Archive for category Human Rights

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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Defer the seven anti-terrorism bills for debate in next Parliamentary meeting starting on May 18 while establish Select Committee to study and make recommendations

Today’s arrest of two more editors, Edge publisher Ho Kay Tat and The Malaysian Insider (TMI) chief executive Jahabar Sadiq, in addition to the arrest of three senior TMI editors, Lionel Morais, Amin Shah Iskandar and Zulkifli Sulong yesterday are the latest in the police crackdown in the past week and a campaign to impose the reign of white terror in the country.

These arrests raise one disturbing question – whether the police and the government-of-the-day can be trusted with untrammelled powers, like the one they are asking under the anti-terrorism laws.

This question could not have come at a more appropriate time as Parliament was presented with seven anti-terrorism bills, which would empower the Executive with the untrammelled power of indefinite detention without trial that cannot be challenged in court. Read the rest of this entry »

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Has the IGP gone bonkers as to order the police probe of UM lecturer raising the most legitimate questions about political protest and protest policing?

I read, re-read and read a third time the article “Who owns the police” by University of Malaya senior lecturer, Dr. Khoo Ying Hooi in The Malaysian Insider on 16th March 2015 and I still cannot fathom how it could be the basis for two police officers to question Khoo for one-and-a-half hours under Section 500 of the Penal Code for criminal defamation of the police – without committing a gross abuse of police power.

Has the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Bakar gone bonkers in his latest tweet-trigger happy response to Khoo’s article on the same day, saying

“KYH’s article in MI is misleading the readers, When did @PDRMsia allow the 7th street protest?”

Khoo, in her article, had said that police “had earlier allowed the #KitaLawan rally on March 7 to carry on smoothly, but began their ‘arrest spree’ the next day” – with 11 people, including DAP Youth leader and MP for Rasah Teo Kok Seong, PKR Secretary-General and MP for Pandan, Rafizi Ramli, PKR Youth Chief and Selangor State Exco Member Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad arrested over the March 7 rally.

When Khoo said the police had earlier “allowed” the March 7 rally to be held smoothly, it did not and need not mean that the Police had issued a police permit to hold a rally, as all that it meant was that the Police did not disturb or disrupt the rally and permitted it to be held smoothly.

What is wrong with that statement?

What is the “criminal defamation” against the police in such a statement?
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Why is IGP Khalid declaring war on Pakatan Rakyat when he should be declaring war on Islamic State? Is IGP for UMNO/BN or for all Malaysians?

DAP MP for Rasah and DAPSY Chief Teo Kok Seong is the sixth victim of the police crackdown on organisers of the Kita Lawan peaceful rally last week.

He was arrested under Section 143 of the Penal Code when he reported to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters at 11 am this morning, for his statement to be recorded as arranged beforehand.

The Kita Lawan rally was held peacefully to protest against the five-year jailing of Parliamentary Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The other five who had been arrested for the peaceful rally are PKR Youth chief and Selangor Exco Member Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, PKR Vice Chairman/Secretary-General/ MP for Pandan Rafizi Ramli, PKR Youth leader Saifullah Zulkifli, PKR Supreme Council member Fairiz Musa and PAS Youth treasurer Fakhurazi Mokhtar.

PKR Vice President and MP for Lembah Pantai Nurul Izzah Anwar is expected to be the next target.

Kok Seong has been sent to the Jinjang Police Station where he would be remanded overnight. Is the police planning for a longer remand for Kok Seong, like the further three-day remand in the case of Nik Nazmi?

This is a gross abuse of power. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why am I ‘wasting’ my time at Sogo on 307?

— Kenneth Cheng
The Malay Mail Online
MARCH 4, 2015

MARCH 4 — I have to be frank, this is by far the worst Chinese New Year that I have ever celebrated, not because Anwar Ibrahim has been incarcerated in what is widely perceived as a travesty of justice or the farcical strategic development company 1MDB that may cripple our economy and financial sovereignty.

It is certainly not the advent of GST which 40 per cent households with an income of less than RM1,500 per month will suffer the most. Additionally, I have learn to turn a deaf ear towards Cabinet Minister’s race inciting hate comments which seek to further divide Malaysia and divert the attention away from his sheer incompetency.

Last but not least, I would expect nothing less than RM1,200 worth of hair treatment from our very dear first lady, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor given her “modest” and prudent financial management lifestyle.

Yet, I was crestfallen during this festive period simply because friends and family who I visited, choose to remain dispassionate and detach themselves from the recent political development of our country. Furthermore, questions arise among my peers concerning the rationale of holding massive #kitalawan protest in Sogo. They generally empathise with the partisans and resolve to punish the corrupt regime in the next General Election, but deem there is no meaning in participating in the social movement.

As much as I appreciate their attentiveness toward this political issue, nevertheless I need to accentuate that social progress is very much attainable by effective social movements, be it small or big. Therefore, with the interest of the amnesiac public in mind, it is of vital importance to revisit history and to remind the rakyat how humanity and society have constantly made substantial progress through social movements. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stop Arrests and Harassment on Those who Exercise Their Constitutional and Internationally-Recognized Right to Freedom of Expression

Malaysia: Open Letter to the Prime Minister
William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador
27 February 2015

(LONDON) – Dato’ Sri Mohammad Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak
Prime Minister of Malaysia Office of the Prime Minister
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building
Federal Government Administrative Centre
62502 Putrajaya, MALAYSIA
Via facsimile: +60-3-8888-3444

Malaysia: Stop Arrests and Harassment on Those who Exercise Their Constitutional and Internationally-Recognised Right to Freedom of Expression

Mr. Prime Minister,

We, the undersigned human rights organisations and individuals, write to you to register our grave concern over the continued crackdown on freedom of expression in Malaysia, including the latest arrests and investigations against those who criticised or commented on the Federal Court’s decision to uphold the conviction of Anwar Ibrahim of sodomy charges earlier this month.

Since May 2014, more than 40 individuals have been arrested under the Sedition Act and the Penal Code for the exercise of their right to freedom of expression. Over 70 arrests have been made since May 2013.

We are alarmed by your government’s continued abuse of the Sedition Act, exemplified by the following recent cases: Read the rest of this entry »

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Have an opinion? Stuff it!

Fa Abdul | February 24, 2015
Free Malaysia Today

How come freedom of speech is limited to a select few who can say what they please while the majority spend a night in the lock-up for doing the same?

COMMENT

When I was growing up, reading the daily newspaper and watching the 8pm news was a must in my home. And every day during family time, my dad would open the floor for discussion. We used to discuss (and sometimes debate) various issues – politics, social, religion, entertainment, the works. Sometimes we got too excited over certain issues that we continued the same discussion for a few days.

Thanks to my dad, my brothers and I grew up having the ability to form our own opinions on matters that concerned us. And having strong opinions meant standing up to it as well.

But lately, I’ve begun to wonder if my dad made a big mistake having raised us the way he did. Because of my dad, I now have a tough time keeping my thoughts to myself and my mouth shut.

Like the other day, when I wrote about why I wasn’t offended by the Charlie Hebdo cartoons – I received piles of hate messages.

And then there was one time when I politely advised the security guards in my apartment that it was against the law for them to hold a visitor’s important documents – and the head of security raised his baton over my head.

Since when did freedom of speech and expressing oneself become an offence?

This reminds me of an acquaintance of mine who was arrested recently on a sedition charge for criticising the Federal Court judgement over the Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy case.

All he did was to post his opinion of the case on Facebook. He had to spend one night in a lock-up filled with creepy crawlies simply because he had trouble zipping his mouth. I bet he too was raised to stand up for what he believed in.

Looks like we can no longer call a spade, a spade. Freedom of speech can get us into lots of trouble these days. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s flawed democracy

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
6 February 2015

According to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, only 12.5% of the world’s population in under governments that practice “full democracy”. The EIU index further identifies that only 24 countries are “ull democracies” whereas 52 countries are regarded as “flawed democracies”. Malaysia, our great nation, is one of these countries.

Flawed democracies are defined as countries that even with the presence of free and fair elections,therein lay considerable drawbacks and limitations that magnifies the inadequacy of present political systems.

Although basic liberties or rights are recognised, they may sometimes only exist in theory and may not be practiced or applied. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysian Cabinet probably the worst in Malaysian history – acting like the traditional three monkeys with eyes that see not, ears that hear not and mouths that speak not

The Malaysian Cabinet Edition 2015 is probably the worst in the 58-year Malaysian history – acting like the traditional three monkeys with eyes that see not, ears that hear not and mouths that speak not.

Did the Cabinet repudiate and reprimand the Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan for his irresponsible and reckless statement that the restoration of local government elections could worsen racial polarization when supporting the equally bizarre statement by the PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang that the restoration of the third vote could cause a repeat of the May 13 race riots?

Abdul Rahman is the most irresponsible Local Government Minister in the nation’s history for no other Local Government Minister had ever made such a statement in the past 50 years since the suspension of local government elections on March 1965 on the ground of threat from Indonesian Confrontation.

And yet nobody in Cabinet dared to confront him and propose that the Cabinet should reprimand him and dissociate itself from the Local Government Minister’s irresponsible and reckless remarks on the restoration of local government elections.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had dismissed the previous Cabinet as “half-past six” and former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin had shown utter contempt of what he described as “deadwood” Ministers. Read the rest of this entry »

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So what’s your freedom worth?

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
23 January 2015

As the world experiences the worrying expansion of global radicalism, reports of violence and killings committed in the name of religion evoke all sorts of emotions – it propels humanity into extreme ends: you either strongly disagree or strongly agree with the atrocities committed in the name of God, religion and faith.

Many of us are still trying to make sense of the recent attacks in Paris, the battles fought by Isis and the massacres carried out by Boko Haram. These aggressions aren’t just about a series of offensive cartoons or the overzealousness of installing an Islamic caliphate or even the evil of Western education, but it is a declaration of war against freedom of expression and human rights. Most of all, it signals the breakdown of logic – the raison d’être of religious wisdom and prudence; it indicates an abrupt shift to feverish radicalism.

Every heinous attack committed by religious extremists leaves many of us wondering: what is it about religion that makes one more inclined to embrace violence and lose one’s sense of humour or common sense? Where do you draw the line between jest and insolence? Read the rest of this entry »

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When an opinion becomes a criminal matter

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
13 January 2015

It took no fewer than 20 policemen to arrest Eric Paulsen last night, just hours after Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin asked for an investigation into the human rights lawyer’s tweet that religious authorities were promoting extremism through Friday prayer sermons.

And it took no less than the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar to use the same Twitter microblogging network to announce Paulsen’s arrest – akin to revealing a major breakthrough in solving crime or arrest of kingpins.

Impressive, to say the least, considering that Paulsen was left unmolested when he lodged a report earlier yesterday over death threats following his tweet, which he had taken down after a barrage of criticism.

There was no move to arrest him then although the IGP had already said there would be a probe into the lawyer’s tweet under the Sedition Act. None. Like clockwork, action was only taken after the DPM commented on the matter.

What is even more impressive is that Paulsen had yet to be remanded for the federal police chief to send off a series of tweets on Paulsen’s opinion about Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) sermons promoting extremism. Read the rest of this entry »

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