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.”

Remembering Ulaganathan in the midst of custodial deaths

Press Statement: 29 May 2013

Remembering Ulaganathan in the midst of custodial deaths

The name Ulaganathan does not ring a bell anymore. His name might have been a household name in 2003 like other custodial death victims like Dharmendran and Kugan.

Ulaganathan s/o Muniandy was a 19 years old young man when he died while under police custody. With no previous criminal records, he was detained on 12 May 2003 as a murder suspect in Balakong, Selangor. At the time of his arrest, he was helping his mother, Mdm Tamil Selwee at a food stall.

On the 13 May 2003, Tamil Selwee tried to visit Ulaganathan at the Kajang Police Station, but she was denied from doing so. She was subsequently allowed to meet her son on the 16 May 2003. She saw Ulaganathan’s swollen eyes. Her second visit was on 23 May 2003, where she noticed that this time, Ulaganathan was walking with a limp because the sole of his foot was swollen. The swell on his eyes were still visible.

The mother’s third visit was on the 30 May 2003. No improvements to his eyes and leg. She noticed Ulaganathan had lost tremendous amount of weight and he complained to her that his body was aching and he could not sleep well at night. His foot and eyes were still visibly swollen. Mdm Tamil Selwee’s last visit was on the 11 July 2003. Ulaganathan’s condition had worsened to the state where he was unable to sit down and have his meal.

Finally, on 20 July 2003, Ulaganathan was rushed to Kajang Hospital after he had difficulties in breathing and vomiting. He was sent back to lockup after released by the hospital. The next day, 21July 2003, at or about 3:00AM, Mdm Tamil Selwee received the news that her only son in the family had left them for good. A police officer who spoke to her informed that Ulaganathan had died of asthma. To further make thing worst, the cause of death was classified as “Undetermined” in the death certificate.

SUARAM reiterates that Section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Code 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. In the case of Ulaganathan, an inquest was only held in 2007, 4 years after his death. Furthermore the inquest came about after continuous effort to seek justice for Ulaganathan by the family and lawyers. In August 2011, the findings of the inquest returned an “Open Verdict”. The Magistrate was unable to determine the cause of death of Ulaganathan.

SUARAM with the help of Malaysian Bar Council filed a civil suit against the police in July 2006. Two years later, the judge granted the following;-

a. A declaration that the death of Ulaganathan, deceased on 21 July 2003 in the custody of the PDRM was caused by the unlawful acts of the PDRM; and
b. A declaration that the death of Ulaganathan was caused by the breach of statutory duties of the PDRM.

Currently, the hearing of assessment of damages is taking place. Lawyer, Roger Chan Weng Keng has been assisting the family on getting a reasonable sum to support the family financially. Today, 29 May 2013, the case management of Tamil Selwee’s suit is still ongoing. The DPP requested proof of Ulaganathan’s income way back before he died. It was produced today by Tamil Selwee’s lawyer.

The cries on death in custody seem to be falling on deaf ears. The value of a suspect’s life is not important to the police. The horrible death of Dharmendran on the 21 May 2013 in IPK KL proves our police force has zero humanity.

Released by,
Thevarajan R
SUARAM Coordinator

SUARAM Warns of Operasi Lalang II

Press Statement: 29th May, 2013


SUARAM is appalled at the State’s demonstration of might over the people’s rights in recent times. The government, with the Home Ministry and police in complicity struck fear and imposed threats to the dissenters. Calls from the local and international civil societies for an end to the massive crackdown had been ignored in toto.

Haris Ibrahim, Tamrin Ghafar and Chua Tian Chang were re-arrested under the Sedition Act 1948 yesterday evening just days after being released by the Magistrate. They were charged under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act today together with student activist Safwan Anang. Yazid Sufaat and Hilmi Hasim were re-arrested and charged under S130KA of the Penal Code for alleged terrorism offences after being released more than a week ago. Six Pakatan Rakyat leaders were charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 for alleged violations of the unconstitutional Act.

Apart from the police’s overpowering authority in the recent crackdown, it was reported that there were two deaths being caused by the police under their custody. N. Dharmendran (Accused) and R. Jamesh Ramesh (Suspect) were found dead in police custody in a matter of a week’s time.

SUARAM is gravely concerned on the state of Malaysia at present. For as long as SUARAM has existed, violations of human rights, civil liberties and police brutality by the Barisan Nasional government had never seen a decline.

The recent spate of crackdown reminisces the dark periods of Operasi Lalang under the repressive governance of Mahathir. Prime Minister Najib must not only unlearn the past tyrannies but must be seen to redeem the people’s trust and confidence in his government. The Prime Minister must stop hiding behind the Home Minister and the IGP, whom had sufficiently demonstrated the State’s powers against any kinds of dissent from the people.

SUARAM demands an explanation from Prime Minister Najib on the failure of his promises to ensure greater freedoms and liberties to the people. What we see on a daily basis is a total departure from his pledges. The use of his brainchild, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 and SOSMA 2012 which, ironically the product of a ‘delicate’ balance between security and freedoms, to silence the people had proven just that.

Would the Prime Minister step forward to end all intimidation and harassment against these peaceful dissenters? Would the Prime Minister send a strong message to the IGP and Home Minister to look at the realities of the present scenarios? We shall only hope that these are not the symptoms of Operasi Lalang II.

Released by,

Nalini Elumalai
Executive Director

Urgent Resolution on the Ongoing Crackdown by the Malaysian Government Against Malaysians





The urgent resolution was adopted and passed on 26 May 2013 at FIDH 38th Congress in Istanbul, Turkey.


The 178 members leagues of FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) condemn the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders and ordinary members of the public in Malaysia that began on 18 May 2013 and has escalated just as FIDH is holding its 38th Congress in Istanbul. This crackdown is apparently aimed at stamping out opposition to election fraud and violence during the recent general election. The crackdown it has so far, featured murder, violence, arbitrary arrests, hate speech, disruption of peaceful assemblies and censorship on media targeting human rights defenders and opposition leaders, as well as selective deployment of laws that contravene international human rights standards.



Malaysia’s 13th General Elections (“GE13”) concluded on 5th May 2013. Arguably the most intense election in Malaysian history, the election period saw heightened political violence namely bomb blasts at campaign sites, a murder of an Opposition campaigner and various forms of harassment of human rights defenders and opposition leaders.


The outcome of the GE13 was marred with electoral fraud, phantom voters, irregularities of the electoral roll and the indelible ink which was not indelible. FIDH notes that opposition parties are in the midst of filing 27 Election Petitions to the High Court challenging the results and paving way for by-elections in the constituents and affected seats. This challenge is taking place in tandem with public denunciations of the Election Commission’s (“EC”) for its contradictory responses to legitimate complaints of vote rigging which comprised both blanket denials AND mild promises to investigate complaints.


The crackdown on legitimate dissent

The authorities have used repressive legislations namely the Sedition Act 1948, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, the Penal Code and the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 as tools to suppress legitimate dissent of voters, human rights defenders, and leaders of the Opposition while government-friendly individuals remain unscathed despite their racist and seditious statements.


Sedition Act 1948

The Sedition Act 1948 was invoked against a student activist, Adam Adli, 24 for having allegedly uttered seditious words under Section 4(1) (b) of the Act on 23rd May 2013. On 23/5/2013, social movementAnything But UMNO’s Haris Ibrahim, Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (“PKR”) MP for Batu, Chua Tian Chang and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia’s (“PAS”) MP for Batu Berendam, Tamrin Ghafar were arrested under the Sedition Act 1948 for alleged breach of the Act.


Peaceful Assemby Act 2012

On 14/5/2013,  PKR’s Seri Setia Assemblyperson Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and PKR’s MP for Pandan Rafizi Ramli were questioned by the police under the unconstitutional Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 under Section 9(1) for failing to provide a 10-day notice required under the Act. Nik Nazmi was charged under the Act on 17/5/2013.


Penal Code

On 22/5/2012, 18 individuals who attended a nightly candle light vigil for Adam Adli were arrested for allegedly violating Section 143 of the Penal Code for participation in an illegal assembly. The police had denied the arrested persons’ right to legal counsel provided for under the S28A of the Criminal Procedure Code and Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution. After a lengthy protest by the lawyers, they were only allowed to provide legal advice to their clients. However, they were not allowed to represent their clients during police questioning.


Democratic Action Party’s (“DAP”) MP for Serdang, Ong Kian Meng was subjected to questioning under Section 505 of the Penal Code for allegedly uttering statements tantamount to public mischief. Even DAP’s adviser and founding member, Dr Chen Man Hin was investigated over an email sent in 2012 which had been alleged to be linked to the Malaysia’s version of “Arab Spring”.


Violence from pro-Barisan Nasional groups

Violence erupted in Penang on at least two occasions. On 9th May 2013, a group of multiracial students intending to hand over an anti-racism memorandum was attacked by a group of racist mobs hurling racist and derogatory remarks to them. Similarly, supporters who had held a candle light vigil for Adam Adli were physically attacked by an unknown group of mobs who had informed the police and falsely accused the supporters for possessing weapons including hand guns. On 22nd May, SUARAM Penang’s Sean Ho and student group DEMA’s Saw Jia Ying were hit by motorcycles after being chased by the bike gang for some distance. Many supporters suffered bodily injuries.


Seditious statements

Seditious statements from public officials continue to be tolerated by the government. On 12/5/2013, former Court of Appeal Judge Mohd Noor Abdullah (now a commissioner for the Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission) had warned that the Chinese Malaysians must be prepared for a backlash from the Malay community for their betrayal in the recently concluded GE13. He had made the seditious statements in an event organised by UiTM Malaysia’s Alumni Association and Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung(The Coalition of Peninsular Malay Students), titled “GE13 Post-Mortem Muslim Leadership and Survival”.


He stated, “…The Chinese betrayal towards the Malay’s hand of friendship – that is true. Because they plotted to seize political power even though they already have economic power… for the Malays, the taboo is to be betrayed, because when they are betrayed, they will react and when they react, their dendam kesumat tidak tersudah-sudah (wrath will be endless)…When Malays are betrayed, there is a backlash and the Chinese must bear the consequences of a Malay backlash…”


He had reportedly suggested that key sectors such as education, civil service and businesses must have a two third allocation (67%) for the Malays to be taken up at any time. He added that the terms “Chinese” and “Indian” should be replaced with Non-Malays as they are just our (Malay) neighbours and they had just come to stay ( i.e they are not really Malaysian). The silence and inactions from the government against the former judge were unacceptable as the statements were clearly racist and seditious. The approach was clearly different than those undertaken by the police against Adam Adli, Haris Ibrahim, Chua Tian Chang and Tamrin Ghafar.



Censorship and Seizing of Publications

Thousands of copies of PAS’ Harakah, PKR’s Suara Keadilan and DAP’s The Rocket were seized in several States. Officers from the Home Ministry had not only seized the publications but also raided the vendors’ stalls. In a statement by the Home Minister, he had alleged that the Opposition’s publications had violated Section 5 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 namely for distribution to non-party members. The publications were never subjected to such condition in the past and the recent revelation from the Home Minister appears to be another attempt to restrict freedom of information. In contrast to Utusan Malaysia’s seditious 7/5/2013 front page article titled “Apa Lagi Cina Mahu?” (What else do the Chinese want?) and Prime Minister Najib’s comments which had likened the outcome of the election to a “Chinese Tsunami” (that together implied that the country was hostage to unreasonable demands of the ethnic Chinese) , the newspaper was not seized or banned. To date, neither Utusan Malaysia nor Prime Minister Najib have apologised and retracted their statements.



Actions requested:


We therefore urge the Malaysian authorities to perform the following:-


1.                  To abolish the Sedition Act 1948 and drop all charges against Adam Adli and immediately release Chua Tian Chang, Haris Ibrahim and Tamrin Ghafar;


2.                  To Abolish the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 and drop all charges against Nik Nazmi and end all investigations against individuals alleged to have violated the Act;


3.                  To immediately cease invoking repressive legislations to suppress legitimate dissent;


4.                  To promote and protect the fundamental rights of individuals and associates to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms;


5.                  To promote and protect every individual’s right to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms;


6.                  To promote and encourage respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, religion, sex or national origin;


7.                  To consider that all human beings are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law against any discrimination and against any incitement to discrimination;


8.                  To acknowledge that discrimination between races is an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations capable of disturbing peace and security among the people and that racial barriers is repugnant to the ideals of any human society;


9.                  To speedily eliminate racial discrimination in all its form and manifestations in order to promote a society free from all forms of racial segregation and racial discrimination;


10.              To comply and uphold the fundamental freedoms enshrined under the Federal Constitution; and


11.              To comply and uphold the provisions in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders[1] in particular Articles 5, 6, 9, 10, 11,18 and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in particular Articles 2(1)(a)[2], 2(1)(b)[3] and 4(c)[4].


12.              To the UN due to review of UPR  Malaysia in October 2013- To continue to grant particular attention to the protection of human rights in Malaysia in accordance with the UN Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) UN Declaration of Human Rights Defenders and follow up on the implementation on the recommendations issued to Malaysia in its Universal Periodic Review in 2009.

[2] To undertake to engage in no act or practice of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions and to ensure that all public authorities and public institutions, national or local, shall act in conformity with this obligation

[3] To undertake not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by persons or organisations

[4] Shall not permit public authorities or public institutions, national or local, to promote or incite racial discrimination

Malaysia: Drop Charges against Activists and Organisers of Post-Elections Rallies, End Crackdown on Freedoms of Expression and Peaceful Assembly



Malaysia: Drop Charges against Activists and Organisers of Post-Elections Rallies, End Crackdown on Freedoms of Expression and Peaceful Assembly


(Bangkok, 28 May 2013): The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) has condemned the charges filed against a number of activists and opposition leaders in Malaysia in relation to their exercise of freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly in the past two weeks. The regional human rights group, representing 47 organisations from 16 countries across Asia, deplored what it called a post-elections crackdown on dissent by the government in the wake of allegations of electoral irregularities in the recently-concluded general elections in the country. The regional group charged that the country’s Prime Minister has reneged on his promises of greater respect for human rights since assuming power in 2009.


On 17 May 2013, a leader of the opposition People’s Justice Party and Selangor state assemblyperson Nik Nazmi was charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 for allegedly having failed to serve the police with sufficient notice for an Opposition-led rally at the Kelana Jaya Stadium on 8 May 2013 to protest against alleged electoral irregularities during recent general elections. Six other opposition leaders were subsequently charged under the same law for organising similar rallies in different locations throughout the country.


On 18 May 2013, student leader Adam Adli was arrested and subsequently charged under the Sedition Act on 23 May 2013, for allegedly uttering a seditious statement during a public forum, where he called for street protests against the government. A candlelight vigil that was held on 22 May 2013 to call for the release of Adam Adli resulted in 18 participants being arrested and questioned by the police. Then, on 23 May 2013, opposition leaders and activists – Tian Chua, Tamrin Ghafar, and Haris Ibrahim – were arrested under the Sedition Act, a law which the Prime Minister promised to abolish in 2012.


FORUM-ASIA recently, on 8 May 2013, wrote an open letter to Malaysia’s Prime Minister,[1] urging the government to allow peaceful dissent in all forms beyond the holding of elections, in light of a warning that was made by the Inspector-General of Police that participants of a proposed rally on 8 May would be arrested. While the rally on 8 May subsequently proceeded peacefully without any arrests or police intervention, the government went on to charge the organiser of the said rally, together with six others for organising similar rallies in other parts of the country.


“We regret the charges against the organisers for having allegedly failed to serve the police with sufficient notice for the post-elections rallies. The rallies have proceeded peacefully, and these charges appear to be only aimed at silencing political opposition and discouraging the legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in the country,” said Giyoun Kim, FORUM-ASIA’s Acting Executive Director.


Pointing out that the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Maina Kiai, has in both his previous[2] and upcoming reports[3] to the UN Human Rights Council expressed his concern over the restrictions on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in Malaysia, including the flaws in Malaysia’s Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, FORUM-ASIA urged the government to drop all charges against organisers of recent post-elections rallies. “Continuing to pursue the charges against rally organisers under the Peaceful Assembly Act will only renew and heighten international criticism on Malaysia in this regard,” added Giyoun Kim.


FORUM-ASIA further expressed alarm over recent statements made by the Home Minister, Zahid Hamidi, who has warned that protestors will “pay a heavy price” if protests and rallies are to continue, and by the Kuala Lumpur police chief Mohmad Salleh, who has said that the police “can no longer tolerate” candlelight vigils.


“These statements are a blatant disregard for international human rights standards, and this is particularly appalling considering that Malaysia is a member of the UN Human Rights Council. The government must recognise that it has the duty to protect human rights, and therefore must enable and facilitate peaceful assemblies, instead of restricting them,” said Nalini Elumalai, Executive Director of SUARAM, a member of FORUM-ASIA in Malaysia.


The regional human rights group also called for the charges against Adam Adli under the Sedition Act to be dropped. If found guilty, Adam Adli could face a jail term of up to three years, fined up to MYR5,000 (approx. USD1,800), or both.


“The charge against Adam Adli under the Sedition Act is highly problematic and deplorable. The Sedition Act is a law that severely restricts freedom of expression, and the international community has repeatedly called for its repeal in the past. We remind the Prime Minister that he had publicly announced in 2012 that the Sedition Act will be repealed,” stressed Giyoun Kim.


“The Malaysian government must recognise that its international legitimacy as a self-proclaimed democratic government is already in jeopardy, and given that the international community is keenly watching the developments in Malaysia, it will only be in the interest of the government to end its crackdown on dissent and opposition, and drop all charges in relation to the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” added Giyoun Kim.


For inquiries, please contact:


·         John Liu, East Asia Programme Officer, +66802828610 or [email protected]

·         Joses Kuan, East Asia Programme Associate, +66835445166 or [email protected]