LAY OFF MALAYSIAKINI & BERSIH – GOVT ALREADY FAILED TO DEMONISE SUARAM IN 2012

LAY OFF MALAYSIAKINI & BERSIH – GOVT ALREADY FAILED TO DEMONISE SUARAM IN 2012
By Dr Kua Kia Soong, Director of SUARAM, 7 November 2016

It is pathetic that our beleaguered government should be trying yet again to demonise NGOs including Malaysiakini and Bersih over their receipt of foreign funding, after the humiliation it received when it launched an all-out attack against SUARAM in 2012, in concert with the mainstream media. The government’s vindictive campaign against SUARAM lasted for more than a year and involved no less than six government agencies which were ordered to investigate SUARAM. Everyone could see that it was payback time for SUARAM having complained to the French courts to investigate the suspected commissions in the RM7 billion Scorpene submarine scandal.

Mother of all editorial apologies

The NST was forced to make an unprecedented “mother of all editorial apologies” after we had sued them for defamation, in which they acknowledged their shockingly low standard of journalism and the government’s failed attempt to show that Malaysia’s concerned NGOs are beholden to foreign funders. The NST’s patently gauche assassination attempt was launched on 21 September 2012 when it carried a front page story with the banner headline: “Ploy to destabilize govt”.  A few other NGOs were also implicated, namely Bersih 2.0., CIJ and Merdeka Centre but clearly SUARAM bore the brunt of that assault.

After many months of relentless harassment of SUARAM – orders for documents and calls for interrogation of SUARAM personnel both past and present including one deceased (ie. Fan Yew Teng) – the six government agencies, including CCM, PERKESO and BANK NEGARA were forced to admit that their allegations didn’t have a leg to stand on. In other words, we were found to be squeaky clean and we had not committed any acts to sell out the nation otherwise we would have been done for!

Is MACC investigating Perimekar and Terasasi?

But despite the more than a hundred documents uncovered by the police investigations into the Scorpene scandal in Paris, no government agency including the MACC appears to be investigating all the reports made about Perimekar and Terasasi and the suspected leaks of military secrets and commissions paid in the Scorpene deal. There have already been indictments by the French courts against two officials of DCN, the French state company that sold the Scorpene submarines.

It was ironic and comical that the order to Bank Negara to investigate SUARAM for money laundering should have coincided with the case of money launderers with funds for Sabah UMNO being caught with RM40 million by the Hong Kong police. We haven’t heard any more about the investigations into this.

Guess who’s been fraternizing with Soros?

The government officials’ “foreign plot” allegation in 2012 was also blown up in their faces when there were subsequent exposes of Dr. Mahathir and Prime Minister Najib’s cosying up to George Soros. First, it was revealed that Prime Minister Najib Razak had a private meeting with billionaire financier George Soros at the luxury Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, New York on Sept 27, 2010 when he attended the UN General Assembly in New York.

At the time, former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had also joined the chorus, accusing NGOs of working with Soros to engineer a regime change. Mahathir had frequently accused Soros of being a “rogue currency trader” even though when he was prime minister, Malaysia’s Bank Negara was known as a rogue central bank for similarly dabbling in high-risk currency speculation with Malaysian taxpayers’ money. After losing some RM5.7 billion of our money to currency speculators including Soros in the early 1990s, Mahathir called him a “moron”.

Nonetheless, despite his public denunciation of Soros, it was later revealed that Mahathir had written to the billionaire for his support to lend his name to the former premier’s Global Peace Forum project. So did Soros’ support indicate that the Global Peace Forum had been compromised to serve “foreign powers”?

Najib not compromised by RM2.6b in his personal bank account?

Only recently, Malaysia’s Attorney-General (AG) Apandi Ali cleared Prime Minister Najib Razak of any wrongdoing with regard to RM2.6 billion worth of donations from the Saudi royal family that were channelled into his bank account. The MACC had earlier said the funds were a political donation and “there is no evidence to show that the donation was a form of gratification given corruptly.” The AG has ordered the case closed.

Now compare Najib’s RM2.6 billion (donated into his personal bank account) to SUARAM’s annual budget of RM400,000 which is used to employ five staff who give human rights support to Malaysians and refugees who face human rights violations; monitor and document these violations, as well as run campaigns to defend and promote human rights in Malaysia. You’re right…there is no comparison! So lay off Malaysiakini and Malaysian NGOs that have been working selflessly for decades for Malaysian justice, democracy and human rights.

MALAYSIA’S 2015 HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD: TRANSFORMING INTO A POLICE STATE

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser on Human Rights Day, 10 December 2015

Malaysian society is fast becoming an Orwellian dystopia in which labels such as ‘moderates’, ‘extremists’, ‘national security’, ‘national harmony’, ‘sedition’, and even ‘sabotage of the economy’ and ‘parliamentary democracy’  have become relative (Doublespeak) and imprecise, depending on how they are defined by the state and the judiciary.

The Malaysian Government has added to this dystopia by introducing yet another unjustified draconian law, ‘The National Security Council Bill’ with measures equivalent to those following the declaration of a state of Emergency, all in the name of protecting ‘national security’. The Malaysian Government’s human rights record for 2015 is already appalling, even prior to the tabling of this Emergency-like law, given the range of detention-without-trial laws including SOSMA, POCA, POTA and DDA, other “catch-all” laws such as the Sedition Act and the arbitrary actions of enforcement personnel.

And if the promise made by then Home Minister Tun Razak in 1960 that the ISA would never be abused could not be kept, what value is the word of the former anti-corruption activist (FACA) Minister in the PM’s Department that the new NSCB will not be abused!

Detention without trial laws invariably abused by the State

Just as the ISA was abused manifold, the relatively new SOSMA has been blatantly abused in the case of Khairuddin and Mathias Chang when they were held for “attempted sabotage of the Malaysian economy” for having made reports about the mismanagement of 1MDB and the depositing of RM2.6 billion into the Prime Minister’s personal account. They were initially even denied bail but subsequently this was allowed by the High Court because it was judged that theirs was “not a security offence”.

Just as it was argued by the Alliance /BN government for decades that the ISA was essential to neutralize the threat posed by the Opposition, the government now justifies detention without trial as an essential means to counter the threat of international terrorism by groups such as IS.

While SUARAM vehemently condemns the terrorism and barbarism of groups such as IS we are equally as concerned about upholding human rights and the rule of law in our country. In principle, we condemn the use of detention without trial and recent cases have shown that it is possible to bring alleged terrorists to justice by trying them in open court. We would remind Malaysians that even in the countries of the West that are under terrorist attacks, they do not have detention without trial laws directed at their own citizens.

We would also like to urge politicians on both sides of the political divide not to rely on McCarthyist methods to demonise their political opponents by imputing that the latter have been “infiltrated by IS” and calling for the police to investigate as was done by a Parti Amanah leader recently. This is reminiscent of the sixties when opponents of the Socialist Front would allege that the SF had been infiltrated by the CPM. Any allegations of terrorist connections must be backed up by solid evidence and proof. Failure to do so is grossly irresponsible and brings us closer to being a police state.

The plight of Rohingya ‘boat people’ a humanitarian disaster

The tragedy of Rohingya refugees being stranded in the Andaman Sea in 2015 was bad enough but the refusal of Malaysia and other regional authorities to take them in was a human rights abomination of major proportions. The numbers stranded aboard rickety ships was estimated to be in the thousands. Despite a plea from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, urging Southeast Asian leaders to uphold “international law” and “the obligation of rescue at sea,” Malaysia refused to accept these “boat people” who were suffering from rapidly dwindling provisions.

The Malaysian government did not engage in any search and rescue efforts to provide desperately needed aid at sea nor did they allow migrants to land on offshore islands for such aid. The Malaysian Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Jaafar said the surge of refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh seeking asylum in Malaysia was unwelcome and his government would turn back any illegal arrivals.

The attitude of Penang Deputy Chief Minister to the plight of the Rohingya boatpeople was just as disappointing. He had criticised the Federal Government’s move to house the Rohingya boatpeople in Penang as another politically motivated ‘Project IC’. As a former radical upwardly mobile person (FRUMP) the Pakatan Rakyat leader should have shown more humanitarian concern for the welfare of the boatpeople and could have used Penang state government resources to provide food and drink to these desperate people.

Malaysia’s response was in sharp contrast to the attitude of the European countries such as Germany and the Italians in the island of Lampedusa who have shown a commendable humanitarian effort to accept the thousands of refugees fleeing the war in Syria.

How does discovery of mass graves square with Tier 2 status?

The discovery of multiple mass graves (139) by the Malaysian police and the uncovering of 28 suspected human trafficking camps located about 500 metres from the country’s northern border makes us skeptical of the decision by the US to upgrade Malaysia to Tier 2 status in the US Human Trafficking Report for 2015. The dense jungles of southern Thailand and northern Malaysia have been a major route for human traffickers bringing Rohingyas from Burma.

From press reports, local people have been aware of atrocities in the border area for years and it is incumbent on the Government to explain why the police and security forces have been unable to apprehend these human traffickers all these years when they could deal with the greater challenge of the insurgency during the Emergency.

Human rights compromised by the TPPA?

Until very recently Malaysia was ranked as one of the countries with the worst human trafficking ranking in the eyes of the U.S. State Department, a ranking which bars such countries from entering into the TPPA deal. Is it coincidental that the 2015 upgrade to Tier 2 status should happen just as the US government is trying very hard to accommodate Malaysia in the TPPA? If not, how is this upgrade justified in the light of the grisly mass graves discovered in 2015? There had been speculation that Malaysia would remain at Tier 3 because, despite a rise in investigations Malaysia’s conviction rate had apparently fallen even lower than before.

If true, this manipulation of Malaysia’s ranking in the State Department’s 2015 TIP report would be a perversion of the trafficking list and undermine both the integrity of this important report as well as the very difficult task of confronting states about human trafficking,” said Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, who had pushed to bar Tier 3 countries from inclusion in the trade pact.” (Reuters, 9 July 2015)

Another apparent compromise by the US Government in getting Malaysia to sign the TPPA is the surprising decision by the US that Putrajaya’s pro-Bumiputera policies will not be affected in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). United States Trade Representative Michael Froman said at a forum in 2015 that this is a “sovereign decision”. Froman said the US recognises that each country in the agreement has its own way of dealing poverty and growth, amid fears by pro-Malay groups that the TPPA will erode Bumiputera privileges. If this is allowed to pass, the Malaysian government can also justify denying better labour standards to workers on the basis of its “sovereign decision”.

It is clear that the US government is eluding the question of whether some of these so-called “Bumiputera privileges” amount to racial discrimination and whether in fact they violate international human rights principles. I would refer the US Government to the article by former Ambassador to Malaysia, John Malott, ‘The Price of Malaysia’s Racism’ in The Wall Street Journal on 8 February 2011.

It is facile for the US to say that any country’s policy is a “sovereign decision” in their attempt to bulldoze the TPPA. If that is so then the US should also respect President Assad’s “sovereign decision” in Syria and President Mugabe’s in Zimbabwe and the US and their coalition should not have invaded Iraq in the first place in 2003.

Is it also Malaysia’s “sovereign decision” to continue to incarcerate the former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim even when the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has condemned his arbitrary detention and called for his immediate release?

Trade agreements should integrate human rights standards

Proposals to integrate human rights standards into trade agreements are nothing new. United Nations institutions would be the appropriate international adjudication to establish, definitively, which countries should and which should not be considered human rights violators. In fact, the US has always behaved with considerable ambivalence toward international norms and for decades the Senate simply refused to ratify any of these conventions.

Thus, it is actually the United States that has been unwilling to submit to constraints on its sovereignty. We certainly do not have any illusions about US intervention especially since the US used the pretext of bringing democracy to the Iraqi people as a reason to invade Iraq. This has made the rest of the world associate the idea of a “good intentioned intervention” with western abuses of power. For a better world order, the United States must change its policies to keep in step with world opinion and so must the Malaysian Government which to this day has failed to ratify many vital international treaties.

Human rights are guaranteed in our Federal Constitution

Far from being in conflict with our national sovereignty, human rights are actually the cornerstone of the rule of law and state sovereignty of Malaysia. Part II on ‘Fundamental Liberties’ in our Federal Constitution spells out unequivocally the human rights of Malaysians. They are an essential tool enabling states to ensure that every person can live with dignity, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion or other status. Most important of all, these international and inviolable principles empower citizens and human rights advocates such as SUARAM, to participate actively in shaping domestic development for the good of all.

Unfortunately, many of our human rights have been unceremoniously overridden through decades of constitutional amendments by the ruling BN coalition. This is how crypto-Emergency rule, detention without trial and other violations of our fundamental freedoms have defiled Malaysian democracy, rapidly transforming Malaysian society into a police state.

We agree! Now stop the record breaking persecution of human rights defenders!

For immediate release
28th November 2015

We agree! Now stop the record breaking persecution of human rights defenders!

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) applauds the decision by the Government of Malaysia to vote in favour for the United Nations General Assembly resolution on the protection of human rights defenders[1]. By voting in favour for the resolution, the Government of Malaysia is obliged to ensure that the resolution is put into practice in Malaysia.

Recalling the rapidly declining state of affairs in regards to human rights in Malaysia within the last few years and the prosecution of human rights defenders such as Adam Adli (sedition), Arutchelvan (sedition), Eric Paulsen (sedition), Jannie Lasimbang (PAA), Khalid Ismath (sedition and CMA), Lena Hendry (Film Censorship Act), Maria Chin (PAA), Zunar (sedition) and countless others, it is of paramount importance for the Government of Malaysia to act in a manner that reflects the stance they have adopted in the United Nations General Assembly.

If the Government of Malaysia fails to honour the obligations it has undertaken by voting in affirmation, there would undoubtedly be severe repercussion against the Government of Malaysia and jeopardize the time dedicated by the Prime Minister in improving Malaysia’s international standing.

On this note, SUARAM calls for the Government of Malaysia to:

  1. Drop all criminal and civil charges against human rights defenders in Malaysia;
  2. Repeal the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, the Sedition Act 1948, The Communications and Multimedia Act 1948, and all other legislations that are recognized as incompatible with recognized international human rights;
  3. Establish a moratorium on the use of such provisions; and
  4. Take action against the head government agencies that are actively violating human rights in Malaysia
In Solidarity,
Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
SUARAM

The full text of the resolution can be found at: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/N09/611/58/PDF/N0961158.pdf?OpenElement



[1] Full Title of Resolution: Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

GHAH: MEMORANDUM kepada Peguam Negara mengenai penyalahgunaan Akta Hasutan 1948

Sejak beberapa bulan yang lalu, terdapat peningkatan yang membimbangkan dalam siasatan dan pendakwaan di bawah Akta Hasutan 1948, yang mana sasarannya termasuk wakil-wakil rakyat dan aktivis-aktivis hak asasi manusia yang mempunyai tanggungjawab awam untuk bersuara mengenai perkara-perkara yang melibatkan kepentingan awam.

Sejak 27 Julai 2015, dua orang Ahli Parlimen pembangkang dan lima orang aktivis telah didakwa di bawah undang-undang tersebut. Sejak tahun 2013, terdapat peningkatan sebanyak 1,700 peratus dalam pertuduhan hasutan berbanding tempoh di antara 2007 dan 2012.

Tidak dapat dinafikan bahawa Akta Hasutan juga ditakrifkan secara luas dan ianya terbuka kepada penyalahgunaan. Di bawah Akta Hasutan, hampir apa sahaja yang disuarakan atau diterbitkan yang menjurus kepada perbalahan boleh dianggap sebagai menghasut.

Perdana Menteri telah pada 11 Julai 2012 dan 3 Julai 2013 berjanji untuk memansuhkan Akta Hasutan. Adalah mengecewakan dan membimbangkan bahawa walaupun beliau telah berulang kali berjanji kepada rakyat Malaysia, penggunaan Akta ini  telah sebaliknya meningkat dengan mendadak sehingga kini.

Kedudukan sebagai Peguam Negara diwujudkan oleh Perlembagaan Persekutuan, dan kami menggesa Tan Sri untuk memainkan peranan sebagai pelindung Perlembagaan Persekutuan pada setiap masa. Penggunaan berterusan Akta Hasutan ini tidak akan mengundang keyakinan orang ramai terhadap pejabat Peguam Negara.

Ia juga merupakan suatu perkara yang membimbangkan bahawa kebanyakan mereka yang didakwa di Mahkamah adalah dari golongan pembangkang, masyarakat madani, penentang atau mereka yang dilihat sebagai pro-pembangkang. Tindakan pantas telah diambil terhadap mereka ini termasuklah tangkapan, reman dan di dalam banyak kes, pendakwaan jenayah, sebagai contoh di dalam kes Adam Adli, Tian Chua, Tamrin Ghafar, Haris Ibrahim, Safwan Anang, Hishamuddin Rais, N. Surendran, Khalid Samad, RSN Rayer, Azmi Sharom, Wan Ji Wan Hussin, Eric Paulsen dan Zunar.

Sebaliknya, individu-individu yang telah membuat kenyataan yang bersifat amat provokatif dan mengapi-apikan perasaan tetapi kebetulannya adalah individu-individu UMNO atau pro-UMNO seperti Ibrahim Ali, Masitah Ibrahim, Jamal Yunos, Ismail Sabri dan Mohd Ali Baharom (lebih dikenali sebagai Ali Tinju, yang mana pertuduhan hasutannya telah ditarik balik), tidak didakwa.

Sejak Tan Sri telah mengambil jawatan pada 27 Julai 2015, kami perhatikan pendakwaan pertuduhan-pertuduhan berikut telah dimulakan:

  1. Mohd Fakhrulrazi Mohd Mokhtar, Ketua Pemuda Parti Amanah Negara
  2. Khalid Mohd Ismath, Aktivis (3 pertuduhan hasutan; 11 pertuduhan di bawah seksyen 233 Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998);
  3. Sivarasa, Ahli Parlimen PKR dan peguam;
  4. Ng Wei Aik, Ahli Parlimen DAP;
  5. Lawrence Jayaraj, Aktivis;
  6. Hassan Karim, Ketua PKR Johor & peguam (4 pertuduhan hasutan);
  7. Arutchelvan, Pemimpin PSM.

Kami perhatikan bahawa penggunaan berterusan Akta Hasutan ini telah memberikan gambaran negatif terhadap negara kita di peringkat global dan mengundang kritikan antarabangsa. Kebanyakan negara moden dan berdemokrasi di dunia telah memansuhkan atau tidak lagi menggunapakai undang-undang yang menindas ini.

Kami seterusnya perhatikan bahawa kebanyakan kes di atas adalah melibatkan pendakwaan-pendakwaan kritikan terhadap kerajaan atau pentadbiran keadilan yang mana telah dilupuskan di bawah pindaan pada tahun 2015.

Peguam Negara memikul tanggungjawab yang berat dalam menegakkan kedaulatan undang-undang dengan membekalkan negara ini dengan perkhidmatan pendakwa raya yang bebas dan profesional, yang beroperasi dengan integriti, memberi keyakinan awam dan melindungi pentadbiran keadilan.

Kami menuntut:

  1. Semua pertuduhan hasutan yang sedia ada dikaji semula dan digugurkan dengan serta-merta;
  2. Moratorium atau penggantungan ke atas mana-mana pertuduhan hasutan lanjut sementara menunggu kajian penuh Akta Hasutan dan pemansuhannya;
  3. Bahawa pejabat Peguam Negara mengakui bahawa Akta Hasutan adalah kuno, bersifat tidak liberal dan tidak demokratik, dan kekurangan unsur niat dalam kesalahan ini melanggar prinsip-prinsip asas keadilan dan kesaksamaan.

From Shadow to Light

For Immediate Release
10th November 2015

From Shadow to Light

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) would like to wish all Malaysians a happy Deepavali and hope that this festival of lights would bring light and joy to everyone.

On this day, SUARAM would like to shed light on information that was shrouded in ambiguity and not made publicly known.

After 15 years of struggle, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) have obtained some degrees of recognition by Malaysians. While their success was not without flaws, the impact they have in the human rights discourse in Malaysia cannot be dismissed easily. Despite their success (or perhaps because of their success), the Government of Malaysia have decided to curtail and reduce the budget for SUHAKAM for 2016. The budget allocation for SUHAKAM for 2016 is a mere RM5,509,400 (in comparison, RM10,986,200 for 2015). It would be difficult for SUHAKAM to conduct its daily operation and public campaigns with almost a 50% cut in budget.

With Malaysia’s deteriorating human rights situation observed throughout 2015, this cut in budget clearly shows the Government of Malaysia’s lack of political will to empower SUHAKAM. The Government of Malaysia cannot in good conscience claim that they hold human rights and civil liberties in high regards when it is not reflected in the budget allocation for SUHAKAM.

On this note, SUARAM calls for the Government of Malaysia to review the budget allocation for SUHAKAM and provide more intervention power for SUHAKAM to conduct its daily operations and public campaigns in a manner that reflect its status as a National Human Rights Institution. Failure to do so would ensure that the Government of Malaysia’s fail in complying with the Paris Principles and eventually result in the downgrade of SUHAKAM from its current ‘A’ status. This downgrade would only add to the ever growing list of human rights violations by the Malaysian Government and further shame Malaysia in its commitment to uphold and human rights and democracy.

In Solidarity,

Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
SUARAM