. In this sense, it is no different from the EO and the ISA. Read the rest of this entry »
by P Ramakrishnan
28 September 2013
It is worrying and troubling that the BN government has chosen to return to the days of darkness and abuse.
This is what it means when the government tabled the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (PCA) on Wednesday, 23 September 2013.
On the one hand, the BN government had repealed the Emergency Ordinance (EO) and Internal Security Act (ISA) with the Prime Minister guaranteeing over national television that there would be no more preventive detention.
On the other hand, this hypocritical government is now tabling laws that will bring back with a vengeance the same detention without trial along with the ouster of the court’s jurisdiction over this detention. Read the rest of this entry »
Malaysia’s future will be fuller of promise if only Najib could practise in the country the principles and values of moderation that he preaches at international forums
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday delivered another “fantastic” speech abroad, stating his belief that many of the world’s current problems can be solved if society subscribed to the whole concept of moderation.
He said if the society and governments used moderation in their actions and policies, then the country would have a much more just, fair and inclusive society.
He said moderation was based on certain principles and sound values, like justice, sense of fairness, and choosing dialogue over confrontation, and negotiation over conflict.
One can easily imagine a national sigh at such a report with the overwhelming reaction from Malaysians the quite unanimous one that the country’s future will be fuller of promise if only Najib could practise in the nation the principles and values of moderation that he preaches at international forums.
If the Najib administration had stayed true to the principles and sound values of moderation in governing the country like justice, sense of fairness, and choosing dialogue over confrontation, and negotiation over conflict, Malaysia will not today be at the critical crossroads some five months after the 13th general elections, struggling to achieve a Malaysian Dream with all Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region as equal national stakeholders at a time of unprecedented racial and religious politicking and polarisation, with the well of public discourse continuously poisoned by language of hatred, intolerance and unethical resort to lies and falsehoods. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
Free Malaysia Today
September 21, 2013
A democratic society seeks to unleash the creativity of all its citizens and to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of its most gifted and dedicated, not otherwise.
I refer to the utterly insightful and undeniably powerful essay of Jeswan Kaur, ‘Pak Samad isn’t the problem here’, published in FMT on Sept 8.
I beg the indulgence of the reader and may I be allowed to add a few words of concurrence and to explicate my own take on the whole matter.
According to the National Cultural Policy of the Australian government, the role of the artist is as follows:
“A democratic society seeks to unleash the creativity of all its citizens and to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of its most gifted and dedicated. The value of creativity is something that is increasingly recognised and valued. Creativity is an essential attribute in an increasing number of occupations.
“The most gifted artists, however, take the ability to imagine, adapt, empathise and collaborate to another level through training, practice, discipline and courage. The extraordinary achievements that come when the most gifted individuals combine capacity and skill is something we recognise.”
From this description, we can deduce that artists are creative people and that their creativity is necessary for the development of one’s society. Further said, creativity is something that must be recognized and valued by the said society that produced the artist. Read the rest of this entry »