29 YEARS AFTER OPERATION LALANG: TIME FOR DR MAHATHIR TO APOLOGISE TO VICTIMS AND THE NATION

29 YEARS AFTER OPERATION LALANG: TIME FOR DR MAHATHIR TO APOLOGISE TO VICTIMS AND THE NATION

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 27 October 2016

This 29th anniversary of the launch of Operation Lalang is perhaps the best opportunity for Dr Mahathir – if he has indeed become a reformed democrat – to apologise to the former Ops Lalang detainees and to the nation for that dastardly action in 1987 and subsequent assault on the Malaysian Judiciary.

On 27 October 1987, Mahathir’s Government began arresting and detaining without trial a very large number of people: Members of Parliament, politicians, unionists, NGO activists, religious leaders and educationists, including the writer. The official figure was 106 people detained. While the justification given was that this was necessary to defuse the racial tension at the time, Bapa Malaysia, the Tunku put it bluntly:

“UMNO was facing a break-up. The Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s hold on the party appeared critical when election rigging was alleged to have given him a very narrow victory against Tengku Razaleigh. The case alleging irregularities brought by UMNO members was pending in court. If the judgement went against him he would have no choice but to step down. So he had to find a way out of his predicament. A national crisis had to be created to bring UMNO together as a united force to fight a common enemy – and the imaginary enemy in this case was the Chinese community…Overnight, Malaysia has become a Police State…”

In other words, Operation Lalang was a deliberate and cynical move by Dr Mahathir to stay in office. This is a far cry from his recent boast about “never ever been asked to go…unlike the present Prime Minister!”

His subsequent action in sacking the Lord President Tun Salleh Abas and suspending three Supreme Court judges in order to pre-empt the legal challenge to his position in UMNO was unprecedented in the history of Commonwealth countries. The Tribunal’s Report recommending the sacking of Tun Salleh Abas was described by world renowned Geoffrey Robertson QC as “among the most despicable documents in modern legal history…”

Kit Siang on Mahathir, 2014

On 16 Feb 2014, the Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang who was also detained under Ops Lalang likewise called for Mahathir to apologise to all those detained in Operation Lalang under the ISA as he could not shirk responsibility for the dragnet, especially as he was Home Minister at the time:

“Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was reported in the media as denying that he was responsible for the infamous Operation Lalang in 1987 where 106 persons were detained under the draconian detention-without-trial Internal Security Act for him to consolidate political control and power in government, Umno and Barisan Nasional. Nanyang Siang Pau today even quoted Mahathir as disclaiming that he was Home Minister at the time of Operation Lalang, claiming that at the time he was in China and the Home Minister was one ‘Musa’.

Mahathir was talking rubbish. He is not only guilty of selective amnesia when it suits him, as when he told the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Videotape scandal that he could not remember anything about the incidents related to the scandal of the fixing of judicial appointments, he has now shown that he is capable of telling downright lies to disclaim responsibility for the human rights violations perpetrated during his time as Prime Minister and Home Minister.

Mahathir can tell lies without batting an eyelid about the history of his premiership but he cannot change history at his whim and fancy. It is indisputable that Mahathir was the Home Minister during the Operation Lalang crackdown in 1987 and there was no ‘Musa” at the time acting as Home Minister. It is most unworthy and even cowardly of Mahathir to deny that he was responsible for the most infamous violation of human rights in the Operation Lalang ISA crackdown in 1987, made doubly worse by his attempt to even deny that he was Home Minister.”

Show us you are a born-again democrat, Tun

Whether an autocrat who has squandered close to RM100 billion of the nation’s wealth (according to social scientist Barry Wain in ‘Malaysian Maverick’) can get away with impunity is a separate question.

On this 29th anniversary of Operation Lalang, an anniversary during which I still reflect on the 445 days of my life that were cynically stolen by Dr Mahathir, I would hope for some sign of contrition by our supposedly born-again democrat, a democrat who recently signed the Citizens’ Declaration expressing “concern over the deteriorating political, economic and social situation in the country…”

Misinformed Minister or Minister Ignorant of Issues under Portfolio?

For Immediate Release
13 July 2016

SUARAM is surprised by Deputy Home Minister, Nur Jazlan’s views suggesting that Malaysia adopts a ‘soft’ legal approach in addressing the issue of terrorism and shocked by his belief that torture has not been used against alleged terror suspects in Malaysia.

SUARAM has documented countless cases and incidents where torture was used as the primary means to extract a confession or to coerce a false confession from suspects that were arrested on suspicion of committing an offence. The practice of violence also extends to alleged terror suspects and such incidents have been thoroughly documented and reported by SUARAM throughout the years. The families of the victims of torture has also filed their respective report to SUHAKAM and other relevant agencies for investigations.

Further, contrary to the view that Malaysia’s law on terrorism is soft, the provision that enables detention without trial such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, Prevention of Crime Act 1959 and Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 makes it abundantly clear that our laws are not ‘soft’ as described. The application of different type of ‘preventive’ laws on a suspect for the same offence makes the existing laws that are already uncompromising no better than the practices of Guantanamo Bay.

The minister’s ignorance on these issues and the inability to understand the concept of ‘soft’ legal approach against terrorism would suggests that the minister would require further sensitization on the issues under his portfolio. Failure to be up-to-date on these crucial issue may very well put the safety and security of Malaysia in jeopardy.

In Solidarity

Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
SUARAM

Re-establishing ISA through POCA

For Immediate Release
12 July 2016

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) condemns the blatant abuse of police power in Dato’ R. Sri Sanjeevan’s arrests and calls for his immediate release.

Sanjeevan who is well known for his contribution as chairperson of MyWatch was first arrested on 22nd June 2016 following an allegation that he extorted money from a gambling den operator[1]. After the conclusion of his first remand, he has been subjected to a series of chain remand with the courts rejecting the final 3 remand applications put forth by the Royal Malaysian police.

At the conclusion of his 8th remand where the police failed to secure an extension for his remand, he was subjected to detention under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA). He has now begun the first 21 days of remand under POCA. Even before the conclusion of the 21 days, Bukit Aman D7 principal assistant director, Roslee Chik has divulged that the police will detain Sanjeevan under POCA for the full 60 days’ period[2].

If there is sufficient evidence against the said individual, there is no reason why the Royal Malaysian Police needs to subject a person under chain remand or detain a person under POCA as they can forward the case to the attorney general’s chamber for criminal prosecution. The abuse of law and the use of laws that permit detention without trial implies that the police have insufficient evidence to push for prosecute but still seek to punish the individual.

The latest case against Sanjeevan under POCA makes it clear that the Royal Malaysian Police utilize laws such as POCA to allow them to act with absolute impunity and serve as the judge, jury and executioner. Further the use of draconian provisions such as POCA against individuals that has clear history of being a part of civil societies makes it clear that POCA can be and will be abused like Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012. The use of POCA in such a manner effectively reintroduced ISA into the civil and political discourse in Malaysia and this dangerous trend must not be allowed to continue.

In these trying times where Malaysia is subjected to threats from terrorism, the Royal Malaysian Police must not tarnish their image in such a manner as it would weaken public trust and jeopardize the safety and interest of the public. On this note, SUARAM strongly condemn this unconscionable behaviour displayed by the Royal Malaysian Police and demand for Sanjeevan to be released immediately.

SUARAM also reiterate the call for the abolition of all laws permitting detention without trial including but not limited to the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, Prevention of Crime Act 1959, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 and Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) 1984.

In Solidarity
Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
SUARAM

[1] http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/06/23/ngo-chief-under-remand/

[2] http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1892443

CPC Amendments Violates Human Rights

For Immediate Release
6th May 2016

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) is appalled by the proposed amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) that threatened to undermine fundamental rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution of Malaysia and strongly condemn the attempt to restrict human rights and the malicious intent to devastate the ever shrinking democratic space.

The proposed amendments to the CPC that will be tabled in the upcoming Parliament session in May 2016 includes a shocking amendment that would restrict bail for ALL offences under Section 124 of the Penal Code. Section 124 have been invoked countless times over 2015 against civil activists and politicians during the #KitaLawan rallies and subsequently invoked against media such as the Malaysian Insider earlier this year.

Reflecting on the unjustifiable definition of public order and national security by the Government of Malaysia in 2015 and the arrests and investigation of civil activists, politicians and journalists under Section 124 of the Penal Code, it is self-evident that the Government of Malaysia have chosen to crackdown against dissenters through Section 124. The amendment to CPC and the denial of bail for offences under Section 124 would greatly strengthen the ‘bite’ of Section 124 and grant the Government of Malaysia power to imprison, punish and silent dissenters.

If the amendment to the CPC is allowed to pass, the farcical detention of Khairuddin Abu Bakar and Matthias Chang would no longer be an exception. It is likely that such detentions would become the norm with the denial of bail for those charged under Section 124 of the Penal Code. As such, it would not be wrong for us to consider the amendment of the CPC to be no more than an attempt to revive power akin to those granted by the Internal Security Act 1960.

SUARAM call for the Government of Malaysia to retract the introduction of this ludicrous amendment and cease with its blatant attempt to stifle civil liberties and human rights in Malaysia. Failure to put an end to this obtuse move would only put Malaysia one step closer to becoming a failed state and a laughing stock among our international peers.

In Solidarity,
Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
SUARAM

Court says SOSMA not applicable, SUARAM calls it abuse of power! SOSMA must go!

For immediate release
18th November 2015

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) welcomes the decision by the High Court in the case of Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan and his lawyer Matthias Chang.

The decision to reject the charges against Khairuddin Abu Hassan and Matthias Chang is a courageous step forward for the Judiciary of Malaysia. While it is unfortunate that Khairuddin and Matthias would still have to stand trial for the crime of highlighting possible corruption in Malaysia, the small victory is still a welcomed news in these turbulent times.

Further, SUARAM call for the Attorney General to consider dropping the charges filed against Khairuddin and Matthias as the court have rejected their ‘crimes’ as an security offence. Failure to do so would contravene the Attorney General’s statement that prosecution would not take place unless he is certain of 99% chance of conviction. In this case, the decision by the High Court clearly sided the 1% and should thus be an end to this ill-advised misadventure.

On this note, SUARAM reiterate our stance that laws such as SOSMA that permits detention without trial is a draconian and unconscionable law that should not exist and MUST be repealed. The abuse of such laws in Malaysia is not uncommon and the case of Khairuddin and Matthias highlights the danger. Lastly, draconian laws such as SOSMA is not the way to protect the safety and security of Malaysia but the first step in converting Malaysia into a police state. As Malaysians, we must not allow this to be our future!

 
In Solidarity,
Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director