Launch of Suaram Human Rights Overview 2014: A New Low for Human Rights Under Najib’s Administration

SUARAM is pleased to launch its 2014 Human Rights Overview of Malaysia today in conjunction with the International Human Rights Day, which falls on December 10. The overview can be downloaded here. (please right click on link and select “save link as”)



HR overview cover



The Overview concludes that the year 2014 represents a new low for human rights in Malaysia under Najib’s administration, characterized by the increased repression on freedom of expression, assembly and association, detention without trial back into business as usual, free falling of international rankings on trafficking of persons and worst country for migrant workers and epitomized by the prime minister’s infamous about-turn decision on his public promises to repeal the Sedition Act at the UMNO General Assembly.

SUARAM wishes to highlight six major trends developed in 2014 that are worrying and warrant immediate actions from the government and the general public to halt their development.

Firstly, the increase of racial and religious hate speech by right wing groups such as Perkasa and Isma. Such incitements are no longer only coming from the government or ruling parties’ politicians. Despite their incitement of hatred and violence, these non-state actors have enjoyed a free reign in threatening and intimidating other racial and religious minorities with almost total impunity under Najib’s administration. This is in stark contradiction to the moderation that has been preached by the prime minister at international high profile meetings. Suaram warns that if no action is taken to halt such development by the government, such trends will not only undermine freedom of religion and racial equality, but will eventually go out of hand and destroy the social fabric of the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society of Malaysia.

Secondly, with prime minister Najib Razak caved in to the right wing groups, Sedition Act has been invoked arbitrarily to investigate or charge or convict 44 individuals in 2014 who were allegedly challenged the monarchy, Islam, the Malay special positions, the government and the judiciary when they merely exercising their right to freedom of expression. The chilling effects of the Sedition Act have harmed freedom of expression, which is crucial for a functioning democracy.


Thirdly, 2014 saw the return of detention without trial in full force, following the introduction of the Security Offences (Special Preventive Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) and the Prevention of Crime (Amendment) Act 2013 (POCA), essentially replacing the abolished Internal Security Act 1960 and the Emergency (Public order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969. In 2014, through to November, 31 people have been detained under SOSMA, bringing the total to 146 since SOSMA came into force. Another 116 were reportedly detained without trial under POCA in the first month of POCA came into force in April 2014 while no official figures was given by the government on those detained under the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985. More injustice is expected to take place under detention without trial in the coming years.

Fourthly, the Malaysian police continued to operate with little oversight with the continued resistance of the government in establishing the Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC). To make matter worse, even the ineffective Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) was without chairperson and commissioners between April and November 2014, effectively rendered the commission a defunct institution. Meanwhile, 13 cases of death in police custody were reported in the year through November, a figure similar as in 2013 despite the announcement of establishing of coroner’s court in every state by the de facto law minister Nancy Shukri in April. The institutional reform of the police force introduced under Najib’s administration has thus far failed to hold the police force accountable for corruption and abuse of power.

Fifthly, there have been increased attacks on the right to freedom of association of civil society and opposition parties, leading to the shrinking space and environment for organizing dissent. The intimidation launched by the Home Ministry and the Registrar of Society on the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the UPR Process (COMANGO), Negara-ku, Sarawak Association for Peoples’ Aspiration (SAPA), Sisters in Islam (SIS) in 2014 is a continuation of such trend of intimidation of Bersih 2.0 and Suaram in 2013.


Finally, 2014 is a disastrous year for non-citizen in Malaysia as well. Refugees, migrant workers, and victims of trafficking continued to be treated terribly, a fact which was highlighted in Malaysia drop in ranking in the US State Department’s Annual “Trafficking in Persons” Report to tier three and its poor showing in the “Global Rights Index: The World’s Worst Countries for Workers,” where Malaysia was ranked alongside Laos, Cambodia, Qatar, North Korea, and Zimbabwe.

Suaram urges the government to take immediate actions in stopping and reversing the above six major trends of human rights violations. This should include, but not limited to, a thorough and comprehensive law reform of all outdated legislations; legislate the necessary law such as freedom of information law, anti-torture law and refugee law; ratify all major international human rights treaties; establish the necessary independent institutions such as the Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission and Equality Commission; put in place a National Human Rights Action Plan; carry out nation-wide human rights education program; etc.

Suaram also calls on the silent majority of fellow Malaysians who love peace and harmony, who cherish human dignity and fundamental liberties, who value democracy, who treasure the richness of multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society, to rise up and speak out against human rights violations. The silent majority cannot afford to sit idle anymore while watching the development of our beloved country being held ransom by a small group of extremists.

For inquiry, please contact:
Mr. Yap Swee Seng, Executive Director, tel: +60 12 2015272 or email: [email protected]
Ms. Serene Lim, Documentation and Monitoring Coordinator, tel: +60 12 5477989 or email: [email protected]

Download Suaram Human Rights Overview 2014
(please right click on link and select “save link as”)