33 YEARS AFTER OPERATION LALANG – WILL MAHATHIR FINALLY APOLOGISE?

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 27 October 2020

‘No time for love if they come in the morning

No time to show fear or for tears in the morning

No time for goodbyes, no time to ask why

And the wail of the children is the cry of the morning’

(Adapted by Anne Munro-Kua from Jack Warshaw)

Continue reading “33 YEARS AFTER OPERATION LALANG – WILL MAHATHIR FINALLY APOLOGISE?”

AG Decision the Right Way Forward against Detention without Trial

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) welcomes the decision by the Attorney General to adhere to the findings of the High Court on the issue of Section 13 of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA).

Continue reading “AG Decision the Right Way Forward against Detention without Trial”

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)

Human Rights Day in Troubled Times

For Immediate Release
10 December 2016

Human Rights Day in Troubled Times

Human Rights Day that falls on the 10th December 2016 is supposed to be a day of celebration where people from around the world celebrate human rights. While the spirit of solidarity and hope remains strong within and without Malaysia, the situation pertaining to human rights in Malaysia have brought morale of all Malaysians to a new low.

Detention without Trial

The detention of Maria Chin Abdullah, Siti Noor Aishah, Azmi Nur Jalani, R. Sri Sanjeevan and many others made it clear that the spectre of Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) has not left Malaysia. While ISA has been repealed for years, the mannerism where detention without trial is a ‘must have’ tool adopted by the Royal Malaysian Police and the Malaysian Government has not changed. Draconian laws that were supposedly meant for counter-terrorism efforts have been and will continue to be abused by those in power for their benefit.

The Deputy Prime Minister himself has unabashedly informed the Malaysian people that 37 individuals from the Immigration Department of Malaysia were detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012. Of the 37 detained, only 4 had a chance to stand trial in court while 33 of them were subsequently rearrested and detained under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959. Dozens remain in custody till this day. Such practice does not protect Malaysian from further criminal acts and violence. Such practices only serve to hide the hidden hands that have had a role in these injustices and penalize the innocents.

Torture in Detention

The Deputy Minister for Home Affairs and the Inspector-General of Police continues with the perverse defence that the treatment received by Maria Chin Abdullah was no different from the treatment received by any other detainees as the Royal Malaysian Police only acted in line with their Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Perhaps the good minister and the well learned police chief wilfully chose to forget that compliance does not absolve the government of the crime of committing torture.

The claims that it the treatment experienced by Maria Chin Abdullah fully complied with SOP only serve as an evidence that torture is not an exception to the norm. The consistent statement and claims put forward by both the Minister and the Inspector-General of Police only proves and substantiate the past allegations that torture is systematically used against those detained under SOSMA and POCA.

Persecution of Student Activists

The disciplinary proceeding against student activists Anis Syafiqah, Luqman Nul Haqim, Luqman Hakim and Suhail Wan Azahar was heard on the eve of Human Rights Day. Their defence was swept aside and they were all found ‘guilty’ for jeopardizing University Malaya’s reputation, for organizing a rally and for causing public unrest and damage to public property.

The unfounded and malicious charges against the University Malaya 4 is only exacerbated by the unprofessional manner in which the disciplinary board heard the disciplinary proceeding. The notion of fair trial and natural justice was nowhere to be found with the allegations put forward against the students being altered and changed at a whim. The embarrassing display by University of Malaya only render themselves guilty of jeopardizing the reputation of the University and position the University as a key player of human rights violations against student and youth.

Indigenous Peoples Rights

Despite long year of campaign and small victories along the way, violation of indigenous peoples’ rights continues with absolute impunity. The communities’ fight for survival and human rights was not met with understanding and acceptance but challenged with violence and threats by the Federal and State government.

The government’s insistence on allowing the logging operation to continue with no plans for remedy would only set the indigenous community on the path to extinction. With such callous response, it is inevitable that our indigenous friends would gradually lose their homes, their livelihood and eventually their heritage and identity. Such loss would only be made worse with Malaysia losing its last few vestige of natural heritage with the culling of the forest.

Freedom of Expression and Assembly

Reflecting on the long year of repression, the first right that was silenced in this campaign of repression was our right to express ourselves and assemble peacefully. Persecution of vocal critics to the arrest and detention of individuals expressing their concern for human rights and democracy threatened to destroy the small democratic space we have left.

Imposing fine is no longer satisfactory. Only prison sentence seems to be enough the quell the Government of Malaysia’s need for retribution against those who were perceived as enemy of the state. Unfortunately, even the prosecution and punishment of critics in public space is no longer enough. The ire of the government now turns to every day Malaysian who voice their discontent and worries online. What freedom do Malaysians’ have when a Facebook comment can now put us in shackles?

The Fight Continues

In these troubled times, Malaysians need to remember that the night is the darkest hour is just before dawn. The fight for human rights and better Malaysia cannot be stopped and will only continue to grow. All Malaysians can do and all we can do is to stand together in solidarity with our friends in need and continue to march on against repression.

SUARAM reiterate our dedication to the human rights cause of Malaysia and call on all Malaysian to stand together in our fight for human rights and democracy. SUARAM also calls upon the Malaysian government to re-examine its callous stance on human rights and adopt policies that genuinely cares for Malaysians’ welfare. Failure to do so would only doom us all for all of us have no other home but Malaysia.

Salam Perjuangan!

In solidarity,
Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
SUARAM

DETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL – MALAYSIA’S BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO TRANSFORMATION

DETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL – MALAYSIA’S BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO TRANSFORMATION

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 23 November 2016

The spurious manner in which the Najib government has detained Chair of Bersih Maria Chin without trial under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, SOSMA highlights a reality that Malaysians should be aware of – any national “visions of grandeur” by the national leaders while detention without trial exists are purely delusional…

Just as Dr Mahathir’s ‘Vision 2020’ was bound to fail while he clung on to the ISA, Prime Minister’s ‘Transformation 2050’ will meet a similar fate as long as he clings to the need for detention without trial to shut up his critics. The simple reality is: A developed (“transformed”) nation upholds a culture of the rule of law while banana republics rely on detention without trial to silence detractors to their regimes.

Despite the abolition of the ISA, detention without trial still exists in the form of SOSMA, POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015) and POCA (Prevention of Crime Act 1959), with security provisions that are broad and vague and that will result in continuation of detention without charge and denial of basic rights. Also, the BN government has shown that its capacity for vindictive prosecution is undiminished.

When the ISA was enacted in 1960, the government justified it by saying it would only be used against the “communists”. Liberals therefore concluded that they would not be affected. However, the mass detentions, such as those of Operation Lalang, 1987 demonstrated that no-one was exempt from the clutches of the ISA.  The new “anti-terrorism” laws such as SOSMA have a familiar sense of deja vu about them. The detention of Maria Chin is yet another example that these detention without  trial laws will not only be used against alleged terrorists but also against “inconvenient truth-tellers”.

Draconian laws have failed to nail alleged terrorists

It is an embarrassing record of the BN government and the security forces that since 1960, more than 10,000 Malaysians had been incarcerated under the ISA, though as far as we know, not one of these were exposed as “international terrorists”. On the other hand, there have been at least four Malaysians arrested (two in Syria) or killed abroad (in Indonesia) for alleged involvement in international terrorism but none of them (as far as we know) had ever been detained under the ISA for being threats to national security. That says a lot about the government’s resolve to fight terrorism!

But for all the government’s alacrity in arresting and detaining alleged “security threats” such as Maria Chin, it has been completely hopeless against local “terrorists” who pollute our precious water sources – the culprits who dumped toxic solvents into our water sources and posing a serious threat to our health. Has anyone been arrested and charged for these criminal acts? Who gave licences to factories which are situated so precariously close to our precious water sources? Has anyone been arrested and charged for such negligence and/or corruption? It is clear we are not going to attain “Transformation 2050” or simply enjoy a safe and healthy existence while the police and enforcement agencies do not know their priorities.

BN’s vindictiveness still evident

The ISA was a convenient weapon for the Alliance/ BN government to deal with its political opponents. This was seen at its most blatant form when practically the whole Labour Party leadership was detained under the ISA just before the fateful 1969 general elections. The shock effect of Operation Lalang in 1987 was Dr Mahathir’s attempt to create a climate of fear which set the scene for the timely assault on the Judiciary when it was about to decide on the UMNO Team B challenge in the courts. The police and Special Branch were compromised in this Team A scheme to fix critics of the government.

Operation Lalang bore the mark of Dr. Mahathir’s autocracy and vindictiveness – the rule of law could be flouted in such a cynical way that all his critics and dissidents across the Malaysian political spectrum were hauled in that dragnet. It was payback time for me for writing critical articles and books during the false spring of the 1980s. It was the same for the other detainees who had expressed dissident views.

Above all, it exposed the BN’s capacity for vindictiveness in all its nakedness – there was no regard for the rule of law, democracy and human rights. The detention without trial of Maria Chin shows that this proclivity for vindictiveness is the hallmark of banana republics, not the expected behavior of a progressive democratic society.

No sign of remorse by BN or Dr. Mahathir

If the BN government expects congratulations for repealing the ISA, then that is an admission that the ISA was a draconian and bad law. However, up to now, we haven’t heard any sign of remorse from the BN government for taking away the precious freedom of more than 10,000 Malaysians since 1960. And nearly 30 years after Operation Lalang was unleashed by then Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir, he has not found any ounce of remorse in his body to apologise to the 106 Malaysians whose freedom he stole.

And that, after all, is what sets him and the present Prime Minister far apart from statesmen such as Mandela who demonstrated a complete absence of vindictiveness in his dealings with his political opponents and honoured the rule of law and democracy.

Thus, nearly 60 years after independence, we do not seem to have progressed very far beyond banana republicanism. We are not impressed by political slogans of “Transformation This and Transformation That”. Real reform must involve among other things, the total abolition of detention without trial; the independence of the judiciary, civil service and the police force; democracy and the primacy of the rule of law, NOT rule by law.

If the government is serious about real transformation, it can start by giving Maria Chin her precious freedom and dismantling the entire detention without trial industry…