Archive for category Human Rights

Najib should halt all “demonisation” campaign of Bersih 4 and offer hand of friendship and co-operation to Bersih organisers to make a success of August 29/30 overnight rally which would break the jinx of unending bad news for Malaysia for over a month

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should halt all “demonisation” campaign of Bersih 4 whether directly by his Ministers, lieutenants and UMNO/BN leaders or indirectly by pro-UMNO/BN NGOs and personalities, and instead, offer the hand of friendship and co-operation to Bersih organisers to make a success of the August 29/30 overnight rally, turning it into a Human Rights Carnival or Festval,, which will break the jinx of unending bad news for Malaysia for over a month.

This is particularly pertinent as SUHAKAM, which was set up by Parliament to advise the government on human rights, has made three important points:

1. that as far as the Bersih rally is concerned, public assemblies cannot be banned. After the repeal of Section 27 of the Police Act, the concept of illegal assemblies no longer exist.

As Suhakam Chairman, Hasmy Agam has put it succintly, “an assembly is to be considered peaceful if its organisers have clarified that its intentions are peaceful”.

2. The police must not prevent, hinder or restrict a peaceful assembly, except in the interests of security of the country or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

3. To protect all participants from individuals or groups of individuals, including agent provocateurs and counter-demonstrators, who aim at disrupting or dispersing the assembly. Such an obligation does not rest on the organisers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Suhakam: No such thing as ‘illegal assembly’ now

Malaysiakini
Aug 21, 2015

In light of the upcoming Bersih rally, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) today emphasised that peaceful public assemblies cannot be banned.

This follows the repeal of Section 27 of the Police Act 1967, following which the concept of illegal assembly no longer exists, it said.

“As such, an assembly is to be considered peaceful if its organisers have clarified that its intentions are peaceful and have duly conveyed them to the authorities,” said Suhakam chairperson Hasmy Agam in a statement.

Suhakam’s reminder comes after Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said police were right to ban the Bersih 4 rally scheduled for Aug 29 and 30.

“Consequently, the authorities not only have an obligation to protect peaceful assemblies, but should also take measures to facilitate them, and to comply with the many international human rights standards on freedom of assembly as this right is protected constitutionally in Article 10 of our Federal Constitution.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Stop demonising human rights

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
21 August 2015

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said this at an international Islamic forum: “Even though universal human rights have been defined… in our country, human rights are defined in the context of Islam. Though it is difficult to defend internationally, we must defend our definition of human rights.”

Throughout the forum, he continued to demonise several communities – especially the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered – which echoed the diatribe he unleashed at the National Quran Recital Competition a little over a year ago, where both ideals of humanism and liberalism were reduced to being “retrograde as it glorifies human wants and desires”.

Islam has always been a religion that upheld peacefulness, egalitarian values and humanism. Islam is never the type of religion that curbs personal liberties and freedom.

By definition, Islam in Arabic means submission and surrender to Allah, the Almighty. The Quran upholds the sanctity and absolute value of human life (Surah 6: 151) and reiterated that “the life of each individual is comparable to that of an entire community and, therefore, should be treated with the utmost care” (Surah 5: 32) – both clearly representing the essence of universal values. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ambiga: Why we need Bersih 4

By Ambiga Sreenevasan
Malaysiakini
Aug 20, 2015

COMMENT We have to fix this nation for the next generation. We cannot hand them a broken nation

There is no change in the usual anti-Bersih rhetoric. “It is anti-government, it will ruin businesses, it will cause chaos.”

Pictures of (Bersih chairperson) Maria (Chin Abdullah) are being defiled. They have simply run out of ideas, and no one is really listening to them.

Judging by the thousands of t-shirts being sold every day, Bersih 4 is set to see a massive turn out. Why? Because people are sick to death of the dishonest governance of our beautiful nation.

And it is time our leaders know they are not fooling us with their ridiculous responses. Read the rest of this entry »

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Has Malaysia become a police state?

By John R Malott
Malaysiakini
Aug 9, 2015

COMMENT How ironic it is that many Malaysians are now being threatened for taking actions that are “detrimental to parliamentary democracy.” Actually, they are the very people who are struggling for democracy and political freedom.

As someone who follows developments in Malaysia closely, I believe that the greatest threat to parliamentary democracy in Malaysia today is Prime Minister Najib Razak, and the head of the national police force that he controls, Khalid Abu Bakar.

It is Najib and Khalid who actually should be investigated for violating Section 124B of the Penal Code.

Najib wants to stay in power, no matter what. For any politician, that is understandable.

For whatever reason, Khalid has chosen to be Najib’s lackey. He is ready to do Najib’s bidding and deploy his police force in wilful violation of the law and the fundamental guarantees of Malaysia’s constitution. Read the rest of this entry »

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Travel ban on MPs, media owner politically motivated, says lawyers’ group

The Malaysian Insider
22 July 2015

Putrajaya’s move to prevent two lawmakers and a media owner from leaving the country is politically motivated, legal rights advocacy group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said today.

Its executive director, Eric Paulsen, said barring opposition MPs Tony Pua and Rafizi Ramli, as well as The Edge Media Group owner Datuk Tong Kooi Ong, from leaving the country was likely due to their criticism and exposes on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

Paulsen said the authorities should remember that freedom of movement was guaranteed under the federal constitution.

Freedom of movement was also subject to security, public order, public health and the punishment of offenders, but Paulsen said these reasons were not applicable to the trio who are barred from leaving Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »

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MALAYSIA: AS THE ECONOMY WEAKENS, AUTHORITARIANISM CREEPS IN

by Nithin Coca
Equal Times
2 June 2015

First, it was the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Then, senior journalists and editors at the country’s top independent media website.

Bloggers followed, even a political cartoonist.

Over several months, Malaysia’s leaders have, piece-by-piece, used colonial-era laws to turn the country, long considered one of the shining lights of south-east Asia, firmly towards authoritarianism.

“Over the past year, the government has harassed, targeted and even imprisoned a wide range of individuals considered possible ‘threats’ – including opposition politicians, human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists,” said Josef Benedict, Asia-Pacific Campaigner for Amnesty International, based in Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

Behind this unprecedented crackdown are signs of a ruling party losing grip on power, as its rule, built on an economy dependent on natural resource exports and a fragile racial and religious balance, threatens to unravel. Read the rest of this entry »

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Death camps are a ‘blight on the soul of the nation’

— MCCBCHST
Malay Mail Online
June 2, 2015

JUNE 2 — The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) is deeply saddened by the discovery of mass graves of migrants at the Malaysian/Thai border in Perlis. We are distressed to read reports that they were victims of abuse and torture at the hands of human traffickers and that several members of our police force may have been complicit.

The exploitation, torture and killing of our fellow human beings at these “death camps” on Malaysian soil are a blight of our nation and humanity. These victims deserve more than the indignity of un-mourned deaths and unmarked graves and their souls call for our prayers and for justice.

As such the MCCBCHST calls on Malaysians of all faiths to hold prayer sessions for the solace and rest of the victims and to ask for those responsible for these “death camps” to be brought to justice.

We call upon regional and national leaders to legislate and enforce sustainable humane solutions to the long-standing challenge of refugees, migrants and stateless people being exploited and abused by human traffickers across our borders. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why do Malaysians hate migrants?

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
29 May 2015

When a racial riot broke out in southern Italy sometime in early 2010, the mindless attacks on African immigrants prompted Pope Benedict XVI to respond by reminding people that, “an immigrant is a human being, different in background, culture and tradition, but a person to be respected, and possessing rights and duties”.

Malaysians tend to get emotional when such issues arise and share the same concerns with the rest of the world when it comes down to how we feel about migrants.

Whether you want to believe or not, Malaysia is one of those countries made up of migrants. Read the rest of this entry »

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The young boy who ‘shook’ Malaysia

Khoo Ying Hooi
The Malaysian Insider
1 June 2015

My diary on May 30 was marked as this, “Joshua Wong, Dubook Press, 9am”.

I was eager to meet Joshua in person when I found out about his road tour in Malaysia. Then my “dream” was crushed as he was barred from entering Malaysia on the morning of Tuesday, May 26.

I was keen to hear his talk. Apart from him being a high-profile teenager, I wanted to meet him in person, as I wanted to know how a young boy at his age manages to mobilise or influence his peers to engage in acts of civil disobedience. Read the rest of this entry »

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The hell refugees go through for freedom

by Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
15 May 2015

Imagine this.

You are forced to leave your country, your home and everything you grew up with. As much as you would wish you could stay, you simply cannot.
The country you grew up in and the government entrusted to protect its citizens are unable to.

In some cases, it is the government itself that prosecutes its very own citizens because of some deeply rooted destructive bigotry or some horrifically oppressive regulation created by traditional warlords.

You’re forced to leave behind relatives apart from your intermediate family but of course, that is usually debatable.

If you’re well off, you can afford to escape with your loved ones; if not, you’re forced to leave them behind and pray that somehow you can return someday to rescue them.

You end up paying your “journey to freedom” with your life savings to someone who promised to take you to some far off land that can ensure economic prosperity, security and above all – a better life.

But as soon as you board that boat, you find yourself in a situation so sinister, all you want to do is escape. Read the rest of this entry »

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We shall overcome! We shall never surrender!

By Martin Jalleh

We shall overcome! We shall never surrender!

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Five key issues in the Permatang Pauh by-election on May 7

The Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election has five key issues, not only for the voters in the constituency, but for all Malaysians, viz:

1. As a clear and unmistakable vote, not only behalf of the people of Permatang Pauh, but of 30 million Malaysians, against the continued victimisation and persecution of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, with his second jail sentence and disqualification as an elected MP, and an unequivocal and categorical call for Anwar’s immediate release from jail.

2. Rejection of GST imposed on April 1 as imposing hardships on the people at large, demanding that the 6 per cent tax be abolished. Read the rest of this entry »

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Repression in Malaysia – Disconnect

Economist
Apr 11th 2015

A thuggish government is playing racial politics. Najib Razak should be dressed down

MALAYSIA’S prime minister, Najib Razak, paints his country as a model of moderate Islam —a multicultural democracy and a beacon of tolerance. He has spoken of scrapping oppressive British-era laws and nurturing a creative economy. Meanwhile, his spin-doctors explain that their liberal master is the man to vanquish the reactionary forces in his political party, UMNO, which has never been out of power and which is prone to cronyism and political thuggery. Barack Obama, for one, buys this story. He is the first American president since 1966 to have visited Malaysia. And late last year in Hawaii he enjoyed a round on the golf links with Mr Najib. The two men are said to click. The White House gushes about a “growing and warming relationship” between America and Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »

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U.N. Rights Chief Criticizes Malaysian Antiterror Measure

by Nick Cumming-Bruce
New York Times
APRIL 9, 2015

GENEVA — The United Nations human rights chief on Thursday joined in criticism of the Malaysian government’s planned legislation on sedition and the prevention of terrorism, warning that both bills threatened to severely curtail freedom of opinion and expression and breach the country’s international obligations.

The government’s move to restore powers of indefinite detention without trial and without safeguards against abuse was among “serious shortcomings” in the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said in a statement.

The Malaysian authorities abolished indefinite detention powers in 2012 after years of criticism from human rights bodies, but the new measure allows the police to detain suspects for up to two years, renewable indefinitely, without trial or any form of judicial review. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sedition Act revisions worst ever attack on free speech, lawyers say

by Boo Su-Lyn
The Malay Mail Online
April 8, 2015

Amendments to the Sedition Act 1948 that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for their remarks is an attempt to stifle all dissent, according to lawyers who dubbed these the “most serious” attack on freedom of speech Malaysia has ever seen.

Civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan also questioned the denial of bail for suspects charged with sedition offences that cause bodily injury or property damage, saying that while prosecutors may try to justify this, it should be the courts’ discretion to decide.

“This Bill makes for a chilling read,” Syahredzan told Malay Mail Online.

“I would say that it’s the most serious assault on freedom of speech and expression that we have seen in this country,” the lawyer added.

Under the Sedition (Amendments) Bill 2015 that was tabled in Parliament yesterday, those who cause bodily harm or property damage with their sedition crimes will now face jail terms of between five and 20 years. Those convicted of general sedition crimes face imprisonment of between three and seven years. Read the rest of this entry »

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Putrajaya has no respect for judiciary, says Ambiga after Sedition Act changes

Elizabeth Zachariah
The Malaysian Insider
8 April 2015

The people need to understand how little respect Putrajaya has for the country’s judiciary, said former Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, after the government yesterday tabled amendments to the Sedition Act, which will also include refusing bail to those charged under the colonial-era law.

She said Putrajaya did not seem to care that the constitutionality of the act was being challenged in the court by academic Dr Azmi Sharom and as such, any amendments to it was “absolutely appalling”.

Azmi was charged under Section 4(1)(b) and Section 4(1)(c) of the Act over his comments in a news article titled “Take Perak crisis route for speedy end to Selangor impasse, Pakatan told”.

Azmi then filed an application, saying that Section 4 was unconstitutional and violated Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech. The case was referred to the Federal Court.

“The Sedition Act is being challenged by Azmi with the argument that it is unconstitutional and is, therefore, null and void,” she said in a forum titled “What is a moderate Malaysia for Malaysians?” in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur last night.

“And what does the government do before the decision by the court? They put in amendments. They don’t care what our federal courts have to say about the Sedition Act. To me, this is absolutely appalling.”

Ambiga, who is the patron of people’s movement Negara-ku, said Putrajaya had not discussed the amendments with any stakeholders, including civil society and the opposition, before tabling the amendments which were “extreme”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Security must not come at the price of liberty, Suhakam tells Putrajaya

The Malay Mail Online
April 8, 2015

The government’s duty to ensure the country’s safety does not negate its responsibility to uphold citizens’ rights and the rule of law, the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) said in criticising Putrajaya’s decision to revive detention without trial.

While expressing support for government efforts to combat the risk of terrorism, the commission insisted that laws such as the Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2015 (Pota) must still be consistent with local and international human rights standards.

“Although the government has an obligation to ensure that the constitutional rights of its citizens are protected by taking positive measures to counter threats of terrorism and extremism, the Commission reiterates that such measures must not pose disproportionate challenges to fundamental human rights and the rule of law, and jeopardise the principles of democracy,” Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, the chair of Suhakam, said in a statement yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »

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Zahid should not assume that although Pakatan Rakyat is opposed to IS and Islamic extremism, he has a blank cheque to enact anti-terrorism laws without proper consultation with the Opposition and the civil society

Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi is mistaken if he thinks that although Pakatan Rakyat is opposed to Islamic State and Islamic extremism, he has a blank cheque to enact a spate of anti-terrorism laws without proper consultation with the Opposition and the civil society.

I am quite disturbed by Zahid’s complacency and cavalier attitude as reflected by his statement after the presentation of the spate of anti-terrorism bills like the Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2015 (POTA) that he is confident the opposition will back POTA and that rejection would most likely come from activists and human rights’ lawyers.

Up to now, in finalizing the spate of anti-terrorism bills, Zahid has never bothered to consult with Pakatan Rakyat MPs and the civil society or seek their views on adequate safeguards against abuses of far-reaching powers. Read the rest of this entry »

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The price some of us pay for freedom, democracy

BY Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
3 April 2015

About 158 arrests have been made so far and Malaysians can expect more as our country continues to spiral downwards into an age of iniquity. Racial tension and religious intolerance are at an all-time high, threats and other forms of negative verbal exchanges go on quite frequently with very little consequences and now arrests are being made on a daily basis. As a result, even the more moderate ones who walk among us are now beginning to feel the paranoia and the distrust.

Nelson Mandela once said, “There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.” Having spent half of his lifetime behind bars, his name has become synonymous with valiant values like fortitude and perseverance. Mandela understood what struggle meant and knew the importance of believing in the aforementioned values; he was imprisoned simply because certain individuals were not comfortable with his wisdom. Much like how our brothers and sisters in Malaysia are being imprisoned because of differing political ideologies, daring exposes and unwillingness to succumb to conventionalism or maintaining the status quo.

What triggers our irritation is how the well-off and the well-connected celebrate their lives in the most extravagant ways while we grumble about the 6% tax increment being shoved down our throats and worry if we can ever afford sending our children to good schools, but what really sets it off is when innocent Malaysians are being hauled in for the silliest “crimes” ever imagine, while the murders, rapists and bigots roam free. Read the rest of this entry »

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