JOINT PRESS STATEMENT
Malaysian Civil Society Strongly Condemns the Abuse of SOSMA by PDRM
Malaysian Civil Society strongly condemns the high-handed action of the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) in detaining Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan under the Special Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA).
Originally presented by the government as a national security and anti-terrorism measure, SOSMA provides for up to 28 days’ of detention without trial. There is no allegation or evidence of Khairuddin having any credible terrorist background. Instead, the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has made it clear that Khairuddin was arrested for lodging reports with investigators in Hong Kong, Switzerland, France and the United Kingdom over the financial scandal involving 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Adding to the abuse of power is the fact that Khairuddin was arrested immediately when he was released by the court after six days’ remand following arrest on Friday 18 September under section 124C of the Penal Code for “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy”. His re-arrest under SOSMA was under sections 124K and 124L of the Penal Code, which deal with sabotage and attempting to sabotage the state. If found guilty under 124K he faces life imprisonment.
This pattern of arrest and re-arrest following attempts in seeking justice and information on 1MDB through other jurisdictions clearly signals persecution by the state.
Detention without trial is highly repulsive to all democratic nations, the detention of political dissenters under such repressive legislation further highlights SOSMA’s unbridled scope for abuse under its draconian measures.
Clamp down on whistle-blowers
The detention of Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan under SOSMA has undermined whatever progress Malaysia has made from the dark days of Operasi Lalang. The conduct of the Royal Malaysian Police can be seen as a pathetic attempt to answer the call of its political masters in the current turmoil. The failure to obtain the court’s permission in extension of the remand and the failure to produce any legitimate charge despite the time available for the police should have been a sufficient notice for the police to cease and desist from their harassment against Khairuddin. The decision to re-arrest Khairuddin under SOSMA immediately after the court decision to deny the extension of Khairuddin’s remand shows the true colours of the Royal Malaysian Police. The deplorable course of action shows callous disregard for the rule of law and the role played by the judiciary in the Malaysian legal system.
Corruption by any governmental body is a grave threat against the economic stability of any nation state. Further, in an environment rife with corruption, rule of law that serves as the cornerstone for any democratic nation cannot be practiced. To ensure the continuity and survival of Malaysia as a democratic state, those who have committed act of corruption must not be left unscathed. Allowing those who have conducted themselves in a corrupt manner only allows them to act with impunity and emboldens them to further destabilize and damage the beautiful country that our forefathers have built.
Can PDRM be impartial?
If we account for the gravity of the allegations made in relation to the 1MDB scandal and the great sum in question (RM 2.6billon and rising), it does not take a savant to understand that transparent and impartial investigation by all agencies involved is paramount in ensuring that the truth would prevail and justice would be served. With this in mind, the Malaysian Civil Society seek to remind PDRM of their duties and suggest that they conduct themselves in an impartial and respectable manner and provide adequate assistance to facilitate the investigation. As fellow Malaysians, the PDRM owe themselves and the country a moral and legal duty to act in an impartial manner. The potential economic damage of the alleged corruption revolving around 1MDB is not something that can be brushed off with a wave of a hand and the detention of individuals. Any attempt to further subjugate investigation would only come back to haunt Malaysians today and our future generations. As fellow Malaysians, members of the PDRM would not be safe from the repercussion and fallout from a failed investigation into the 1MDB scandal.
PDRM must be acutely aware of the role that they play and the power they hold in such times. PDRM should strive to be the independent and impartial police force that Malaysia desperately need and cease to be a political tool of those who walk the corridors of power. The decision to detain Khairuddin under SOSMA as part of this ongoing 1MDB scandal shows the world the desperation by those who walk to corridors of power today. PDRM should not debase themselves and serve as tools of such despicable acts.
To the Government of Malaysia, it is clear that the promises made when SOSMA was first tabled in parliament were nothing but false promises to the people of Malaysia. The Government of Malaysia have clearly reneged on their promises and turned SOSMA into the vengeful spectre of ISA. Detention without trial on its own is repulsive enough that any individual that value freedom in a democratic nation cannot in good conscience be agreeable to legislations that grants such power to enforcement agencies and the government. The application of such measures against political dissenter marks the danger of SOSMA in modern Malaysia and cannot be anything less than a first step back to the dark ages of ISA. The chilling experience and lesson from the dark days of Operasi Lalang should have been a sufficient lesson for all. Lest concrete actions are taken, Malaysia would undoubtedly sink back to the dark days of ISA.
The act of Khairuddin as a whistle-blower does not make him a threat to Parliamentary democracy of Malaysia. If anything at all, his action should be taken as a concern for the
state of affairs in Malaysia and plea for international intervention into a corrupted and failing system. The acts of intimidation through detention under SOSMA would not preserve the national sovereignty of Malaysia. Such acts would only act as a deterrent to potential whistle-blowers that seek to inform Malaysians of the wrongdoing of others. The act of penalizing the messenger and not the wrongdoer cannot be the Malaysian way of tackling wrong-doing in Malaysia. With this in mind, we call for the Government of Malaysia to enact adequate protection of whistle-blowers and cease its detention and harassments against whistle-blowers.
Legal and moral duty of the government
On this note, we, the Civil Society Organisations of Malaysia would like to remind the government of the Right to Liberty of Person guaranteed under the Article 5 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia and the Right to Freedom of Expression provided for under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. These are rights that are paramount to the continuity of the democratic practices valued by all Malaysians. Any actions to subjugate these values and rights would by default be the true threat against Parliamentary democracy. Irrespective of the prevailing threats by various quarters, the rights paramount to the practice of democracy in Malaysia must never be subject to undue control. The Government of Malaysia would do well to remember the freedoms provided for and guaranteed by Federal Constitution of Malaysia must not be denied to Malaysians with such callousness and apathy.
May we also remind the Government of Malaysia of the obligation of Malaysia as part of the international community. As a member state of the United Nation and a representative in United Nation Security Council, the Government of Malaysia have the legal and moral duty to adhere to the human rights values espoused by international norms and the human rights conventions that they have signed. Further as a member of the United Nation Security Council, Malaysia must conduct itself in a manner that would make Malaysia an exemplary model for human rights for the rest of the world. This can only be achieved if the Government of Malaysia conduct itself in a respectable manner that would not put the nation to shame.
As a society of conscience, we Civil Society Organisations of Malaysia beseech our fellow citizens of Malaysia from all walks of life to unite against these irresponsible and reprehensible actions by governmental agencies. In these trying times, Malaysians must stand in solidarity against these actions that threaten to undo the effort of our forefathers and destroy all that we love and cherish. Malaysian Civil Society must take up the mantle of leadership in such times and show our dissent against such vile and deplorable actions by governmental agencies. Like the anti-Nazi movement at the height of the third Reich, the citizens of Malaysia have a similar duty to show the world that not all Malaysians are content with the present state of affairs and that we will not permit such acts of impunity against the rule of law and personal freedom.
All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (WargaAMAN)
Persatuan Kesedaran Kommuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
Federation of Malaysian Indian Organisation (PRIMA)
Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia
Gerakan Hapuskan Akta Hasutan (GHAH)
Islamic Renaissance Front
Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS)
Kajian Politik untuk Perubuhan (KPRU)
KL Tak Nak Insinerator (KTI)
Malaysian Indians Progressive Association (MIPAS)
Malaysians Indians Transformation Action Team (MITRA)
Malaysian Physicians For Social Responsibility
Malaysian Youth Care Association (PRIHATIN)
National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)
Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall (NSCAH)
Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute (OHMSI)
Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)
Persatuan Rapat Malaysia (RAPAT)
Sahabat Rakyat 人民之友
Sisters in Islam (SIS)
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
The Malaysian Youth and Students’ Democratic Movement (DEMA)
The Selangor & Kuala Lumpur Foundry & Engineering Industries Association (SFEIA)
University of Malaya Association of New Youth (UMANY)