Media statements issued never do get media coverage, and if it does it often does not report all that is stated. Given the fact, there seem to be no real documentation of all these civil society voices, this Blog has been started hoping to capture and preserve the voices of civil society for all. Appreciate it if you could forward me ( statements that have not been picked up by this Blog.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Open letter from Malaysian NGOs on genetically engineered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

17 December 2010

Y.B. Dato’ Sri Liow Tiong Lai, Minister of Health
Y.B. Dato Sri Douglas Uggah Embas, Minister of Natural Resources & Environment
Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr Hj Mohd. Ismail bin Merican, Director General of Health
Dato’ Zoal Azha bin Yusof, Secretary General, Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment and Chairperson, National Biosafety Board (NBB)
Mr Letchumanan Ramatha, Director General of Biosafety
Dr Shahnaz Murad, Director, Institute of Medical Research (IMR)
Dr Ahmad Parveez Hj. Ghulam Kadir, Chairperson, Genetic Modification Advisory Committee (GMAC)

Re: Open letter from Malaysian NGOs on genetically engineered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

We, the undersigned organizations of Malaysia, representing the public health, environmental, consumer and other movements, are very concerned by the recent approval to release genetically modified (GM) male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes OX513A(My1), for the purpose of a field experiment. We are even more worried that the field releases may have already happened, without adequate notification or information provision to the public. We urge the government to be transparent on the issue and to immediately disclose the details and specific sites of the releases.

1. Risky approach to dengue control
While dengue is a very serious problem in Malaysia and needs to be urgently addressed, going down the GM path takes us into risky territory. Genetic engineering often results in unintended effects. We do not know enough about the GM mosquitoes and how their interactions with non-GM mosquitoes in the wild, other species in the ecosystem, the dengue virus and human populations, will be affected.

There are several health and environmental risks associated with the field releases. For example, a small proportion of the GM larvae will survive – some of which would be female – despite claims that the technology is safe because the larvae will die. As female mosquitoes bite humans and transmit disease, has the risk of an increased disease burden been assessed? The surviving GM larvae would also lead to the persistence of the GM genes in the environment, with unknown consequences.

2. Field trials a first step to large-scale release
Although the field releases are characterized as small-scale and limited, we are extremely concerned that they are but one step in a technological approach to dengue control that is based on dependency and ‘locking-in’. At the commercial release stage, the continuous release of millions of GM mosquitoes at several places in Malaysia would be needed in order to successfully suppress mosquito populations. The risks would be greatly amplified at such large numbers.

One serious concern is the likely possibility that other closely related and disease-transmitting species would take over the ecological niche of Aedes aegypti once its populations are successfully reduced. This would continue to cause, or even worsen, the dengue problem and may even cause a rise in other mosquito-borne diseases.

While we realize that large-scale and eventual commercial releases would have to undergo a separate approvals and risk assessment process, the government cannot afford to ignore the implications of going down the GM path and must consider these concerns, even at this early stage.

3. In the public or private interest?
We understand that Oxitec Limited, a UK-based company, holds the patents on the technology used in these GM mosquitoes. While Oxitec will presumably collect rewards for their invention, will they bear the liability should anything go wrong?

A review of Oxitec’s accounts (available from Companies House, which is the UK government agency responsible for registering limited companies) shows that it made losses in 2008 and 2009 of £1.7 million a year. While Oxitec has received grants for its research, it is clear that the company expects to gain income from continual releases of GM mosquitoes in large numbers in several countries.

4. Our demands

a. As citizens of Malaysia, we demand a wider and broader public debate on the issue than there has been to date. This field experiment will have tremendous implications for Malaysia’s health and environment. There must be a national discussion as to whether GM mosquitoes are indeed the right approach to address dengue. The general public are integral to effective dengue control and there must be consensus on this issue.

b. The prior informed consent of the communities living in and around the proposed field release sites must be obtained. This means that they must also have the potential risks of the study adequately explained to them, and information about the sources of funding and any possible conflicts of interest provided.

c. We ask the government to call off the experiment and field releases of the GM mosquitoes, and to instead invest in safer approaches to addressing dengue.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

1. Centre for Environment, Technology & Development, Malaysia (CETDEM)
2. Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP)
3. Institute for Development of Alternative Living (IDEAL)
4. Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)
5. Parti Sosialis Malaysia - Cameron Highlands Branch
6. Penang Suya Meiyarivagam
7. Persatuan Kakitangan Akademik Universiti Malaya (PKAUM)
8. Persatuan Karst Malaysia
9. Persatuan Kebajikan Nelayan-Nelayan Pantai Pulau Pinang (Penang Inshore Fishermens' Welfare Association)
10. Persatuan Pengguna-Pengguna Pahang (PAC)
11. Persatuan Pengusaha Pertanian Kecil Felda Chini, Pekan, Pahang (Chini Smallholders Network)
12. Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN-AP)
13. Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)
14. Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA)
15. Secretariat Ulama Assembly of Asia (SHURA)
16. SOS-Selangor
17. Southeast Asian Council for Food Security & Fair Trade (SEACON)
18. Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility
19. Sustainable Development Network (SUSDEN)
20. TERAS Pengupayaan Melayu
21. Third World Network (TWN)
22. Treat Every Environment Special S/B (TrEES)
23. Environmental Protection Society Malaysia (EPSM)

Monday, December 13, 2010

CIJ : Pelan untuk undang-undang hasutan siber mengancam kebebasan ekspresi dalam talian

Pusat Kewartawanan Bebas Malaysia (CIJ)
27C Jalan Sarikei, off Jalan Pahang
53000 Kuala Lumpur
Laman sesawang:
Tel: 03 4023 0772
Faks: 03 4023 0769

2 Disember 2010

Kenyataan media: Pelan untuk undang-undang hasutan siber mengancam kebebasan ekspresi dalam talian

Pusat Kewartawanan Bebas (CIJ) amat membimbangi rujukan Menteri Dalam Negeri Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Hussein mengenai undang-undang baru yang akan diperkenalkan untuk mengawal hasutan dalam talian.

Menteri berkenaan dilaporkan berkata bahawa ia berdasarkan Akta Hasutan (1948) dan akan membantu menentukan mana-mana perbuatan dalam talian yang boleh didakwa di mahkamah.

Berita ini merisaukan kerana undang-undang hasutan yang sedia ada dan kerap disalahguna sudahpun digunakan dalam alam maya, seperti yang dilihat dalam tuduhan yang dikenakan kepada blawger Raja Petra Kamaruddin dan yang selainnya. Tambahan lagi, penggubalan undang-undang hasutan yang baru ini, khusus untuk ekspresi dalam talian, nampaknya satu tindakan sengaja oleh pihak kerajaan untuk menapis Internet, walaupun janji “tiada tapisan Internet” diberi oleh Bil Geranti Koridor Raya Multimedia.

Hasutan ialah konsep kejam dan kuno yang merupakan penghalang besar terhadap kebebasan ekspresi, walhal kebebasan ini dijamin dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan. Demi demokrasi dan kebebasan ekspresi, kerajaan persekutuan patut berusaha untuk memansuhkan undang-undang yang sedia ada dan bukannya membuat undang-undang baru untuk mendakwa hasutan dalam talian. Sebarang langkah untuk menghalang kebebasan ekspresi di Malaysia, yang sudah begitu terhad, hanya menunjukkan ketidakrelaan kerajaan untuk menyertai perbincangan awam yang iklhas dan dipertanggungjawabkan oleh rakyat.

CIJ turut membantah cara undang-undang baru ini diperkenalkan. Ia telah dirujuk sebagai “garis panduan”, “peraturan” dan kini, “rang undang-undang hasutan siber”, yang akan dikemukakan kepada Kabinet pada 3 Disember 2010. Dalam negara demokratik, sebarang perkara yang memberi kesan terhadap kebebasan asas dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan, termasuk penggubalan akta, mesti terbuka kepada komen dan cadangan. Namun hampir tiada maklumat dan tiada rundingan awam mengenai perkara ini.

Maka CIJ menyeru kerajaan supaya terbuka dan telus dalam pembentukan sebarang undang-undang, serta menghindari daripada menggubal “rang undang-undang hasutan siber” atau sebarang undang-undang yang akan mengekang kebebasan ekspresi di Malaysia.

Dikeluarkan oleh:
Chuah Siew Eng
Pegawai Program CIJ

Pusat Kewartawanan Bebas Malaysia (CIJ) berhasrat untuk mewujudkan masyarakat yang demokratik, adil dan bebas, di mana semua manusia menikmati media bebas dan kebebasan mengutarakan, mencari dan menyampaikan maklumat.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Malaysian Bar : Respect public expression of dissent

Press Release
Respect public expression of dissent
Regrettably, the police persists in favouring a repressive and heavy-handed approach when, as was the case yesterday, numerous members of the public gathered to express their viewpoint on an issue of concern to them.

The Malaysian Bar deplores the police’s harsh treatment of ordinary citizens who showed up to support the handover of a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, especially as access to water at an affordable cost is clearly a matter of great public interest. 
Intimidatory tactics were employed, including the dispersal and arrest of individuals even prior to the gathering. The police also displayed excessive and disproportionate force in their indiscriminate use of tear gas and water cannons on the crowd.

Repeated calls for the police to embrace the public’s increased articulation of viewpoints as a positive development in our society, and to accord it the necessary democratic space to flourish, continue to fall on deaf ears. The Government has indicated its intention to review section 27 of the Police Act to allow more latitude, but the actions of the police stand in stark contradiction to this avowed goal.

The police could have permitted the gathering to take place peacefully and with minimal disruption, while preserving public order and ensuring the safety of all participants. This approach would have dispelled any perception that the police behaves in a biased manner, and acts selectively to stifle only gatherings that voice dissenting views.

It is time for the police to take active measures to protect the Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms of speech and assembly. It is time for the police to exercise restraint, and to cease muzzling public opinion and persecuting those who speak their minds. It is time for the police to move away from a “police state” mindset and to accept, and work within, the current environment.

It is time, indeed it is long past the time, for the police to recognise and uphold the clear wish of the people to assemble peaceably and to express their opinions.

Ragunath Kesavan
Malaysian Bar
6 Dec 2010

CIJ :- Plans for Cyber Sedition law bode ill for freedom of expression online

Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) Malaysia
27C Jalan Sarikei, off Jalan Pahang
53000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03 4023 0772
Fax: 03 4023 0769

2 December 2010

Media statement: Plans for Cyber Sedition law bode ill for freedom of expression online

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) is greatly concerned at Home Minister Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s references to a new law that will be introduced to govern sedition in cyberspace.

The Home Minister reportedly said that it would be based on existing Sedition Act (1948) and would assist in determining what can be prosecuted on the Internet.

CIJ finds this highly disturbing since the much-abused existing law is already applicable online, as seen in the charging of top blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin and his peers. Further, the government’s formulation of this new sedition law, targeted at online expression, seems to be a deliberate act to censor the Internet. This is despite the “no Internet censorship” promise laid out in the Bill of Guarantees of the Multimedia Super Corridor.

Sedition is a draconian, antiquated concept that poses a serious curb on the freedom of expression guaranteed in the Federal Constitution. In the interest of democracy and the attendant freedom of expression, the federal government should be working to abolish the existing law instead of drafting new ones to assist in the prosecution of 'seditious' online content. Any measures taken to curb the already limited freedom of expression in Malaysia only demonstrates the government’s unwillingness to engage in genuine public discourse and to be held publicly accountable.

CIJ is also extremely concerned at the manner in which this new law is being introduced. It has been referred to as “guidelines”, “regulations” and now, a “cyber sedition bill”, which will be tabled to Cabinet on 3 December 2010. In a democracy, anything that affects the fundamental freedoms in the Federal Constitution, including the drafting of laws, should be open to comment and input from all interested parties. Yet there was little information and no public consultation on this matter.

CIJ therefore calls on the government to be open and transparent in the formulation of new laws and to refrain from enacting this “cyber sedition bill” or any legislation that will further curb the freedom of expression in Malaysia.

Issued by:
Chuah Siew Eng
CIJ Programme Officer

The Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ) aspires for a society that is democratic, just and free, where all people enjoy free media and the freedom to express, seek, and impart information.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

CIJ : Barring reporters is undemocratic, not a solution to prevent skewed reporting

16 November 2010

Media statement: Barring reporters is undemocratic, not a solution to prevent skewed reporting

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) is concerned to learn that certain media organisations were barred from entering the Kedah State Assembly building to cover the third term meeting which began on 14 November 2010 and will go on for three days.

According to reports, the state government was unhappy with recent skewed coverage by the media outlets. Among those affected were State broadcaster RTM, and Media Prima's publications Berita Harian and New Straits Times. Muhamad Helmi Mohamad Khalid, the Kedah menteri besar's press secretary, has clarified that Malaysiakini was unknowingly left out from the vetted list.

The Government -- whether at state or Federal level -- should not prevent any media from covering what is essentially a public meeting by a public body. In this instance, the fact that the 2011 budget was being considered makes it all the more important for wide dissemination of the information through all media. By contrast, the recent Selangor State Assembly's budget presentation was tweeted using the Menteri Besar's account.

The Kedah state government could have instituted counter-measures against skewed reports through its own communication channels if their right of reply or correction was ignored or not carried out adequately by the media concerned. Malicious reporting can also be challenged in court.

Barring reporters -- a tactic that has been employed by both sides of the political divide -- threatens freedom of the press. This ultimately affects the people's right to information on matters of public interest.
Given the constraints on Malaysian media set by the legal framework and political ownership and control, we understand that media bias may masquerade as critical coverage. However, steps taken to address these constraints should not inhibit media freedom as this is counter-productive.

We therefore urge the Kedah state government to lift any such ban on media coverage of public meetings.
Issued by:

Chuah Siew Eng
CIJ Programme Officer
CIJ is a non-profit organisation that aspires for a society that is democratic, just and free, where all peoples will enjoy free media and the freedom to express, seek and impart information.

Lagi kes anak muda ditembak mati polis: Sikap Polis tidak berubah dan pencabulan hak asasi manusia diteruskan (SUARAM)

Kenyataan Media: 16 November 2010

Lagi kes anak muda ditembak mati polis:
Sikap Polis  tidak berubah dan pencabulan hak asasi manusia diteruskan

SUARAM mengutuk keras tindakan Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) yang telah menembak mati tiga suspek anak muda yang telah disyaki terlibat dalam satu kes rompakan sebuah stesen minyak di Glenmarie ,Shah Alam pada 13hb November 2010 pada pukul 4.15 pagi. Salah seorang yang ditembak mati oleh Polis  adalah remaja di bawah umur iaitu Mohd Shamil Hafiz Shafie yang hanya berumur 16 tahun. . Mohd Shamil merupakan  antara remaja bawah umur  yang ditembak mati oleh polis selepas kes kematian Aminulrasyid pada 26hb April tahun ini .

Kami amat kecewa atas alasan polis terhadap insiden tersebut yang menuduh bahawa polis terpaksa menembak mati ketiga-tiga suspek kerana ketiga-tiga  menyerang polis dengan menggunakan parangKalau supsek hanya menggunakan parang, mengapa kesemua mereka di tembak mati? Adakah sebarang amaran diberikan oleh polis kepada suspek? Versi polis dalam setiap kes penembakan mati adalah sama dan mereka selalu menggunakan faktor keselamatan diri untuk justifikasi penngunaan senjata api dimana sehingga hari ini  pasukan polis tidak pernah mendedahkan konteks penggunaan senjata api oleh pihak polis di Malaysia.

 Kami memahami risiko keselamatan bertugas sebagai polis namun kami tidak boleh menerima cara polis yang selalu menggunakan senjata api dan menembak mati seseorang suspek. Perlembagaan Persekutuan Artikel 5(1) jelas   menyatakan setiap individu perlu  menghormati hak bernyawa  setiap manusia.

SUARAM menyeru Ketua Polis Negara, Ismail Omar segera untuk mengemukakkan Perintah Tetap Ketua Polis Negara (IGSO) yang dituntut oleh rakyat  dan membuktikan bahawa  KPN baru serius dalam melaksanakan pendekatan 4P yang dilaung-laungkannya.  Kami menyeru agar satu Suruhanjaya yang bebas dan berdikari ditubuhkan untuk menyiasat segala kes penembakan mati oleh Polis dengan serta- merta.

Kami tidak boleh menerima bahawa IGSO sebagai bahan sulit kerana ia melibatkan kepentingan keselamatan dan nyawa setiap rakyat dan ia sepatutnya diumunkan. Ini dengan jelas membuktikan bahawa penggunaan senjata api oleh polis tidak diimbangi oleh pemeriksaan awam dan sekaligus menyebabkan tahap akauntabiliti yang amat rendah di dalam institusi polis.

Oleh kerana ketiadaan prosedur yang kukuh untuk memastikan setiap kes tembakan polis seperti ini dilaporkan dan disiasat secara bebas dan menyeluruh, timbul keraguan sama ada pihak polis sememangnya menggunakan senjata api untuk mempertahankan diri ataupun sengaja menggunakan terhadap suspek untuk memudahkan penyelesaian kes mereka.

SUARAM sebuah organisasi Hak Asasi Manusia berpendapat penggunaan senjata dan tidak memberikan hak untuk suspek membela diri adalah salah dari segi undang-undang  Hak Asasi .

Penembakan mati anak muda bawah umur Mhd Shamil merupakan satu pelanggaran terhadap  Konvensyen Antarabangsa Perlindungan Kanak-Kanak (CRC) terutamanya  Artikel 16 (1)&(11) dan Artikel 37 yang memberi perlindiungan terhadap kanak-kanak bawah undang undang dan terlindung dari sebarang hukuman yang tidak berperikemanusiaan ataupun penangkapan tanpa bicara.

Penyalahgunaan kuasa di kalangan PDRM dan penindasan terhadap hak asasi manusia adalah masalah serius yang jelas wujud dalam PDRM, seperti yang dinyatakan dalam Laporan Suruhanjaya Diraja Penambahbaikan Perjalanan dan Pengurusan Polis Diraja Malaysia.

Kami menyeru pihak polis berhenti mengunakan alasan kononnya menyelesaikan kes jenayah dan untuk keselamatan polis dengan terpaksa menembak mati sesiapa suspek . kami percaya pihak polis adalah terlatih dan berprofesional serta sanggup mengikuti prosedur penggunaan senjata api yang ditetapkan oleh Persatuan Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu (PBB).

SUARAM menuntut agar pihak Kerajaan melaksanakan cadangan-cadangan yang dikemukakan oleh Suruhanjaya Diraja Penambahbaikan Perjalanan dan Pengurusan Polis Diraja Malaysia terutama menubuhkan Suruhanjaya Bebas Pengaduan dan Salah Laku Polis (IPCMC) dengan segera.

Yap Heng Lung
Penyelaras  SUARAM

AUNG SAN SUU KYI IS FREE ! - Just Media Statement

Media Statement


The International Movement for a Just World (JUST) warmly welcomes the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the world’s most famous political prisoner, from house arrest on 13 November 2010.

Imprisoned for 15 out of the last 21 years by a military junta which has suppressed the people’s struggle for human rights and democracy in Myanmar, Suu Kyi has emerged as an enduring, universal symbol of the eternal quest for freedom. Her indomitable courage and her unwavering perseverance have won accolades from individuals and groups all over the world. What is remarkable about her commitment to her cause is her ability to retain her dignity and her integrity in the face of formidable odds.

There is much speculation on why the junta set her free. Since a political party spawned by the junta, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) won a farcical election by a huge margin a few days ago, the regime may have felt that its position is secure enough to release Suu Kyi. On the other hand, given widespread allegations of electoral fraud, her release may also be a way of refurbishing the regime’s tattered public image. It is also true that for some years now, Myanmar’s ASEAN partners and even its close ally, China, have been quietly cajoling the regime to end Suu Kyi’s incarceration. 
Whatever the reasons, JUST hopes that her freedom will not be short-lived. She was released in 1995, after six years in detention. Then in 2000 she was arrested and imprisoned again for two years. After a brief spell of freedom, she was imprisoned for a third time in 2003. She remained in prison or under house arrest for the next seven years. ASEAN governments and China should go all out to dissuade the military junta from detaining Suu Kyi again. 
To prove that it is sincere about Suu Kyi’s release, the junta should set free the 2,200 political prisoners languishing in jails in different parts of the country. It should also begin to relax its iron grip upon the media and allow social groups to exercise a degree of autonomy in their evaluation of the regime’s governance. Myanmar’s monks should also be given some latitude to act as the nation’s conscience.

Suu Kyi would certainly want to encourage the regime to move in this direction. In this regard, she should be more strategic than she has been in the past. While holding on to her principles, she should act in such a manner that the regime will have no excuse to abrogate her freedom or to tighten even further its hold upon society. 
Let Suu Kyi’s freedom this time pave the way for the eventual liberation of the people of Myanmar.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST)


14 November 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SUARAM: Death in custody perpetrator freed while witness to crime is victimised

Press Statement: 27 October 2010

Death in custody perpetrator freed while witness to crime is victimised

SUARAM condemns the police beating and arrest of K. Selvachandran, a witness in R. Gunasegaran’s death in custody inquest. He had testified during the inquest that he saw Lance Corporal Mohd Faizal Mat Taib assaulted Gunasegaran before the suspect collapsed and died. On 25 October, the coroner’s court gave an “open verdict” into R Gunasegaran’s inquest because the cause of his death while in police custody could not be conclusively proven.

On the same day, K. Selvachandran was arrested at his home around 10pm by 5 plainclothes police officers and beaten up in front of his wife and children before he was taken away to the KL police contingent headquarters. The officers told Selvachandran’s wife, S. Saraswathy that he would be detained for 60 days, and may be extended to an additional 2 years. It should be noted that only 3 laws allow for such a long period of detention, namely the Internal Security Act, the Dangerous Drugs Act (Special Preventive Measures) and the Emergency Ordinance.

SUARAM is extremely concerned with the arrest and detention of Selvachandran - as the police seemed to be sending a strong message that they can act with impunity with no regards to the rule of law, police professionalism and the law and procedure governing their conduct.  It cannot be a mere coincidence that Selvachandran was arrested so soon and further more he was detained under unspecified charges under draconian provisions that allow the police to detain a suspect without trial for up to two years. It is a blatant abuse of police power that points to police retaliation

SUARAM demands for the immediate release of Selvachandran and calls for Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Ismail Omar to walk the talk of his 4P (Proactive, Protective, Performance-oriented and People-oriented) plan by first curbing the culture of lawlessness and abuse of power in the police force as exemplified in the death of Gunasegaran and detention without trial of Selvachandran.

The IGP must ensure that police officers adhere to the laws and procedures that govern the arrest and detention of suspects, and they cannot act as they pleased to retaliate against a witness who testified against them. What message is being sent to other potential witnesses other than a strong warning not to testify against the police?   

SUARAM also calls for the implementation of the IPCMC as recommended by the Royal Commission on the Police in 2005 to hold the police accountable over abuse of power and human rights as clearly proven time and time again; the police cannot be relied upon to investigate themselves.

Released by,

Hasbeemasputra Abu Bakar




27th October 2010, marks the 23rd Anniversary of one of the countries biggest political crackdown; the infamous Operasi Lalang, The Operasi Lalang saw the arbitrary arrests and detention without trial of 106 persons ranging from the Parliament Opposition Leader and members of Parliament to trade unionists, Chinese education movement leaders and non-governmental organization (NGO) activists who were working on the issues of environmental protection, women, workers rights etc under the Internal Security Act (ISA). Other victims of the Operation were two dailies, The Star and the Sin Chew Jit Poh and two weeklies, The Sunday Star and Watan which had their the publishing licenses revoked.

Until today, the 1987 mass arrest remains as the pillar of political arbitrariness and injustice in a democratic nation that have achieved its independence 53 years ago. It’s an affront to our democracy and independence that ISA were engineered by the colonial masters continues to be used on its citizens and people for their legitimate political and dissent activities.

This year mark the 50th year of the draconian act being in power with the scope of the ISA broadened and the list of its “victims” has grown ever longer. Over the years the ISA was amended 19 times with every amendment further diluting the fundamental rights and incrementally extended Executive powers and judicial safeguards. In 1989 the government has amended Section 8B of the ISA to deny legitimate legal redress for a Judicial Review. The ISA also since then have been used to arbitrarily detain people said to be members of alleged religious groups, students, professionals, politicians, political and human rights activists and even journalists. The 1987 Operasi Lalang marks the significance of being the single most operation that have detained and incarcerated people from the full spectrum of the political citizens of the country.

The ISA has since become a convenient political tool to clampdown on dissent where the Executive continues to enjoy permanent, unfettered discretion to determine, according to their subjective interpretation on any activity and person as a potential threat to national security and of their detention. The unjust law has also created a climate of impunity and abuse of power with arbitrary powers extended to the police to arrest, detain and torture any person without being subjected to any accountability or judicial check and balance. The ISA in its investigation have often clearly contravened international humanitarian standards and religious principles of humane treatment of a person with dignity.

As such the ISA is contrary to fundamental principles of international law, including the right to liberty of the person, to freedom from arbitrary arrest, to be informed of the reasons for arrest, to the presumption of innocence, and to a fair and open trial in a court of law. The ISA is also prejudicial to development of human rights and democracy with its wider, intimidating effect on civil society, and a marked influence on the nature of political participation, democracy and accountability in Malaysia .

It’s a shame that despite 53 years of Independence from the British Colonial Masters, the government continue to defend the ISA and turning the blind eye on the critics and calls made by many Malaysian to repeal this draconian law. The act reveals the lack of political will to address the view of the people and its commitment to human rights and democracy. This is seen with the futile and failing effort by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to review and amend the ISA that remain a mystery and merely as a political gesture.

SUARAM is of the view that all detention-without-trial laws are a gross human rights violation and goes against the spirit of the Federal Constitution, as well as contravene Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1981). We on this 50the Anniversary of Operasi Lalang hereby demand that the government:

1. Abolish all existing unjust laws such as the ISA, EO (Emergency Ordinance), DDA (Dangerous Drugs Act), and the RRA (Restricted Residence Act AND to release, or charge all those detained under this laws in an open court) with an immediate effect.

2. Close down immediately all detention centres for detainees held without trial, such as Kamunting and Simpang Renggam.

4. Awards compensation to all those who have been detained without trial, for being unjustly deprived of their liberty and denied their due rights.

5. Makes a public apology to all such detainees, past and present, and compensates them for the injustice, abuse and suffering inflicted on them during and as a result of their detention.

6. Investigates all complaints and cases of abuse, torture, inhuman treatment and abuse of power perpetrated on any detainees, past or present; prosecutes those responsible and sets up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission as proposed by the Royal Commission on Police in 2005.

7. Recognizes respects and restores the proper powers of the judiciary, as an independent body, to provide a check and balance on the power of the police and executive, and repeals all laws which have removed such judicial oversight.

Released By,

SUARAM Coordinator
019 3758912

CIJ condemns intimidation of lawyer, blogger, news site

Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) Malaysia
27C Jalan Sarikei, off Jalan Pahang
53000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03 4023 0772
Fax: 03 4023 0769
27 October 2010

Media Release: CIJ condemns intimidation of lawyer, blogger, news site

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) Malaysia views with concern the investigations being conducted by the Malaysian communications regulator, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) into online reports of a speech by the Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

The harassment began on 22 October, when officers from the commission visited the offices of online news site, recording a statement from the editor-in-chief, Steven Gan. According to the news site, the officers were investigating Malaysiakini's reporting of the annual general meeting of the UMNO, one of the parties that make up the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

This was followed up by interrogation of blogger Wong Choon Mei, who writes the blog Malaysia Chronicle. The interrogation took place on Monday 25 October, and centred around a post where she reproduces some quotes from the Malaysiakini articles.

While Wong was told that she was being investigated for possible breach of Section 211 and 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, she was denied access to legal counsel during the course of the questioning. Her lawyer, Latheefa Koya, was told that she would only be allowed to remain present if she also gave a witness statement. This is a clear breach of Article 5 of Malaysia's Constitution.

According to one report by a Malay-language daily, political party and BN member the Malaysian Chinese Association lodged a police report against Malaysia Chronicle, but it is unclear whether the MCMC investigation is a result of this report. There are no reports that the Prime Minister's Office has issued any clarification or rebuttal of the reports.

These investigations are a violation of the consitutional guarantee of freedom of expression and are clearly designed to intimidate the Malaysian online community, targeting certain news and information sites, given that similar articles and headlines have appeared in other publications with no problems from the authorities. In a country where print and broadcast media are tightly controlled by both ownership and legislation, the Internet provides an important space for political discussion and expression, a space guaranteed under Article 3 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.

CIJ recommends that the MCMC drop all investigations into both Malaysiakini and Malaysia Chronicle. We also remind the commission of the constitutional guarantees of both legal representation and freedom of expression, and hope that in future it will work to uphold these important legal principles. To ensure that it does not engage in future violations of the right to legal representation, we recommend it conduct an investigation into the conduct of the officers who denied this right to Wong.

For further information:
CIJ Executive Officer Masjaliza Hamzah


The Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ) is a non-profit organisation that aspires for a society that is democratic, just and free, where all peoples will enjoy free media and the freedom to express, seek and impart information.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

71 Civil Society Groups: JVC Unjustly Discriminates Against Burmese Migrant Women Workers Who Claim Worker Rights

Media Statement – 21/10/2010

JVC Unjustly Discriminates Against Burmese Migrant
Women Workers Who Claim Worker Rights

We, the undersigned 71 civil society organizations and groups, would like to express our serious concern that JVC has indicated that they will not re-new the employment contracts of Pa Pa Aye and 15 other Burmese women migrant workers, who lodged a claim at the Labour Department claiming worker rights that the JVC company had violated, amongst them the wrongful deduction of their wages to recover levy that employers have to pay when they employ foreign workers. The other 7 workers, who complained, whose contract was renewed in August, will also be terminated and repatriated. The information contained in this statement has been provided by the affected workers.

JVC has its factory at Lot. No.1, Persiaran Jubli Perak, Jalan 22/1, Section 22, Shah Alam, 40702 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia, and they manufactures cameras, video cameras and audio equipment components, amongst others.

On 21/7/2010, Pa Pa Aye and 22 other women migrant workers lodged a complaint at the Subang Jaya Labour Office in Malaysia. Amongst their demands were for the return of monies wrongly deducted from their wages for levy the employer had to pay to the Malaysian government for employing migrant workers, other unlawful deductions like transfer fees, saving funds, etc amounting to about RM3,500-00, and for the return of the Passports which are still wrongly being held by  the employer . They were also claiming for the balance of the wages that they were entitled. According to the workers, the employer was to pay them much more about RM50 per day but they were only paid the sum of RM23.

On 6/8/2010, after night shift when the women workers were being transported back to their homes, their bus took a different route, and suddenly stopped where the agent was waiting. The agent then called one of the Burmese women migrant workers who had complaint to the Labour Department and asked her to leave the bus and follow him. The workers suspected that the agent was trying to get the worker sent back to Burma, and they stood together and prevented the agent from taking the worker. The workers then lodged a police report about this incident. There have also been other cases of harassment, whereby in one incident 3 men entered the women’s hostel and threatened them.

The workers, through their representatives, which included an officer from the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) also complained about this incident to JVC, and JVC gave the assurance that this will not happen again and they guaranteed that all workers could continue to work in JVC.

On 12/8/2010, the agent tried to force the workers to sign a new contract, but all workers refused to sign it. The pressure on the workers to sign the new contract took place at the factory compound. Later on the same day the JVC’s Human Resource Manager, one Mr. Mazlan, and the HR Assistant Manager, one Ms. Ida, also tried to pressure the workers to sign the new contracts. The new contract was written in English only (just like their old contract). The workers to date do not have a copy of their old contract, as they were never given a copy. The new contract allegedly stated that their daily salary will be reduced to RM21, which is RM2 less than what the workers have been getting until now.

On 25/8/2010, the Burmese workers informed us that JVC had summarily dismissed 30 Sri Lanka women migrant workers in retaliation for their demand that JVC pay them their promised monthly salary of RM750. After the dismissal JVC and the agent, Fast Link Trans, began forceful repatriation of the workers. On 28/8/2010, 8 Sri Lankan workers were allegedly sent home. These workers apparently never received the amount owing them and/or any compensation for premature termination of their contract.

On 8/9/2010, JVC’s Human Resources Officer, in the presence of the Labour Officer and the agent’s representative from a company known as Fast Link Trans, tried to return to the Burmese workers the amount they said was the levy that had been wrongfully deducted from the wages and asked the workers to sign a document which was in English. The workers refused as the amount offered was far less than the sum deducted, and  they did not want to sign any document which was in a language they did not know.
The company also refused to give a copy of the document to enable them to get an independent person who spoke Burmese to translate its contents to them.

On 28/9/2010, the agent informed the workers that when their current annual contract expires, their contracts will not be renewed and they will all be sent back to Burma. The contracts of 15 of these workers’ contract will expire in October, and the rest by the end of the year. Pa Pa Aye’s own contract expires in early November. The contracts of 7 others which expired in August have already been renewed. Later, on about 7/10/2010, the agent informed the workers that all 23 of them will be terminated and sent back to Burma. The process of forced repatriation of the Burmese workers has already begun with one worker being sent back to Burma on 9/10/2010.

It must be stated that according to the workers, when they came to Malaysia to work with JVC the agreement was that they will be employed for a period of at least 3 years, but when they arrived and started working, they were made to sign 1-year contracts with the verbal assurance that it will be renewed every year for at least a total of 3 years. The threat of early termination and deportation is also wrong and discriminatory as JVC has continued to renew contracts of others who had started work around the same time as these Burmese migrant workers.

Any early termination, and/or non renewal of the 1-year employment contracts by JVC can reasonably be seen as a retaliation of the company against workers who have elected to claim their rights as workers. Their case at the Labour Department is pending, and a termination and repatriation back to Burma will mean that the workers will not be able to continue to pursue their claim in the Labour Department/Court as the presence of the worker in the hearing of their claims against the employer is compulsory, and their absence will mean that their case will just be struck off,

We, the undersigned groups, call upon JVC to respect worker rights and their right to access to justice and not cause these 23 Burmese workers to be terminated and deported.

We  urge that JVC to respect the law and the legal process initiated by the lodging of the complaint by the workers at the Labour Department, and to respect and abide with the outcome of the hearing at the Labour Court. Workers should not be terminated and/or discriminated against by reason of the fact that they choose to demand for their rights or better rights as workers. For those who have already been repatriated back to their country of origin, including those workers from Sri Lanka, JVC must compensate them for their expenses in coming to Malaysia to work, and for the early termination of their employment.

We call on JVC to act justly and not to terminate these workers, and to renew their contract so that they can pursue their claims until completion. JVC should also adhere to their earlier promise that these workers will be employed for a period of at least 3 years, for migrant workers do expend a lot of money (850-1,000 USD) when they do come to Malaysia to work and any early termination and breach of rights will only leave these workers in a worse situation as they may not be even to settle the debts they incurred in coming here to Malaysia to work.

We call on Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) to inquire into this complaint concerning the violation of worker rights by JVC.

We also call on the Malaysian government and the Human Resource Minister to ensure that no workers are terminated and/or discriminated against by reason of the fact that they have stood up to claim their rights as workers.

The Malaysian government should also ensure that no migrant worker is terminated and/or repatriated back to their country of origins until the employer has fully settled all outstanding worker claims and/or payments. If migrant workers are terminated, the Malaysian government must ensure that these workers are allowed to stay and work legally in Malaysia until all outstanding claims and legal processes are settled. If special passes and visas are required to ensure workers ability to stay and work legally, it must be given gratis without requiring the workers to pay anything. Worker cases must be expedited, and independent translators should be available at all Labour Departments and courts.

Labour rights must take precedent over immigration law. Do not deport until worker claims are determined and settled by Labour Department and/or courts.

Charles Hector
Pranom Somwong

For and on behalf of the following 71 organizations

Asia  Pacific Forum on Women ,Law and Development ( APWLD)
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
Asian Migrants Center (AMC)
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma)
Building and Wood Workers International Asia Pacific Regional Office
Burma Campaign, Malaysia
Burmese Women's Union (BWU)
Coalition To Abolish Modern-Day Slavery In Asia
Committee for Asian Women (CAW)
Community Development Services (CDS), Sri Lanka
Coordination of Action Research on AIDS & Mobility (CARAM-ASIA)
Democratic Party for a New Society (DPNS), Burma
FICAP – Aichi
Filipino Migrants Center – FMC
Forum for Democracy in Burma
Grassroots Human Rights Education & Development (GHRE-FED), Thailand
Human Rights Education Institute of Burma
IHI Action Group (Iwi Have Influence), New Zealand
IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh
Kachin Women's Association, Thailand
KAFIN – Nagoya
KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Youth Section
League of Filipino Seniors (LFS)
Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), Cambodia
MADPET - Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture
Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)
MAP Foundation, Thailand
May 1st Coalition, Co-Coordinator, USA
Mekong Migration Network ( MMN)
Migrante Aotearoa New Zealand
Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) 
Migrante-Denmark chapter
Migranteng Ilonggo sa Taiwan
Migrante International
Migrante international - Hsinchuang chapter
Migrante International - Taiwan chapter
Migrante-Middle East and Migrante-Saudi Arabia chapter
Migrants  Trade Union (MTU), Korea
Migrant Workers Network – New Zealand
National League for Democracy [NLD (LA)], Malaysia
Nepal Institute of Development Studies( NIDS) ,NEPAL
Network for Empowerment of Women in Vietnam
Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)
Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)
Penggerak Belia Zon 23 MPSJ, Malaysia
Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Persatuan Penduduk Taman Muhibbah, Malaysia
Persatuan Prihatin Komuniti KL & Selangor
Philippine Society in Japan – Nagoya
PINAY (Montreal)
Pusat Komas, Malaysia
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, Malaysia
Shan Refugee Organization (Malaysia)
Shan Women Action Network (SWAN), Thailand
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Tenaganita, Malaysia
The Federation of Trade Unions Burma (FTUB)
The Filipino Women's Organization in Quebec
The National Human Rights Society (Persatuan Kebangsaan Hak Asasi  Manusia, HAKAM), Malaysia
The Shwe Gas Movement
Unite Union New Zealand
Women Empowerment Association
Workers Hub for Change (WH4C)
Yaung  Chi Oo Workers Association  ( YCOWA)
Yayasan Annisa Swasti (YASANTI), Indonesia

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

JERIT: Kerajaan BN Tunduk kepada Kuasa Pekerja! Rang Undang-Undang pinda Akta Pekerjaan Ditarik Balik !

d/a 72B, Taman Sri Langat, Jalan Reko, 43000 Kajang, Selangor
Tel/Faks: 03-87370766

Kerajaan BN Tunduk  kepada Kuasa Pekerja!
Rang Undang-Undang pinda  Akta Pekerjaan Ditarik Balik !

Berita gembira untuk seluruh warga  pekerja ! Hari ini, Kerajaan BN telah akur kalah kepada kuasa pekerja! Timbalan Menteri Sumber Manusia, Datuk Maznah Mazlan mengumumkan bahawa Rang Undang-undang pinda Akta Kerja 1955 ditarik balik tanpa memberi sebarang alasan di sesi Parlimen yang sedang berlangsung kini. 

Sebelum ini, Kementerian Sumber Manusia (KSM) yang bersekongkol dengan kaum kapitalis bercadang untuk menggadai hak pekerja Malaysia dengan membuat pindaan terhadap tiga undang-undang pekerjaan iaitu Akta Kerja 1955,  Akta Perhubungan Perusahaan 1967 dan Akta Kesatuan Sekerja 1959. Pindaan-pindaan yang dicadangkan oleh KSM ini adalah yang paling teruk dalam sejarah pekerja di Malaysia dan hanya memihak kepada pihak majikan. 

Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT) percaya keputusan terburu-buru KSM untuk tarik balik pindaan akta ini adalah akibat bantahan serta tekanan yang berterusan oleh para pekerja serta kumpulan-kumpulan masyarakat yang lain. 

Sebelum ini, JERIT telah mengedarkan lebih 30,000 risalah kepada rakyat umum di seluruh Malaysia berhubung pindaan-pindaan ini. Malah, JERIT juga telah melancarkan kempen faks  membantah pindaan ini dan banyak kumpulan telah Faks surat bantahan mereka kepada KSM untuk bantah pindaan yang dicadangkan. 

JERIT bersama badan-badan bukan kerajaan yang lain juga telah mengadakan sidang akhbar, ’online petition’ ”public leafletting dan lain-lain aksi untuk memberi kesedaran kepada orang umum berhubung pindaan ini serta menyeru orang ramai untuk terus memberi penekanan kepada KSM. 

Hari ini 12/10/2010 JERIT bersama Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)  telah merancang untuk mengadakan piket serentak di 7 tempat di Selangor dan Perak untuk menunjukkan bantahan pekerja terhadap pindaan yang dicadangkan oleh KSM sebelum mengadakan protes besar-besaran di Parlimen pada bulan November. Akan tetapi beberapa jam sebelum piket diadakan Timbalan Menteri KSM Datuk Maznah telah mengatakan di parlimen bahawa kerajaan akan tarik balik bill pindaan Akta Pekerjaan yang dicadangkan.  

Jelas di sini, Kerajaan BN terpaksa akur kepada kuasa rakyat yang terus memberi tekanan. Tanpa kuasa rakyat  dan tekanan berterusan , perkara ini tidak akan berlaku.  Syabas kepada seluruh warga pekerja! Ingat! Anda tiada apa untuk dihilangkan kecuali rantai penindasan! Hidup Rakyat! Hidup Perjuangan Rakyat!