Archive for December 2008

Because of its deployment of the ISA as a political tool, Malaysia will always remain a “quasi” or semi-democracy, says Johan Saravanamuttu.


The continued detentions of the five Hindraf lawyers under the ISA and blogger Raja Petra Kamaluddin in 2008 under the Abdullah Badawi government is one of the most cynical acts of this so-called ‘moderate’ and retiring leader of Malaysia. The detentions and then the releases of journalist Tan Hoon Cheng and DAP politician Teresa Kok also count as among the dastardly acts of a politically bankrupt government. The Home Minister’s facile excuse that the ISA was used to ‘protect’ Lee and Kok must rank as the political joke of the year.

As of today, Malaysia still has 62 persons detained under the ISA. In a written answer given to Parliament in 2005, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was then also Minister for Internal Security, said that in all, 10,662 people had been arrested under the ISA in the past 44 years, 4,139 were issued with formal detention orders, and 2,066 were served with restriction orders governing their activities and where they live. In addition, 12 people were executed for offences under the ISA between 1984 and 1993.

The more serious political event involving the direct use and abuse of the ISA occurred in 1987. Just the year before, there was yet another patent abuse of human rights in the form of the Memali incident. The 27 October political crackdown on opposition leaders and social activists known by its police code name, “Operation Lalang” (weeding operation), saw the infamous arrests of 106 persons under the ISA and the revoking of the publishing licences of two dailies, The Star and the Sin Chew Jit Poh and two weeklies, The Sunday Star and Watan. As this event is possibly the most significant in Malaysian political history since the May 13, 1969 ethnic riots, it bears some recounting.

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chinchin  They stripped me of everything, starting with my own clothing, and my rights as a human being, recalls Lim Chin Chin of her ISA detention during Operation Lalang.

I tossed and turned upon the wooden board, unable to close an eyelid.  I became aware that  torture in prison is not inflicted by means of the bars, or the walls, or the stinging insects, or hunger or thirst or insults or beating.  Prison is doubt.  And doubt is the most certain of tortures.
 – Nawal el Saádawi
Memoirs from the Women’s Prison

The above quote by Nawal el Saádawi has captured very succinctly the power and terror of the Internal Security Act (ISA).  My own experience testifies to the truth of it.

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Picked up this from Haris (People’s Parliament) and Laila’s (Hitam Merah) blogs.

Teater Bilik Sulit is a play that features the untold true accounts of the nature of Police interrogation of the ISA detainees which are based on testimonials of those who used to be detained under the ISA.


In conjunction with the International Human Rights Day, The Bar Council in collaboration with Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) would like to extend an invitation to all of you ladies and gentlemen to Teater Bilik Sulit which is going to be held on these dates :

20/12/2008 (Saturday)

Venue : Bar Council Auditorium, Level 1

Time : 8.30pm

Space is limited, kindly RSVP.

For more info kindly contact 012-4651671 @ fadiahnadwa9@

DEC 17 – In search of a better life for their families, nine Filipino women in Malaysia just went through a nightmare.

One of them is 29-year-old Paula Alcantara, who witnessed the plight of eight other Filipino women forced into prostitution in Malaysia. Like her colleagues, she had been swindled by a fellow Filipina and her foreign husband in Malaysia.

Alcantara said the eight women were locked inside a condominium unit in Kuala Lumpur and allowed to eat only once a day. At night they were brought to pub houses to work as prostitutes but in the end did not earn a single cent.

“Some of them were very young. They would go to me at night to cry. (They said) they were physically abused,” Alcantara told the Inquirer. “It is just painful because it was our fellow Filipinos who took advantage of us. They were harsh,” she added.

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You know I never had my eyes teary for years now, that was until I read this brilliant speech by this young and courageous girl Gabrielle Chong, delivered at the Malaysian Bar Council, Bar Council Human Rights Public Speaking Competition 2008 finals on 12 Dec 2008.

Image Gabrielle Chong, who spoke passionately about the rights of homosexuals and lesbians, seized the Champion Trophy sponsored by Roger Chan Weng Keng and a cash prize of RM1,500 for the Public Speaking Competition


Good evening everyone.
In this country, I’m the minority of minorities.
Firstly, I’m a female. Secondly, I’m a Chinese and thirdly, I’m an agnostic.
I’m glad to let you know that, throughout the 19 years of my life thus far that I have spent in Malaysia, I’ve never encountered serious oppression because of my sex, race of religious belief, because thank God, in Malaysia, we acknowledge and have satisfactory protection of women’s rights, as well as the rights of racial and religious minorities.
But I also belong to another minority that has been discriminated and persecuted until this very day.

Ladies and gentlemen,
I stand before you today as a gay Malaysian to appeal for the protection of gay rights in Malaysia.

What does it mean to be gay person?
A gay person is someone who is attracted to persons of the same sex.
But that’s it. The definition ends there.
Far beyond our differences, I share many similarities with all of you in this hall.
For example, I’m here today because like you, I’m concerned about human rights and I enjoy debates.
Like you, I’ve a family that I love and cherish.
Like you, I too, long for the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And most of all, like you, I am capable of love.

What does it mean to be a gay person in Malaysia?

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A very good evening to
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan, President of the Bar Council

Mr. Andrew Khoo, Deputy Chair, Human Rights Committee

Mr. Bertrand-Xavier Asselin, Second Secretary, Political, Economic and Public Affairs section, High Commission of Canada

Representatives of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation
Nina Shaharuddin, The Asia Foundation

Datuk Dr. Chiam Heng Keng, SUHAKAM Commissioner

Ladies and gentlemen
1.    Human Rights- Unplugged. In the context of today’s topic, the term ‘unplugged’ came to us from the music industry. Musicians, so often dependent on electronic and electrical devices to create their unique sounds, literally pulled the plug and returned to their basic acoustic roots. Since the inauguration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights some 60 years ago, the term ‘human rights’ has acquired an accretion of concepts and shades of meaning that its essential meaning is often lost in the clutter. Ask the man in the street today what human rights are and if he answers at all, he is likely to suggest that it is a Western concept which plays little or no role in his daily life. Yet it is trite that we are all human, and as acknowledged by the Universal Declaration, that fact alone gives us certain inalienable rights –rights that cannot be removed or trampled over by individuals, groups or governments. Human rights unplugged, is in essence the fundamental principles we need to live by as a civil and civilised society – to treat each other as human beings should; with dignity, with  due regard to our status as equals , having the same rights and vulnerabilities as everyone around us. It is a state where the rule of law acts to protect people from abuse and oppression.

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By Wong Chin Huat

10 Dec 2008 at 10.00am

NO, your eyes do not fool you. Nor have I been visited by Special Branch officers and “turned over”.

I was at the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre car park Sunday night, 7 Dec 2008, attending the weekly anti-Internal Security Act (ISA) gathering. A passionate speaker lamented that there were so few Malaysians there because they were afraid of the ISA. He was also disappointed that corrupt governments can be overthrown once and again by demonstrating crowds in Bangkok, but not in Kuala Lumpur.

The gentleman could not be more wrong if he thought the causality works only in one direction — that the ISA causes people to shun demonstrations. It actually works both ways — the ISA also exists because of some people’s fear of demonstrations and all other forms of political expression.

Also, one could not be more wrong to think that the ISA is merely an evil tool of the Barisan Nasional (BN) to control citizens. It is not a complete falsehood when BN politicians claim that the people want the ISA since they support a ruling coalition that desires the ISA.

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Source : The Nut Graph

10 Dec 08 : 8.00AM

By Elizabeth Looi and Shanon Shah,

Eleanor Roosevelt reading the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Spanish text

“MALAYSIA has only signed two out of the eight core international human rights treaties,” says Alice Nah, National Human Rights Society (Hakam) executive committee member.

“As time goes on, however, Malaysia’s reluctance to sign these treaties will become more untenable, particularly if it wants to be a recognised and respected member of the United Nations (UN),” she tells The Nut Graph in an e-mail interview.

Considering the spate of state-led crackdowns on public assemblies, and detentions of activists and opposition politicians under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in recent months, Malaysia seems miles away from this particular goal.

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Dean Johns

As a human who happens to write, I most of all love to write in support of human rights. It’s the worthiest possible cause. It puts me in the best possible company. And it gives me at least a grain of hope that I can help right some human wrongs.
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The now-banned Hindu Right Action Force (Hindraf) and Penan activists of the Ulu Baram area in Sarawak have won Suaram’s 2008 Human Rights Award.

The annual award, presented since 1999, was given to the two rights groups for their unique achievements in highlighting concerns of their communities.

suaram human rights award 091208 winners 01The judges were Irene Xavier a former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee, Colin Nicholas of the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns, Masjaliza Hamzah of Sisters in Islam, and Suaram executive director Yap Swee Seng (extreme right in picture).

Civil society movement Hindraf was recognised for being able to “captivate, mobilise and empower vast numbers of Malaysians of Indian origin” within a short period of its existence, said Xavier.

She said the judges were “impressed by the way Hindraf contextualised the current situation by bringing in colonial history and demonstrating how, even after 50 years of Merdeka (independence), the Indian community has continued to be marginalised and disenfranchised”.

“The success of Hindraf can perhaps be seen in the fear it has caused the government, to the extent that it detained five of its leaders under the ISA and outlawed the organisation.”

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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