NOT ANOTHER ROYAL COSMETIC INSTITUTION!

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser, 5 April 2019

It is no longer just an opinion that thus far Royal Commissions of Inquiry (RCI) in Malaysia are regarded as a mere stalling device by the ruling coalition in the face of citizens’ outrage over gross injustice and government indifference. The suggestion by the Pakatan government that yet another RCI will be set up to look into the enforced disappearance of several Malaysian activists has strengthened the suspicion that RCIs in our country have been reduced to “Royal Cosmetic Institutions”.

Any leader of a genuine democratic country founded on the defence of human rights would have responded to such a finding by its National Human Rights Commission by demanding answers from the Police Chief and Home Minister and seeking the immediate release of these “disappeared” Malaysians.

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PAKATAN PRECEDENTS IN MB APPOINTMENTS

By Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser, 11 April 2019

The battle royale that is shaping up in Johore over the choice of Menteri Besar may look like a tussle between the Pakatan government and the monarchy over a constitutional principle. The Prime Minister has maintained that the role of appointing the new Johor Menteri Besar lies with the party that won the election, not with the Sultan of Johor. As our constitutional monarchy goes, the PM is right of course except that since the political tsunami of 2008, Pakatan has blinked twice in this battle royale.

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DR.M LACKS LEADERSHIP AND COMMITMENT TO HUMAN RIGHTS

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 6 April 2019

The Prime Minister’s reversal of the decision to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is the most serious flip flop of the Pakatan Harapan Government to date and closely parallels the recent decision not to ratify the International Convention on the Eradication of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

The reason Dr M gave for this climb down is neither rational nor valid: He said “…the government ‘was forced’ to withdraw from ratifying the Rome Statute following the confusion created by those with political interests” even though he was aware that signing the Rome Statute was not harmful to Malaysian constitutional rights nor would it affect the country’s sovereignty:

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PM SHOWS CONTEMPT FOR SUHAKAM’S FINDINGS & HUMAN LIBERTY

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 4 April 2019

By labelling as “hearsay”, Suhakam’s findings that pastor Raymond Koh and activist Amri Che Mat are victims of “enforced disappearances” by the Malaysian Special Branch, the Prime Minister shows contempt for the country’s Human Rights Commission and for the precious right to human liberty.

The Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) is neither an amateur nor insignificant organisation.  Suhakam was set up in 1999 as a serious state-sponsored and state-funded entity  under an act of the legislature with the broad objective of protecting and promoting human rights. Suhakam has held extended public inquiries into the disappearances of Koh, Amri, and two others missing — pastor Joshua Hilmi and his wife, Ruth Hilmi — under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act. Headed by three senior respected commissioners, the inquiry into Koh’s case took place over 21 days and heard 16 witnesses.

Any leader of a genuine democratic country founded on the defence of human rights would have responded to such a finding by its National Human Rights Commission with deep concern and an immediate demand for a) answers from the Police Chief and Home Minister and b) the immediate release of these “disappeared” Malaysians. Instead, the PM has disappointed us with his “business as usual” response:

“I don’t know if they (Suhakam) have evidence to prove this is what happened. If they have, of course, we will take it up…But please remember this did not happen during our time. It happened under the previous government. A lot of things were hidden from us and the public,” he said.

Mahathir said Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohamad Fuzi Harun will retire soon and that he will be allowed to retire first “… then we will have another IGP who will conduct the investigations.” Fuzi was the former Special Branch chief at the time of the said disappearances.

Such a lackadaisical response by the PM to this unprecedented indictment of the Malaysian Police for such a heinous crime is unacceptable. If the culprits are not apprehended and dealt with severely, no Malaysian will ever trust the Malaysian Police to act with fairness, justice and professionalism.

We expect nothing less than a Special Task Force under the Prime Minister to immediately get to the bottom of this disgraceful blemish on the Malaysian Police Force and its Special Branch in order that these missing Malaysians may regain their liberty and to end the anguish of their long-suffering families. Nothing short of a radical overhaul of the whole Malaysian Police Force, its Special Branch and the Home Ministry can salvage our country from being associated with repressive regimes and banana republics. We remind the PM of the oft quoted judicial dictum that the liberty of any person – hence habeas corpus writs – must be attended to EXPEDITIOUSLY.

THE PM MUST SECURE THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF PASTOR KOH & AMRI CHE MAT

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 4 April 2019

The conclusion by the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) public inquiry that Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh, who vanished in 2016 and 2017 respectively, were victims of enforced disappearance is the most serious indictment against the Malaysian Police to date. Suhakam has also concluded the perpetrators were members of the Special Branch.

Throughout the years since the enforced disappearance of these men, the police and the Home Ministry have maintained an unacceptable nonchalance. They have consistently refused to acknowledge that they played any role in the abduction and/ or whereabouts of the disappeared persons. Now they have been fingered as the abductors of these two hapless men, those in the Special Branch, the IGP as well as the Home Ministry who ordered the abductions must be brought to book.

The Prime Minister and the Attorney General must step in without a moment’s delay to ensure the release of these two men and to deal with all those responsible for their enforced disappearance.

Enforced disappearance refers to the arrest, detention or abduction of a person, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the fate of that person. In this case, Suhakam has concluded that the agents of the Malaysian State, namely, the Special Branch of the Malaysian Police Force perpetrated this crime.

Enforced disappearance is a heinous crime in international law. Such arbitrary detention is not only a violation of the rights of the victims but also of their families, often equated with psychological torture. A disappeared person is also at a high risk of torture and other human rights violations, such as sexual violence or even murder. Systematically perpetrated against civilians, it is considered a crime against humanity.

Enforced disappearance is frequently used as a strategy to spread terror within society. The feeling of insecurity and fear it generates is enormous for the close relatives of the disappeared, and also affects communities and society as a whole. Those most at risk include human rights defenders, relatives of those already disappeared, key witnesses and lawyers.

“New Malaysia” must never tolearate the enforced disappearances largely used by military dictatorships and banana republics. We therefore call on the Prime Minister to secure the immediate release of Pastor Koh and Amri Che Mat and to bring the perpetrators of this despicable crime to justice. Only then can we salvage the already damaged reputation of Malaysia as a democratic country that respects the rule of law and human rights.