Archive for category Human Rights
By Kee Thuan Chye
1 November 2012
Last week, we marked the 25th anniversary of Operasi Lalang, that black day in our history that changed our country for the worst.
Like May 13, 1969, it was a Malaysian tragedy. And after all these years, we have yet to fully recover from it.
The beneficiaries of that notorious official move on Oct 27, 1987, to detain 106 Malaysians under the Internal Security Act (ISA) were – as journalist uppercaise has rightly pointed out in his blog – the then prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, and Umno.
Or, to be precise, Mahathir’s Umno Baru, which came about after the original Umno was declared illegal by the High Court in February 1988. Read the rest of this entry »
— Simon Sipaun
The Malaysian Insider
Oct 31, 2012
Oct 31 — PROHAM is a new human rights NGO formed by former Suhakam and the Police Commission commissioners. It was launched on 21st March, 2011.
Incidentally, 21st March every year is the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
This RTD will go a long way towards realizing PROHAM’s hope to see that Malaysia will, sooner rather than later become a party to the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1969 (ICERD).
This move represents a realistic approach to the issue rather than sweeping it under the carpet and pretend it is not there.
2. I am unable to find one good reason why Malaysia should persistently continue to be not a party to ICERD.
Any government which refuses to be a party to ICERD is a government that supports racism and racial discrimination.
How else can I interpret such state of affairs? 175 countries are currently party to ICERD including many Islamic countries.
Only 15 countries have yet to be a party to ICERD and Malaysia is one of them. It is in the company of countries like North Korea, Myanmar and a dozen of authoritarian countries. Read the rest of this entry »
Oct 27, 2012
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has called on the government to apologise and provide closure for all Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of Operasi Lalang.
Furthermore, Lim said all remaining detainees should also be immediately freed to put an end to the ISA saga.
The mass arrest action, Operasi Lalang in 1987, saw 106 politicians and activists incarcerated but also for the first time prodded public consciousness to the ISA issue.
“25 years ago on 27 October 1987, I was among the first victims of Operasi Lalang detained under the ISA by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“I remember as a newly-elected MP for Kota Melaka, how stunned I was to hear that I was a threat to national security who would cause the country to descend into chaos, ruin and riots if I was not arrested.
“Then followed the dark days of solitary confinement, endless interrogation and intimidation to force me to recant which I managed to endure, survive and prevail,” hesaid in a statement today. Read the rest of this entry »
Liew Chin Tong
The Malaysian Insider
Oct 27, 2012
OCT 27 — The collective adversity suffered by the DAP, PAS and civil society leaders in 1987 ironically built the steely resolve for change and the deep camaraderie to see it through.
This day 25 years ago, October 27, 1987, was one of the darkest days in Malaysian history when 106 politicians and social activists were arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in Operation Lalang. Printing permits for three newspapers, namely The Star, Sinchew and Watan, were withdrawn.
The security crackdown that shocked the nation and marked the end of the boisterous, often mistaken as democratic, first phase of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership that began in 1981. Dr Mahathir succeeded Tun Hussein Oon with a weak base in Umno and virtually no one to trust.
By pitting Musa Hitam against Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in Umno’s deputy presidential elections of 1981 and 1984, Dr Mahathir bought himself time and space. But the chickens came home to roost by 1987 when Tengku Razaleigh teamed up with Musa to challenge the Dr Mahathir-Ghafar Baba ticket.
The election on April 24 saw Tengku Razaleigh losing to Dr Mahathir by a mere 43 votes, allegedly after a suspicious blackout at the vote-counting centre. Read the rest of this entry »
by P Ramakrishnan
27 October 2012
Twenty five years ago, Malaysia witnessed what one person could do to sustain his lust for power. His unabated lust for power unleashed the worst traits in the Barisan Nasional to imprison 106 innocent Malaysians to keep the BN in power.
The man behind this dark episode in our history was none other than Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia.
On 27 October 1987 the rule of law was discarded, natural justice was ignored, the role of the judiciary was overridden, parliamentary democracy was sidelined so that he could cling on to power at all costs and by all means.
As Prime Minister, Home Minister and Justice Minister, Mahathir rode roughshod so that his position would remain safe and sound and that there would be no one to challenge him.
Today, more than ever, we must remember this shameful part of our history and wonder whether this will be repeated when the results of the 13th general election are announced. Read the rest of this entry »
Change of government needed to undo all the adverse effects of 25-year Operation Lalang on democracy, human rights and national institutions
Tomorrow marks the 25th anniversary of Operation Lalang which brought about the darkest days for democracy and human rights in the nation’s history.
There was not only the arrest of 106 Malaysians, including opposition leaders – 16 of whom were from the DAP, including MPs and State Assemblymen – trade unionists, social activists, environmentalists, Chinese educationists and religious workers, there was also the wholesale attacks on press freedom with the closure of three newspapers, the merciless attacks on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law resulting in the sacking of the Lord President and two Supreme Court judges and the series of undemocratic legislation which caused a tectonic shift in the Malaysian political landscape, subordinating the legislative and judicial branches to the Executive or to be more exact to the fiat of one person, the Prime Minister of the day.
The Government Transformation Programme of Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has promised to make Malaysia “the best democracy of the world”, but after more than 42 months of his premiership, Malaysia falls far short of the conditions to be a “normal democracy” let alone the “world’s best democracy”, as illustrated by the refusal by the Prime Minister and the ruling UMNO/BN coalition to make a public commitment that they would fully accept the verdict of the voters in the 13th General Election and would peacefully and smoothly transfer Federal power to Pakatan Rakyat if this is the verdict of the Malaysian electorate in the ballot box. Read the rest of this entry »
— Ambiga Sreenevasan
The Malaysian Insider
Oct 15, 2012
OCT 15 — Those in the international community may be forgiven for saying, “Is there a problem with the democratic process in Malaysia?”
In the international arena, our leaders portray Malaysia as a moderate Islamic nation that is built on the democratic principles that are enshrined in our Federal Constitution. The fundamental rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, the right to life and a fair electoral process, are indeed guaranteed under our Federal Constitution.
The reality is, however, far less idyllic. There are serious questions whether these rights are respected and upheld by those in power. Read the rest of this entry »
Oct 8, 2012
After a couple of weeks or so of unrelenting inanity, enough to make me wax lyrical (well, almost) in this column, I thought of writing something nice, inoffensive, light-hearted even, this week.
After all, two Malaysian court decisions this past week certainly gave many of us reason to cheer.
The judgment for the five ex-ISA detainees in the illegal detention suit they brought against the regime, for one, must have been the perfect pick-me-up for many of us.
The KL High Court found that the five had been detained unlawfully and in bad faith in 2001 and reportedly awarded them ‘RM15,000 each, for every day of their detention under Section 73 of the Internal Security Act, as well as RM30,000 each as aggravated damages’.
Altogether, in the Oct 2 judgment, five former ISA detainess, then Reformasi activists, including the irrepressible Hishamuddin Rais (left), PAS’ Hulu Selangor assemblyperson Saari Sungib and PKR’s Batu MP Chua Tian Chang, better known as Tian Chua, were awarded a total of RM4 million. Read the rest of this entry »
Suhakam should invoke its powers under the Suhakam Act 1999 to protect Suaram from continued government harassment and infringement of human rights in Malaysia
The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) should invoke its functions and powers under the Suhakam Act 1999 to protect Suaram from continued government harassment and infringement of human rights in Malaysia.
Two days ago, Suaram said that Suhakam should intervene in the government’s continued harassment of the NGO’s parent company, Suara Inisiatif Sdn. Bhd as they had been continually persecuted by the government and its agencies since July 2012.
Suaram asked, among other things, that Suhakam take a stand on the Minister of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism, Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s overreaching powers in interrupting and influencing investigations by the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) and to acknowledge the normalcy of foreign funding to organisations in Malaysia.
“Suaram is gravely concerned on the overreaching powers displayed the Minister of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism, Ismail Sabri Yaakob in interfering and influencing the on-going CCM investigation on Suaram,” it said.
Global rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) has rightly pointed out about suspicions over the timing of Putrajaya’s sudden interest in Suaram’s operations, noting that authorities began probing the NGO soon after it revealed that a close associate of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had sold Malaysian naval secrets to France. Read the rest of this entry »
The Malaysian Insider
Jul 19, 2012
JULY 19 — In English history there is King Æthelred The Unready. He earned this nickname because he was never ready for anything good or wise. Bolehland displays many similar characteristics to qualify to be called “Malaysia The Unready”.
The Umno-dominated BN government has shown a stubborn refusal to make Malaysia a truly democratic state where the rule of law, civil rights and liberties, equality and justice are respected and practised. The Umno-dominated BN government’s mantra is that Malaysia is not ready for so many things that are basic in all truly democratic and progressive countries.
Malaysia The Unready is not ready to:
● make Malaysia a truly democratic, secular state as enshrined in the Constitution.
● make Parliament democratically functional with an elected Speaker.
● have an elected Senate. Read the rest of this entry »
Jul 12, 2012
Our political leaders evidently have a not-so-smart-ass response for everything under the hazy Malaysian sun.
Some – the few who can read – probably would have read that story about the French queen, Marie Antoinette, apparently saying `Let them eat cake’ upon learning that the French peasants had no bread.
Yes, perhaps that is why our home minister, upon hearing that the ISA detainees were on a hunger strike, twittered that it was the choice of the ISA detainees to hold the hunger strike, just as it was his choice to have lamb chops.
Not very sensitive of him, it could be argued. But then, neither was the French queen who, history tells us, was later executed by guillotine. Yes, she had her head chopped off.
Many of our politicians, I think, share this misconception that they are so darn smart and can deliver flippant comments, inane lines and get away with it. Read the rest of this entry »
Drop sedition charges against Karpal and Uthayakumar to prove Najib’s bona fides when announcing repeal of Sedition Act
The Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail should drop sedition charges against DAP National Chairman and MP for Bukit Gelugor Karpal Singh and Human Rights Party leader P. Uthayakumar to establish the bona fides of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak when announcing that the Sedition Act 1948 will be repealed and replaced with a new act to be known as the National Harmony Act.
In his speech yesterday, Najib said the decision to repeal the Sedition Act was to find a mechanism that could ensure the freedom of speech for every citizen and the need to handle the complexity of plurality existing in the country.
He said that with the new National Harmony Act, the country would be “better equipped to manage our national fault lines” and “help to strengthen national cohesion by protecting national unity and nurturing religious harmony”.
The history of the Sedition Act in Malaysia is the history of an undemocratic, draconian, archaic, authoritarian and repressive law used in a most selective and discriminatory manner by the powers-of-the-day not only to suppress freedom of speech and expression by criminalising dissent but also to target and penalise Opposition personalities. Read the rest of this entry »
Teoh Beng Hock like Ahmad Sarbaini, Aminurasyid and V.Kugan will be among priority cases of “transitional justice” in a new Pakatan Rakyat government in Putrajaya after 13GE to address past human rights violations and rebuild social trust in a democratic system of governance
We are here to remember Teoh Beng Hock, cruel victim of injustice and misgovernance, and to reaffirm our commitment to continue to do all we can to ensure that we will not cease until justice is done to Beng Hock and his family.
The death of Teoh Beng Hock at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters at Shah Alam on July 16, 2009, together with cases of Ahmad Sarbaini, Aminurasyid and V. Kugan will be among the priority cases of “transitional justice” in a new Pakatan Rakyat government in Putrajaya after the 13th General Election to address human rights violations and rebuild social trust in a democratic system of governance.
What is “transitional justice”? Read the rest of this entry »
(Prepared closing remarks by DAP Secretary-General/Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng at the debate with MCA President Datuk Dr. Chua Soi Lek on “DAP & MCA: Whose Policies Benefit the Country More?” at Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre on Sunday, July 8, 2012)
Since Merdeka, two million Malaysians have migrated overseas because they do not see a future for themselves and for Malaysia. It is time that we don’t live in our past that is filled with hatred and fear. We should look to the future filled with hope and harmony between all Malaysians.
To put the past behind us, we must stop the politics of race and religion.
To put the past behind us, we must end corruption.
To put the past behind us, we must abolish the suppression, oppression, repression of our basic human rights and freedoms.
To put the past behind us, we must demand good governance and performance from our ministers. Read the rest of this entry »
By Mickey Spiegel
Senior Advisor with the Asia Division at Human Rights Watch
“Critics also noted that the bill, coupled with amendments to other laws, tightened restrictions or banned outright activities already under constraint, added limits to previously unrestricted activities, and broadened police apprehension and surveillance powers in new and innovative ways.”
When Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced last September that the country’s infamous Internal Security Act (ISA) would be repealed, he referred to tensions “between national security and personal freedom,” and promised that new “legislation formulated will take into consideration fundamental rights and freedoms.” Fast forward seven months to this April when Parliament’s Lower House, followed in short order by the Upper House, passed ISA’s replacement, the Security Offences (Special Measures) 2012 Act (SOSMA).
Unfortunately, this new bill does not go far enough to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of Malaysians. While this bill is not yet the law of the land, all that remains is for the king, Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, to assent and for the text to appear in the Federal Gazette with the date it will take effect.
A far better plan would be for Malaysia’s policymakers to immediately scuttle this first attempt at replacing the ISA and seriously rethink what it means to protect national security concerns while simultaneously protecting the democratic rights and freedoms of all Malaysia’s people. There may yet be hope if influential allies of Malaysia, including the United States, publicly raise their concerns. Read the rest of this entry »
— Art Harun
The Malaysian Insider
Jun 12, 2012
JUNE 12 — I quite like the way people in authority attempt to solve various problems in Malaysia.
A long time ago, safety helmets were made compulsory for every motorcyclist and pillion rider. Thereafter, some smarty-pants wore helmets with visors to rob banks. Although I was still in school at that time, I remember the so-called solution which our authority came up with to solve that problem. They simply banned helmets with visors. Problem solved, right?
Many years ago there were concerns over deaths caused by accidents involving water-scooters on Penang beaches. Of course, before everybody could finish saying “water-scooters”, I remember some hot-shots proposed that water-scooters be banned. Fortunately that did not happen.
Baby dumping? Oh well, that’s easy. Ban, among others, Valentine’s Day celebration. Read the rest of this entry »
— Dennis Ignatius
The Malaysian Insider
Jun 08, 2012
JUNE 8 — According to local media reports, US Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman, who came visiting recently, expressed their admiration for Malaysia’s democratic model and even went so far as to suggest that it might serve as a template for other Muslim countries.
There was only the barest hint of reservation during their press conference when they made vague and passing references to foreign election observers and further democratic reforms.
It may well be that they raised democracy and human rights issues with Prime Minister Najib Razak and Foreign Minister Anifah Aman when they met in private but it is their public positions that are disturbing. Read the rest of this entry »
— Justina Chen
The Malaysian Insider
May 29, 2012
MAY 29 — Since Malaysia Day last September, the administration of Prime Minister Najib Razak has undertaken a whirlwind of legislative and policy reforms, making Mr Najib arguably the most reformist Malaysian prime minister ever.
Political pundits remark that the rushed reforms which were undertaken without consultation with key stakeholders are a sign that a general election is imminent, perhaps to be held in less than two months.
Over the course of the last six months there have been a record number of legislative reforms including: repeal of the infamous Internal Security Act; amendments to the University and University Colleges Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act; announcement of a minimum wage policy as well as the passing of the Security Offences Bill and Peaceful Assembly Act.
Despite the current air of optimism, the sincerity of the government to effectively implement lasting reform has repeatedly been called into question. Government critics cite the lack of consultation and the short time frame within which legislative reform has taken place as evidence that the reforms are merely political ploys designed solely to gain traction with voters. Read the rest of this entry »
By Shannon Teoh
The Malaysian Insider
May 24, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — The use of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) to claim damages from organisers of the April 28 Bersih rally has sparked condemnation from opposition politicians who are now claiming that the new law restricts the right to gather even more than previous legislation.
Yesterday, 10 Bersih leaders, including Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, became the first persons to be sued in a civil action under the PAA, introduced just days before the April 28 demonstration for free and fair elections.
The government is claiming RM122,000 for alleged damage to 15 government-owned vehicles.
This followed Tuesday’s charges levelled against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Azmin Ali of participating in an unlawful assembly, the first criminal charges under the same law which Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said would allow freedom of assembly “in accordance with international norms.”
Lawmakers from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) told The Malaysian Insider today the law is being used “in a demonisation campaign and shows the prime minister is no reformist but reactionary.”
“The move (to sue) is headed in the wrong direction from the reforms Najib promised,” DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang said.
“What about all those who were assaulted far away from Dataran Merdeka? Should they be queuing up to sue the government?” he asked, referring to dozens of protestors claiming they were attacked by groups of policemen after violence erupted at the rally. Read the rest of this entry »
The Malaysian Insider | May 21, 2012
MAY 21 — It would appear strange that the panel investigating the Bersih 3.0 violence is getting criticised before they even start their work. Especially because it is helmed by Tan Sri Hanif Omar, the respected and longest-serving police chief in Malaysia.
Yet, it is because of him that the panel is getting stick.
Hanif did not do himself any favours by talking about Marxist elements in Bersih. This is akin to a judge commenting on a case before it is even heard. And no matter how much that judge can argue about his impartiality, his comments have already influenced people about his handling of the case. Just like what Hanif did.
The former IGP had reportedly made several anti-Bersih comments before the panel was set up, such as the coalition intended to “topple the government” and that it had been “infiltrated by communist sympathisers”.
Read the rest of this entry »