SAME OLD GOVERNMENT, SAME OLD WAYS
COMMENT by: SUARAM Team
The Broken Promise
Three years ago, Prime Minister Najib claimed that he had marked the herald to a new era with his promise to grant greater freedoms to the people. With a delicate balance on national security and fundamental freedoms of the people, he repealed the Internal Security Act 1960, three Emergency proclamations, Restricted Residence Act 1933, Banishment Act 1959 and reviewed the University and University Colleges Act 1971 and the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984. However, in practice it appears to be merely a strive for political mileage as the fundamental freedoms of the people are still being denied by the government and its agencies.
The same can be seen in the 13th General Elections. On 5th May 2013, arguably the most ferocious General Elections in Malaysian history, Barisan Nasional was declared the victor and Najib was appointed as the Prime Minister for the first time. Many argued the outcome of the GE13 were marred with fraud, phantom voters, washable indelible ink, irregularities in the gazetted electoral roll and heightened political violence which saw bomb blasts at campaign sites and even a murder case throughout the campaign period. At the same time, various forms of harassment of human rights defenders took place.
The Herald of a New Era
Democracy flourished since the birth of social media and critical alternative news portal. With the luxury came the awareness of the people on current issues in the country. The Election Commission’s findings were indicative, if not evident of the fact that the voters turnout for the GE13 was tremendous and a true sign of democracy.
Many photographic and video evidence indicating electoral irregularities were available on the cyberspace and countless reports and complaints were made to the police against the EC for the lack of professionalism and integrity in ensuring a free and fair election.
The overwhelming dissatisfaction against the EC, coupled with the betrayal of the sanctity of voters’ free will culminated to massive protests against the serious problems plaguing the outcome of the GE13.
Concerted Actions to Quell Legitimate Dissent
There was least to the public’s imagination that the Police, the Registrar of Society and the EC were independent and impartial from what had been demonstrated during the GE13.
The RoS, which had harassed SUARAM for seven months before ceasing following a Judicial Review in the High Court was commissioned again to harass the Democratic Action Party at the eleventh hour prior to GE13 nomination day. DAP’s eligibility and qualification to contest in the GE13 were threatened, and even more absurd, ridiculous tasks were given at the very last minute with a tight deadline.
Serious matters which require immediate attention to were kept in view by the police. These include the death by murder of Murugan, a Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s campaigner, several bomb blasts at campaign sites, countless reports and complaints made to the police against the EC, seditious “Chinese Tsunami” statements made by Ministers and the investigation on Utusan Malaysia’s “Apa Lagi Cina Mahu” (“What else do the Chinese want?”) headline, the racist group attacks on anti-racism student group in Penang, and the investigation on bloggers Papagomo and MiloSuam, just to name a few.
Instead of immediately responding to the cases, the focus was directed to harassing human rights defenders. The concerted actions taken by the government and its agencies in encroaching into the people’s democratic space flew in the face of Najib and his promises. The civil service was perverted before and still is after all these years. As repeatedly stated by SUARAM on many occasions, governments may come and go but the civil service remains impartial at all times and should never act on political instructions from the government.
The Use of Regressive Legislations
Regressive legislations such as the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, the Sedition Act 1948 and Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 were used/threatened to be used against human rights defenders pre and post GE13. Prior to the election, threats of political instability and racial riots similar to the May 13 were used to raise fear among the people should anything untoward takes place post GE13.
Several members of the opposition parties were questioned and charged for having allegedly organised/participated in illegal assemblies under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012. The act which was rushed to passage without public consultation was used as a tool by government and its organs to quell legitimate dissent.
The Sedition Act 1948, dubbed irrelevant and as the stumbling block to freedom of expression was used, regardless of previous talks and initiatives by the government to repeal the law. Similar to the draconian ISA 1960, the act was used and defended until the last moment before any constructive steps are taken to repeal the act. The use of the Sedition Act on Batu MP Chua Tian Chang prior to GE13 and the latest arrest and detention of student activist, Adam Adli had proven just that.
The threat of possible use of the SOSMA 2012 against “rioters” during the GE13 were floating in the air like an imminent threat, until the government had to resort to a public statement to confirm that it will never be used for the purposes of GE13.
Perhaps, the statements made by the former IGP Ismail Omar who said that the police would still use the old ways to maintain public order, if they are appropriate despite the absence of ISA 1960 and the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1960 would ring a bell.
The new Inspector-General of Police and Home Minister’s comments were worrying for the people. Home Minister, Zahid Hamidi’s suggestions to revamp the Ministry were of SUARAM’s grave concern as the police would now join the ranks of army in training to reduce crime and to ensure public order. It was made public shortly after the present IGP Khalid Abu Bakar had complimented former IGP Ismail Omar’s Ops Daulat operation in Lahad Datu, Sabah. Instead of focussing on how to reduce fatalities of suspects in police lock-ups and fatal police shootings, the police would now undergo their training with the military in firearms related situations to combat crime.
Adding Salt to the Wound
Chairman of EC, Abdul Aziz had on few public occasions answered questions pertaining to the complaints raised by the voters in regard to vote rigging. However most of the answers were bare denials. As the body solely responsible for the operation of GE13, it did little to dismiss the damning allegations of electoral fraud.
With only bare denials and a promise to investigate the complaints thoroughly, the EC had failed to diffuse the tension among legitimate voters. If at all any actions were to be taken to prosecute peaceful and legitimate human rights defenders, it would be the sole responsibility of the EC to stop the police because the EC is solely responsible in creating the tension and disappointment among the voters.
Malaysians had matured and ready to embrace democracy in a legitimate and peaceful manner. On this note, SUARAM calls upon the government and its agencies to cease all forms of intimidation and harassment against human rights defenders. SUARAM beseech that constructive steps be taken to end the various investigations and release the results to the public. The damage to the sanctity of the voter’s choice and free will had already been done but adding salt to the wounds is definitely not the way forward.
SUARAM URGENT APPEAL:
RELEASE STUDENT ACTIVIST ADAM ADLI IMMEDIATELY AND UNCONDITIONALLY
SUARAM requests your urgent intervention in the following detention of Mr Adam Adli, Student Activist from Malaysia. SUARAM is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
Brief description of the situation:
SUARAM condemns the arbitrary and unlawful detention of Student Activist, Adam Adli under the Section 4 of the Sedition Act which prohibiting discourse deemed as seditious and if found guilty under the act, Adam could be jailed for up to three years, fined not more than RM 5,000, or both.
Student activist Adam Adli was arrested in Bangsar on 18 May 2013 by ten plainclothes police officers around 3.15pm on 18 May 2013. He is believed to be arrested over the remarks he made during a post-election forum organised by Suara Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) on 13 May 2013 at Kl/Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur. During the forum, Adam had joined several other anti-government NGOs in calling for a massive street rally to express unhappiness over the fraud that happened related to electoral process in the country during the 13th General election that was held on 5th May 2013.
He was immediately were brought to Jinjang police remand centre. He is currently being kept in lock up. This acts by police to put Adam immediately into lock up clearly shows that, police has no intention to do further investigation rather they has made decision to hold Adam Adli arbitrarily . Adam is believed to be remand on 19 May 2013.
SUARAM condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment against Adam Adli which seems to merely aim at sanctioning his peaceful activities and his freedom of expression in the framework of the campaign against the frauds that happened during General election.
SUARAM urge the police to show respect of the people’s freedom of expression and release Adam Adli immediately. The police have started their hunting since post-election. All this harassment and intimidation against human rights defenders must stop now.
Malaysia has already an atrocious international record on democracy and human rights and it should not join the ranks of rogue countries universally regarded as most notorious and infamous for their reckless disregard for the most basic human rights – human dignity and life.
Please write to the authorities of Malaysia, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Adam Adli as well as of all human rights defenders in Malaysia;
ii. Release Adam Adli immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary as it seems to merely sanction his human rights activities;
iii. Put an end to acts of any harassment – including at the judicial level – against Adam Adli as well as against all human rights defenders in Malaysia;
iv. Abolish Sedition Act 1948 which against human rights principles;
v. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its:
– Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
– Article 6(a), which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”;
– Article 12.2 (“the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”);
vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments.
1. Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak,
Prime Minister of Malaysia,
Prime Minister’s Office,
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
62502 Putrajaya , MALAYSIA
Tel: 603-8888 8000
Fax: 603-8888 3444
E-Mail: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister of Malaysia
2. Datuk Zahid Hamidi
Ministry of Home Affairs
Blok D1 & D2, Kompleks D
62546 Putrajaya, Malaysia
Fax : +60 3 8889 1613, +60 3 8889 1610
Salutation: Dear Minister of Home Affairs
3. Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar,
IInspector General of Royal Malaysian Police
Ibu Pejabat Polis Diraja Malaysia,
50560 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 603-2266 2222
Fax: 603-2070 7500
E-Mail: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Inspector General
Malaysian Human Rights Commission,
Level 11, Menara TH Perdana,
Jalan Sultan Ismail,
50250 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03 26125600
Fax: 03 26125620
5. Mr. Frank La Rue
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
6. Ms. Margaret Sekaggya,
Special Rapporteur on the situation on human rights defenders,
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken.
To contact SUARAM;
· E-mail: [email protected]
· Tel and fax SUARAM : + 60377843525/ + 60377843526
 4. (1) Any person who—
(a) does or attempts to do, or makes any preparation to do, or conspires with any person to do, any act which has or which would, if done, have a seditious tendency; (b) utters any seditious words;
(c) prints, publishes, sells, offers for sale, distributes or reproduces any seditious publication; or (d) imports any seditious publication,shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable for a first offence to a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both, and, for a subsequent offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; and any seditious publication found in the possession of the person or used in evidence at his trial shall be forfeited and may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of as the court directs.
PRESS STATEMENT: 17 MAY 2013
SUARAM Urge the Charges against Nik Nazmi to be Dropped Immediately and Unconditionally
SUARAM condemns the move by the police and the Attorney General to charge Seri Setia Assembly-person Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) under the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) today (17 May 2013) for failing to give 10 days’ notice to the police for the May 8 Blackout 505 rally in Kelana Jaya Stadium.
SUARAM views this selective prosecution against Nik Nazmi as arbitrary and politically motivated and raises serious questions about the political neutrality of the police. These charges also highlight the ongoing failure of this government to respect freedom of expression and assembly.
Nik Nazmi was charged at the Petaling Jaya sessions court before judge Rozina Ayob and has been released without bail. The offence under Section 9(1) of the PAA carries a fine up to RM10,000 upon conviction, and Nik Nazmi could be disqualified as an elected representative if the fine exceeds RM2,000.
SUARAM is against the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA) as it curtails the fundamental freedom of assembly enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. The right to freedom of assembly is an intrinsic part of the right to freedom of expression which is guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international laws and standards.The Peaceful Assembly Act imposes a 10-day advance notice to authorities prior to holding an assembly. This is an onerous and unnecessary requirement intended to make it as difficult as possible for the people to convene any assembly.
In fact, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly, Mr Maina Kiai in his report to the Human Rights Council in May 2012 has clearly stated that;
“Should the organizers fail to notify the authorities, the assembly should not be dissolved automatically and the organizers should not be subject to criminal sanctions, or administrative sanctions resulting in fines or imprisonment…[t]he Special Rapporteur holds as best practice legislation allowing the holding of spontaneous assemblies, which should be exempted from prior notification”
SUARAM urge the charges against Nik Nazmi to be dropped immediately and unconditionally.
If Prime Minister Najib Razak is sincere about making meaningful political reforms, these reforms must be made in the spirit of protecting and promoting human rights rights and fundamental freedoms.