SUARAM’s Latest Publication “Race and Racial Discrimination in Malaysia: A Historical and Class Perspective” by Dr Kua Kia Soong

Racism & Discrimination in Malaysia: A Historical and Class Perspective
Price: RM40
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At last! The elephant in the room is not only acknowledged but caringly examined from trunk to tail by Malaysian social scientist Kua Kia Soong.

This is the first in-depth expose of racism & racial discrimination in Malaysia, written from a historical and class perspective. It forces the nation to confront once and for all the ‘Bumiputera agenda’ which has been implemented with impunity since the New Economic Policy in 1971. These discriminatory policies fail to meet the standards of international conventions and continue to stymie Malaysia’s goal of achieving high-income status by 2020.


This book is about the politics of race and class in Malaysia, highlighting the structural conditions that enable the crude manipulation of race to serve the economic interests of the ruling elite. The chapters on the Emergency contain declassified documents from the British Public Records Office, which were made available after the 30-year secrecy rule was lifted. The author offers alternatives that are needs based and thus race-free by doing away with such discriminatory policies, rent-seeking activities and patronage politics.


Foreword by Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy, Former UN Special Rapporteur


  • The politics of race & class
  • Legacy of British divide-and-rule strategy
  • Authoritarian populism of the Malaysian state
  • Racist threats during UMNO power struggles
  • Racism outsourced to Malay supremacist groups
  • The ‘Bumiputera/Immigrant’ conceptual trick
  • Do Malays have special “rights”?
  • The Umno elite and their statistical charade
  • Malaysia’s crony capitalism
  • Institutional obstacles to attaining high-income status
  • Affirmative action based on need not race
  • Non-discriminatory basis of the federal constitution
  • The world community outlaws racism & racial discrimination


  • Who was here first?
  • Malay feudal mode of production
  • Contradictions in traditional Malay society
  • European mercantilism


  • From mercantilism to imperialism
  • Malay resistance to British intervention
  • Colonial backing of the Malay ruling class
  • Promoting the ‘special position of the Malays’
  • Malay Reservations Enactment
  • Discrimination against rubber smallholders
  • Growth of the working class
  • Radicalization of the working class
  • Non-Malay commercial class
  • Specific communalist colonial policies



  • Making of the Malayan workers’ movement
  • The radical Malay intelligentsia
  • Japanese Occupation: Brutal communalism
  • Post-war workers’ struggles
  • The Malayan Union and the politics of communalism
  • The Federation of Malaya proposals
  • The Peoples’ Constitutional Proposals
  • Prelude to the revolt: Reaction


  • Imperialist stake in Malaya
  • The ‘Emergency’: 1948-60
  • Communalist tactics against the guerrillas
  • Crafting the ‘Alliance Formula’
  • Civil rights compromised
  • Dato Onn’s communalist politics
  • MERDEKA: The communal formula enshrined


  • The neo-colonial economy
  • The peasantry
  • Peasant differentiation
  • The state’s rural communalist strategy
  • State intervention in the rural sector


  • The neo-colonial solution in Singapore
  • Sarawak and Sabah in the racial equation
  • The bigger communalist pond
  • Struggle within the Malay ruling class
  • May 13: Coup against the Tunku


  • BN: Larger communal formula
  • Racial discrimination institutionalized
  • The 1974 general election
  • New Economic Policy
  • Dominance of metropolitan capital
  • From import-substitution to export-orientation
  • Workers’ struggles since Independence


  • Contradictions within the ruling coalition
  • Accommodating the non-Malay capitalists
  • Growth of the Malay middle class
  • The working class
  • Conflict with metropolitan capitalists
  • Super-exploitation of workers and women
  • State repression and communalism


  • Mahathir’s authoritarian populism
  • Sensational financial scandals
  • Privatisation and the new Malay capitalists
  • Favoured Bumiputera capitalists
  • Favoured non-Bumiputera capitalists
  • Petronas – the cash cow
  • A racist legacy
  • Restructuring of the Malaysian working class
  • Islamic populism


  • Back to crony capitalism
  • UMNO outsources racism to the far-right
  • Post-GE13: Bumiputera policies with a vengeance
  • Heightened Islamic populism
  • Institutional racism
  • Racist indoctrination in state institutions
  • Racism against ethnic Indians
  • Racism against indigenous peoples
  • The state, ruling class and communalism
  • Class differentiation in Malaysia today
  • State repression and communalism


  • The struggle for greater democracy


  • Outlaw racism, racial discrimination & hate crimes
  • Never too late for truth & justice
  • Non-racial alternatives to national development

Deaths in detention an arduous battle for justice

From Malaysiakini

COMMENT On the Aug 11, 2012, Cheah Chin Lee was a 36-year-old furniture shop assistant in Tanjung Bungah, Penang, with no history of health or emotional problems.
On Aug 12, he was arrested by the police in connection with a motorcycle theft case. On Aug 13, he was found dead, hanging from his neck in the Tanjung Tokong police station lockup.

Cheah’s case is one of many appalling deaths in detention in Malaysia. Whether or not the police caused such deaths in detention directly, there is no question that they are fully responsible for the health and safety of all detainees.

These cases, along with reports of beatings and torture while under police detention, form one of Malaysia’s biggest ongoing human rights violations.

Seeking justice in such cases has always been an uphill battle, in a country where the administration of justice is flawed on multiple levels.

In the most recent developments in Cheah’s inquest, the coroner has shockingly denied the family’s lawyer from access to notes of evidence and court records, as well as disallowed said lawyer from making submissions during the inquest itself – creating an undeniable obstacle in the pursuit of justice and an atmosphere that brings to mind collusion and cover-ups.

Inquests an uphill battle

Many deaths in custody do not even get an inquest. What should be a standard procedure to investigate any and all deaths in custody is in fact a rarity that is often only called as a result of public pressure. This is the first injustice that requires remedy.

Successfully calling an inquest however, does not guarantee justice – far from it.

In over a thousand recorded deaths in custody (including in prisons and immigration detention centres), there have been almost no inquests which clearly and unambiguously hold the authorities responsible.

Often times, the inquest proceedings are beset by the unbearably frustrating phenomena that some of us have come to expect of our courts.

In one example, the lawyer representing the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in Teoh Beng Hock’s inquest famously suggested that Teoh Beng Hock might have strangled himself.

Severe conflicts of interest

A key problem in these inquest proceedings is how many of the parties involved perceive themselves to be ‘on the same side’, even in cases where technically, they are not supposed to be.

For example, the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) are responsible, along with the coroner, to push for the truth as to how an individual died in custody.

The police themselves, by virtue of being the ones detaining the individual, must have their culpability thoroughly investigated.

A problem arises when the AGC and the police often regard one another as two parts of the same body (the government).

In the same way that a long standing problem with police misconduct is that the ‘proper’ way to seek redress is by lodging a police report against the police with (the same) police, there appears to exist a serious conflict of interest.

The relationship between the AGC and the police is further complicated by the fact that the AGC also in essence acts as counsel to the police.

For example, after an inquest, should the family of an individual who has died in custody opt to bring a civil suit against the police, it is the AGC that represents the police in the suit.

We saw the odd manner in which this plays out in the case of R Gunasegaran, a man who died in police custody on the very same day as Teoh Beng Hock.

During the inquest proceedings, the AGC acted as deputy public prosecutor, and submitted to the coroner that the police had abused their powers, and were culpable for Gunasegaran’s death.

After the coroner returned an open verdict (a phenomenon far too common in such cases), Gunasegaran’s family filed a civil suit against the police.

This time, the AGC represented the police as federal counsel, and now lawyers from the same institution were then arguing the opposite of their colleagues earlier – that the police in fact had done nothing wrong whatsoever. Clearly there is a serious disconnect here.

As if this was not bad enough, there are some questions regarding coroners as well. The coroner in an inquest was previously a magistrate, and is now a sessions court judge.

Neither are technically independent in the same way a high court judge is, but are in fact part of the AGC, and serve at the pleasure of the attorney general.

It appears then, that everyone – the police, the deputy public prosecutor from the AGC, and the coroner – is on the ‘same side’ (“the government”), except for the family of the deceased.

Surely within such a system, the conflict of interest and opportunity for collusion to exonerate anyone perceived to be ‘on the side’ of the government is much higher than it should be.

Why is family shut out?

Thus far, most inquests have been decent enough to allow lawyers representing the family of the deceased to participate fully and meaningfully in the inquest proceedings.

The lawyer representing Cheah’s family, M Visvanathan (left), was thus shocked when the coroner refused to allow him access to the notes of evidence and recordings of the court proceedings, or to make submissions in the inquest, effectively shutting the family’s lawyer out of the process.

Visvanathan is still allowed to ask questions during this inquest; beyond that however, he has been reduced to little more than a spectator with almost as little involvement and standing as a member of the public in the gallery.

Visvanathan filed for an application for revision of this decision in the Penang High Court, which was dismissed. The AGC unprecedentedly went as far as to raise preliminary objections in this application, supporting the coroner’s decision. Visvanathan is now taking the matter to the Court of Appeal.

The question then becomes: why is the lawyer representing the family of the deceased being shut out from the process?

Given the conflicts of interest described above, if the family is not allowed to participate in the inquest, would a finding that exonerated the police be believable?

Surely there are questions here of whether or not this renders the judicial process incomplete and/or defective.

No more cover-ups

The problems here lie both in the design of the system and in its execution. For too long, Malaysians have suffered from the falling reputation of its judicial system.

Cases like Cheah’s do nothing to dispute perceptions of how the system is one-sided and lacks integrity.

By blocking the family from the inquest proceedings, surely suspicions will be raised that there is a concerted effort to block a thorough examination into the causes of Cheah’s death. Some may even speculate as to efforts towards a cover-up of sorts.

We hope against hope for good sense and justice to prevail, such that a clear precedent will be set that allows the families of those who have died in custody to participate in the process of determining how their loved ones have died.

NATHANIEL TAN is not quite back yet, and intends to continue grappling with the big picture in relative quiet. He tweets much less nowadays @NatAsasi.






Suaram mengecam kenyataan balas yang dikeluarkan oleh Ketua Polis Negara, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar terhadap kenyataan media Suaram yang menuntut agar Akta Dadah Berbahaya (langkah-langkah Pencegahan Khas) 1985, (DDA 1985) dimansuhkan.


Portal The Malaysian Insider bertarikh 19 September telah memetik tulisan Khalid di laman sosial Twiter beliau yang cuba menggambarkan pemansuhkan DDA 1985 akan menyebabkan jenayah dadah berbahaya berleluasa. Beliau juga cuba menggambarkan penjenayah akan bergembira apabila DDA 1985 dimansuhkan.


Suaram menganggap kenyataan yang dikeluarkan Khalid ini sebagai kenyataan kosong, tidak ilmiah dan menunjukkan sifat sombong Ketua Polis Negara. Kenyataan Khalid ini juga menunjukkan beliau merupakan seorang yang tidak perihatin terhadap hak asasi manusia.


Suaram menegaskan bahawa Suaram menyokong sebarang usaha dalam membanteras jenayah dadah demi keselamatan awam, namun usaha tersebut mestilah selari dengan prinsip hak asasi manusia.


Terdapat perkara-perkara fundamental yang dibangkitkan Suaram langsung tidak disentuh oleh Khalid. Sebagai contohnya, beliau tidak menjawab persoalan mengenai DDA 1985 mencabuli hak asasi manusia dengan menghalalkan penahanan tanpa perbicaraan. Seksyen 6 DDA 1985 memberi kuasa kepada Menteri untuk menahan seseorang selama dua tahun tanpa dibuktikan bersalah oleh Mahkamah. Bukankah ini menyanggahi prinsip ‘Natural Justice’ yang menetapkan seseorang itu perlu dianggap tidak bersalah selagi tidak dibuktikan bersalah oleh mahkamah?


Khalid juga tidak menjawab fakta yang menunjukkan DDA 1985 gagal menangani jenayah dadah berbahaya apabila jumlah tahanan yang ditangkap dibawah kesalahan dadah berbahaya terus meningkat dari tahun ke tahun. Pada tahun 2011, jumlah pesalah yang ditangkap adalah seramai 111, 719 orang dan jumlah ini meningkat kepada 116, 740 orang pada tahun 2012. Pada tahun 2013, Jumlah ini terus meningkat apabila 129, 250 ditangkap.  Apakah Khalid tidak sedar mengenai angka-angka ini atau beliau sengaja ingin menyembunyikan fakta demi mengekalkan kuasa arbitrari  Polis dalam DDA 1985.


Khalid juga tidak menjawab apabila Suaram mempersoalkan mengenai proses siasatan Polis yang dijalankan ke atas tahanan DDA 1985. Suaram membangkitkan kerisauan mengenai kemungkinan berlaku penderaan terhadap tahanan DDA 1985,memandangkan DDA 1985 juga memiliki peruntukan seperti ISA  yang membenarkan Polis menahan seseorang selama 60 hari untuk tujuan siasatan. Berdasarkan testimoni bekas tahanan ISA, dalam tempoh 60 hari ini terdapat dalam kalangan mereka yang diseksa bagi memaksa mereka membuat pengakuan.


Suaram juga mempertikai kejujuran Khalid apabila beliau seolah-olah cuba menggambarkan hanya DDA 1985 mampu membanteras jenayah dadah berbahaya di Negara ini. Sedangkan Negara kita sudah memiliki undang-undang lain seperti Akta Dadah Berbahaya 1952 (DDA 1952) yang mampu menangani jenayah dadah berbahaya. Apa yang lebih penting ialah, DDA 1952 tidak memiliki peruntukan tahan tanpa bicara sekaligus memberi peluang orang yang dituduh membela diri di Mahkamah.


Oleh itu, Suaram menyeru agar Ketua Polis Negara bersikap jujur terhadap rakyat Malaysia dan bersikap lebih perihatin dalam memastikan hak asasi manusia terus dipelihara.




Syukri Razab






Akta Dadah Berbahaya (Langkah-langkah Pencegahan Khas) 1985 atau dikenali sebagai DDA 1985 digubal pada tahun 1985 dengan tujuan untuk menangani jenayah dadah berbahaya. DDA 1985 digubalkan di bawah Perkara 149 Perlembagaan Persekutuan, iaitu kuasa yang membenarkan Parlimen membuat undang-undang tanpa perlu patuh kepada prinsip kebebasan asasi yang terkandung dalam Perkara 5,9,10 dan 13 demi menjaga keselamatan awam.

Menurut laporan Agensi Anti Dadah Kebangsaan, pada tahun 2013, seramai 813 orang telah ditahan di bawah DDA 1985.


Seksyen 1(3) DDA 1985 menyatakan akta ini memiliki tamat tempoh (Sunset Clause) iaitu setiap lima tahun sekali. Bermula daripada tarikh akta ini diwartakan, ia perlu diperbaharui setiap lima tahun sekali. Seksyen 1(4) pula menyatakan Parlimen perlu memutuskan samada ingin meneruskan atau membiarkan akta ini terluput dengan sendirinya.


Jun 2015 akan menjadi tarikh luput bagi DDA 1985 setelah akta tersebut diperbaharui pada tahun 2010. Oleh itu Suaram berharap Kerajaan Malaysia dan Ahli Parlimen dapat membuat penilaian yang sewajarnya bagi memastikan akta ini tidak lagi disambung hayat sekaligus berhenti mencabuli hak asasi manusia.




1. DDA 1985 Mencabuli Hak Asasi Manusia.


Hak Asasi Manusia merupakan tonggak penting dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan. Hak-hak ini diperuntukan dalam bahagian Kebebasan Asasi iaitu Perkara 5 hingga 13.


Penafian Perkara-perkara ini menyebabkan individu yang ditangkap dibawah DDA 1985 boleh ditahan tanpa dibicarakan. Malah seseorang itu boleh ditangkap secara arbitrari tanpa waran dan tanpa diberitahu sebab-sebab tangkapan. Setelah ditangkap, individu tersebut boleh ditahan sehingga 60 hari mengikut Seksyen 3(2) DDA 1985 tanpa perlu mendapatkan reman mahkamah terlebih dahulu.


Apa yang lebih penting ialah, individu yang ditahan di bawah DDA 1985 akan hilang hak untuk mendapat pembelaan yang adil di Mahkamah. Seksyen 6 DDA 1985 memberi kuasa kepada Menteri untuk mengeluarkan Perintah Tahanan atau Perintah Sekatan tanpa perlu orang yang ditahan dibicarakan di Mahkamah. Ini bermaksud, DDA 1985 telah mematikan fungsi mahkamah dan fungsi tersebut telah diambil alih oleh Menteri.


Oleh itu, boleh dikatakan DDA 1985 telah menyebabkan seseorang itu dihukum tanpa dibuktikan bersalah oleh mahkamah. Perkara seperti ini sepatutnya tidak boleh berlaku lagi dalam sebuah Negara yang menjulang Perlembangaan dan demokrasi.


2. DDA 1985 Tidak Mengurangkan Kesalahan Dadah Berbahaya Di Malaysia.


Sejak tahun 2008 sehingga 2013, statistik yang dikeluarkan oleh Agensi Anti Dadah Kebangsaan (AADK) menunjukkan bilangan yang ditangkap di bawah kesalahan dadah berbahaya terus meningkat.


Pada tahun 2011, jumlah pesalah yang ditangkap bagi kesalahan Dadah Berbahaya adalah seramai 111, 719 orang. Manakala jumlah tangkapan meningkat  pada tahun 2012 menjadi 116, 740 orang. Pada tahun 2013, Jumlah tangkapan terus meningkat dengan menyaksikan seramai 129, 250 ditangkap.


Peningkatan secara berterusan ini menunjukkan DDA 1985 gagal menjadi mekanisme yang berkesan dalam menangani kesalahan dadah berbahaya di Malaysia.


3. Tidak Wujud Transparensi Cara Siasatan Polis Dalam Tempoh Siasatan.


Menurut peruntukkan di bawah DDA 1985, seseorang yang ditangkap boleh ditahan selama 60 hari bagi tujuan siasatan. Walaubagaimanapun, bentuk siasatan yang dijalankan oleh pihak Polis dalam tempoh ini masih tidak jelas.


Bentuk siasatan yang tidak jelas ini menimbulkan kerisauan tentang bagaimana sebenarnya operasi standard pihak Polis dalam menjalankan siasatan. Kerisauan ini timbul ekoran fakta-fakta yang pernah direkodkan oleh bekas tahanan Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA). Seperti DDA 1985, ISA juga memberi kuasa kepada pihak Polis untuk menahan seseorang selama 60 bagi tujuan siasatan. Berdasarkan testimoni yang diperolehi daripada bekas tahanan ISA, dalam tempoh 60 hari tersebut terdapat dalam kalangan mereka yang diseksa oleh pihak Polis bagi memaksa mereka membuat pengakuan.


Menurut laporan Malaysiakini bertarikh 18 Jun 2012 yang bertajuk ‘Nota Mengharukan dari Kamunting’,  antara bentuk seksaan yang pernah dialami tahanan ISA termasuklah dibogelkan, dipukul beramai-ramai, kemaluan dicucuh api rokok dan seluruh bada dilumur dengan cili boh.


Oleh itu adalah dikhuatiri jika perkara yang sama berlaku terhadap tahanan DDA 1985 kerana bentuk siasatan Polis tidak pernah didedahkan kepada umum.


4.  Wujud Undang-Undang Lain Yang Lebih Komprehensif


Pihak Polis sering beralasan bahawa sukar untuk mendapatkan bukti untuk mensabitkan seseorang itu dengan jenayah dadah berbahaya kerana pesalah licik untuk menyelamatkan diri. Oleh itu undang-undang tahan tanpa bicara perlu digunakan.


Namun alasan ini tidak wajar digunakan untuk merasionalkan pencabulan hak asasi kerana sudah menjadi tanggungjawab pihak Polis untuk melakukan siasatan terperinci. Apakah pihak Polis cuba mengatakan institusi Polis di Malaysia tidak mampu menjalankan siasatan walaupun sudah memiliki kelengkapan yang cukup baik?


Dalam masa yang sama, wujud undang-undang lain yang lebih komprehensif dalam menangani kesalahan dadah yang mengguna pakai Seksyen 117 Kanun Prosedur Jenayah. Hal ini menyebabkan hak-hak orang yang ditahan akan sentiasa terjaga seperti hak untuk tidak ditahan melebihi tempoh reman 14 hari


Apa yang lebih penting ialah, orang yang ditangkap di bawah undang-undang yang lain akan berpeluang untuk membela diri di Mahkamah.




Berdasarkan justifikasi yang telah diberikan di atas, maka kami mengusulkan tuntutan berikut:


1. Mansuhkan DDA 1985.


Kerajaan Malaysia perlu memansuhkan DDA 1985 dengan cara tidak membentangkan usul pelanjutan akta tersebut di Parlimen. Dengan cara ini DDA 1985 akan secara automatik termansuh dengan sendirinya.


Sekiranya Kerajaan tetap ingin membentang usul pelanjutan DDA 1985, maka kami menuntut seluruh Ahli Parlimen tidak bersetuju dengan usul tersebut.


2. Bebaskan Tahanan DDA 1985.


Semua tahanan DDA 1985 perlu dibebaskan dan disiasat menggunakan undang-undang yang lebih adil dan patuh hak asasi manusia.


Disokong oleh:


  1. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  2. Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Youth Section (KLSCAH Youth)
  3. Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor & KL
  4. Lawyer For Liberty (LFL)
  5. Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia (IKRAM)
  6. Lensa Anak Muda Malaysia (LENSA)
  7. Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM)
  8. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
  9. Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM)
  10. Kelab Bangsar Utama (KBU)
  11. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
  12. Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement (DEMA)