PRESS STATEMENT: 18 MAY 2011 Detention under the EO is Arbitrary!

PRESS STATEMENT: 18 MAY 2011
Detention under the EO is Arbitrary!

Suaram expresses disappointment and concern over the detention of the three youths under the Restricted Residence Act (RRA) 1933 for 2 years. The detention orders under the RRA were issued by the Home Minister on 17 May 2011. This has made the habeas corpus applications that Suaram has planned to file has been made academic. The three individuals are Muhamad Arif bin Abu Samah (19 years old), Mohamed Ramadan bin Muhamed Ali (22 years old) and Mohamed Rafe bin Mohamed Ali (20 years old). Muhamad Arif was send to Mersing, Johor (for 2 years), Mohamed Ramdan to Chenon, Pahang (2 years) and Mohamed Rafe to Kulim, Kedah for 2 years as well.
The three were arrested by the Gombak District police officers on the 8th of March 2011 allegedly for involvement for possession of a stolen vehicle in their residential area in Selayang. But until today these allegations against them have not been proven in any court. On the other hand, the three of them have also been brought on a ‘remand roadshow’ by the police before being pinned under the Emergency Ordinance (Public Order and Crime Prevention). On 19 March 2011, they were served with detention orders under the EO which allows for detention without trial. The three have been detained for 60 days and they were tortured physically and mentally by the police during the entire duration of their detention. They were severely kicked and beaten with iron pipe, wire and aluminum. Other than that, they were also not allowed to meet with lawyer for nearly two months. Besides that, the family members of Mohamed Ramadan and Mohamed Rafe has also been duped by a man calling himself as an Inspector to extort money of RM 13,000 from them.
SUARAM is appalled at the increasing number of youngsters detained under the EO. SUARAM strongly condemns the Minister’s decision to pursue the detention of the youths under the RRA. Worst still, the detainees will most likely face traumatic experiences and difficulties in their new restricted area. Their rights to move freely, rights to education and more importantly, rights to live a better life with their family have been deprived. This is an outright abuse of power by the Minister who has been blindly signing the detention orders. The gross misuse and abuse of the EO on ordinary citizens of the country does not merely lie with the police but with the slipshod manner of the Home Ministry itself.

As of now, more than 1000 persons were being detained without trial under the EO at Simpang Renggam Detention Centre and other detention centres around the country. This number does not include those detained without trial in other police stations around the country. Going by this number of people detained, the EO can be deemed to be ten times worse than the infamous Internal Security Act (ISA) which also allows for arbitrary detention.

SUARAM recognizes the responsibility of the Malaysian government to curb crime and to deal with criminals, gangs and syndicates. But the government should not resort to means that violates human rights such as the EO in efforts to address criminal activity. Unfortunately in Malaysia, EO has been frequently abused by the police and government to deal with suspects of petty crimes. This is an outright misuse of power by the police and the Home Ministry in dealing with the EO detainees, particularly when they have absolute power and their decision cannot be challenged in court. Detention of any individual without trial is a violation of fundamental human rights.

SUARAM urges the government to withdraw the restricted order that have been served to the three detainees that have been mention above and immediately release them without any further conditions.

Detention without trial is a gross human rights violation. It violates Article 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and Article 8 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Federal Constitution which guarantees due process and security of persons.

Therefore, we call up on the government to:
Immediately repeal the EO, DDA and ISA;
Stop arresting youths and minors under the EO and respect their rights as laid out under CRC;
Stop re-arresting individuals under the same law (or any other preventive laws) especially those released by the courts through habeas corpus applications or through the recommendations of the Advisory Board ; if need be, they should be charged under existing criminal laws;
The police should immediately stop making any further arrests under EO ;
All those who are currently detained or restricted under EO should be released immediately or be charged in open court under existing criminal laws.

Released By,
Nalini.E
Detention without Trial Coordinator,
SUARAM

Sodomy II: The Crumbling Credibility of the Malaysian Judiciary Reaffirmed!

Press Statement: 16 May 2011

Sodomy II: The Crumbling Credibility of the Malaysian Judiciary Reaffirmed!

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) is most concerned with the outcome of the Kuala Lumpur High Court this morning, where trial judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah, has found a prima facie case against Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and has ordered him to enter his defence.

Anwar is charged with sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan at the Desa Damansara condominium on June 26, 2008. If found guilty under section 377B of the Penal Code, Anwar could face a jail term of not less than five years and a maximum of 20 years.

SUARAM has expressed concern during the trial with the apparent bias of the court proceedings; which was demonstrated time and again when Anwar’s defence team was denied access to medical reports and other documents, a defendant’s fundamental right to due process.

This led to the ridiculous scenario of doctors, who were being cross-examined by defence lawyers, but who were unable to refer to notes that they had made during the medical examination of Saiful Bukhari, since access to the notes would also have to be granted to the defence.

SUARAM also disagrees with the judge’s acceptance of the testimony of the three doctors; as it is clear that there are clear contradictions in their testimonies; to be the basis that there was indeed penetration, which requires the defence to call its case. But then again the trial judge himself had shown so much inconsistency by reversing his decision, from initially rejecting to accepting the DNA samples obtained from the lockup room where Anwar was detained.

In delivering his decision, the trial judge was reported to have commented on the credibility and truthfulness of the main witness in the case, Saiful Bukhari Azlan. SUARAM is concerned with the judge’s comments as he appears to have prejudged the case before the defence has presented its case. It is laughable that the trial judge would go out of his way to say that Saiful Bukhari was a “credible and truthful witness” when the said witness has given contradictory statements and was even romantically involved with one of the prosecutors in the case.

It is important to note that that the very basis of Anwar’s defence is that there is a political conspiracy to victimise him and as such, illogical and unlikely claims, loopholes in stories and inconsistencies in the testimonies cannot be disregarded and must be given due consideration. SUARAM feels that the judge, in establishing that there is prima facie, had not taken account of these factors.

This morning’s outcome has reconfirmed what SUARAM has repeatedly warned all along; that the courts have become mere puppets to the government of the day, succumbing to political pressures and making biased political decisions instead of legal decisions based on justice and fair play. The credibility of the Malaysian judiciary is further crumbling, as the ruling powers bend over backwards to hold on to their might and strengthen their grip on power.

Released by,

Hasbeemasputra Abu Bakar
Coordinator

Concerns over the Proposed Australia-Malaysia Refugee Transfer Arrangement

Concerns over the Proposed Australia-Malaysia Refugee Transfer Arrangement

For Release: 12 May 2011

The Migration Working Group is deeply concerned to hear about the possibility of a bilateral agreement between Australia and Malaysia in which 800 asylum seekers arriving by boat to Australia will be transferred to Malaysia for refugee status determination in return for Australia resettling 4,000 UNHCR-recognised refugees over 4 years.

Australia, as a state party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Convention) and its 1967 Protocol, should not violate its obligations under the 1951 Convention. It is surprising that Australia would even consider Malaysia as an ally in refugee protection. Malaysia has shown no positive signs of considering accession to the 1951 Convention. Worse still, Malaysia has one of the most appalling records for the abuse, torture and detention of asylum seekers and refugees.

Most asylum seekers and refugees in Malaysia live in squalid conditions, poverty and insecurity. Without the formal right to reside and work in Malaysia, most are forced to obtain jobs in the informal economy, where many suffer from violations of labour rights, including unpaid wages and forced labour. They are in constant danger of arrest, detention, punishment for immigration offences (including whipping) and deportation, leading to refoulement. When arrested, they face months of detention in immigration detention depots, many of which are overcrowded and unhygienic with poor sanitation. Refugee children are not provided with access to education.

We are concerned that the 800 asylum seekers transferred to Malaysia will suffer from the same conditions currently faced by asylum seekers and refugees in Malaysia. What procedural safeguards and measures will Australia and Malaysia put in place to ensure that the rights of asylum seekers and refugees under the 1951 Convention are protected? How will Australia and Malaysia ensure that they will have access to fair refugee status determination procedures and will not be subject to indefinite detention, punishment for immigration offences, and refoulement? While in Malaysia, will they have the right to reside, to work, and, for children, the right to education?

We urge Australia and Malaysia to live up to their existing human rights obligations as members of the United Nations, and for Malaysia to accede to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol without further delay. Without a domestic legal framework in place for refugee protection that meets the standards of the 1951 Convention, Malaysia should not be considered a safe place for asylum seekers and refugees.

For more information, please contact Daniel Lo, Co-Coordinator of the Migration Working Group at 012 218 6051 (mobile) or [email protected] (email)

Endorsed by the following members of the Migration Working Group:

Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) Asia Pacific
Coalition to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA)
Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility (CARAM Asia)
Foreign Spouse Support Group (FFSG)
The National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)
Health Equity Initiatives (HEI)
Justice, Peace & Solidarity In Mission Office, Congregation of the Good Shepherd Sisters, Province of Singapore-Malaysia
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)
Malaysian Social Research Institute (MSRI)
Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC)
Penang Office for Human Development (POHD)
Pusat Kebajikan Good Shepherd (PKGS)
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Tenaganita
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)

About the Migration Working Group:

The Migration Working Group (MWG) is a network of Malaysian civil society groups and individuals who advocate for the rights of migrants, refugees, stateless persons, trafficked persons and foreign spouses.

MAY 13: HIDDEN HANDS STILL AT WORK

MAY 13: HIDDEN HANDS STILL AT WORK
By Dr Kua Kia Soong, Director of SUARAM, 13 May 2011

When the May 13 Incident broke out in 1969, Said Zahari wrote these lines while under ISA detention in Singapore:

“Once again
History repeats itself
By savage deeds
In a civilized age

Once again
Hidden hands appear
Seeking the blood
Of the poor and the wretched

Once again
Colour, race, religion and language
Become sharp blades
To use in the carnage

It has happened
In every corner of the earth
Where the few eat bread
And the rest sand

It has happened
Where the few clothed in velvet
Sleep in palaces
The rest go naked, squeezed into shacks

It has happened –
Then hidden hands reappear
Spilling the blood of the poor
To cling on to power…”

Said Zahari certainly did not buy the official line that the riots had broken out spontaneously. The thesis of my 2007 title May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969 was that the pogrom was orchestrated by these hidden hands to facilitate the rise of the Malay state capitalist class in UMNO and to topple the aristocratic class headed by the Tunku. This opportunity presented itself after the devastating results for the ruling coalition in the 1969 general elections.

It was not until July 1969 – a lapse of two full months – that the security forces played their expected role of restoring order. It was not as if the Malaysian security forces were inexperienced in the role of maintaining order. They had successfully contained the armed insurgency during the Emergency from 1948 to 1960 under more difficult circumstances. Allowing the riots to continue for so many weeks provided an excuse for the new UMNO ruling class to make use of the state of emergency to implement their agenda for political and economic dominance through the New Economic Policy. In this plan, they received the full backing and connivance of the police and military.

Before the publication of my book, UMNO had all along been using “May 13” as a spectre to frighten voters of another pogrom whenever a strong political opposition had arisen to challenge the ruling coalition. This was seen in various general elections such as the one in 1990 when the public broadcasting media RTM was used to purvey scenes of carnage to remind voters of the consequences.

Even the Tunku could see through the ploy. In 1988, he gave short shrift to the Government’s White Paper on Operation Lalang:

“For the Prime Minister (Dr Mahathir) to repeat (the story of) the violence of the May 13 Affair as a warning of what would have happened if the Government had not taken appropriate action immediately is like telling ghost stories to our children to prevent them from being naughty. This is not a childish matter but a matter of national importance. The tale should not be repeated because it shows us to be politically immature.” (SUARAM, “The White Paper on the October Affair and the Why? Papers”, 1989: 5)

The prelude to Operation Lalang saw the UMNO leaders orchestrating racial tension over the transfer of non-qualified administrators to Chinese primary schools. They held a rally in Kampong Baru at which then UMNO Youth Chief and present prime minister was one of the chest thumpers on stage while banners called for “Chinese blood” and “May 13”.

Since then, UMNO has unleashed its Youth group to harass any groups which question UMNO policies such as the mob assault on the East Timor Conference in 1996; the demonstration against the Chinese associations’ Suqiu appeals and threat to burn down the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in 2000, among others.

Orchestration of the UMNO- Controlled Media
The UMNO-owned and controlled press, especially Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian have been indispensable accessories in the orchestration of communalism and racial tension to justify authoritarian measures such as was seen in Operation Lalang, 1987 and to frighten the voters into supporting the status quo.

I have monitored the way “The UMNO Media Communalises” in Media Watch: The Use and Abuse of the Malaysian Press, 1990, in order to show you how the trick is done . For example, when the Government was being criticized for the BMF scandal in the eighties, Berita Harian (19.9.86) featured the UMNO president, Dr Mahathir’s veiled threat at the UMNO general assembly: KESABARAN MELAYU ADA HADNYA (“There is a limit to the patience of the Malays”). Utusan Malaysia (19.9.86) would not be outdone: JANGAN AMBIL MUDAH ORANG MELAYU (“Don’t take Malays for granted”)

When there was widespread opposition to the Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill in 1986 by all ethnic groups, Utusan Malaysia (6.12.86) chose to feature this headline quoting the UMNO Youth Chief Datuk Seri Mohd Najib: NAJIB INGATKAN ANGGOTA-ANGGOTA UMNO KEPIMPINAN MELAYU SEDANG DICABAR (“Najib alerts UMNO members Malay leadership being challenged”)

During the orchestrated “crisis” over the posting of unqualified administrators to the Chinese primary schools, the banner headline in Berita Harian (19.10.87) read: KEKAL KETUANAN MELAYU – PEMUDA (“Defend Malay dominance – UMNO Youth”)

Then when Tengku Razaleigh was leading the Opposition Front in the 1990 general elections, the editorial headline of Berita Harian (20.4.90) read: POLITIK TENGKU RAZALEIGH MERUGIKAN MELAYU (“Tengku Razaleigh’s politics – Malays lose out”)

One really needs to go further back to the Sixties to monitor how the UMNO media has deliberately communalized issues. It all gets rather tedious to even the most weathered media watcher because they carry on ad nauseum to serve the UMNO agenda for political and economic domination by playing on Malay chauvinism.

As the young generation can see with their own eyes today, the UMNO media have not stopped. The latest caper by Utusan Malaysia alleging a plot to make Christianity an official religion is probably one of the crudest yet in its arsenal of orchestrated untruths.

Yet, has any Utusan Malaysia editor been sacked by their political masters for all these deliberate attempts at stoking racial tensions? So much for Najib’s “1Malaysia” caper! And they wonder why Malaysian professionals are leaving the country…

Demands for the 13th General Elections
Calling upon UMNO and the UMNO-owned and controlled media to be more responsible is like asking a leopard to change its spots. Bumiputraism has been part and parcel of UMNO’s ideology and method for maintaining political and economic power. Demands for social responsibility and ethical standards in the media will not be heeded unless these are enshrined in new democratic institutions.

Therefore, as we mark this 42nd anniversary of May 13, we reiterate the call for:

– A Truth & Reconciliation Commission to honour those who lost their lives in 1969 and to learn the lessons of that dark episode of Malaysian history by pointing the way forward toward national reconciliation;
– An independent Press Council and Broadcasting Authority, whose members and Chair are seen to be truly independent, acceptable and respected by civil society;
– A Race Relations Act to outlaw racism, racial discrimination, hate crimes and other related intolerances and an Equal Opportunities Commission;
– Ratification of the International Convention on the Eradication of Racism, Racial Discrimination and all forms of Intolerance.