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