Hadhari, human rights, hypocrisy

by Azly Rahman

The General Assembly proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member-States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.- Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948
Free Raja Petra Kamarudin and all the ISA detainees. Abolish the ISA. This is my appeal to the current regime.

How do we continue to live with the contradiction of being a ratifier of the UDHR and still hold on to the Internal Security Act (ISA) as an instrument of oppression? At home, how must we live with this hypocrisy of jailing without trial our noble citizens such as Raja Petra Kamaruddin and yet abroad speak out against Guantanamo Bay in the platform of world affairs?

When Malaysian leaders go abroad and give speeches at the United Nations or the Malaysian embassies for example, they often argue that Malaysians have their own way of dealing with human rights issues.

They say that culturally Malaysians are different than, say the American or the Britons. Human rights is a subjective issue that needs subjective interpretation, as the argument goes.

The way the government deals with freedom of speech for example includes the stubborn political will to keep the ISA intact as an instrument of the country’s ‘right’ to maintain peace and security.

When Malaysian leaders are abroad and speak to Malaysians at dinner gatherings, for example, they often argue that other countries do not have the right to meddle into the affairs of another nation.
The US therefore is warned not to comment on Malaysian politics. Al Gore and Condoleezza Rice are to be scorned for making statements about the reformasi demonstrations on Malaysian streets and on the trial of Anwar Ibrahim, respectively.

At home, however, Malaysian leaders ironically love to rally for the cause of others – from the abolition of apartheid in South Africa or for the plight of the Palestinians. Well and good. These are universal issues of human rights of which we ought to be aware.

We speak up for the rights of the Bosnians, the Chechens, the Palestinians, and Pattani Malays. I do not know whether the former Yugoslavs, the Russians, the Israelis, and the Thais have warned Malaysians not to meddle into the politics of the respective countries.

Isn’t upholding and protecting of human rights the job of all citizens of the world? Did we not speak out against Guantanamo Bay, as millions of Americans have been doing; Americans who themselves are fed up with the war-mongering Bush-Cheney regime?

Refusal to understand

Herein lies our hypocrisy within the context of our proclaimed ideology of Islam Hadhari and the right to talk about human rights. We are living with an outdated version of the Mahathir-Lee Kuan Yew interpretation of human rights vis-a-vis political and economic stability.

The ISA is used on citizens these days as part of a way to ensure that power, ideology, and hegemony is maintained for the rights of the few and to sustain the right to dehumanise others.

The question for educators like me is: how will the continuing existence of the British colonial legacy of the ISA create a progressive, liberal, intelligent, wise, and just Malaysia? How do we mediate the false dichotomy between the ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ interpretations of human rights?

Malaysia is a signatory to the UDHR including:

– Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

– Article 10: Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

I believe the much trumpeted brand of Islam the current regime is promoting, Islam Hadhari, is anti-civilisation in the way human right is vis-a-vis the ISA detentions.
It is anti-Islam when those who are detained are fighting for social, economic justice and as Islam requires, to speak truth to power in combating corruption.

To jail those who expose wrongdoings bring Islam Hadhari back to the age of pre-Islamic Jahiliyyah (Age of Ignorance). Indeed, we are being hypocrites when we continue to keep and use the instrument of oppression left behind by the oppressors. We continue to let the current regime refine the instrument.

Setting aside the truncated mindset of the Malaysian leaders, the people must recognise the critical importance of the awareness and maintenance of human rights throughout the world.

We must believe that the definition, creation, and dissemination of human rights norms can bridge the gaps between countries, ensure that individual’s human rights are respected, and pave the way for a more peaceful world.
And, as the countries of our world become increasingly more interconnected, the call for universal human rights standards could not be more important.

We are hypocrites living in an ideology of Hadhari. We seem to refuse to understand what the idea of the universality of human rights means. We cannot progress in this area unless we live by such principles of human rights – the one that we too ratified.






  1. #1 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 - 11:39 am

    Dr Azly Rahman asked how we could live with the contradiction of being a ratifier and signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”) and yet still hold on to the Internal Security Act (ISA) as an instrument of oppression.

    There appears to exist an error of fact here.

    Correct me if I were wrong but as far as I know, Malaysia has ratified ONLY TWO treaties under UDHR – ie the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women – and HAVE NOT ratified, adopted or signed the rest of the conventions/treaties under UDHR umbrella of the nature relating to the ISA such as, to name a few, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and Convention Against Torture (CAT) !

  2. #2 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 - 11:41 am

    Therefore the only international convention Malaysia has breached in incarcerating RPK under ISA is none other than MSC Bill of Guarantee of Internet freedom!

  3. #3 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 - 11:46 am

    Besides the earlier mentioned ICCPR, ICESCR and CAT, Malaysia has also NOT ratified the other important human rights treaty under umbrella of UDHR – that is the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Malaysia also has not subscribed to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

  4. #4 by biggun on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 - 11:56 am

    Citizen of Malaysia already get fed up with all this, Can Politicians be trusted, when the candidate of the poll win the seat, and became one of the legislator in the parliament, the minority bang the table and shouts, and the majority just sit comfortably with cynical smile, end of session, its game over, and everybody have their tea at the lounge reserve for MP, and the opposition taping shoulder of the ruling members, this is Malaysia’s Politic, what they call it Sendiwara,There is no more government in Malaysia, only AAB himself, and he decide for the future of Malaysia, that’s it. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, NO BODY CAN TOUCH HIM!!!

  5. #5 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 - 12:08 pm

    Malaysian leaders speak on behalf of Bosnians, the Chechens, the Palestinians, Pattani Malays & detainees in Guatanamo Bay because they pride this to be a successful model of a modern Islamic state and therefore a voice for global ummah (undoubtedly) to score points with domestic constitutency.

    Somehow Malaysian leaders are able to distinguish these as “global issues” involving American geopolitical imperalism.

    US’s Al Gore and Condoleezza Rice are criticised for making supportive statements about the reformasi demonstrations on Malaysian streets and on the trial of Anwar Ibrahim because they are considered “local” political issues and hence constitutes the US interference in the internal affairs and politics of another sovereign country, contrary to international norm.

    Regarding apartheid in South Africa which Malaysian leaders oppose, they distinguish it from the NEP because the NEP is supposedly a socio-economic engineering to transfer wealth from haves to haves not, and is not apartheid. Neither is article 153 (Special Privileges) because that is constitutionally mandated “merdeka” social contract by which privileges given to majority race. In apartheid a small minority of white had all privileges to rule over majority of blacks disenfranchised. The non bumiputras here are not ‘disenfranchised’ : their communal interests are supposed to be taken care off by respective communal parties like MCA and MIC. There lies the difference, so Malaysian leaders say.

  6. #6 by k1980 on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 - 1:12 pm

    AAB 2003-2008 Good Riddance
    Islam Hadhari 2003-2008 R.I.P.

  7. #7 by wanderer on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 - 1:32 pm

    Human decency, comes from the heart and not from the mouth.
    Religion can guide you but, does not guaranteed one’s holiness.
    We find a lot of hypocrites in UMNO…great pretenders of Islam.

  8. #8 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 - 2:10 pm

    Power hungered UMNO places personal gains above human rights and human dignities. They are only a bunch of stone-age barbarians.

  9. #9 by Sagaladoola on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 - 4:17 pm

    We are used to all this already in these few years..

    Flip-flopping, Cakap tak Serupa Bikin, Hypocrisy, Double Standards (maybe triple), Pusing-Pusing …

    Oh yeah, that does not mean we can accept these …. In fact, quite sick with it.


  10. #10 by shadow on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 - 7:56 pm

    I don’t belong to any political party. Its my thinking that if the ISA is not abolish now than the same ISA will be used against the many of the BN leaders if PR taken over the government. For heaven sake please rid off ISA. Act now!

  11. #11 by baochingtian on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 - 9:52 pm

    ISA is for implementers who have very low self esteem and of defensive nature due to their lack of confidence in them. In short, it’s for use by leader who is so helpless and so desperate to show performance that they’ve turned defensive games to attacking games.

  12. #12 by OrangRojak on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 - 10:42 pm

    Where’d you get your UN / Malaysia facts Jeffrey?

    And Azly, please, ‘oppressors’? Have you been watching The Life of Brian?

  13. #13 by lopez on Tuesday, 30 September 2008 - 11:26 pm

    for the past 30 years , there are in more ways than one bolihland regime had distort what is good for bolihland people but instead had mislead many people of other nations who do not study geography in the schools as we had done.

    people in the war torn nations are more concern of food shelter and safety.

    we in bolihland are fearful of our future , cultural heritage, educations, job opportunities, language and traditions, religion and spiritual values, and not forgetting quietly being marginalised,

    how far are we …just reckoning

  14. #14 by One4All4One on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 - 12:11 am

    Where do Malaysia stand in the eyes of the world at large, especially in the eyes of those who truly and sincerely subscribe to the principles of democracy, of freedom of speech, of freedom of thoughts, of freedom of creed, of freedom of learning, of freedom of personal enterprise?

    We are living in the great age of knowledge and indeed one of enlightenment.

    However, there are still those who abuse and take advantage of laws and regulations enacted in times of turmoil and confusion for their own end and vested interest, to perpetuate their hold on to power and influence and everything else that comes with it.

    Certainly there is a great deal more true educators and freedom fighters and liberators need to do to work on the minds and habits of the masses so that ignorance and blocked mindsets would be erased. A quantum leap in paradigm shift indeed needs to be effected to awaken the masses to the truths and realities of this great age.

    Indeed the governments of the day in many countries, Malaysia included, have to be represented and helmed by individuals of the highest integrity, knowledgeable, accountable, impartial, and sensitive to the needs and sensitivities of all peoples in their respective nations. Anything short would render their administration ineffective and unworthy of the trust and mandate given by the electorate.

    An enlightened and knowledgeable society deserves an even higher standard of governance and administration. Elected and appointed officials should be of the highest ability and calibre. There should be no room for mediocrity. As such there must be an endless promotion and practice of meritocracy.

    If that is the way forward, then the people have to rise above the old ways and adopt measures which befit current demands.

    Let’s cast aside the evil of suspicion, prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, parochialism, selfishness, etc., and replace them with openness, trust, universalism, and cooperation.

    Then, and only then, would we be able embark on the path to progress and achieve excellence, glory and distinction in all our endeavours.

    Vis a vis the above demands and necessities, it can be seen that the government of the day has failed in its scope of duties. This is so because the electorate have grown increasingly restless, disillusioned and cynical about the state of affairs in the country. If the governance had been successful and effective, there would be a sense of elation, euphoria, satisfaction and relief.

    Something must be amiss. Something must have gone awry. Something must have been overlooked. Something must have been done in the wrong way.

    Until and unless the shortcomings are rectified, Malaysians would continue to question the administration and demand for actions and decisions which they rightly deserve. And they have the absolute right to make that demand, for the government live and run on their votes.

  15. #15 by veddy.lum74 on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 - 9:50 am

    malaysian gomen has now being the most crueled gomen in ASEAN countries!
    Looking at the Myanmar,the Onsan Suci is only ‘detained’ at her own home compound,she still can taste normal food,she cud talk to any journalist or public about her recent situations,or if somebody borrows her a cell-phone,i think she cud call CNN too!

    but the sad,worst,unrational,most idiotic things happen to RPK in Malaysia!

    I thought phucklah once said:i want to hear the truth!

    ok,now RPK is telling the truth,the consequences is:locked behind ISA bars!

    Dont worry,RPK,you have made a big sacrifice,we will remember you,and a huge crowd frm multiple races are behind you to turn the present gomen and draconian laws away!


  16. #16 by veddy.lum74 on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 - 10:09 am

    ISA basically is good,e.g. if Osama b Ladin or his followers,or talibans coming to hide in Malaysia,we can nab them by ISA,but these UMNO warlords are using ISA to detain their enemies by whims and fancies!

    On the other hand,Hadhari does has a meaning! Had Hari=limited days=days are numbered!

    day before yesterday,accidently i watched a good programme on rtm 1,an imam from Italy strongly encouraged inter-faith religion dialogues!

    i hope those buggers and warlords from several malay parties consider the imam’s statement:it is good for the nation!Those warlords are Hamidi(UMNO),Salahudin(PAS),Zulkifli(PKR)!

  17. #17 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 - 4:30 pm

    OrangRojak , perhaps you wish to refer to this link –


  18. #18 by OrangRojak on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 - 7:06 pm

    Thanks for the URL Jeffrey, interesting. Only a pity that useful information like that should be tucked away in a little-known corner of the Web somewhere. It would be nice to see decisions taken with regard to UN Declarations and Treaties unambiguously stated as a matter of public policy somewhere on a gov.my website.

  19. #19 by whattheheckman on Thursday, 2 October 2008 - 3:15 pm

    MCA means Mesti Cari Angpow

    UMNO means You Must Not Oppose

    MIC means Meet In Court

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