Tanda Putera, Truth & Reconciliation

 

TANDA PUTERA, TRUTH & RECONCILIATION

By Dr Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser, 6 June 2013

 

Tanda Putera, the film that was not considered fit for general release (in case there was a backlash from Chinese voters?) before the recent general election is soon to be shown in a cinema near you. Obviously, as the official reasoning probably goes, after the “Chinese tsunami” BN couldn’t go any lower in terms of Chinese votes!

 

The government would be wise to ask: Is it a step forward for Malaysians to gain access to the truth about the May 13 bloodshed and take us on the road to reconciliation as the prime minister had vowed soon after the recent general election? I think not. Does the film call for forgiveness, for generosity of spirit or does it allow old wounds to fester?

 

Of course it is a film maker’s right to make a film. It is her right to freedom of expression. But this film happens to be financed by the official FINAS, ie. with tax payers’ money! It is amazing the gall and presumptuousness of UMNO to use public resources to finance projects such as this and even institutions such as UiTM that are blatantly racially discriminatory.

 

Not surprisingly, the director of TP has fallen in with the “official” version that the May 13 Incident was a “spontaneous outbreak” of violence between “the Malays” and “the Chinese” after “the Malays” were supposedly provoked by “the Chinese”. This conclusion is based on interviews with the director of TP in the online media. In this official rendition, the victory parade by the Opposition parties in 1969 is often portrayed as having been conflated with an earlier demonstration by the Labour Party calling for a boycott of the 1969 general election because of the pre-election incarceration of practically all their leaders under the ISA.

 

The underlying justification for the pogrom is that the Chinese victims got what was coming to them through their “insensitivity” to “Malay feelings”. And since then, this fascist threat has been raised every time the non-Malays demand civil rights or openly support the opposition coalition. The recent warning about a “Malay backlash” to the so-called “Chinese tsunami” by a former Appeal Court judge is symptomatic of this fascist mode of thinking.

 

TRUTH # 1: Were these parades so provocative that they were the trigger for the pogrom? 

From the declassified documents at the British Archives that I researched, they were not. The British were more likely to be pro-Alliance rather than pro-Opposition since after all, the Alliance leaders were the local custodians of British interests in the post-Independent Malaysia. But perhaps the director of TP or UMNO has other more credible evidence from our local sources to prove my evidence wrong. Let a Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) investigate.

 

TRUTH # 2: Was May 13 in fact orchestrated by those elements within UMNO to overthrow the Tunku and to serve their own agenda as the new ruling class of Malaysia?

This theory is by no means exclusive to me and recently more disaffected UMNO leaders have come out to support this account. Again, a TRC can subpoena many of the actors, such as Dr Mahathir, who are still alive today. Unfortunately, others such as the former Mentri Besar of Selangor, Dato Harun Idris and the former Home Minister, Ghazali Shafie are no longer around but their families and other contemporaries may know the true story.

 

TRUTH # 3: How many and who were the victims of the May 13 pogrom?

We owe it to those who perished during the pogrom to at least register their unfortunate demise and grant some reparation to their loved ones. Is there any truth to the stories about mass graves in Sungai Buluh? There are other stories about corpses being tarred to conceal their ethnic identities. If these stories are true, their bodies should be exhumed and identified and the cause of death determined. These are facts that a Truth & Reconciliation Commission can uncover about events at that time through listening to testimonies from victims’ families and friends; doctors and nurses on duty in the hospitals; Red Cross staff who played an important role then; policemen and soldiers on duty; politicians and journalists who covered the event, and of course our ubiquitous Special Branch. Public institutions such as hospitals, the police and special branch should be made to open their files to the TRC.

 

May 13 Truth & Reconciliation Commission

If the prime minister is truly interested in reconciliation after the GE13 as he has pledged, releasing TP is unlikely to produce the desired effect. I will proffer an unreserved apology if I am proven wrong…

 

Compared to South Africa’s acrimonious and long saga of apartheid rule, Malaysia’s “May 13 Incident” will not incur the time and efforts that South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission went through.

 

South Africa’s TRC was established by the new South African government in 1995 to help bring about a reconciliation of its people by uncovering the truth about human rights violations that had occurred during the period of apartheid. Its emphasis was on getting to the truth and not on prosecuting individuals for past crimes. The commission was open to the public and allowed victims or their loved ones to tell their story. These documented accounts then became public record, which helps deter the possibility of any denial of the history.

 

The South African TRC was set up through the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, No. 34 of 1995 and hearings started in 1996. The mandate of the commission was to bear witness to, record and in some cases grant amnesty to the perpetrators of crimes relating to human rights violations, as well as reparation and rehabilitation. The TRC had a number of high profile members with moral authority; its chairperson was Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The South African TRC heard cases of some twenty thousand people who had suffered gross human rights violations in the period between 1960 and their first democratic election.

 

Isn’t it time for a “May 13 TRC” to finally put to rest the ghost of May 13, to record our real history and to bring about meaningful reconciliation of our peoples once and for all?

 

The spontaneous response from ex-special branch and other retired personnel as well as victims’ family members at the launch of my book in 2007 demonstrates amply that there are many people from all angles, yearning to have their stories told and heard. Can we deny these now aging participants in the actual May 13th tragedy an opportunity to do so?

 

It is time Malaysians face up to our real history and to understand that:

“If we do not confront the past, we will not be able to move into the future…”

Scrap EAIC, Form IPCMC

Press Statement: 6th June 2013

SCRAP EAIC, FORM IPCMC

SUARAM refers to the The Malaysian Insider news article titled “Enforcement Oversight body has just one officer to investigate 19 agencies, says CEO” on 4 June 2013. The title itself says it all.

The reality and condition of the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) are  being seen now, straight from the mouth of its CEO, Nor Afizah Hanum Mokhtar.

In a public consultation done by EAIC in Petaling Jaya on the 20 December 2012, which was chaired by its CEO, chairman and deputy chair, Datuk Heliliah Mohd Yusof and Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan, the main issue highlighted was that the EAIC probes 19 enforcement agencies including the Royal Police of Malaysia (PDRM). The quantity of agencies probed was the proud issue for  EAIC, the quality wasn’t an issue and it was acknowledged today by the CEO that only one investigating officer was assigend to probe19 agencies.

Budget and manpower were  the issues highlighted by Nor Afizah Hanum which contribute to the latest criticism towards the EAIC. She said that the EAIC needs an annual budget of at least RM25 million, 10 investigating officers and 10 research officers. SUARAM avers  that until  all these suggestions are implemented, the EAIC will not be able to build the public confidence in  the agency.

SUARAM would like to highlight the root issue of  the EAIC which is the absence of prosecution power. The EAIC only has the power to  investigate complaints and the finding of its investigation will be referred back to the police force.

 

Comparatively, the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) has more power  as an oversight mechanism asit can initiate legal action against any officers for abuse of power. IPCMC was one of the 125 recommendations made by the Royal Commission of Police back in 2004. This recommendation was supposed to be implemented in 2006. The watered down version of the IPCMC, which is the EAIC came into picture in 2011.

SUARAM would like to also highlight the point made by the Home Minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that the EAIC will be conducting investigation on Dharmendran’s death. SUARAM avers that the Home Minister’s statement does not hold water as the EAIC will not investigate Dharmendran’s death in the absence of a formal complaint. This was SUARAM’s concern which was pointed out at the   the consultation with the EAIC  where SUARAM emphasized the need for the EAIC to be proactive in  investigating abuse of power by the men in blue, not waiting for a complaint to be lodged first.

SUARAM together  civil society groups reiterate the call for the implementation of the IPCMC and urge the Government to immediately scrap the EAIC.

Released by,
Thevarajan R
SUARAM Coordinator

Subang Jaya and Dang Wangi tops the number of deaths in police custody

 

STOP STATE VIOLENCE

MOVEMENT

 

Secretariat : SUARAM (Suara Inisiatif Sdn Bhd)
433A, 1st floor Jalan 5/46, Gasing Indah, 46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
(T) 603-7784 3525  (F) 603- 7784 3526    Email : [email protected]
 
Subang Jaya and Dang Wangi tops the number of deaths in police custody

Before even the waters calms down on the 3 deaths in police lockup within 11 days, we were shocked to hear of another death in police lockup. According to Bernama news report, Nobuhiro Matshushita, 33 years old Japanese was found dead hanging in the USJ 8 lockup cell.

He was arrested on the 2 Jun 2013 for whipping out a knife at the auxiliary policeman after trespassing into a university. The Selangor Police Chief Datuk A. Thaiveegen was quick at coming up with a claim that there is no foul play in the death of Nobuhiro. A point to note is that, on Dharmendran’s death on the 21st May 2013, Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigation Department Chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ku Chin Wah claimed Dharmendran died due to ‘breathing difficulties’. This claim turned to be false and it came out ugly for the police force after the postmortem report shows that Dharmendran was beaten badly in the lockup.

The Stop State Violence Movement would like to remind the police force not to speculate any information to the public as this could be misleading. In accordance to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), Section 334 clearly states that a Magistrate shall in the case of a death in the custody of the police; hold an inquiry into the cause of death. Please stop speculating and assist for the rule of law to take place.

To be factually right, according to SUARAM’s monitoring, Malaysia has gone international last year itself in custodial death. Miss Tienthong Chaipaniya from Thailand died in Taman Johor Jaya police station on the 7 September 2012. The case goes unseen by the public.

The Subang Jaya police stations seems to be killing ground for suspects. The USJ 8 lockup cells has seen 2 deaths in 2013. Chan Chin Te died this year on 14 January, adding the list will be Nobuhiro. On 20 January 2009, Kugan Ananthan died in Taipan Police Station, Subang Jaya.

Similar to that police stations, the Dang Wangi police station has also seen more blood on their hands last year within a duration of 4 months. Details below:
1. Chandran Perumalu on 10 September 2012
2. Wong Tip Ping on 29 November 2012
3. Nagarajan on 24 December 2012

The Stop State Violence Movement demands an immediate end to these serious human rights violations. The failure to ensure effective mechanisms to hold the Malaysian police accountable highlights a serious lack of political will by the government to take genuine steps to reform the police force in this country. We demand the implementation of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) now.

 
Stop State Violence Movement
1. Tenaganita
2. Lawyers For Liberty
3. SUARAM
4. Malaysians for Beng Hock
5. Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (Komas)
6. Amnesty International Malaysia
7. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Masyarakat (Empower)
8. Malaysia Youth And Student Democratic Movement (DEMA)
9. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
10. Civil Rights Committee of KLSCAH
11. EMPOWER
12. Civil Society Committee of LLG Cultural Development Centre
13. KL Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Youth
14. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
15. Community Development Centre (CDC)
16. Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)
17. Persatuan masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
18. Community Action Network (CAN)
19. Serdang Bahru School Alumni Youth Section
20. Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor & KL (Prihatin)
21. Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (WargaAMAN)
22. MALAYSIAN INDIANS PROGRESSIVE ASSOCIATION (MIPAS)
23. PEOPLE’S WELFARE AND RIGHTS COALITION (POWER)
24. MALAYSIAN INDIANS TRANSFORMATION ACTION TEAM (MITRA)
25. ANGKATAN NASIONAL INDIA MALAYSIA (AGNI)
26. Sunflower Electoral Education Movement (SEED)
27. Japan Graduates’ Association of Malaysia
28. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita
29. Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)

Malaysian crackdown under Sedition and assembly laws exposed at UN

Press Statement: 10 June 2013

Malaysian crackdown under Sedition and assembly laws exposed at UN

 

SUARAM has exposed the selective persecution of civil society and opposition groups at the United Nations from 28th May till 4thJune by highlighting the recent crackdown, arrests of six Malaysians under sedition and public assembly laws.

 

SUARAM on behalf of Aliran, meeting in Geneva for the 23rd Session of the world body’s Human Rights Council, outlined for the UN’s Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression how the Sedition Act of 1948 and the Public Assembly Act of 2012 had together been used with great prejudice to stifle all protests against a tainted general election, held on May 5, and the contentious results.

 

SUARAM turned the UN spotlight to how Malaysian laws that oppress freedom of expression have been used to crack down on young undergraduates Mohammad Safwan Anang and Adam Adli, both aged 24. SUARAM also revealed the arrests of two opposition MPs, Tian Chua and Tamrin Ghafar, social activists Haris Ibrahim of Anything But Umno (ABU) and playwright and civil society activist Hishamuddin Rais. All six attended a post-general election forum last May 13, when calls were made for a mammoth, million-strong rally to protest alleged electoral fraud. SUARAM also told the UN Rapporteur that 18 Malaysians who held a candle-light vigil for the detained student Adam were also arrested.

 

SUARAM also detailed incidents of political violence for the UN, including the assault of two men putting up opposition party flags by five assailants, the detonation of explosive devises, launching of petrol bombs and the torching of a car linked to an opposition party member.

 

The SUARAM team also had a private meeting with UN Special Rapporteur Mr Frank La Rue after his official address to highlight their concerns and urge an urgent mission by the SR to Malaysia in the near future. Mr La Rue has requested an invitation to conduct a mission to Malaysia on 2 occasions previously but to date the Malaysian government has refused such a visit.SUARAM raised the injustice of S.114A of the Evidence Act, which now allows individuals or intermediaries to be punished for online content they have not created and have no control over.

 

On the 4th June ,at a side event organised by Forum Asia entitled ‘Freedom of Assembly &Expression in the context of Elections’, SUARAM delegation  also briefed international diplomats and human rights organisations on the long list of electoral fraud allegations in the days leading up to the general election and on the May 5 polling day itself and how the Malaysian government is using a crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly to suppress these details from reaching the international community.

 

SUARAM was however encouraged to learn that the Malaysian government has extended an invitation for a visit to the UN Special Rapporteur on Peaceful Assembly Mr Maina Kiai  and SUARAM will now mobilize civil society to urge the Malaysian government to provide firm dates in the near future for such a mission.

 

Released by,

 

Nalini Elumalai

Executive Director

SUARAM

Malaysia brings deceit, hypocrisy to UN

 

Press Statement: 1 June 2013

Malaysia brings deceit, hypocrisy to UN

 

The Malaysian government is exposing its own deceit and hypocrisy on the world stage, formally espousing co-operation and engagement over human rights issues at the United Nations while the facts reveal it has jailed, suppressed and intimidated ordinary Malaysians, activist leaders, civil society groups, government critics and opposition politicians at home.

Meeting in Geneva for the 23rd Session of the world body’s Human Rights Council, SUARAM and Aliran  pointed to a statement by the office of Malaysia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, which painted a picture of the BN government as an advocate of human rights.

 

“The government’s statement completely ignored the ongoing suppression of the rights of civil society and politicians, which has made world news in the weeks following the latest general election,” said Nalini Elumalai, the Executive Director of SUARAM, who heads a delegation that includes Yolanda Augustin and Bala Chelliah.

 

The Malaysians were this week in Geneva to address the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, Maina Kiai, and UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Frank La Rue.

 

The Malaysian statement was made in a formal reply to a report by Mr Kiai, who expressed concern “about the alleged attacks against human rights defenders” after the recent 13th general election”. Mr Kiai’s reference to Bersih and SUARAM, and how its leaders and supporters faced intimidation and harassment by BN politicians, as well as the Registrar of Societies (ROS) and the Companies Commission (CCM) of Malaysia, was clear and direct, but it was totally ignored in Malaysia’s response.

 

In his opening address at the interactive dialogue on Freedom of Assembly and of Association on the 30th of May 2013 Maiana Kiai mentioned Malaysia further and highlighted the fact that although the Malaysian government has offered an invitation of an official mission visit to Malaysia to date they have not confirmed the specific dates of such a mission.

SUARAM’s Nalini Elumalai today said: “None of the issues and particularly the factual accounts of arrests, detentions, political violence, threats, intimidation and harassment of civil leaders and politicians was addressed in Malaysia’s reply .Individuals including young students were either in detention or facing arrest even as Malaysia’s statement was delivered to the UN.”

“Freedom of expression is suffering under a serious assault by the government and its institutions, and Malaysians have been threatened with the revocation of their passports for simply participating in rallies that demand fair and free elections. Malaysia chose to ignore these issues and reports, despite the entire world body hearing of serious violations of universally accepted human rights.”

 

Mr Kiai’s report also noted that Malaysia had failed to respond on two specific issues raised by his office – allegations of on-going investigations against members of SUARAM under the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA 2012) and police investigations involving 14 activists who allegedly brought children to a recent opposition-led rally.

 

The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay, also tabled a report to the UN’s 23rd Session that referred to ongoing attacks on human rights defenders.

 

“The right of Malaysians, and politicians in particular, to travel freely within the federation has also been denied,”  Nalini Elumalai said, referring to the blocking of Nurul Izzah’s planned visit to Sabah. “This is now world news, but Malaysia takes to the world stage shamelessly ignoring these dangerous developments and precedents.”

 

Nalini welcomed “Putrajaya’s responsible stand as a global citizen on Syria and Myanmar”, and called on Malaysia “should not delay any further in ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”). This is an independent and permanent court of last resort to try persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern – genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression”.

 

But she said: “Malaysia will continue to operate its detention centre in Kamunting and hold 15 citizens under the Internal Security Act, which no longer exists, while it calls for the closing of the US offshore detention facility in Guantanamo. It only serves to depict Malaysia as a two-faced member state of the UN that refuses to address the truth of its own deprivations.”