FREE WATER IS POPULIST AND IRRESPONSIBLE

By Dr Kua Kia Soong, Director of SUARAM, 13 July 2010

The current spat between BN and PR leaders regarding the budgetary “possibility” of providing free water to consumers is missing the point raised by environmentalists when we were opposing the Sungai Selangor dam.

It’s Water Demand Management Stupid!

Certainly, a precious social utility such as water should belong to the people and not to private interests. Water is a public good and it is the people’s right to have access to clean water and to ensure that the sources of clean water are properly protected.

The Sungai Selangor dam has not only destroyed irrevocably a region of pristine natural environment in Kuala Kubu Baru but has destroyed the ancestral homes of the Orang Asli who lived there. Selangor rate payers are now paying the price of the dam.

During our campaign against the dam, we stressed the urgent need to focus on water demand management. Water demand management includes targets set for per capita water use, and reductions in non-revenue water.

Selangor Rate Payers Expect Excellence

As the richest state in Malaysia, Selangor rate payers expect the best quality of life and the best standard of governance to go with it. The current debates about whether the state is going bankrupt do not humour us. The Deputy Prime Minister may have his own agenda but the PKR’s own leader, Azmin Ali’s warning to the State Government at the state assembly yesterday that it’s spendthrift ways have to stop does not speak well of sustainable governance in the state. He mentioned an instance of the state government spending RM500,000 on a single official ceremony and that the state reserves have dipped below RM800 million. I still remember the PR Speaker telling off the State Exco Ronnie Liu for spending RM10,000 on durian feasts for his constituents.

Who knows what else goes on…Is this corruption, or do free handouts count as corruption only when they are given out close to an election?

Hormati Keputusan Mahkamah dan Segera Berikan Pampasan Kepada Puan Suzana !

Kenyataan Media: 9 Julai 2010

SUARAM menggesa Peguam Negara supaya membayar  pampasan ganti rugi yang berjumlah 1.4 juta kepada kepada Puan Suzana yang telah  kematian suami semasa dalam tahanan polis.  Pembayaran pampasan tersebut merupakan satu kemenangan rakyat dalam memperjuangkan hak asasi manusia dalam kes kematian dalam tahanan  polis.

Puan Suzana merupakan isteri kepada mangsa Mohd Anuar Sharip (31 tahun) yang telah meninggal dunia dalam tahanan polis di Balai Polis Rawang pada 19 Ogos 1999. Pada 1 Julai 2010, Pesuruhjaya Kehakiman, Lee Swee Seng telah memerintahkan  bekas Ketua Polis Negara, iaitu Tan Sri Norian Mai dan  kerajaan perlu bertanggungjawab membayar ganti rugi sebanyak RM1.4 juta kepada Puan Suzana ke atas kecuaian dan kegagalan pihak polis yang menyebabkan suaminya Mohd Anuar Sharip meninggal dunia dalam tahanan lokap.

Isu kematian dalam tahanan selalu menjadi isu yang hangat sejak dahulu lagi dan kami memandang amat serius terhadap isu ini kerana  perbuatan membunuh seseorang semasa dalam tahanan polis adalah perbuatan yang menyalahi undang-undang dan hak asasi manusia.  Malah, ia turut menyalahi dan memncabuli Artikel 5(1) seperti yang terkandung dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan iaitu menghormati hak bernyawa setiap manusia terutamanya dalam menjalankan tugas tanpa mengira sama ada penjenayah atau orang biasa.

Mengikut kenyataan yang dikeluarkan oleh Kementerian Dalam Negeri di Parlimen baru-baru ini yang menyatakan bahawa terdapat sebanyak 153 kes kematian dalam tahanan polis antara tahun 1999 hingga 20081.  Kami berpendapat bahawa pihak polis perlu bertanggungjawab terhadap segala kes kematian dalam tahanan kerana adalah tanggugjawab polis untuk menjaga OKT (orang kena tahan) dalam keadaan sihat seperti yang dinyatakan dalam Akta Kaedah-Kaedah Lokap(L.N.3289/1958)(4).

Oleh itu, kami berpendapat bahawa amat penting wujudkan Suruhanjaya Bebas Salahlaku dan Aduan Polis (IPCMC) yang bersifat bebas ,telus dan adil untuk menyelesaikan masalah sedemikian serta mengawal  tindakan polis memandangkan terlalu banyak kes kematian dalam tahanan berlaku sekian hari.

SUARAM menyeru sekali lagi agar Peguam Negara menghormati keputusan mahkamah dan segera membayar pampasan kepada Puan Suzana kerana segala bukti dalam kes Encik Mohd Anuar Sharip adalah jelas dan  kini tiba masanya keluarga mangsa untuk mendapatkan keadilan!

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[1] Parliamentary reply to Manogaran A/L Marimuthu (Teluk Intan) at the Dewan Rakyat, 3 March 2009, Question 60, Reference Number 1540.

Jemputan menghadiri kes perbicaraan inkues R.Gunasegaran

Kes R.Gunasegaran merupakan salah satu kes kematian dalam tahanan yang amat memerlukan pemerhatian daripada semua pihak masyarakat.

Pihak SUARAM ingin menjemput semua pihak untuk menghadiri perbicaraan inkues tersebut dan memberikan sokongan kepada ahli keluarga R.Gunasegaran yang berani berdepan untuk memperjuangkan keadilan dan hak asasi manusia daripada penindasan oleh pihak polis.

kami berharap kes ini mendapat liputan yang luas supaya mendapat perhatian daripada rakyat dan memberi tekanan kepada kerajaan untuk menubuhkan IPCMC ( Suruhanjaya Bebas Salahlaku dan Aduan Polis ) dan membuat reformasi terhadap institusi Polis Diraja Malaysia.

Latar belakang:

R.Gunasegaran (31 tahun) didapati mati dalam tahanan di Balai Polis Sentul pada hari bulan 16 Julai 2009 selepas 2 jam dia ditangkap oleh polis dalam satu operasi penangkapan penagihan dadah di sekitar kawasan Sentul.
Namun demikian,kakak Gunasaegaran yang bernama R.Ganga Gowri telah melaporkan kepada polis terhadap sebab tidak setuju kematian adiknya adalah berpunca daripada pengambilan dadah yang berlebihan dan dia mempercayai Gunasegaran pernah dipukul oleh pengawai polis sebelum dia meninggal dunia, dan kenyataan tersebut disetujui oleh beberapa orang saksi yang pada masa itu berada dalam lokap yang sama dengan adiknya, mereka menyatakan Gunasegaran dipukul oleh polis dengan menggunakan hos getah dan juga kayu.

“Memperjuangkan Hak Asasi Manusia!”

Yap Heng Lung

Penyelaras SUARAM

PENAN SUPPORT GROUP – Press Release: 6 July 2010 – NO MORE DENIALS: NGO FACT FINDING MISSION REVEALS MORE SEXUAL ABUSE CASES AMONG PENAN COMMUNITIES

Following the findings of the National Taskforce Report of September 2009 (Laporan Jawatankuasa Bertindak Peringkat Kebangsaan Bagi Menyiasat Dakwaan Penderaan Seksual Terhadap Wanita Kaum Penan Di Sarawak), which confirmed cases of sexual violence and exploitation of Penan women and girls, a group of non-government organisations set out to investigate further the situation in Sarawak when informed that there were other Penan  women and their families who wanted to share their stories of sexual violence and exploitation.

Furthermore the NGOs were motivated to document new evidence in light ofSarawak state government leaders’ repeated refusals to acknowledge that Penan girls were sexually abused by timber workers and their apparent rejection of the National Taskforce Report findings.

The report entitled A Wider Context of Sexual Exploitation of Penan Women and Girls in Middle and Ulu Baram, Sarawak, Malaysia is the result of a fact-finding mission by the Penan Support Group, FORUM-ASIA and Asian Indigenous Women’s Network (AIWN).

The fact-finding mission visited three (3) Penan communities and one (1) Kenyah community and listened to evidence from a further thirteen (13) Penan communities.

The mission found that women were willing to share their stories, but they did not want to go to the authorities owing to the police’s lackadaisical responses in the past and further obstacles including the lack of identity cards, language barriers and the prohibitive cost of travel.

Seven (7) previously undocumented cases are described in the report.  The cases all point to systematic patterns of violence.  Themes include harassment, abduction, rape, physical assault, emotional abuse, coercion into marriage and desertion upon pregnancy.

The documentation of these cases refutes those who in the past rejected the veracity of the Penan women’s claims.

The purpose of the report is not only to record instances of sexual violence and rape, it is also to contextualise these crimes in the political situation in Middle and Ulu Baram, Sarawak.  This report further confirms that the treatment of the Penan people is intrinsically tied to the wider political situation and demands a political solution.

This wider context within which the sexual violence has taken place includes the systemic undermining of the autonomy and sustainability of the Penan people, which is caused by:

  • the denial of their land rights;
  • the denial of basic citizenship rights for many through a failure to register and issue ID cards;
  • state neglect of their welfare including a failure to guarantee adequate access to basic services such as education and health care; and
  • state failure to provide a supporting environment of the right to redress.

The situation facing Penan communities has been documented previously in various reports over the years.  The impact of logging and ‘land development’ on the Penan communities, their land and their rights was detailed in the NGO report “Not Development, but Theft” in 2000.  The SUHAKAM Report (2007) on Penan in Ulu Belaga highlights the abject poverty in which many Penan communities live and states clearly that the Sarawak state government, as the primary duty bearer, is chiefly responsible to ensure the Penan people’s right to life and standard of living.  The National Taskforce Report (2009), while confirming the allegations of sexual abuse, also makes reference to the poverty the community faces, as well as the lack of access to health care and education among other issues.

The lack of respect and protection afforded to Penan women and girls, as can be seen by their various experiences of sexual violence and exploitation, is tied to the lack of respect and protection shown to the Penan community as a whole.

The report provides recommendations for all sectors of the Malaysian community, including the federal and Sarawak governments, the federal parliament and the Sarawak state assembly, intergovernmental bodies, SUHAKAM, non-government organisations and Bursa Malaysia.  These recommendations aim to support changes resulting in a future where Penan communities have the power to determine the direction and pace of their development, secure in their land and communities and respected for their culture, and above all, enjoy their human rights without discrimination.

For further inquiries, please contact John Liu of SUARAM at +60377843525.

Press Statement: 21 June 2010 Gov’t Must Act Immediately on UN’s Call for the Repeal of Detention-without-Trial Laws and End to Detention of Refugees & Asylum Seekers

The initial findings and recommendations of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) from its country visit to Malaysia from 7 to 18 June 2010 have added to the long list of recommendations and concerns pertaining to the Malaysian government’s legislations, policies and practices of arbitrary detention.

“Classic Cases of Arbitrary Detention” under ISA, EO, DDA, RRA
Among its initial findings of its visit, the WGAD stated that it is “seriously concerned” about the existence and enforcement of laws which provide for detention without trial in Malaysia, namely the Internal Security Act (ISA), the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance (EO), the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act (DDA), and the Restricted Residence Act (RRA).

The WGAD stated that these laws “deny the detainee the right to a fair and public hearing” and “severely restrict detainees’ access to legal counsel”.

During the press conference held by the WGAD on 18 June 2010, its Chairperson-Rapporteur El Hadji Malick Sow stated that detentions under the ISA, the EO, the DDA, and the RRA are “classic cases of arbitrary detention”. The WGAD also noted with concern that “thousands of people” are being detained under the EO and the DDA.

“Systematic” Detention of Refugees
Also of concern to the WGAD is the detention of refugees and asylum seekers. The WGAD’s Chairperson-Rapporteur described the detention of refugees as “systematic”, noting that even refugees who are in possession of identity cards issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are not exempted from arrests and detentions.

Malaysia’s non-ratification of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and non-recognition of the status of refugees and asylum seekers have resulted in the detention of many refugees under immigration laws in Malaysia for their alleged “illegal presence” in Malaysian territory. The WGAD noted that detainees who have served prison sentences under immigration laws are often held in immigration detention centres for an indefinite period while awaiting deportation to their countries of origin.

Recommendations Not New, No Reason for Delay in Implementation
While the WGAD’s final report will only be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2011, its initial recommendations are clear enough for the government to make immediate efforts for improvements.

Furthermore,similar recommendations have already been made in the past by other bodies – such as the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police, and various UN member states. As such, there is no justification for the government not to implement the WGAD’s recommendations immediately, especially in view of its status as an elected member of the UN Human Rights Council. Moreover, since it was the Malaysian government that invited the WGAD for this visit, it must also be consistent with such commitment by implementing the recommendations made.

Repeal All Detention-without-Trial Laws
On detention-without-trial laws, the WGAD recommended that the ISA, the EO, the DDA, and the RRA be repealed. The WGAD further noted that even if these laws are not repealed, the government must ensure that they are amended to the extent that they are in conformity with Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights spells out the guarantees of the right of every individual to a fair trial.

In other words, even if the government wishes to amend the detention-without-trial laws instead of repealing them, the amendments must ensure that all persons must be accorded a fair trial before being detained. This effectively means that the government must end its practice of detaining
individuals without trial.

Hence, while the government has announced its intention to amend the ISA, the EO, and the DDA, any changes which will merely reduce the periods of detention – including the initial investigative period of detention (currently 60 days) and the subsequent detention order by the Home Ministry (currently 2 years) – would not adequately fulfill the recommendations of the WGAD.

SUARAM thus strongly calls upon the government to immediately re-look into the proposed amendments to all the detention-without-trial laws with additional consideration of the WGAD’s recommendations to do away with the practice of detaining individuals without trial. Ultimately, the ISA, the EO, the DDA, and the RRA must be repealed.

At the same time, the government should immediately end the arrests made under the detention-without-trial laws, and release all individuals who are currently detained under these laws or charge them in a fair and open court.

End Detention of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Other Vulnerable Migrants On the detention of immigrants, the WGAD stated that “detention of immigrants should be decided upon by a court of law, on a case by case basis, and pursuant to clearly and exhaustively defined criteria in legislation”. The WGAD stressed that immigrants should have an effective remedy to challenge the necessity and legality of their detention at any time.

The WGAD also stressed that immigration detention should not be applied to refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable groups of migrants, including unaccompanied minors, families with minor children, pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers, elderly persons, persons with disabilities, or people with serious and/or chronic physical or mental health problems.

The Malaysian government has also been urged by the WGAD to ratify the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, a recommendation which has already been made on numerous occasions by SUHAKAM as well as UN member states during the Universal Periodic Review of Malaysia in February 2009.

SUARAM strongly urges the government to immediately implement these recommendations, especially in refraining from the arrests of refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups of migrants. The government should also immediately provide a concrete timeframe for the ratification of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

Invite UN Experts in Other Areas Too
Lastly, while the WGAD expressed its gratitude towards the Malaysian government for its invitation which made the visit possible, and while being fully aware of the fact that the visit of the WGAD as well as other Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the UN Human Rights Council cannot be made without the host government’s invitation, SUARAM wishes to point out that the WGAD had in fact made a request for a country visit to Malaysia way back in 2008. It was only in early 2010 that the Malaysian government officially and publicly confirmed its acceptance of the WGAD’s request to visit Malaysia.

To date, the Malaysian government still has not responded to eight pending requests by other
Special Procedures Mandate Holders, namely the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders (request made in 2002); the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples (2005); the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion (2006); the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants (2006); the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism (2005); the Independent Expert on Minority Issues (2007 and 2009); the Special Rapporteur on Racism (2008); and Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (2009).

SUARAM therefore calls upon the Malaysian government to extend standing invitations to all Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the UN Human Rights Council, with particular urgency in responding to the eight mandate holders which have made requests for country visits to Malaysia.

Released by,
John Liu
Coordinator