GETTING THE FACTS RIGHT ON OPS LALANG

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser, 25 Jan 2018

Testifying at the hearing of Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah’s defamation suit against Sungai Besar Umno division chief Jamal Md Yunos, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (DSAI), the former Education Minister during Ops Lalang has claimed that the infamous Operasi Lalang resulted from the discord between MCA Youth and Umno Youth. At a stroke, he placed the responsibility on the UMNO Youth leader, Najib at the time and thus absolved both himself, the then Education Minister and Dr Mahathir, the then PM.

Those who respect the importance of truth in historical accounts, no matter how distasteful it may be, begin with discerning accurate facts and the related sequence of events. In this process, for facts before the advent of Google, Malaysians can be assisted by my record of the events in my 1992 title, ‘Malaysian Political Realities’. In the Introduction to my book, Leader of the Opposition Lim Kit Siang wrote:

“Dr Kua Kia Soong has aptly chosen the title of his book ‘Malaysian Political realities’…In Malaysia, there is not only an industry to rewrite history but a very high-powered conspiracy to daily distort and suppress reality through the government monopoly and control of the electronic and printed mass media…The ‘free press’ which the PM, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamed, claims in international forums that Malaysia enjoys, is a press which is only ‘free’ to distort and suppress political realities in Malaysia.”

Contrived controversy between UMNO & MCA, October 1986

The first chapter in my 1992 title is called: ‘History and the Pribumi: Fruitless quest for the unholy grail’, which is a comment on the rather contrived controversy between UMNO and MCA during October 1986. It is important to note the date that the controversy was contrived, namely, October 1986.

In this article, I was at pains to point out that “the issue of whether any community is genuinely ‘pribumi’ or ‘immigrant’ has absolutely no significance to the question of peoples’ rights.” This controversy was by no means the only one orchestrated by UMNO in 1986. There was also the one about the “social contract” created by Datuk Abdullah Ahmad of “Ketuanan Melayu” fame.

Any serious scholar of Malaysian politics will know that all the “racial” controversies in recent Malaysian history including the May 13 incident, have been orchestrated by UMNO. Through all these years, there is no doubt that UMNO Youth has played the role of stormtroopers who carry out the breast beating and gong banging at the behest of their political masters in UMNO. I am sure DSAI is familiar with these “Standard Operating Procedures” within UMNO. The mob which attacked us during the Asia Pacific Conference on East Timor in 1996 was no different. Who should bear the responsibility for that shameful event then? Saifuddin or the UMNO Youth chief at the time Zahid Hamidi or DSAI himself?

Orchestrated controversy in Chinese schools, October 1987

Nevertheless, in Chapter 12 of my book, ‘OCTOBER 1987: The Furore in the Chinese Schools’, it was the Education Minister, namely, DSAI with the connivance of the PM at the time, Dr Mahathir, who made the decision to send non-qualified administrators to the Chinese schools. Whereas the contrived controversy over ‘Pribumi vs Immigrants’ by UMNO Youth and MCA Youth was in October 1986, it was the Chinese schools controversy in October 1987 which caused the Chinese community to protest against the unjust move and which resulted in orchestrated tension that led to Ops Lalang.

The DAP was also in the committee which opposed this unjust and orchestrated move to send unqualified administrators to the Chinese school. I am sure DAP leaders such as Lim Kit Siang will agree with me that it was not the UMNO Youth-MCA Youth spat in 1986 but the Chinese schools issue in October 1987 that led to Ops Lalang.

Certainly, the UMNO Youth leader at the time, Najib Razak was one of the UMNO firebrands who were at the Jalan Raja Muda stadium where racist banners were displayed just before Ops Lalang was launched. But responsibility for sending the unqualified administrators to the Chinese schools rests on DSAI while responsibility for launching the arrests and detention rests squarely on the Home Minister and Prime Minister at the time, Dr Mahathir.

Yes, you can be forgiven but…

Having left UMNO, both DSAI and Dr Mahathir can ask for forgiveness from the victims of Ops Lalang and the Chinese community for orchestrating that racial tension which gave Dr Mahathir the excuse to launch Ops Lalang, the precursor to his assault on the Judiciary.

One thing they must never do is to distort the facts of history. As Noam Chomsky has warned us:

“Younger people who are being indoctrinated into the contemporary system of falsification – they really have to do some research to find out what is the truth…”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau goes even further by saying, “The falsification of history has done more to impede human development than any one thing known to mankind!”

Malaysia: Release Anwar Ibrahim, arbitrarily detained for 1,000 days

FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

and its member organization in Malaysia

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

Joint press release

Paris, Kuala Lumpur, 6 November 2017: The Malaysian government must immediately and unconditionally release former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, FIDH and its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) said today, to mark 1,000 days of Anwar’s latest imprisonment. Anwar, who turned 70 in August, remains incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison, Selangor State.

“Today marks 1,000 days of shame for Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration. Anwar should not have spent a single day in prison and the government has completely ignored UN calls for his release. Anwar must be freed now,” said FIDH President Dimitris Christopoulos.

In an opinion adopted on 1 September 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) deemed Anwar’s detention arbitrary and called for his immediate release and the reinstatement of his political rights.

FIDH and SUARAM also reiterate their call for Malaysian authorities to guarantee Anwar’s rights, including his rights to receive adequate medical care in accordance with relevant international standards.

Anwar is suffering from continuous pain to his right shoulder, which was worsened by a recent car accident that took place during his transfer from Kuala Lumpur General Hospital (KLHG) to Sungai Buloh prison in late September 2017. At KLGH, Anwar received treatment for high blood pressure.

On 16 October 2017, during a prison visit by his family members, Anwar complained of not being able to move his right shoulder and perform basic functions like writing without suffering acute pain. Orthopedic specialists recommended that Anwar undergo a shoulder replacement surgery due to the tear in his shoulder rotator cuff. However, the prison’s medical facility in ill-equipped to perform such surgery and prison authorities have denied Anwar’s requests to receive surgery outside of the prison.

Rule 24 of the United Nations (UN) Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (also known as the ‘Nelson Mandela Rules’) states that prisoners “should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community.” Rule 27 stipulates that “prisons shall ensure prompt access to medical attention in urgent cases” and that “prisoners who require specialized treatment or surgery shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals.”

“The Malaysian authorities’ ongoing denial of Anwar’s right to receive adequate medical treatment while he is being arbitrarily detained is unconscionable. Prisoners have rights and Anwar should not be subjected to physical suffering that may amount to torture or ill-treatment,” said SUARAM Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy.

Background

Anwar Ibrahim has been detained since 10 February 2015, when the Federal Court in Putrajaya upheld the Court of Appeals’ decision to convict Anwar on charges of sodomy (Article 377 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to five years in prison. FIDH observed both the Court of Appeals and the Federal Court hearings for Anwar and found that the proceedings failed to meet international standards for fair trials.

On 18 January 2017, the Court of Appeals ruled that Anwar has standing to petition the Federal Court to determine if he has the constitutional right to challenge the Pardons Board’s decision to reject his request for clemency. A date for the case to be heard in the Federal Court has not been set.

Anwar’s family filed a petition for a royal pardon to the Malaysian King on 24 February 2015. The request was rejected by the Pardons Board, which advises the King on candidates for clemency, on 16 March 2015. On 24 June 2015, Anwar and his family filed a legal challenge against the Pardons Board’s decision. On 15 July 2016, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed Anwar’s challenge.

If his bid to obtain clemency fails, Anwar is expected to be released by mid-2018, as a result of the Malaysian practice to grant a one-third reduction of jail terms to prisoners with good behavior. However, the conviction renders him ineligible to stand as a candidate in the next general election that must be held by 2018.

Press contacts:

FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) – Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)

FIDH: Ms. Audrey Couprie (French, English) – Tel: +33143551412 (Paris)

SUARAM: Mr. Sevan Doraisamy (English, Malay) – Tel: + 60169708370 (Kuala Lumpur)

Malaysia: Free Anwar, arbitrarily imprisoned for two years

FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

and its member organization for Malaysia

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

Joint press release

Malaysia: Free Anwar, arbitrarily imprisoned for two years

Paris, Kuala Lumpur, 10 February 2017: Malaysian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, reinstate his right to run for political office, and award him compensation for the arbitrary deprivation of liberty to which he has been subjected, FIDH and its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) said today.

The two organizations make the call on the two-year anniversary of Anwar’s latest imprisonment. Anwar is currently incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison, Selangor State.

“Anwar’s imprisonment is the result of a long-standing politically motivated persecution that must end today. The only way this ugly stain can be wiped from Malaysia’s human rights record is by immediately releasing Anwar,” said FIDH President Dimitris Christopoulos.

Anwar has been detained since 10 February 2015, when the Federal Court in Putrajaya upheld the Court of Appeals’ decision to convict Anwar on charges of sodomy (Article 377 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to five years in prison. FIDH observed the Court of Appeals and the Federal Court’s hearings of Anwar’s trial and found that the proceedings failed to meet international standards for fair trials.

On 18 January 2017, the Court of Appeals ruled that Anwar has standing to petition the Federal Court to determine if he has the constitutional right to challenge the Pardons Board’s decision to reject his request for clemency. A date for the case to be heard in the Federal Court has not been set.

Anwar’s family filed a petition for a royal pardon to the Malaysian King on 24 February 2015. The request was rejected by the Pardons Board, which advises the King on candidates for clemency, on 16 March 2015. On 24 June 2015, Anwar and his family filed a legal challenge against the Pardons Board’s decision. On 15 July 2016, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed Anwar’s challenge.

If his bid to obtain clemency fails, Anwar is expected to be released by mid-2018, as a result of the Malaysian practice to grant a one-third reduction of jail terms to prisoners with good behavior. However, the conviction renders him ineligible to stand as a candidate in the next general election that must be held by 2018.

In an opinion issued on 1 September 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) deemed Anwar’s detention arbitrary. The UNWGAD called for Anwar’s immediate release and for his political rights to be reinstated.

“The Malaysian government’s ongoing refusal to implement the UN’s ruling that found Anwar’s detention to be arbitrary is deplorable. It’s time for the government to stop ignoring findings from UN human rights mechanisms and immediately release Anwar,” said SUARAM Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy.

As long as Anwar remains incarcerated, FIDH and SUARAM reiterate their call for Malaysian authorities to guarantee him his prisoner rights – including the rights to receive adequate medical care in accordance with relevant international standards.

Press contacts:
FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) – Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)
FIDH: Ms. Audrey Couprie (French, English) – Tel: +33143551412 (Paris)
SUARAM: Mr. Sevan Doraisamy (English, Malay) – Tel: + 60169708370 (Kuala Lumpur)

NEVER LOSE YOUR DIGNITY ANWAR!

NEVER LOSE YOUR DIGNITY ANWAR!
Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 13 Sept 2016

Politicians tend to speak and act out of the bubble they have built around themselves as they pounce on political opportunities that present themselves. It can take their loved ones to see through all that falsehood and hypocrisy. Thus, Anwar’s daughter Nurul Nuha Anwar must be congratulated for demanding that Dr Mahathir Mohamad publicly apologises to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and admit his past transgressions against the opposition leader before he can hope to forge any alliance with Anwar’s coalition. Nurul Nuha said that Dr Mahathir must first own up to the “trumped-up” sodomy and corruption charges against Anwar back in 1998. Bravo!

This is the first thought that comes to the mind of anyone who cares about justice and dignity in this country. And yet, how many politicians in Pakatan Harapan and Civil Society leaders, with the exception of Saari Sungib, have demanded that of Mahathir ever since he headed the “Save Malaysia” Declaration in March 2016?

Sorry is all that you can say, Mahathir

After Mahathir’s attendance in court on September 5 for a case involving Anwar and their token handshake, PH and Parti Pribumi politicians have been falling about themselves hailing this as a historic compromise which spells good times ahead for the Anti-Najib Coalition.

The fact remains that to date, Mahathir has strenuously refused to apologise to Anwar or retract his scurrilous defamation of Anwar’s character since 1998. In September 2005 at a press conference after a human rights conference, the former Prime Minister was quoted as saying: “I cannot have a sodomiser in my Cabinet. Imagine a gay PM – nobody will be safe.”

On 24 Sep 2005, Anwar demanded an apology and damages totaling $26.7 million from former Prime Minister for those scurrilous comments. Mahathir had reiterated his assertion that he’d fired Anwar as his deputy in 1998 because Anwar’s alleged sexual orientation made him unfit for office.

Then, despite the generous gestures shown toward Mahathir by his former detractors, including Anwar after the ‘Save Malaysia’ caper in March 2016, Mahathir has not displayed any remorse for his past record and instead, repeated his defamatory attacks on Anwar’s character when he appeared on Australian TV soon after the ‘Save Malaysia’ Declaration.

Anwar’s letter from prison in June 2016 showed that he was hurt when this “humiliation, sadly did not elicit any response from my trusted colleagues…It’s baffling to note that after working with Pakatan Harapan civil society and my trusted colleagues, he continued to pour scorn and venom against me!”

Thus, if these Pakatan leaders could be forgiven for their “audacious naivete” in working with Mahathir, there was no excuse for their continued alliance with the latter AFTER he repeated his prejudiced comments against Anwar. As to who is calling the shots in the Anti-Najib Coalition, this terse admonition by the Pakatan de facto leader in his letter from prison said it all:

“But I resent the insensitivity in pressuring the president and in particular Nurul Izzah to pay respects to Tun M or attend his functions. You may want to appease him, but to demand such a sacrifice from my family, particularly after the recent scorn is the unkindest cut of all!”

No excuse for being unprincipled

Defence of their de facto Pakatan leader is only part of the equation; even more serious is the abandonment of their principles regarding Anwar’s conviction by the state. Throughout Anwar’s sodomy trials, the Pakatan leaders had maintained that he was a “victim of political conspiracy and fabricated evidence”. When he was sent to jail for the second time, senior opposition parliamentarian Lim Kit Siang said: “It’s a day of infamy. It’s a shocking decision.” The PKR deputy president Azmin Ali labelled Anwar’s jail term “perverse”, an “injustice” and an “absolute disgrace”, while former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenavasan likewise slammed the political conspiracy against Anwar.

Hence by not condemning Mahathir for repeating his scurrilous attacks on Anwar’s character even AFTER the formation of the Anti-Najib Coalition, it exposes the Pakatan leaders’ inconsistent stand on Anwar’s innocence in his political trial.

Who’s sorry now?

The Pakatan leaders can learn a lesson in political consistency, morality and human dignity from Anwar’s daughter today. They should demand an apology from the man who initiated the prosecution of Anwar in the first place when he was Prime Minister. Mahathir should be asked to forthwith withdraw his scurrilous attacks on Anwar. Failure to do so should result in him being booted out of the Anti-Najib Coalition.

And when Mahathir has apologized to Anwar, he can start apologizing to me and the others he incarcerated under Operation Lalang; to Tun Salleh Abas and the other Supreme Court judges he sacked in 1988; and to all Malaysians for the more than 100 billion ringgit he squandered during his term in office.

Real Reformasi!

The reform movement should then be redefined to target not just an individual but the political regime and political economic system that oppresses, divides and exploits the people.  The aim would not only be to call for Najib’s resignation but to change the racist and exploitative regime. Furthermore, reforms should target the neoliberal economic policies that were set in motion by none other than Mahathir in the early Eighties.

Najib has merely made more extreme the structures created by Mahathir to entrench the powers of the Executive, emasculate the democratic institutions and provide the means for private enrichment of the elite in this country. Racist and racial discriminatory policies were also entrenched by Mahathir in the early Eighties and further manipulated by Najib until today.

Firmly stick to your dignity and integrity, Anwar!

Even as you endure the cruelty of the oppressive regime, Anwar, listen not to the forked tongues of your “trusted colleagues” but hark the wise admonition that emanates from the mouth of your daughter Nurul Nuha. Her demand for an apology from Mahathir is backed up by this advice by the great Aristotle:

“The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances.”

INCONSISTENCY OF PAKATAN LEADERS OVER ANWAR’S CONVICTION

INCONSISTENCY OF PAKATAN LEADERS OVER ANWAR’S CONVICTION
Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser, 18 May 2016

I have already pointed out the sheer opportunism of the ‘Save Malaysia’ gambit by some of the Pakatan leaders in their Anti-Najib Coalition with Mahathir (7 Mar 2016) and their vain attempt to justify this move as a “united front” (2 April 2016). My description of this unholy alliance as “an audacious naivete” seems to ring a bell in Anwar’s recent letter from prison when he said: “I can’t help feeling flabbergasted by the simplistic assertions that with Najib’s removal we will be able to usher change towards democratic accountability.”

Anwar’s letter also raises another glaring mistake in this unholy alliance with Mahathir, namely, the gross inconsistency in the stand by these Pakatan leaders on Anwar’s conviction.

Despite the generous gestures shown toward Mahathir by his former detractors, including Anwar, Mahathir has not displayed any remorse for his past record and instead, repeated his scurrilous attacks on Anwar’s character.  Naturally, Anwar was hurt when this “humiliation, sadly did not elicit any response from my trusted colleagues.”

Let this also be a lesson to Anwar for initially falling for this opportunistic gambit: “It’s baffling to note that after working with Pakatan Harapan civil society and my trusted colleagues, he continued to pour scorn and venom against me!”

Thus, if these Pakatan leaders could be forgiven for their “audacious naivete” in working with Mahathir, there was no excuse for their continued alliance with the latter AFTER he repeated his prejudiced comments against Anwar. As to who is calling the shots in the Anti-Najib Coalition, this terse admonition by the Pakatan de facto leader says it all:

“But I resent the insensitivity in pressuring the president and in particular Nurul Izzah to pay respects to Tun M or attend his functions. You may want to appease him, but to demand such a sacrifice from my family, particularly after the recent scorn is the unkindest cut of all!”

No excuse for being unprincipled

Defence of their de facto Pakatan leader is only part of the equation; even more serious is the abandonment of their principles regarding Anwar’s conviction by the state.

Throughout Anwar’s sodomy trials, the Pakatan leaders had maintained that he was a “victim of political conspiracy and fabricated evidence”. When he was sent to jail for the second time, senior opposition parliamentarian Lim Kit Siang said: “It’s a day of infamy. It’s a shocking decision.” The PKR deputy president Azmin Ali labelled Anwar’s jail term “perverse”, an “injustice” and an “absolute disgrace”, while former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenavasan likewise slammed the political conspiracy against Anwar. Amnesty International and other human rights groups have also condemned the charges against Anwar.

Hence by not condemning Mahathir for repeating his scurrilous attacks on Anwar’s character even AFTER the formation of the Anti-Najib Coalition, it exposes the Pakatan leaders’ inconsistent stand on Anwar’s innocence in his political trial.

What do we want and when do we want it?

First, the Pakatan leaders should demand an apology from the man who initiated the prosecution of Anwar in the first place when he was Prime Minister. Mahathir should be asked to forthwith withdraw his scurrilous attacks on Anwar. Failure to do so should result in him being booted out of the Anti-Najib Coalition.

The reform movement should then be redefined to target not just an individual but the political regime and political economic system that oppresses, divides and exploits the people.  The aim would not only be to call for Najib’s resignation but to change the racist and exploitative regime. Furthermore, reforms should target the neoliberal economic policies that were set in motion by none other than Mahathir in the early Eighties.

Najib has merely made more extreme the structures created by Mahathir to entrench the powers of the Executive, emasculate the democratic institutions and provide the means for private enrichment of the elite in this country. Racist and racial discriminatory policies were also entrenched by Mahathir in the early Eighties and further manipulated by Najib until today.

Thus, Anwar’s recent letter from prison should not be brushed aside as “an internal PKR matter”. It stirs up questions surrounding the Malaysian rakyat’s continuing struggle for truth, justice, dignity, consistency, democracy and human rights.