Irene’s triumph after 13-year ordeal – two measures to give full meaning

Irene Fernandez has finally triumphed and been vindicated after a 13-year ordeal with the Sword of Damocles of a disenfranchising prison sentence hanging over her head for doing her duty to uphold truth and justice – the publication of the memorandum “Abuse, Torture and Dehumanised Conditions of Migrant Workers in Detention Centres” in 1995.

I had highlighted Irene’s expose of the torture, ill-treatment and deaths in the immigrant detention centres.

Instead of thanking her for revealing the truth of the shocking conditions in the detention centres, Irene was arrested and prosecuted under Section 8A (1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 for publishing “false news”.

Irene’s acquittal is not the result of any change of heart or reformist impulse in the system of justice, whether involving the Attorney-General’s Chambers or the judiciary, but because of sheer incompetence and ineptitude in the system of justice after a grave miscarriage of justice in the charging of Irene 13 years ago.

At least two things must be accomplished to give full meaning to Irene’s final triumph for her fortitude and sacrifice after a 13-year ordeal, viz:

• Repeal “false news” offence of the Printing Presses and Publications Act, which had been used to persecute and victimise advocates of justice, freedom and human rights – Penang Chief Minister and DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng was one such victim; and

• Humane treatment to migrant workers.

  1. #1 by mata_kucing on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 9:02 am

    In a truly democratic country, this case would have been thrown out of the window long ago due to the incompetence of the judiciary and obvious trumped up charges. The whole scenario is like a comedy show. I just wish that there are more courageous and heroic Malaysians like Irene Fernandez.

  2. #2 by chui lim on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 9:33 am

    Irene’s sacrifice for the truth and justice represents the best of Malaysia while the incompetence and abuse of the justice system and the repressive laws on freedom of the media represents the worst of Malaysia

  3. #3 by madmix on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 9:44 am

    Unfortunately, in her acquittal which was a TKO, no one had declared the original charges to be malicious and false to begin with ..

  4. #4 by monsterball on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 9:45 am

    Irene Fernandez had to endure 13 years…to see justice.
    Why take 13 years….making life difficult for her?
    Anyway… good news and all decent Malaysians sincerely feel happy….she is finally free….to do as she likes.
    I believe….this will be the beginning of a new Irene Fernandez..inspired to contribute her life…to free Malaysians….from an unfair ….and unjust government.

  5. #5 by melurian on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 9:50 am

    what so happy about the acquital, she was acquitted coz the prosecution is stupid not enuf evidence to charge her due to documents lost, not becoz the polis force the bangla immigrant to fellate was true. that means fernandez is still deemed telling lies here. just like rb (and the utk in coming trials) released not becoz they are innocent but the prosecutions are idiots.

    can’t you differentiate justice and stupidity??

  6. #6 by melurian on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 9:59 am

    imagine rpk was released becoz the judge cited “not enuf evidence, no proofs” rather than “I viewed the evidence/article and made the accused standing his defense, I found it is absolutely baseless in prosecution that the accused is malicious, seditious and threat to the country.”

    if irene is freed, can you press the botak (or relevant ministry) to press charge against the cops/culprits? do you mean the cops went free also? so who’s telling the truth here? is it maltreated immigrants in detention camp such as forcing them to have “cockmeat sandwich” legal ?? then why this is an issue at the first place??

  7. #7 by OrangRojak on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 10:01 am

    Tenaganita has the most detailed article on the judgement that I could find:

    I think LKS has it right – no work of justice this, just buffoons admitting they can’t even oppress their own people competently.

    Congratulations to Ms Fernandez – 13 years of threat is not comedy, it’s a national tragedy.

  8. #8 by beck on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 10:02 am

    It has been gross frustrations that abuse after abuse in this country called Malaysia hiding behind Laws and Interpreting it to allow access to the Present Powers to make all sorts of charges, arrests that has been mind boggling to many in this country. I pray, with the Almighty God in control, who Arms are not short, will surely allow Exposure of the abuses that has been seen in Irene’s case and open the eyes of those who do not see, allow perfect hearing to those who has not heard. And the Hearts of Men, whose hearts has been of stone, will be turned into Hearts of Flesh that will rise up and remove such Gross Injustice and
    Misappropriation of Law. I pray too, though its true that men can only do that much to cause of a change, yet It is thru the Long Arms of God that will make the Change in His Time. And , Now is the Time, I pray always.

  9. #9 by son of perpaduan on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 10:03 am

    Is not fair to Irene Fernandez to endure 13 years of painful moment. Sue the goverment!! Compensate her like what the goverment compensate the former judges.

  10. #10 by melurian on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 10:43 am

    i dare irene to reject this kind of acquittal. i dare her to challenge court to acquit her becoz she’s telling the truth. else it’s like balik batu sembunyi tangan like that…..

  11. #11 by All For The Road on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 10:49 am

    In Irene Fernandez own words after winning her appeal on a charge for publishing ‘false news’, TRUTH and JUSTICE finally prevailed in the end! It’s better late than never. To wait for 13 miserable years for her questionable case to be shot down and disposed of is something of a mental torture and nightmare to her. Fortunately she has the staying power, commitment, determination and courage to fight her unjust case to the very end and what a happy and joyous ending it was to her, her family, Tenaganita and loyal supporters.

    Irene Fernandez, as Tenaganita director, has vowed after her court victory that she would continue to work and fight for the rights of detainees and immigrants. We wish her all the best and good luck in her future endeavours!

  12. #12 by taikohtai on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 10:52 am

    13 years ago…… it was during the time of none other than TDM then. So what else is new? TDM now trying his best to make an unwanted and unwelcomed comeback, so we could all be back to square one.
    So much for the Malaysian ‘JUDICURI’ – gambling away with the rakyats’ fate and stealing their rights!

  13. #13 by Damocles on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 10:59 am

    Uncle Lim, judging from the incompetence that is so prevalent in this country, even among some ministers, I wonder whether those who said that they are products, especially of ivy league universities, actually qualify from those universities.
    It would not be a bad idea to run a check on them to ensure that their degrees are not obtained form the paper mills!

  14. #14 by madmix on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 11:03 am

    The stupidity and arrogance of the police chiefs know no bounds:
    PUTRAJAYA: Concerned that more people are resorting to ending their lives at the first sign of problems, police are considering enforcing the law on attempted suicide as a form of deterrence.

    Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said, while Section 309 of the Penal Code stated that anyone guilty of attempted suicide could face imprisonment of up to a year or fined or both, police had not been enforcing it.

    Why do people attempt suicide? for fun, to taunt the police?. They are usually depressed and have a mountain of problems. Charging them for attempted suicide is CRUELTY; this will only add to their isery and depression.

  15. #15 by passerby on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 11:45 am

    This is an extreme case of abuse of power with evil intention to harass an innocent people and should not be let off without punishment of the culprit or culprits. Let us hope that PR will demand that the culprit or culprits be punished to prevent any future abuse of power.

  16. #16 by taiking on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 11:46 am

    Yes truth will prevail. We all know that. And umno is doomed and will crumble. That too is a fact which we all know is set in stone. What we see taking place today with irene likewise is a play of inescapable fact and truth. So Cheers everyone. Cheers. Irene had to suffer the misfortune of wrongful prosecution and a protracted one. That only makes victory sweeter for her and the truth louder for the rest of us. The next glass raised today, be it wine, jasmine or orange juice, let it be for the king, for irene, and for a better malaysia. SO YUM SENG MALAYSIA.

  17. #17 by i_love_malaysia on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 12:02 pm

    13 may be is the lucky no. to AAB and many others, but it shows the incompetency of the judiciary whether under TDM or AAB, from the long process before gaining freedom, we can conclude that there’s evil intention on the AG & govt part to delay the case and to “teach” Malaysian to better keep our mouth shut so not to be involved in any court case which will keep us & people around us in tension mode all the times!!! I think this is the best Christmas present that Irene & her family and loved ones ever received!!!

  18. #18 by HJ Angus on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 12:10 pm

    This is a case of the state trying to use its machinery to suppress an ordinary citizen who dared to expose misdeeds.
    Irene is Malaysia’s own Rosa Parks.

  19. #19 by i_love_malaysia on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 12:16 pm

    It will be a long long road before we see the BN govt treating the migrant workers humanely. E.g. YB Teresa complaint of the kind of food served to ISA detainees was only fit for dog!!!
    Not forgetting that other races other than the Supreme race are treated at times worst than the migrant workers as the migrant workers can go back to their homes, there’s no way out for other races in Malaysia!!!

  20. #20 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 12:39 pm

    How about a big ex-gratia payment for the injustice?

  21. #21 by chris chong on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 1:23 pm

    Uncle lim, pls continue to follow up the eurocopter report.


  22. #22 by Loh on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 3:51 pm

    Sorry, off-topic

    ///Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra gave out one million citizenships to non-Malays without any question, he said. “If they want to revoke Malay rights, we too want to revoke the rights given to them,” he said.///—TDM

    One would not be surprised to hear the above demand if it was made by an uneducated Malay manual worker who had been brainwashed by UMNO racist politicians into believing that Malays and non-Malays are born enemies who can never coexist let alone have common destiny as fellow citizens of a nation. But that was said by a person who claims himself the leader of the Muslim world and who was PM of Malaysia for over two decades. What is the philosophy that guides his action?

    The above statement is the results of vengeful thinking about an eye for an eye, without a thought about the larger picture of the issue involved. Were the citizenships given to the one million non-Malays a liability to the country? Have the people not been law-abiding after receiving their citizenships? Would a fair minded person consider the persons having been awarded citizenships an asset to the nation? The million new citizens of Malaysia in 1957 have not organized a revolt against the federal government and they did not engineer the May 13 which has been proven to be from a certain organized sector not linked to non-Malays. Thus revoking citizenship right of the persons concerned is not justified in the interest of the nation. It would only satisfy the private urge of a person to cause pain to others without benefits in return. The purpose would be to prove a point that persons who chose retaining their language, culture and be called the race linked to their ancestor should pay a price. The punishment was required to assuage the feeling of guilty conscience of being reminded that he had severed his ties with his ancestor to claim to be Malay.

    Nobody ever said about revoking Malay rights as provided in the constitution. The Malay and non-Malays have equal rights. The special assistance considered necessarily to be provided to the Malays was euphemistically known as special privileges. That too was initially for 15 years, and subject to review. The government should review the requirements initially at 15 years, and to decide to abolish or extend it for future review. That was not done in 1972, but it removed the provision for review; a unilateral act of revoking a contract.

    It should be recalled that Tunku and leaders of MCA and MIC had agreed among themselves on the citizenship rights of non-Malays and Malays, as well as the provision of Article 153 before they make a joint representation to obtain independence for Malaya from the British. It is incorrect to choose arbitrarily any two issues that appear to be benefiting opposite parties and claim that they represented a trade off between the parties concerned. It was disrespectful to not only Tunku but other leaders who contributed to Malaya independence to question the agreement they reached while working for Independence. The statement above was calculated to show that Tunku was too kind, or too weak and unable to bully non-Malays with the implication that he was not a hero to the Malay race. That would serve to relegate the position of Tunku in Malaysian history. We know who the intended beneficiary would be!

    If the UMNO leaders now choose to justify the continuation of the unjust policies by trying to revoke citizenships from those who obtained it in 1957, then they have cunningly open up a new issue which can never be resolved. Obviously, those who gained the citizenship are too old to even bother about the right to abode, and most others have died. But the government would say that they are still hunting down on the last few persons who ought to have the citizenships revoked, and hence the bullying policies continue. This is just like the refusal by the government to determine on a scientific basis the actual achievement Malays have attained in the ownership of equity share capital of corporate sector. That is a clear target of achievement which should tell the government when it should end NEP. They are not only moving the goal pole as they wish, they add new conditions to be fulfilled.

    UMNO cannot be trusted to honour an agreement. They should be removed from power.

  23. #23 by Mr Smith on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 4:13 pm

    What justice can we talk about when the courts are the beck and call of UMNO – to intimidate, persecute, humiliate and inconvenience the rakyat?
    Even in the Dewan Rakyat we see the blatant abuse of power of the Speaker. See the ease with with they suspend Opposition members at their whims and fancies.
    When the Speaker, AG, Police and judges act as UMNO hound dogs, what hope is there left for the commoner.

  24. #24 by i_love_malaysia on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 4:20 pm

    UMNO & BN are political parties that can come and go, unless they refuse to do so and go against the constitution. Anyway, I’m counting down to the next GE, where I can vote the useless BN out of power and to see next Obama in Malaysia!!!

  25. #25 by Yee Siew Wah on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 4:20 pm

    What do you expect from Bolehland kangaroo court. The whole judiciary system stinks to say the least. It will be going to be worst as the so-called new CJ takes over.

  26. #26 by Richardqed on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 5:07 pm

    “i dare irene to reject this kind of acquittal. i dare her to challenge court to acquit her becoz she’s telling the truth. else it’s like balik batu sembunyi tangan like that…..” — melurian

    Melurian, stop talking BS, and please save your “dare” for the C4 man instead.

  27. #27 by waterfrontcoolie on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 5:16 pm

    We must not do what they are doing just to let out our frustrations!
    By judging the new CJ without any kind of evidence is certainly hitting below the belt. In the case of Irene, we all should be mindful that truth and delayed justice finally prevail. This change albeit slow has at last come true. this we should appreciate. Do remember, at times we are dealing with emotions that see no logic nor humanitarian value in their actions.
    But if you do believe that this world is created by some Almighty Force, then do believe that days of reckoning will come to pass for which all actions will have to be accounted for! i hope this does make many frustrated souls have more peaceful nights!

  28. #28 by rubini on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 6:05 pm

    Power To The Truth. No one can corrupt the truth. Power To the People.No matter how long u suppres the people, the people will eventually win.

  29. #29 by Samuel Goh Kim Eng on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 - 7:34 pm


    Let’s pray that no court is treated like a playground
    Where people are constantly placed on a merrygoround
    Simply because important documents are sometimes not found
    And required involved personnel are often not around

    (C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng – 241108
    Mon. 24th Nov. 2008.

  30. #30 by shortie kiasu on Thursday, 27 November 2008 - 8:07 pm

    The whole episode made us sick! The delay, the inefficiency, the abuse of the process is so galringly exposed.

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