Archive for category Human Rights
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 Is a return to the provisions of the repealed draconian Emergency Ordinance (EO) and Internal Security Act (ISA) transformational?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On the one hand, the BN government had repealed the Emergency Ordinance (EO) and Internal Security Act (ISA) with the Prime Minister guaranteeing over national television that there would be no more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 »
by KJ John
Sep 17, 2013
I was touched and moved by Marina Mahathir’s excellent treatise on the value of human dignity in her most recent column in The Star. Hers related to our school system. That motivated me to share my own experience and that of my two sons in our school system.
My experience of abuse
First my own experience given that I am now already 63 years old. Yes, when I was in Form Two, in the Ibrahim Secondary School of Sungai Petani, one afternoon, my friend Gobalkrishnan and I went to play basketball in our school. We borrowed the school basketball which was kept by the canteen operator after signing our names in the book.
While we were making hoop shots a younger student in school uniform came and asked to take the basketball for his class because his teacher wanted the ball for his PE class. We said no, as we had borrowed and signed for it.
After a while the class teacher turned up with the same boy and asked for the ball; I said the same thing that we had signed up for the ball to play. He slapped me across the face and threw the ball at my friend’s head. Then they walked away with our ball! Read the rest of this entry »
Ed Pilkington in New York
The Guardian, Friday 12 July 2013
‘They thought that the bullet would silence us. But they failed,’ says Malala, 16, at UN to push campaign for girls’ education
When the Taliban sent a gunman to shoot Malala Yousafzai last October as she rode home on a bus after school, they made clear their intention: to silence the teenager and kill off her campaign for girls’ education.
Nine months and countless surgical interventions later, she stood up at the United Nations on her 16th birthday on Friday to deliver a defiant riposte. “They thought that the bullet would silence us. But they failed,” she said.
As 16th birthdays go, it was among the more unusual. Instead of blowing out candles on a cake, Malala sat in one of the United Nation’s main council chambers in the central seat usually reserved for world leaders.
She listened quietly as Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, described her as “our hero, our champion”; and as the former British prime minister and now UN education envoy, Gordon Brown, uttered what he called “the words the Taliban never wanted her to hear: happy 16th birthday, Malala”.
The event, dubbed Malala Day, was the culmination of an extraordinary four years for the girl from Mingora, in the troubled Swat valley of Pakistan. Read the rest of this entry »
The Malaysian Insider
July 02, 2013
I want to thank every media or editor that has spoken up against the proposal by our government to introduce a law allowing one parent to change their children’s religion. It shows the courage of that media/editor and expresses the opinion of the majority of Malaysians. This attempt by the government to introduce such a law is a violation of the basic human rights of any individual and shows how little they respect the fundamental freedoms of our children.
The United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has been available since 1989 and signed by our Malaysian Prime Minister in December 1994. The UNCRC outlines the basic rights that should be accorded to any child. The fact that Malaysia is signatory underlines that the government of Malaysia is committed to uphold these fundamental rights. When countries ratify the Convention, they agree to review their laws relating to children.
Article 3 of the UNCRC clearly states that the best interests of children must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect children. And that all adults, including the governing body of the country, should do what is best for children. This clearly includes policies and laws.
Article 14 speaks about the freedom of thought, conscience and religion. To quote “Children have the right to think and believe what they want and to practise their religion, as long as they are not stopping other people from enjoying their rights. Parents should help guide their children in these matters. The Convention respects the rights and duties of parents in providing religious and moral guidance to their children. Religious groups around the world have expressed support for the Convention, which indicates that it in no way prevents parents from bringing their children up within a religious tradition. At the same time, the Convention recognises that as children mature and are able to form their own views, some may question certain religious practices or cultural traditions. The Convention supports children’s right to examine their beliefs, but it also states that their right to express their beliefs implies respect for the rights and freedoms of others.” Read the rest of this entry »
21 June 2013
The Federal Court was wrong in its judgment in 2008 about the conversion of minors, says P Ramakrishnan.
A lot has been said that Islam is a just religion, a religion of peace and compassion. All this is true. In keeping with the virtues and values of Islam, Islamic adherents are under a solemn obligation to give meaning to this by what they do and practise.
In other words, the Islamic faithful cannot be indifferent to the fate of someone who is of a different religion. They cannot deny the rights of these people nor can they be dismissive of the suffering when one Islamic faithful leaves his former family in the lurch after converting.
As a human being, he is expected to provide for his wife and children notwithstanding his embrace of Islam. If he fails to discharge this responsibility that is expected of him, should Islam embrace him? Should a man who betrays the trust of a family and abdicates his responsibility be welcome into Islam? Should such people be allowed to bring disrepute to the religion?
Unfortunately this is what is too often happening today. Secretly, the man converts, and all hell breaks loose for the family. He is not bothered. He compounds the misery of his wife by unilaterally converting his children to Islam. He shatters the life of a mother; and claims refuge in Islam. There is a moral question here.
One would expect religious authorities to guide him in the path of righteousness before he is allowed to convert. He should be advised to exemplify Islamic virtues by displaying compassion and discharging his responsibility to his family before he can find a place in Islam.
The religious authorities contribute to the family break-up when they convert his children without the knowledge or consent of their mother. By so doing, they add to the suffering of the helpless mother. Is this fair? Read the rest of this entry »
– Lionel Morais
The Malaysian Insider
Jun 21, 2013
Federal Internal Security and Public Order director Datuk Saleh Mat Rasid hit a raw nerve yesterday when he said that the army will help the police, if necessary, at the Black 505 rally tomorrow.
He was roundly criticised and rightly so.
Use the army against unarmed Malaysians at a rally? Unbelievable!
These are just people fighting for what they believe is right. They are not the Sulu terrorists and this is not Ops Daulat II.
So what exactly is it that anybody thinks the police cannot handle?
There have been about a dozen protest rallies since the May 5 polls and not one turned violent or chaotic. Read the rest of this entry »
– Khoo Ying Hooi
The Malaysian Insider
June 20, 2013
Saturday 22 June marks the 15th Black 505 rallies since the May 2013 polls. One of the key aims of the protest is to press for the resignation of Election Commission members following the alleged irregularities and rampant electoral fraud during the 13th General Election. Just recently, the Co-Chair of Bersih, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has also conceded that perhaps taking to the streets could be the only way left in order to fight for electoral reform in this country should its extensive campaigns through legal channels to clean up the electoral system fails.
Bersih as the pioneer in electoral reform has so far held three massive protests in the past since 2007. Although the protests had drawn international attention and condemnation to the current administration, but the actual reforms have yet to be seen. For example, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform (PSC) that was established in 2011 was seen as a good move, however there is no follow-up mechanism for the lengthy 22 recommendations. Read the rest of this entry »
Zahid may want to be an UMNO “hero” for the upcoming UMNO party elections by being a macho and belligerent Home Minister who dare to declare DAP unlawful even if it is gross abuse of power
The statement by the director-general of Registry of Societies (RoS) Datuk Abdul Rahman Othman that many DAP members who were eligible to attend its national congress on December 15 last year did not receive notice to do so is both baseless and most unprofessional.
It is a “political twist” to the RoS investigations into the DAP and I see a political “black hand” behind it – all the way to the new Home Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Zahid Hamidi.
Since becoming the new Home Minister a forthnight ago, Zahid had tried to politicise all the departments under him.
Firstly, being the most “political” Home Minister in partnership with the most “political” Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, he has created mayhem to police priorities, allowing crime and the fear of crime among Malaysians to run riot because he is obsessed with using police powers to crack down on Pakatan Rakyat leaders and social activists – not having said a single word on the primary duty of the police to keep crime rate low as well as to eradicate the people’s pervasive fear of crime.
As a result, Zahid’s two-week term as Home Minister takes on the hues of a return of Mahathirism, with arrests and prosecution of Pakatan Rakyat leaders and social activists while Umno/BN leaders and their kind enjoy immunity and impunity for the most sedious and racist utterances. Read the rest of this entry »
by John Berthelsen
May 29, 2013 10:49AM UTC
National elections on May 5 haven’t cooled political and racial tensions, writes Asia Sentinel’s John Berthelsen
Any hope that May 5 national elections in Malaysia would cool the political atmosphere appears to have been misguided, leaving a country entangled in deepening racial problems and creating the risk of a real threat to the legitimacy of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s reign.
While not calling for Najib’s removal, the prime minister’s most potent critic, former Premier Mahathir Mohamad, damned him with faint praise, telling Bloomberg News in an interview in Tokyo last week that the United Malays National Organization will continue to support him “because of a lack of an alternative.” Read the rest of this entry »
Mar 29, 2013
QUESTION TIME On the eve of the general election, it is appropriate to take a moment to reflect on how independent are we really.
What a moment it must have been when Malaysia (then Malaya) achieved independence from the British on Aug 31, 1957 and the flag of the newly independent country was raised.
At five years old, I was too young to remember what it was like then but have vague memories of my brother getting lost on a family visit to Kuala Lumpur town during the celebrations and being taken care of by policemen, before he was reunited with our parents.
It must have held so much hope for Malayans of all races and religions who put aside their differences to work for the formation of a new nation.
Tunku Abdul Rahman declared himself the happiest prime minister in the world and was proud of the fact that independence was achieved via negotiation without a single drop of blood being shed.
To be sure there were differences and in the years before independence there was much debate and agonising over how a disparate country of Chinese and Indian immigrants, many of whom had nowhere else but Malaya to call home, were to be integrated with the majority Malay community.
But there was a plan and everyone stuck to it and the country became independent. The communist threat had been beaten back although it would take until the sixties before they were more or less completely vanquished.
We were independent but how free were we? And did not independence mean freedom as well? Read the rest of this entry »
By Boo Su-Lyn
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 14, 2013
KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — Malaysia is among 25 countries using off-the-shelf spyware to keep tabs on citizens by secretly grabbing images off computer screens, recording video chats, turning on cameras and microphones, and logging keystrokes, US newspaper the New York Times (NYT) reported yesterday.
Besides Malaysia, researchers at Citizen Lab based at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs found that the United States, Singapore, Indonesia and Britain also used the surveillance software known as FinSpy.
“Rather than catching kidnappers and drug dealers, it looks more likely that it is being used for politically motivated surveillance,” security researcher Morgan Marquis-Boire was quoted by NYT as saying.
Martin J. Muench, managing director of Gamma Group — a British company that sells FinSpy — has reportedly said that Gamma Group sold its technology to governments solely to monitor criminals, and that it was most often used against “paedophiles, terrorists, organised crime, kidnapping and human trafficking”.
Marquis-Boire, however, pointed out that the software was open to abuse, saying: “If you look at the list of countries that Gamma is selling to, many do not have a robust rule of law.”
Other countries with servers running FinSpy include Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Qatar, Serbia, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. Read the rest of this entry »
by Azly Rahman
Jan 17, 2012
As a student of Cultural-Philosophical Studies with a passion in radical educational change framed within the context of cybernating-hypermodern societies such as Malaysia, I see the “Bawani-Zohra Affair” as emblematic of a nation gone berserk on the issue of freedom of speech and the culture of dialogue and public discourse.
We are in an ‘amuck-latah’ mood. The nation, at least in cyberspace, is furious (amuck) of what happened, and the protagonist of the propaganda machine fumbled big-time (latah) assuming that the teaching techniques of the “top-down, humiliate-first, no-apologies later” of many a Biro Tata Negara speaker can still be deployed unreservedly onto university students at the time when amateur videos can go viral, when tweets can flow like a tsunami, and when Facebook pages can be created in a fraction of seconds.
That’s the mistaken assumption – that the Frankenstein called “social media technology” will also not run amuck helping those silenced to have their poetic justice, and those humiliated to become an honourable being raised to the level of stardom, overnight.
It is said that at times, you do not need to find the revolution – for the revolution will find you. The revolution found both Bawani and Zohra in such an ‘absurd’ way, such as in many of the plots of French surrealist dramas like Eugene Ionesco’s rhinoceros running wild on the city streets, and Kafka’s character moving from desolation to awareness in “Metamorphosis”.
The timing was perfect, like that storm brewing right after the almost-a-million Malaysian march to take over Putrajaya; after the Deepak drama which was over-played, overdosing even the older folks; after the successes of all those Bersih rallies, and many other watersheds upon watersheds of consciousness-raising events, and ultimately, after the last hurrah circa GE13 – all these ripened the relevance of the fateful “Bawani-Zohra” rendezvous.
Hence, Malaysians saw not only an explosion of anger, but one that fuelled tremendous amounts of creative products, mainly in the realm of multimedia (music videos, Facebook and Internet posters, audio and video materials, and the production of other forms of creative artifacts inspired by the mantra “listen-listen-listen…”). Read the rest of this entry »
By Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz | January 15, 2013
Last Friday night as I came back from a ceramah in Sabak Bernam, I stopped over at the Sungai Buluh Restoren Jejantas. There was an unusually large number of vehicles in the parking bays.
In the surau, there were many people sleeping and resting. How come there were so many people, I asked at this late hour (it was 2am).
When a friend asked a passerby where are these people from, he said they were from Perak and some from Penang. They have come to participate in the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat (KL112) rally at Stadium Merdeka on Saturday (Jan 12).
The whole country, it seemed, was galvanised and geared to participate in the KL112 assembly.
Now, that’s all that matters as we inch closer to the 13th general election.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s time is running out.
The tens of thousands who rallied at KL112 on Saturday was proof of Umno’s end. What we achieved and celebrated at KL112 was the coming together of the various races in Malaysia, something which Umno and Barisan Nasional did not want us to achieve.
Read the rest of this entry »
— Fikry Osman
The Malaysian Insider
Jan 14, 2013
JAN 14 — Now that the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat is over, the one question that begs to be answered is this: does the rally prove that civil liberties exist in Malaysia?
To the more than 100,000 who turned up at Stadium Merdeka last Saturday, maybe.
After all, the police stood by and ensured the peace. No riot police, water cannons, roadblocks, razor wire strung across roads or anything to make Malaysia look like a police state.
Maybe, it was the spirit of the times that such a rally could even take place without ending in teargas blanketing the air, water cannons drenching the crowd and everyone running helter-skelter to avoid being beaten up or arrested for assembling without a permit.
Oh, no more permit required. So, that makes Malaysia look better just months before the general election. That must be it, to give Malaysia an appearance of a modern democratic country where people can make a stand publicly and gather without the threat of being cowed by authority or violence.
See, even Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak praised the police and also the opposition for respecting the spirit of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012 at the rally. Read the rest of this entry »
M. Bakri Musa
While UMNO apologists and sycophants in academia, blogosphere, and mainstream media quibbled over such minutia as the number of participants at last Saturday’s massive KL112 (January 12, 2013) rally, two facts are indisputable. First, that peaceful and largely Malay demonstration, the largest the nation had ever witnessed, forever shattered the myth that UMNO is Melayu, and Melayu, UMNO. Second, given a modicum of respect by and without provocation from the authorities, Malaysians are quite capable of partaking in peaceful rallies.
On this second point the authorities, specifically the police under its new leadership, are finally learning that water tankers, personnel with anti-riot gears or tear gas canisters, and other crude displays of power often precipitate rather than prevent violence. BERSIH 3.0 demonstrated that very clearly.
The size and orderliness of the rally, together with the bravery and determination of the participants, was reminiscent of the transformative event of over 66 years earlier, the opposition to the Malayan Union Treaty. That altered the course of our history. Insha’ Allah (God willing), last Saturday’s rally too, will.
The power imbalance between those demanding change and those in power back in 1946 was enormous. Then it was mostly illiterate and unsophisticated Malay peasants facing the much superior and more formidable colonial authorities. Yet in the end, right won over might, and justice prevailed!
Today, while the UMNO Government is detested to the same degree as the old colonials, it is nowhere as sophisticated wielder of power as the British. Meanwhile, those clamoring for change are far more worldly, more committed, and in far greater numbers than their adversary, UMNO and its supporters. More importantly, unlike the colonials, today’s UMNO government is crippled with corruption and incompetence while also being crude wielders of power. All the more we should expect that right and the truth, as well as justice, will again prevail. Read the rest of this entry »
by Goh Keat Peng
January 14, 2013
With so much counting activity going on in Malaysia these days, it sets me thinking of … NUMBERS. Of the first counting most normal human beings began with. We would have started with our fingers, one, two, three, four five, before we realised there were five more fingers on the other hand, making it ten! Then we discovered that our counting can even be extended with our toes, which took us to twenty, doubling our counting capacity! Then came the apparatus of rows of beads mounted on a stand which helped us to count way beyond our initial ten fingers and ten toes. Then much later on came the electronic calculator presenting us with any imaginable total at our finger tips. Only for us to discover when we know better that with the ancient abacus – with neither battery nor electronic circuitry – we could count to almost any number!
These days of course our nation is embroiled in a frenzied counting exercise. How many human beings can an old historic sports stadium contain?
The powers that be have their own inimitable way of crunching numbers. They saw the crowd and thought 80,000 but declared it to the world as 45,000. (Just as it used to be done when a returning citizen’s luggage was actually, physically checked by custom officers: “Berapa harga itu, pak?” And the traveller keeping as straight a face as he (or more likely she) could manage, replied, “Oh itu! Sikit sahaja, tuan. Beli di pasar murah!”)
The authorities do have a certain history about counting things their way. A sleight of hand performed on the calculator or more likely on their own inventive minds. It takes a David Copperfield to fathom what only a David Copperfield can do. Magic which defies the comprehension of ordinary minds.
Welcome to psychological counting! For which the figure could be anywhere up to 500,000 in the mind of the wistful organising committee who dream of future possibilities (in the fashion of Don Quixote) all the way down to 45,000 thousand according to wistful authorities desperate to bring the figures to a manageable, psychological size to facilitate their much-needed sleep and provide relief to their worried minds and hearts. Read the rest of this entry »
— Alfian Zohri
The Malaysian Insider
Jan 14, 2013
JAN 14 — I was too young to remember the 1998 reformasi demonstration in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. There was no Facebook or Twitter or any social media tools for live updates and the only mobile phones available were those huge solid ones, resembling a piece of brick! However, I do remember reading about the event on Utusan Malaysia. Yes, I used to read Utusan Malaysia. Anyhow, I was too callow to understand the politics and reasons behind those events.
As time has progressed, everything has changed. From September 11, 2001 to the recent Arab Spring (Arab Awakening as put by Robert Fisk) a new chapter of human struggle has been created. If in the 60s, Americans were protesting against the Vietnam War, today not just the Americans but the whole world is protesting against war, any war. We have anti ‘gitmo’ demonstration in New York or London; and we also have anti Internal Security Act (ISA) demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur. Anti nuclear power in Japan for instance, also happened in Australia, France, Germany and elsewhere in Europe. Public rallies or street protests, civil disobedience or whatever you want to call it, are a manifestation of the rejection of an unpopular regime in a particular country. It can be a single-man protest, a hundred, one thousand or a million it doesn’t matter. When you are oppressed, you stand up and fight for your rights. As simple as that.
Not too long ago, we witnessed a classic of domino effect in the Arab world. From one country to another, each one of those ruthless regimes responsible for numerous atrocities and human rights abuses collapsed due to the people’s uprising. But does it solve the problem? No! Does it create more problems? Yes! The problem is yet to be solved and as a matter of fact the problems only get worsen. Arbitrary killings, executions, violence against women, minorities and children and in fact a humanitarian crisis ensued at a rather alarming rate. Civil conflicts become our daily feed. Still the question remains: why is discontent met with further violence? Read the rest of this entry »