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.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bar : Students free to think and speak(1/11/2011)

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Press Release
Students free to think and speak

The Malaysian Bar welcomes yesterday’s majority decision of the Court of Appeal striking down section 15(5)(a) of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (“UUCA”) as unconstitutional.

The decision is a victory for freedom of speech and expression, enshrined in Article 10(1)(a) of our Federal Constitution.  In a country that over the years has seen the gradual erosion of fundamental liberties by legislative, executive and judicial action, the Malaysian Bar commends Justice Dato’ Mohd Hishamudin b Haji Mohd Yunus and Justice Datuk Linton Albert for their courageous and progressive stand in giving meaning to Article 10(1)(a) and taking a step forward in restoring our lost liberties.

Section 15(5)(a) of the UUCA has long prevented public university students of all ages from being actively involved in a significant aspect of the democratic process.  It has prevented these Malaysians from expressing their views or doing anything that may reasonably be construed as expressing support for, or sympathy with, or opposition to, political parties.  Section 15(5)(b) and Section 15(5)(c) of the UUCA prevent the same in respect of unlawful organisations or organisations that the Minister specifies as being unsuitable to the interests and well-being of the students or the university. 

In the past, the wide and repressive scope of section 15(5), in particular section 15(5)(a), has inexplicably been publicly justified on the grounds of the need to maintain public order and morality. Generations of Malaysian public university students have thus been unduly shackled, and our democracy has been the poorer for the loss of their voices in the public sphere. 

Universities – as with all institutions of higher learning – must embrace and espouse, as one of their primary duties, the development of critical thinking by their students and the encouragement of robust debate.  This is vital to ensure a continuous stream of thinking Malaysians who are able to advance and build our nation. 

The Malaysian Bar is also heartened by the courage and determination of the four young Malaysians: Muhammad Hilman b Idham, Woon King Chai, Muhammad Ismail b Aminuddin and Azlin Shafina bt Mohamad Adza, in insisting on their rights to freedom of speech and expression under the Federal Constitution.

The Malaysian Bar notes that section 15 of the UUCA does not merely seek to deprive a section of Malaysians of their freedom of speech and expression; it also denies them, in section 15(1) of the UUCA, of their fundamental right of freedom of association.  We call upon the authorities to accept the principles underlying the decision of the Court of Appeal, and to therefore repeal sections 15(1), 15(5)(b) and 15(5)(c) of the UUCA. 

Christopher Leong
Malaysian Bar

1 Nov 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

SUARAM: Human Rights are Fundamental Principle of Humanity and Human Protection.

Press Statement: 1 November 2011
Human Rights are Fundamental Principle of Humanity and Human Protection.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) criticise the latest statement issued by academicians Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, who said that the Human rights movement will undermine the sanctity of Islam. SUARAM is of the view that the statement made is incorrect and misleading the public on the understanding of human rights in Malaysia.

SUARAM believes in the principles of human rights as the central principle in a democracy and development of human dignity. It is consistent with the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) that reaffirmed fundamental human rights, as in the inherent dignity and worth of the human person and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.

SUARAM also would like to emphasise that the principles of human rights is not in contest or inconsistent with Islam as the fundamental principles of human rights were strongly stated in its principle statements with reference to social justice and fundamental freedom. Mr Ridhuan Tee is reminded that the key events in the history of Islam as in the freedom of Bilal who was a slave and the Hijrah of the prophet from Mekah to Madinah shall be in today's context be understood as freedom from slavery and rights to seek refuge.

SUARAM also states that the promotion and protection of human rights is fundamental to ensure the life and livelihood of human remain protected and respected to avoid another crisis of humanity as we have witnessed during the World War 2 where millions of life were perished and left to life in famine and hunger.

The protection and promotion of human rights have always been to protect hence the statement made by Mr Tee is regretted as it goes to suggest that human rights principles as a negative principle and alien to human lives. SUARAM would like to remind that the position taken is a simplified and uninformed position made in absolute ignorance and understanding of human rights.

His statement is purely a politically motivated attempt to derail the growing support by Malaysian on human rights in Malaysia and to support the notion put forward by former IGP Rahim Noor and Tun Mahathir who were known proponents against human rights and authoritarianism. The current positioning is an attempt to further launch the country into the dark ages of authoritarianism and iron fist rule and to re-establish the culture of fear that have undermined our democratic practices and public participation in Malaysia .

SUARAM as a human rights organisation will continue to oppose any laws or policies that are against the fundamental rights envisaged in the UDHR. We will continue to stand for the protection of human dignity and human lives and we would like to invite Mr Tee for a dialogue with SUARAM to foster better understanding of human rights and its principles.

Released By,

Program Manager

Lawyers For Liberty: Court of Appeal Landmark Ruling on UUCA Breaks Free Another Chain of Repression of Freedom Movement

LFL :  Court of Appeal Landmark Ruling on UUCA Breaks Free Another Chain of Repression of Freedom Movement

The Court of Appeal today ruled that section 15(5)(a) of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA) is in breach of Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech and expression.

Section 15(5)(a) of UUCA prohibits students from expressing their support, sympathy or opposition to any political party and in breach of this section, universities have the power to take disciplinary action against the students.

Lawyers For Liberty applauds the decisiveness of the Court of Appeal ruling in upholding the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech and expression against the prohibition under section 15(5)(a) which impedes students’ participation in political activities.

This ruling reaffirms the right to political participation which is crystalized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which have been the cornerstone of the constitutional provisions in many countries.

The right to political participation is central to the practice of democracy. It is pivotal to note that the right to political participation is to be enjoyed without discrimination.

The Court of Appeal ruling is timely following the recent suspension of Law Professor Abdul Aziz Bari which is clearly in violation of academic freedom, free speech and expression.

UUCA was deliberately amended in 1975 to restrict the student movement in political activities following the infamous Baling Demonstration which witnessed 30,000 people including students standing up for the poor farmers in Kedah, demanding  fair rubber prices and better living conditions.

This unprecedented decision by the Court of Appeal underscores the most significant aspect of the duty of the court as the final bastion of justice to warn the government against continuing repressive action which is an affront to constitutional guarantee of free speech and expression.

Fadiah Nadwa Fikri
Lawyers For Liberty
31 October 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

AHRC (6/7/2011): MALAYSIA: Stop arrests and intimidation against Bersih 2.0

July 6, 2011

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

MALAYSIA: Stop arrests and intimidation against Bersih 2.0

The Asian Human Rights Commission is seriously concerned about the recent arrests and intimidation by the Malaysian government against the leaders and supporters of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) in Malaysia.

Bersih 2.0, a coalition of over 60 NGOs, planned to hold a rally on July 9 to demand electoral reforms in Malaysia. The coalition is demanding the cleaning up of the electoral roll, reforming postal ballots, use of indelible ink, a minimum 21-day campaign period, free access to the media and the halt of corruption, etc. In response, the Malaysian government disallowed the rally and carried out arrests and intimidation against the leaders and supporters of Bersih 2.0. According to the human rights organizations in Malaysia, at least 150 persons have been arrested or summoned for investigation. Many people have been harassed and intimidated by the police for wearing Bersih 2.0 t-shirts and distributing Bersih 2.0 leaflets. Bersih 2.0 was also declared an illegal organisation by the government.

Freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly are the basic rights of everyone. They are also important guarantees of the right to political participation for people to be involved in public decision making. The repressive actions of the Malaysian government have seriously violated these rights. Malaysia like Burma remains one of the last countries in Asia that refuse to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

We strongly condemn the arbitrary arrest and detention of Bersih's leaders and supporters under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 (EO), the Sedition Act, Section 122 of the Penal Code, and other laws. In particular, we are concerned over the use of preventive detention under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance which allows for detention without trial. The EO is equally as draconian as the Internal Security Act (ISA). The EO provides the police with powers to detain a person for up to 60 days. After the initial 60-day detention period, the Home Ministry can make an order authorising further detention without trial for a period of two years. This order can be renewed indefinitely. It is a blatant denial of the rights to civil liberties and circumvents the rule of law.

We call upon the Malaysian government to immediately release all the leaders and supporters of Bersih 2.0 being arbitrarily detained for exercising their freedom of expression; stop the arrest and intimidation of the leaders and supporters of Bersih 2.0; revoke the decision to declare the Bersih 2.0 an illegal organisation; and allow Bersih 2.0 to hold the rally as planned. Instead of attempting to silence Bersih 2.0 by clamping down on their freedom of expression the Malaysian government should look into their legitimate demands.

We also urge the Malaysian government to repeal the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 and the Internal Security Act.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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Human Rights Violations against Bersih 2.0 - Open Letter by FIDH & Ors (4/7/2011)

Description: logo_Pantone_outHigh Resolution Logo of Forum Asia
                                 FIDH Logo EN            logo_omct  
July 4, 2011
Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohammed Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak
Office of the Prime Minister
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building
Federal Government Administrative Centre
62502 Putrajaya, MALAYSIA
Via facsimile: +60-3-8888-3444
Re: Human Rights Violations against Bersih 2.0
Dear Prime Minister Najib,
We write to raise our very serious concerns about the escalating harassment, intimidation, and crackdown by your government against the leaders and supporters of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih).
UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/60/251 states that members of the Human Rights Council shall “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.” Malaysia’s image and standing as a member of the UN Human Rights Council is being severely tarnished when instead of responding substantively to the detailed proposals for electoral reforms made by Bersih, you and your government have unleashed a barrage of arbitrary arrests of Bersih’s leaders and supporters in violation of their fundamental rights to freedom of association, expression, and peaceful assembly. Malaysia should immediately release all those being arbitrarily detained under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance of 1969, the Sedition Act of 1948, article 122 of the penal code, and other laws for peaceful Bersih-related activities; rescind the decision to declare Bersih an illegal organization and stop arresting peaceful political activists promoting Bersih 2.0; and allow the march of Bersih 2.0 planned in Kualu Lumpur on July 9, 2011 to proceed.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) and other organizations on the ground in Malaysia have documented that police have arrested or summoned at least 150 persons for investigation on politically motivated charges.
Most serious is your government’s use of preventive detention in violation of fundamental due process rights under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) on July 2 to hold six Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) leaders, including Sungai Siput MP Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, PSM deputy chairperson M. Saraswathy, central committee members Choo Chon Kai and M. Sukumaran, Sungai Siput branch secretary A. Letchumanan, and PSM Youth leader Sarat Babu. We call on you to order the Home Minister to immediately rescind his arrest order under the EO and free the six PSM leaders, and urge you to publicly commit that the EO, the Internal Security Act (ISA,) and other preventive detention laws will not be used again against Bersih leaders and supporters in the lead-up to the July 9 march.
We are also extremely concerned by your government’s action to charge the above-mentioned 6 PSM leaders and another 24 PSM activists (who were pulled off a bus heading to Penang) for offenses under penal code article 122 (“waging war against the king”), the Sedition Act, and the Police Act of 1967. The authorities were acting in violation of basic rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association when they arrested peaceful members of a political party for possessing t-shirts and campaign pamphlets simply because the government does not approve of their content. This action is contrary to article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which provides that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media.” Accordingly, we call on your government to immediately release all of these activists still in custody and drop these charges against them.
Similarly, the police should be ordered to end their wave of harassment and arrests against Bersih activists who are peacefully promoting the July 9 march by making presentations or speeches, distributing pamphlets or other literature, wearing garments associated with Bersih, and other similar actions. Article 20 (1) of the UDHR states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.” Your government should immediately release any such activists it is holding for promoting Bersih, and drop all charges against them that violate their right to freedom of expression and association. The police should also return confiscated office machines and campaign materials belonging to Bersih, including laptops, t-shirts, leaflets, and banners, that were seized during the police raid on June 29 at the EMPOWER office, which was functioning as the secretariat of Bersih.
Bersih was established for the purpose of promoting reform of Malaysia’s electoral laws, regulations, and procedures. As a coalition of over 60 NGOs, it has made comprehensive proposals that deserve the consideration of your government and the Election Commission. The Bersih leaders and supporters have pursued their rights to participation in their government, as provided by article 21(1) of the UDHR, which states “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.” For this reason, your government is violating the right to freedom of association by designating Bersih as an “illegal organization” under section 5 of the Societies Act of 1966. Your government has failed to provide any credible evidence to substantiate the Registrar of Societies’ claims that Bersih is trying to topple the government, or is a risk to public order, safety, economy, and sovereignty.
Bersih’s leaders have publicly pledged that the planned July 9 march will be peaceful. The Malaysian government should allow the march to proceed and clearly undertake not to unilaterally block, disrupt, or otherwise break up the march as long as it remains peaceful. Similarly, the planned marches by Perkasa and UMNO Youth should also be allowed under the same provisos and conditions that they are peaceful. We call on the authorities to confine their role to maintaining the peace by ensuring all three marches and rallies to be held on July 9 remain separate so that there are no incidents between marchers. The police should not be permitted to harass or arrest persons peacefully travelling to join and participate in those marches on July 9.
Finally, the government’s use of draconian preventive detention laws is incompatible with your government’s seat on the UN Human Rights Council. We note that when you became Malaysia’s prime minister in April 2009, you pledged your “intention to uphold civil liberties” and expressed your “regard for the fundamental rights of the people of Malaysia.” We call on you to turn these pledges into concrete action by ordering law enforcement officials to immediately cease use of all preventive detention laws, and by starting a time-bound process to repeal those laws. The Malaysian penal code and criminal justice system are fully capable of addressing situations of internal security, and should be allowed to do so without resorting to preventive detention, which results in long-term arbitrary detention without the right to a fair trial. Your government stepped back from tabling the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) for amendment by parliament in March 2010. We are concerned that amending the law is not an adequate remedy because the law’s core premise runs contrary to international human rights standards. Rather, we urge your government to publicly push for immediate repeal of the ISA and the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 as recommended in 2003 and 2005 by Suhakam, the national Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police respectively. Your government should also repeal provisions allowing for preventive detention under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969, the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985, and the Restricted Residency Act 1933, as called for by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in their report following their June 2010 mission to Malaysia.
We look forward to hearing from you.


Sam Zarifi
Asia-Pacific Director
Amnesty International
Yap Swee Seng
Executive Director
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development
Robertson, P
Phil Robertson
Deputy Director
Asia division
Human Rights Watch
Souhayr Belhassen
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Eric Sottas
Secretary General
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)


Tan Sri Dato' Haji Muhyiddin Yassin, Deputy Prime Minister
Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin bin Tun Hussein, Minister of Home Affairs
Dato’ Seri Utama Dr. Rais Yatim, Minister of Information, Communications, and Culture
Dato' Seri Mohamed Nazri bin Tan Sri Abdul Aziz, Minister, Office of the Prime Minister
Tan Sri Ismail Omar, Inspector General, Royal Malaysian Police

Press statement by concerned academicians on the Bersih march (5/7/2011)

Press statement by concerned academicians on the Bersih march

05 July 2011 13:05
Press Statements

We, the undersigned academicians, wish to express our concern at the deepening political crisis in the country. It is unfortunate that such a crisis is emerging out of a legitimate campaign, initiated by a large number of non-governmental organizations, to institute reforms through their campaign, Bersih, to ensure the conduct of truly free and fair elections in Malaysia.  Since the pursuit of such a campaign is undeniably noble, and timely, we are extremely perturbed that the government has resorted to harsh measures and use of draconian legislation to prevent the organizers from mounting a public rally.

We see the need for the leaders of Bersih to persist with dialogue with the bodies responsible for overseeing free and fair elections.  However, we also appreciate the argument by the campaign’s leaders that such an assembly is necessary since discussions have long taken place, with little progress - thus the need for the government to take serious heed of the campaign’s recommendations for free and fair elections for which there is considerable support from the country’s citizenry.

We note too that public assemblies and marches in support of causes that have attracted widespread public concern are a common feature of all democratic systems.  They are a legitimate expression of the freedom and rights of the citizens of a country.  A government that uses the laws, institutions and resources of the state to suppress or repress such activities undermines its own credibility and claim to practicing democracy.  The actions of the Government to curb this Bersih campaign will only hurt public perception of the Government’s commitment to the freedoms enshrined in the Federal Constitution.  Further actions such as the use of the Emergency Ordinance on Bersih supporters will only result in the enhanced perception of a government that refuses to institute free and fair elections for fear of losing power, an impression we are certain the government does not want to create.

We urge the following steps to resolve the crisis and restore public confidence in the Government’s ability to govern the country fairly and justly.
  1. Release all political activists held under the Emergency Ordinance.
  2. Drop all charges against those arrested by the police for Bersih-related offences.
  3. Permit Bersih the right to a peaceful march, if the organizers decide to do so. All other public marches should be allowed but with the timing and routes agreed to in advance to prevent any untoward consequences
  4. Both Government and Opposition parties, as well as NGOs, to commit their supporters participating in marches and other public assemblies to a code of peaceful and civil conduct
  5. Assurance by the relevant authorities that serious consideration is being given to ensure free and fair elections in the country.

Associate Prof. Dr. Andrew Aeria
Associate Prof. Dr. Azmi Sharom
Dr. Christopher Chong
Associate Prof. Dr. Sharmani Gabriel
Prof. Terence Gomez
Prof. Lim Teck Ghee
Dr. Lee Hwok Aun
Prof. Francis Loh
Assoc Prof Dr Mustafa K Anuar
Dr. Ooi Kee Beng
Janet Pillai
Dr. Johan Saravanamuttu
Prof. Tan Sooi Beng
Associate Prof. Dr. Yeoh Seng Guan
Prof. Diana Wong
Prof. Zaharom Nain
KUALA LUMPUR, 5 July 2011

ALIRAN: Why the sledge-hammer? (4/7/2011)

Aliran media statement

Why the sledge-hammer?

It looks like if they don’t get you under one law, they will get you under another law. That seems to be the case as far as Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj and his colleagues are concerned. But this time they used a sledge-hammer just to make sure that they get them.

During the seven days’ remand the police did not unearth any incriminating evidence to justify their action against 30 Parti Socialis activists for allegedly “waging war against the king”. That was the reason stated for remanding these people. Before that, there was talk they could be investigated for sedition.

On the seventh day of their remand, six of them were freed from the Kepala Batas Police Station. The implication of this action was very explicit: the police had actually cleared them of whatever they were originally suspected of being involved in.

In other words, there was no case against them and therefore there was no reason to seek a further remand to continue with the police investigation or to charge them. It was the end of the case and the matter was closed to the satisfaction of the police.

But lo and behold, at the very moment Jeyakumar and his colleagues were freed, police personnel from Bukit Aman immediately re-arrested them! This time they were being arrested under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969. This time they used the sledge-hammer approach. This Ordinance doesn’t give you a chance to challenge the arrest and detention.

But this Ordinance is meant for suspected goons and gangsters and criminals who habitually indulge in crime and violence; suspected criminals who pose imminent danger to citizens and remain a constant threat to public order.

The activities of Jeyakumar and his colleagues come nowhere near to this conceived potential danger to the nation. Their activities were never violent or criminal. In fact, they are very concerned and compassionate people who only want to do good that will benefit the discarded and marginalised sectors of our community.

Jeyakumar is noted for devoting his entire life to the care of the less privileged and discriminated urban poor, the neglected estate communities and the largely ignored Orang Asli. His ways are gentle, his approach is gentlemanly. He has never advocated any violence in the pursuit of justice for the poor, the weak and the meek. It was always persuasion and reasoning that he deployed to seek justice.

Reasoning and rational Malaysians cannot accept any insinuation that he is a danger to public order. In their eyes Jeyakumar is a victim of gross injustice.

Aliran has known Jeyakumar for many years. He is one of our loyal members committed to the aspirations of Aliran. His concerns are exemplary and inspiring. He is a tireless worker for the good of the nation. We reject any allegation of criminal intent on his part. Detaining him under the EO is a terrible injustice to this man of peace.

Aliran calls upon the Barisan Nasional government to be fair and just and free Jeyakumar and his colleagues immediately. Their continued detention does not speak well of our notion of justice or our respect for the rule of law.

Aliran Executive Committee
4 July 2011

What you can do...

Please send the following appeal letter and email a copy to Aliran email: aliran (at) streamyx (dot) com

Appeal letter


YAB Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak
Prime Minister, Malaysia
Office of The Prime Minister,
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
62502 Putrajaya, MALAYSIA
Tel : +60 3 88888000
Fax : +60 3 88883444
E-Mail :

Tan Sri Ismail Omar
Inspector General Police
Ibu Pejabat Polis Diraja Malaysia,
50560 Bukit Aman,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel:+60 3 22626015
Fax:+60 3 22725613

Dear Sir

We write to you concerning the detention of Member of Parliament for Sungai Siput Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj and five other members of Parti Sosialis Malaysia who were re-arrested on 2 July 2001 in Penang.

Apart from Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, 56, they are PSM deputy chairperson M Saraswathy 58; central committee members Choo Chon Kai, 33; M Sugumaran, 50; Sungai Siput branch secretary A Letchumanan 49; and Youth leader Sarath Babu, 25.

During the seven days’ remand, the police did not unearth any incriminating evidence to justify their action against the PSM members for allegedly ‘waging war against the King’. Hence they were taken out of the premises of the Kepala Batas District Police Station on the seventh day and freed. There being no case against them, one would have thought that that was the end of the matter.

Instead, they were immediately rearrested under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969, this time by police personnel from Bukit Aman, and taken to Kuala Lumpur.

As you well know, this Ordinance is meant to be used against suspected gangsters and criminals who habitually indulge in crime and violence; suspected criminals who pose an imminent danger to citizens and pose a constant threat to public order. Like the Internal Security Act, this Ordinance doesn’t give you a chance to challenge the arrest and detention.

In no way do the activities of Jeyakumar and his colleagues pose any serious danger to the nation. Rather, they have always shown much concern and compassion for the poor and marginalised sectors of our society. As well, they have never resorted to violence and criminal ways in all their activities.

Under the circumstances, the detention of Jeyakumar and the other five is a gross violation of their rights as citizens of Malaysia and a travesty of justice. It makes a mockery of Malaysia’s seat in the UN Human Rights Council.

Therefore we urge you to intervene in this matter and seek your assistance to facilitate their immediate release.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours faithfully,


Friday, April 15, 2011

Control of information handicaps Sarawak elections - Joint media statement

Centre for Independent Journalism
Writers’ Alliance for Media Independence

Joint media statement (14 April 2011): Control of information handicaps Sarawak elections

On 16 April 2011, close to one million voters in Sarawak will choose their new state government. In order to exercise this right, they require accurate and timely information about the candidates, political parties and election manifestos, as well as the crucial issues of the day.

However, we, the undersigned civil society organisations, note that there have been serious incidents and factors ahead of the 10th state elections which are preventing Sarawakians from seeking, receiving and sharing vital information that can help them decide on their representatives and government:

• The massive cyberattacks targeting two critical news sites within the campaign period.

Sarawak Report, which has been publishing detailed allegations about chief minister Taib Mahmud and his family’s extensive business interests, disproportionate wealth and massive land grabs, had faced interrruptions the week before which climaxed into a full-scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on 10 April. The attack rendered the site inaccessible for three days, eventually forcing the owners to publish from a new address.

Popular news portal Malaysiakini was attacked in the same manner on 12 April, incapacitating its two locally hosted servers and forcing the owners of the paid subscription site to resort to Facebook, WordPress and other free publishing platforms to get their news out.

• The nexus between politics and business in media ownership and control.

With all media in the state under the ownership and control of both federal and Sarawak governments, critical issues regarding native customary land, poverty, the alleged rape of Penan women by logging company employees, and governance issues during Taib's 30-year governance are under-reported or even censored.

A recent example of such control was reported by Malaysiakini on 13 April, which said TV stations under the UMNO-linked media conglomerate Media Prima have been ordered not to broadcast footage of the opposition's nightly talks in various towns that have been drawing capacity crowds.
There is also the still pertinent suspension of Sarawak Tribune executive editor Paul Si for publishing on the front page on 30 August 2010, a Bernama report entitled, “Is Taib Mahmud testing the waters?” which questioned the chief minister's claim of retiring soon. Although the suspension, for which a gag order was also issued, was said to be for two weeks, Si remains in cold storage till today.

• The absence of free airtime for candidates

Most rural Sarawakians depend on radio and television for information, so the state broadcaster is duty-bound to provide free airtime for all candidates to deliver their message to the voters. Televised debates are a common feature of election campaigns in many democracies.
We regret that the Election Commission (EC) has refused to call on RTM to provide for free airtime and televised debates even though the state agency has the constitutional duty under Article 115(2) to assist the EC in the running of elections.

• The arrest of two Sarawakian indigenous rights activists over possession of critical material.

Abun Sui Anyit, a human rights and land rights lawyer, was arrested at Miri Airport on 6 January under the Sedition Act, for possession of CDs and leaflets containing reports from Radio Free Sarawak and TV Sarawak Bebas alleging Taib of corruption. Nicholas Mujah, the secretary of the Sarawak Dayak Association and another vocal land rights activist, was arrested in Kuching after police seized more than 1,000 CDs from his office around the same time, but under the Film Censorship Act. Both have been freed on police bail, but investigations are ongoing.

• The barring of activists from other states from entering Sarawak

While the Sarawak government has the power under Section 65 (I)(a) of the Immigration Act 1959/1963 to control who enters the state, this power has been abused to prevent non-Sarawakian activists critical of Taib from direct engagement with the people.

A 1994 ban on native rights activist Jannie Lasimbang was invoked in 2010 when she tried to enter the state in her new capacity as Suhakam commissioner. Upon protest, the ban was lifted a few months later, but on condition that she stayed away from activities 'detrimental' to the interests of the state.

More recently, political activist Steven Ng, academic-activist Wong Chin Huat and lawyer-activist Haris Ibrahim were stopped by Kuching airport immigration officers from entering the state on orders of the state security.

These incidents and factors point to a pattern of political control of information regarding the incumbent state government in an environment that already heavily favours them. While urban residents have access to the messages of opposition and independent candidates via the nightly talks being held in towns and cities, much of the population is in remote areas reachable only by boats, a communications option that is further limited by the 10-day campaign period set by the Election Commission. The poor infrastructure and physical difficulties posed by the mountainous terrain meant that the media with the biggest reach is radio, which is under the government's licensing control, although there is now the “whistleblower” Radio Free Sarawak.

As such, Sarawakians are being shortchanged of information that can help them to vote wisely, with repercussions beyond their borders since this is the first state elections in Malaysia after the 2008 general elections that shook the hegemony of the Barisan Nasional.

We strongly protest the malicious cyberattacks which limits the people's access to information and violates the right to free expression and urge the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to investigate this case under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for abuse of computer facilities.

We reiterate the need to repeal repressive media laws such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and Sedition Act 1948, which have severely hindered the people's right to freedom of expression – especially crucial during elections.

We also urge for the amendment of election laws to require state-run television and radio stations to provide for free air time for all candidates and political parties.

Unless the above vital issues are addressed seriously by the powers-that-be, democracy in Malaysia remains an illusion while its people shackled by draconian laws.

Jointly issued by:
Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
Writers' Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)

For more information, contact: Masjaliza Hamzah, CIJ Executive Officer, 016-379 5901; Anil Netto and Mustafa K Anuar, Charter 2000-Aliran coordinators,; or Wong Chin Huat, WAMI chairperson,

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.

Charter2000-Aliran is a group of Malaysian individuals and organisations committed to striving for media freedom in Malaysia through the promotion of a media charter to raise public awareness.

WAMI is a group of writers for the Chinese media in Malaysia, which aims to defend and promote media independence for freer public discussion and wider democratic space. It was formed by about 90 writers who quit writing for the mainstream Chinese media in May 2001 in protest over the coerced takeover of the non-partisan Nanyang Press by the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a ruling coalition member party.

Centre for Independent Journalism Malaysia
Tel: +603-4023 0772
Twitter: CIJ_Malaysia
Facebook: Centre for Independent Journalism

BERSIH 2.0 condemns barring of Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan, Bersih 2.0 Chair

Gabungan Pilihan Raya Bersih dan Adil 

15 April 2011


BERSIH 2.0 condemns barring of Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan, Bersih 2.0 Chair

Bersih 2.0 strongly condemns the barring of Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan, Chairperson of Bersih 2.0 and former President of Bar Council from entering into Sarawak at the Kuching airport this morning. The aim of Ambiga Sreenevasan’s trip was to observe the state elections and to remind the state government and the Election Commission of the necessity to ensure free and fair elections to be carried out at Sarawak state election. This is Bersih 2.0’s commitment to advance free and fair elections in Malaysia.

Ambiga was there together with Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee members, Subramaniam Pillay, member of Aliran, Arul Prakash, Programme Officer of KOMAS. It is ironical that the latter three were allowed in, together with Ivy Josiah, Executive Director of Women’s Aid Organisation and not Ambiga.

Bersih 2.0 is extremely concern with this continuous abuse of power by the state of Sarawak in denying Malaysians from entering into or exiting Sarawak. This tantamounts to a violation of the freedom of movement and can only be viewed as a blatant abused by the Sarawak immigration department and the state authorities to stifle dissent. It also raises suspicion that the state authorities has something to hide, expeically with the recent barring which happened during the Sarawak state election.

The barring of Ambiga from Sarawak adds to a list of human rights activists, including Steven Ng, Cynthia Gabriel, Wong Chin Huat, Johan Tan, and Subang Member of Parliament, Siva Rasiah who were denied entry by the Sarawak state authorities. No reasons were given on why they have been barred.

Bersih 2.0 demands the Sarawak state authorities to show cause reasons why these human rights activists have been denied entry. If the state authority is unable to do so, then it should immediately lift the ban on these activists.

SUHAKAM has been silent on such denials of entries and we call upon SUHAKAM to act immediately and conduct an open investigation against the abuse and arbitrary use of powers by the immigration department and the Sarawak state authority.

Issued by
Maria Chin Abdullah and Dr. Toh Kin Woon
Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee members
For BERSIH 2.0

Gabungan Pilihan Raya Bersih dan Adil (BERSIH 2.0)
13, Lorong 4/48E, 46050 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Tel: (03) 77844977  Fax: (03) 77844978 
Facebook: Bersih2.0 Electoral Reform
Twitter: @Bersih2.0

Thursday, April 14, 2011



Joint statement by COMANGO, 13 April 2011

From the widely publicized wealth and world-wide interests of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s family on the internet, the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs calls on the Government to urgently set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate Taib’s disproportionate wealth that does not befit a civil servant’s while Sarawakians are among the poorest in the country. Taib’s unseemly wealth while so many indigenous peoples are living in abject conditions or have been unceremoniously displaced from their ancestral homes warrants a thorough investigation into how Taib’s wealth has been accumulated during his 30-year as Chief Minister of Sarawak.

It is clear that even the Prime Minister knows that Taib is the liability to the BN in this state election and that is why he is at pains to stress that Taib will go. Meanwhile, Taib is still standing in the elections and appears to want to be around for the next five years at least.

We call upon Taib Mahmud to resign as Chief Minister in the light of the latest exposes of his family’s world-wide assets and the RCI should try to recoup all this ill-gotten wealth from Taib and his family.

Apart from Malaysian-based companies owned by Taib’s family, companies scattered through the world associated with Taib Mahmud’s family have been uncovered as follows:

Companies associated with Taib’s family
Malaysia: Achi Jaya Holdings Sdn Bhd; Borsarmulu Resort Sdn Bhd (213014-M); Cahya Mata Sarawak Sdn Bhd (21076-T); K&N Kenanga Holdings Bhd; Kumpulan Parabena Sdn Bhd; Mesti Bersatu Sdn Bhd (758849-V); Naim Holdings Berhad (585467-M); Sanyan Group; Sarawak Aluminium Company (783974-K); Sarawak Energy Bhd.; Ta Ann Group; Titanium Management Sdn Bhd; UBG Berhad (240931-X)

Canadian companies: Adelaide Ottawa Corporation (Business number 2028546); City Gate International Corporation (446027-8); Glowell Development Corporation (1545868); Preston Building Holding Corporation (2108122), Sakto Development Corporation Pte. Ltd. (155207-4), Sakto Corporation (340439-1), Sakto Management Services Corporation (655948-4), Tower One Holding Corporation (2028542), Tower Two Holding Corporation (2018543).

British companies: Ridgeford Properties Ltd (3268801) and Ridgeford Consulting Ltd (5572163). Ridgeford Properties Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Canadian City Gate International Corporation.

Australia: Australian Universities International Alumni Convention Pty Ltd (ACN: 081942903); Donmastry Pty Ltd (ACN: 093 907 843); Geneid Holdings Pty Ltd (ACN: 087759751); Golborne Pty Ltd. (ACN: 061844148); Golden Sovereign Development Ltd (ACN 103 925 613); Kesuma Holdings Pty Ltd. (ACN 105540636); Newtop Holdings Pty Ltd (ACN: 066588225); Ostgro Australia Pty Ltd (ACN: 094721070); Sitehost Pty Ltd (ACN: 062312743); Valentine on George Pty Ltd (ACN: 105541562) British Virgin Islands: Astar Properties Ltd. (201522); CMS Global (BVI) Ltd.; Tess Investments Ltd (203511)

Hong Kong: Grand Shine Trading Ltd (0127665); Grand Will Ltd (0133932); Herolite Investment Ltd (129119); Natalite Investment Ltd (129502); Regent Star Company Ltd (0130318); Richfold Investment Ltd (0130308); Whittaker Company Ltd (0161304)
Jersey: Sogo Holdings Ltd (43148)

USA: Sakti International Corporation Inc.; Wallysons Inc (the owner of the FBI building in Seattle!); W.A. Boylston Inc; W.A.Everett Inc.

The RCI should be able to assess the value of all these assets owned by Taib and his family and they must account for all this wealth.

Malaysian NGO Activists Banned from Sarawak
Taib Mahmud has been Chief Minister, Finance Minister and State Planning and Resources Minister of Sarawak since 1981. He has allowed logging of hundreds of thousands of hectares of tropical rainforest by logging companies and marginalized the state's indigenous communities.

His main critics all these years have been concerned Malaysian NGOs which have worked tirelessly to protect Sarawak’s forests and her indigenous peoples from the timber tycoons and dam builders. Consequently, many Malaysian NGO activists have been banned from entering the state – “for anti-logging activities” - even though Sarawak is a part of their own country. This gross violation of the basic human right to freedom of movement and abuse of Sarawak’s immigration rules show that Taib and his state government are afraid of more exposes of their exploitation of the state’s resources and its peoples.

Sarawak’s Rich Resources Stripped Bare
From a state rich in oil and timber, Sarawak has been stripped bare. While we read about the fabulous wealth of Taib and his family spread all over the world, the poverty rate in Sarawak is one of the highest in the country. This is unacceptable when the state is so rich in natural resources. Sarawak gets only 5% of the oil royalties; the rest goes to the federal government, while most of the profits from timber go to the state government. As a result, the Taib Mahmud state government has been flagrantly promoting logging all these years.

Logging companies work on thousands of acres of forest that traditionally belong to the indigenous peoples such as the Kayan, Kenyah, and Penan. It has been estimated that more than 80 per cent of the primary forest in Sarawak has been logged in the past 40 years alone. Sarawak’s 2010 production was 10 million cubic metres; the state exported nearly 4 million cubic metres of logs worth RM2 billion. (Star, 16.2.2011) Measure that against the recent report in December last year when 1000 Penans at Lusong Laku near Miri were totally cut off because the iron bridge that had been used by the logging company there had been replaced by a makeshift wooden one when they left before the impounding of the Bakun dam and this had collapsed.

Rape of Penan Girls
The logging industry has destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Sarawak, especially the indigenous peoples. To add insult to injury, the recent expose of the rape of Penan girls and women by personnel in the logging camps has created indignation among concerned peoples all over the world. The fact finding mission by Malaysian NGOs which went to investigate this scandal confirmed these reports of rape and harassment of Penan girls and women. They called for respect for the rights of the indigenous peoples and for the police to investigate all these cases, justice and adequate compensation for all the victims. One of the reasons given for the police apathy was the lack of resources to investigate these cases!

Bakun Dam: Disruptive, Dubious and Disastrous
The displacement of more than 10,000 indigenous peoples comprising 15 different ethnic communities for the Bakun Dam in 1998 was traumatic in itself.  Their resettlement to Sg Asap has meant continuing trauma and deterioration of once capable and spirited peoples. The whole Bakun area, the size of Singapore Islandhas also been thoroughly logged, transforming the once beautiful Rajang into the biggest muddiest river in this part of the world, destroying the hunting and fishing grounds of the indigenous peoples. The recent 240km logjam on the Rajang can be said to be one of the worst environmental disasters in Malaysia in recent years.

The decision to implement “Operation Exodus” by the Mahathir/Taib Administration was unforgivable when the Bakun project had been suspended in 1998 because of the financial crisis. It did not stop Ekran Bhd subcontracting another Ting Pek Khing company, Pacific Chemicals to harvest 1000 hectares of forest and extracting 79,000 cubic metres of timber from the Bakun area. In 1998, nearly RM1 billion of Malaysian tax payers’ money was paid out to these companies which had been involved in the project.

Show us the Bakun Dam Emergency Response Plan
That is why concerned Malaysian NGOs have all along maintained that this Bakun HEP project is socially disruptive, economically dubious and environmentally disastrous. And now that we have learnt the lessons of the recent earthquake in Japan, can the Taib State Government show us a Bakun Dam Emergency Response Plan in the event of a dam collapse?

The economic cost of the Bakun dam remains to be counted. We learned recently that Sime Darby has lost more than RM2 billion as a result of their involvement in the Bakun project. For a state where total demand for electricity is less than 1000MW, we have built a dam that produces 2400 MW. And the state government plans to build more dams. Energy experts will tell you that having such enormous amount of excess energy is not a boon but is wasteful.

Clearly, the contractors and vested interests have profited from this project, Malaysian tax payers have to pay, more forests will be raped and more indigenous people will be displaced from their ancestral homes. To take up the excess electricity, energy-intensive industries such as aluminium smelters will be built and the developed countries will be too glad to offload their toxic industries away from their countries to Sarawak.

Sarawak still colonized by the West
When Sarawak first joined the federation, under the First Malaysia Plan, she got 10.5% of total development allocation. As one of the poorest territory in Malaysia, the development allocation for Sarawak instead of growing has fallen to 6.7% of total allocation under the Ninth Malaysia Plan. Under the Fifth and Sixth Malaysia Plans, the allocation for Sarawak was only 5.2% and 5.3% respectively. Only recently, the Education Minister said that 600 schools were in a critical condition, most of these in Sarawak and Sabah and they are thinking of privatizing these schools.

This is absolutely scandalous considering the government is about to buy six patrol boats for the navy for RM6 billion and guns worth RM700 million. When the government announced this recently they said we can afford these patrol vessels. Now, you don’t need RM1 million to build a new school, which means that with RM6 billion, we could build at least 6000 brand new schools in the whole country.

A New Deal for Sarawakians
The peoples of Sarawak deserve a government that respects basic human rights and cares about the welfare and holistic development of the people and environment. The indigenous peoples want a just solution to the encroachment into Native Customary Land by developers, plantation and logging companies and titles to their land.

It is time for Sarawakians to take their destiny into their own hands and work toward their own self-determination and the progress of their resource rich and beautiful land. It is time for Sarawakians to reclaim their rights and interests intended by the 18-point agreement when Sarawak joined the “Malaysian Federation of Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah”. This is what the federation should have been called - Sarawak and Sabah should not merely be two of the 13 states of Malaysia.

We call for the renegotiation of oil royalty rights (more than 30%) and a higher proportion of development allocation (more than 10%) for Sarawak. The lives of rural peoples should be improved by building proper tarred roads and better river transport to help the people market their produce; micro hydroelectric power facilities or solar powered facilities to supply electricity to each longhouse upstream; more and better schools and clinics to lift the living standards of the local people.

Today, as we celebrate the historic victories of the peoples over autocracy and plutocracy in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and more countries to come, we call on Sarawakians to seize the moment and do what has to be done at the next Sarawak State elections.

Self-determination for Sarawakians! Vote out the exploiters! Oust the autocrats!

1.      Aliran Kesedaran Negara (ALIRAN)
2.      All Women's Action Society (AWAM)
3.      Amnesty International Malaysia (AI Malaysia)
4.      Bersih 2.0
5.      Bruno Manser Fonds
6.      Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
7.      Child Development Initiative
8.      Civil Rights Committee of  The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (CRC-KLSCAH)
9.      Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
10.  Coalition of Good Governance Penang (CGGP)
11.  Community Action Network (CAN)
12.  Friends of Kota Damansara (FoKD)
13.  Group of Concerned Citizens
14.  Health Equity Initiatives (HEI)
15.  Ikatan Hak Rakyat
16.  Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
17.  Johor Tamizhar Sangam
18.  Klang Consumer Association
19.  Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)
20.  The LLG Cultural Development Centre in KL
21.  Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)
22.  Malaysian Dravidian Association
23.  Malaysian Indian Business Association
24.  Malaysian Indian Development & Unity Association
25.  Nationwide Human Development And Research Centre
26.  Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
27.  Penang Chinese Independent Schools Education Society
28.  Penang Chung Ling High School Alumni 1973
29.  People Service Organization
30.  Persahabatan Semparuthi
31.  Persatuan Kemajuan Pendidikan Malaysia
32.  Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
33.  Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
34.  Persatuan Prihatin Belia Malaysia
35.  Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (KOMAS)
36.  Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
37.  Sembang-Sembang Forum
38.  Sem Kiong Angin
39.  Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
40.  Women's Aid Organisation (WAO)
41.  Women's Centre for Change, Penang (WCC)
42.  Writers’ Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)