Archive for September 2008

Sep 30, 08 Malaysiakini

In our proclamation of independence, our first prime minister gave voice to the lofty aspirations and dreams of the people of Malaya: that Malaya was founded on the principles of liberty and justice, and the promise that collectively we would always strive to improve the welfare and happiness of its people.  

Many years have passed since that momentous occasion and those aspirations and dreams remain true and are as relevant to us today as they were then. This was made possible by a strong grasp of fundamentals in the early period of this nation.

The federal constitution and the laws made pursuant to it were well founded; they embodied the key elements of a democracy built on the rule of law. The Malaysian judiciary once commanded great respect from Malaysians and was hailed as a beacon for other nations.


Our earlier prime ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn were truly leaders of integrity, patriots in their own right and most importantly, men of humility. They believed in and built this nation on the principles and values enunciated in our constitution.  
tunku abdul rahmanEven when they had to enact the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960, they were very cautious and apologetic about it. Tunku stated clearly that the Act was passed to deal with the communist threat.

“My cabinet colleagues and I gave a solemn promise to Parliament and the nation that the immense powers given to the government under the ISA would never be used to stifle legitimate opposition and silent lawful dissent”, was what the Tunku said.

Our third prime minister, Tun Hussein Onn, reinforced this position by saying that the ISA was not intended to repress lawful political opposition and democratic activity on the part of the citizenry.  

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(Prepared by Prof Johan Saravanamuttu)

Human Rights Practice — Regression rather than Progression

Malaysia’s human rights practice, by way of national laws and legal instruments, has steadily slid downhill since independence in 1957. This is due to several major political developments since independence and particularly because of the actions of the government led by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad since 1981. The only positive actions on the part of the state in recent years has been the endorsement of several international human rights conventions and the setting up of a national commission on human rights. These developments are summarized below.

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By Jacqueline Ann Surin

IT is easy to focus on the recent cases of Internal Security Act (ISA) detentions because the three who were taken in — Malaysia Today blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng, and DAP Member of Parliament (MP) for Seputeh Teresa Kok — are public personalities with varying levels of exposure.

Indeed, by virtue of Raja Petra’s controversial postings that make him a hero among many Malaysians, Tan’s reporting of Datuk Ahmad Said’s hurtful penumpang remarks about Chinese Malaysians, and Kok’s profile as a vocal opposition MP, the attention on their detention has been understandable. The other group of detainees who remain in the public’s consciousness are the five Hindraf leaders who are being held at the Kamunting detention camp.

Amid the euphoria of having Tan and Kok released so quickly from detention because of public scrutiny and pressure, and the ongoing outrage against Raja Petra’s and the Hindraf five’s continued detention in Kamunting, it would be easy to forget that there are scores of other people who are ISA detainees.

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Azly Rahman | Sep 29, 08

The General Assembly proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member-States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.- Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948
Free Raja Petra Kamarudin and all the ISA detainees. Abolish the ISA. This is my appeal to the current regime. – Aliran Monthly

How do we continue to live with the contradiction of being a ratifier of the UDHR and still hold on to the Internal Security Act (ISA) as an instrument of oppression? At home, how must we live with this hypocrisy of jailing without trial our noble citizens such as Raja Petra Kamaruddin and yet abroad speak out against Guantanamo Bay in the platform of world affairs?

pak lah and united nations 150905When Malaysian leaders go abroad and give speeches at the United Nations or the Malaysian embassies for example, they often argue that Malaysians have their own way of dealing with human rights issues.

They say that culturally Malaysians are different than, say the American or the Britons. Human rights is a subjective issue that needs subjective interpretation, as the argument goes.

The way the government deals with freedom of speech for example includes the stubborn political will to keep the ISA intact as an instrument of the country’s ‘right’ to maintain peace and security.

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This paper was presented at the Forum on ISA – National Security Law organised by Suaram in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 25. On the 14th anniversary of Operation Lalang which saw the arrest of 107 opposition leaders, religious, social, academicians and environmental activists and the shutdown of The Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh and the now defunct Watan for a few months.

Saturday October 27, 2001 

       The ISA is an instrument of state terror

In the aftermath of the Sept 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, the editorial of Dissent was a typical response: “Terrorists are parasitic on oppression, they are not friends of the oppressed. We have to defend our lives; we are defending our way of life.” (Dissent, Fall 2001)

Terror is the use of violent and terrifying actions for political purposes, whether by a government to intimidate the population or by an insurgent group to oppose the government in power. We have to decide whether the terror of detention without trial, especially the infamous Internal Security Act, is part of the Malaysian way of life or a relic of our former colonial past.

In their effort to justify this draconian law, the Malaysian ruling coalition unwittingly uses the former colonial master’s racist arguments that countries such as ours still require laws which blatantly violate human rights, such as the ISA. This is an affront to the dignity of Malaysians for even after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks on the US, the Americans would not contemplate a law which allows detention without trial such as the ISA.

The Prime Minister and other BN leaders have been misleading the Malaysian public when they say that the Americans are thinking about learning from Malaysia’s use of the ISA. In the first place, the Americans can learn from their ‘War Minister’ Tony ‘The Third Way’ Blair since Britain is the mother of the ISA.

Why do they need to learn from Malaysia? Britain has its own Prevention of Terrorism Act 1974. Under this law, four Irish suspects were convicted of the Guildford bombing and six in the Birmingham case, only to be declared innocent and released 16 years later. The Americans themselves are old hands at using “security laws” in the Third World from their involvement in Vietnam, Guatemala, El Salvador and elsewhere. They certainly do not need Malaysian help in this area.

Torture not hearsay

In the US itself, Americans are in the process of discussing trade-offs for liberties against the need for security. However, they value their fundamental freedoms too much to consider reverting to banana republicanism and allowing their personal security to be threatened by a law which allows detention without trial, up to 60 days of solitary confinement, and that is bereft of judicial review.

They are now looking at measures that have been part of the furniture in many countries, e.g., closed-circuit television in public places; laws requiring everyone to carry an ID card; police personnel carrying machine guns as they patrol public places; Special Branch snooping; death penalty for firearm possession; proscription of specified terrorist groups. Even conservative Americans are apprehensive about laws that allow more intrusive surveillance in their own country.

The US president wants broader authority for investigators to conduct wiretaps, monitor the Internet and track foreign students and immigrants. Certainly, the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill 2001 is hard on immigrants – immigrants could be jailed under more circumstances and for longer periods without appearing before a judge. But it is hard to conceive of Americans allowing the passing of a law like the ISA that allows ordinary citizens to be detained without trial, 60 days solitary confinement and that disallows judicial review.

The ISA has long served as the ruling coalition’s instrument of terror. Its specific purpose is to terrorise social activists, dissidents and the opposition. It is first and foremost, a licence to torture. Renewable periods of detention under the ISA already serve as a deterrent to would-be dissidents – some ISA detainees have been detained for as long as 15 and even 16 years!

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Abdul Malek Hussin, bekas tahanan ISA (Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri), tidak akan dapat melupakan buat selama-lamanya peristiwa buruk yang telah berlaku ke atas dirinya sembilan tahun yang lalu. Abdul Malek, 51, telah menang dalam samannya terhadap kerajaan kerana menangkap dan menyeksanya pada tahun 1998.

Mahkamah juga menganugerahkan gantirugi RM2.5 juta kepadanya. Beliau memfailkan saman tersebut pada Mac 1999, terhadap anggota cawangan khas, Borhan Daud; Ketua Polis ketika itu, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor dan kerajaan Malaysia. Abdul Malek yang juga pengerusi badan pemantau Pilihanraya Bebas dan Adil Malaysia (Mafrel) ditahan di bawah ISA sembilan tahun yang lalu.

Beliau menceritakan kepada Malaysiakini setiap saat pahit yang dilaluinya sewatku menjadi tahanan ISA.

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    Asian NGOs Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI), in a letter today to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), urged the SUHAKAM to prove that it is worthy of an “A” status under the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) and that it is truly a national human rights institution earnest in the pursuit of promoting and protecting human rights in the country.

Several national, regional, and international non-governmental organizations have endorsed the letter.
The ANNI also urged the SUHAKAM to take on the issue of the arrests of Mr. Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Ms. Tan Hoon Cheng, and Ms. Teresa Kok.

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This, at first glance, would seem like nothing. After all, who doesn’t know what human rights are, right? We all know that we’re free to speak, free to express ourselves, free to walk and talk and buy things, free to work, free to earn, free to..whatever. We all know that.

But that’s not what I mean. To randomly pick an analogy that would be easy to grasp my idea of “educate”: I am a non-Muslim. But I KNOW what Islam is. I know it’s a religion in which Allah is the Almighty, that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is/was the last true prophet, and that the Quran is the holy book in Islam.

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Sunday September 14, 2008

ISA: An affront to human rights

Sunday Star Says

HERE we go again, making headlines around the world for the wrong reasons.

The latest arrests under the Internal Security Act have only brought more ignominy to the nation at a time of mounting political and economic uncertainties.

Global media coverage of the ISA detentions of Raja Petra Kamarudin, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng – albeit for only 24 hours in her case – have further tarred Malaysia’s image abroad.

The Government has continued to justify the use of the ISA against those deemed to be a threat to security and public order but whether it likes it or not, unchecked powers to detain people for long periods without trial can only be looked at negatively in a country that wants to be seen as progressive.

Most legal systems in the world are not perfect and each has its own flaws. Even the US and Australia, where human rights are much cherished values, have their own versions of detention-without-trial laws in the form of the Patriot Act and the Australian Anti-Terrorism Act.

But these equally unjust pieces of legislation which could also be abused by their governments don’t make the continued existence of the ISA right.

The Government has every right to defend the population from those who are genuine threats to public order and security, including those who stoke racial and religious tensions. The point is: there are existing laws to deal which such miscreants.

The ISA is a capacious net that allows police to arrest individuals who they believe have acted, or are “about to” or “likely to” act in a way that would threaten Malaysian security, “essential services” or “economic life” (Article 73 (1)b).

On that basis alone, the ISA is antipodean to the fundamental principles of human rights. It denies the right to liberty of the person, to freedom from arbitrary arrest, the presumption of innocence, and the right to fair and open trial in courts of law.

It cannot be denied that the ISA has been abused in the past. Some victims may still be languishing behind bars at the infamous Kamunting Detention Centre.

Today, it’s not just the Opposition parties, human rights activists and those in the legal fraternity that are vehemently against the ISA.

Malaysians of all races and political affiliations feel the ISA is a shameful blot on the country’s dignity.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The General Assembly

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and good faith in the fulfilment of the obligations assumed by States in accordance with the Charter,

Affirming that indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples, while recognizing the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be respected as such,

Affirming also that all peoples contribute to the diversity and richness of civilizations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage of humankind,

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FREE ALL ISA DETAINEES "The land belongs to the countless numbers of people who are dead, the few who are living and the multitude of those yet to be born". child2