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.

Friday, January 28, 2011

126 : RCI Must Establish Cause of Teoh’s Death and Have Credible Members to show Najib’s sincerity

Civil Society Joint Statement              2011-01-11
No Lame Duck!

RCI Must Establish Cause of Teoh’s Death and Have Credible Members to show Najib’s sincerity

We, the undersigned civil society organisations (CSOs) say “NO” to the “lame duck” Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the late Teoh Beng Hock which Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak intends to set up.

We demand that the RCI to be given specific and comprehensive Terms of Reference [TOR] to clear all doubts pertaining to Beng Hock’s mysterious and torturous death.

We fully support the position of the Malaysians for Beng Hock Movement that the TOR of the proposed RCI must include the following:

a.      Investigating thoroughly and identifying the cause of Beng Hock’s death, especially identifying the cause of bruise which appeared on his neck.

b.      Reviewing and reforming the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation protocols to be in line with human rights standards and international best practices.    

c.      Identifying the political, administrative and criminal responsibility of all individuals or institutions whose decisions and acts had directly or indirectly led to the death of Teoh Beng Hock and recommending specific actions to charge or penalize these individuals;

d.      Investigating into other allegations of torture, illegal detention and other misconducts by MACC if and when necessary and proposing reforms in the formal procedures of and actual practices in MACC investigation and interrogation.

In upholding the cardinal principle of transparency, we demand that the Report of the RCI and all related documents be made available to the public, without conditions.

Transparent Appointment of RCI Members
In order to show his sincerity in seeking the truth and justice, the Prime Minister has to ensure transparency and independence in the selection and appointment of RCI members.
The selection panel must include representatives of the Teoh family, Bar Council, Selangor State Government and human rights community to ensure full consultation and credibility.   

We strongly urge the government to appoint only individuals who meet the following criteria to the RCI:
  • Is an outstanding and professional figure with high integrity
  • Has a proven track record of defending human rights
  • Has relevant experience in the area of human rights, law enforcement, judiciary and non-governmental activism.
In this regard, we fully support the list of potential commissioners proposed by the Malaysians for Beng Hock Movement as follows:

Tun Musa Hitam
Former Deputy Prime Minister and the first  chairperson of Malaysia Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM)
Raja Aziz Addruse
Former Bar Council president and former president of the National Human Rights Society (Hakam)
N.H. Chan
Former Court of Appeal judge
Tun Haniff Omar
Former Inspector General of Police
Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasan
Former Bar Council president and awarded International Women of Courage 2009
Dr. Irene Fernandez
Director of NGO Tenaganita and awarded Right Livelihood Award in 2005
A medical professional upon consultation of Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), its ex-president Dr Ronald McCoy (a human rights defender) and other members of the medical community.   

We urge the Federal Government not to finalise the RCI and announce its membership without consulting the Teoh family, Bar Council, Selangor State Government and human rights community. Otherwise, the RCI will be seen as a public relations exercise of the Federal Government, with its independence and credibility called into question even before embarking on its task.

Initiated by :

The KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
Endorsed by :   (updated till 2011.01.11, 2pm)

  1. The KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
  2. Amnesty International Malaysia
  3. Pusat Pembangunan Kebudayaan LLG
  5. Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia
  6. Jemaah Islah Malaysia
  7. Islamic Renaissance Front Malaysia
  8. Persekutuan Alumni Han Chiang Malaysia
  9. Group of Concern Citizen
  10. KOMAS
  11. JERIT
  12. Malaysia Students' Association In Taiwan
  13. All Women Action Society of Malaysia,AWAM
  14. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia
  15. Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia
  16. Gabungan Mahasiswa islam Se-Malaysia
  17. Gerakan Demokratik Mahasiswa dan Pemuda Malaysia
  1. Kesatuan Mahasiswa New Era Kolej
  2. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor,Empower
  3. Persatuan Prihantin Komuniti Kuala Lumpur & Selangor,PRIHATIN
  4. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan,PERMAS
  1. Bahagian Pemuda Persatuan Char Yong S’gor dan Wilayah Persekutuan
  1. Bahagian Wanita Dewan Perhimpunan Cina KL & S’gor
  2. Persatuan Wui Leng Kuala Lumpur & Selangor
  3. Persatuan Alumni PBTUSM Selangor & KL
  4. Persatuan Alumni Nam Hiang KL
  5. Bhg Pemuda Persatuan Alumni Sekolah Serdang
  6. Jawatankuasa Bertindak Peneroka Bandar Jalan Papan
  1. Persatuan Penduduk Tmn Muhibbah Seri Kembangan
  1. Jawatankuasa Penduduk Zon 23 MPSJ
  2. Persatuan Alumni Kampung Sekolah Ampang
  3. Persatuan Singa Naga Jin Ying Ampang
  4. Gerakan Mahasiswa UPM
  5. Gerakan Mahasiswa UUM
  6. Gerakan Mahasiswa USM
  7. University Malaya New Youth Association
  8. Youth For Change, Y4C
  9. Penggerak Belia Zon 23,MPSJ
  10. Bahagian Pemuda Persatuan Hokkien WP & S’gor
  11. Youth Section of Malacca Chinese Assembly Hall
  12. Youth Section of Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall
  1. Persekutuan Persatuan-Persatuan Bekas Pelajar-Pelajar
      Sekolah-Sekolah China Johor
  1. Persatuan Alumni Taiwan,Johor Bahru
  2. Kelab Penyokong SJKC Damansara Kluang
  3. Penang Watch
  4. Jawatankuasa Penaja SUARAM Kluang
  5. Perak Youth Graduate Association
  6. Gabungan Murid-Murid Sekolah-Sekolah Menengah Persendirian Perak
  1. Persatuan Murid-Murid Tua Sekolah Menengah Shen Jai
  2. Bahagian Pemuda Persataun Keturunan Ng's Perak
  3. Persatuan Hopo Kawasan Bidor, Perak
  4. Penang Chinese Independent Schools' Education Society
  1. Persatuan Alumni Han Chiang Pulau Pinang
  2. Chung Hwa School Union
  3. Kong Min School Old Pupils Association
  4. Persatuan Kawan Karib Pulau Pinang
  5. Pertubuhan Bekas Murid Sekolah Pei Yu, Seberang Perai Utara
  1. Persatuan Murid-Murid Tua Sekolah Tong Sian
  2. Youth Section of KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
  3. Persatuan Bekas Murid-Murid Han Chiang Seberang Perai
  4. Persatuan Bekas Murid Sekolah Seng Keo Butterworth
  5. Li Hwa School Ex-Pupils Association Butterworth
  6. New Era College Alumni Association
  7. WAMI
  8. Lawyer for Liberty
  9. Free Public Forum
  10. Red Rose Youth Centre
  11. Persatuan Ann Kooi Hulu Selangor
  12. Persatuan Murid-murid Tua Sekolah Kuen Cheng KL
  13. The Federation of Chinese Associations, Johore State
  14. Sarawak Central Region Friendship Association
  15. Student Progressive Front NEC,SPFNEC
  16. Persatuan Bahasa Tiong Hua USM
  17. Persatuan Bahasa Cina UM
  18. Persatuan Bahasa Tiong Hua UUM
  19. Persatuan Bahasa Tiong Hua UPM
  20. Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia SMM
  21. Gabungan Anak Muda & Pelajar GAMP 
  22. Sarawak Dayak Iban Association  SADIA
  23. Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia  BRIMAS
  24. Sarawak Native Customary Rights Land Network  TAHABAS
  25. Jaringan Orang Asal Se-Malaysia  JOAS
  26. Persatuan Wanita Desa Sarawak  WADESA
  27. Sarawakians Access  SACCESS
  28. Community Information and Communications Centre  CICOM
  29. Women’s Aid Organisation  WAO
  30. Community Action Network
  31. Tenaganita
  32. Community Development Centre  CDC
  33. Youth Wing of the Council of Churches of Malaysia  CCMY
  34. Monitoring Sustainability of Globalization  MSN
  35. 528 Media Action Group
  36. Persatuan Penganut Agama Buddha Fo Guang Malaysia
  1. SOS Save Ourselves
  2. MALVU Malaysian Voters Union
  3. Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall
  4. The Association of Graduates from Universities & Colleges of China, M’sia
  5. Federation of Chinese Schools Alumni Association of Malaysia
99.  Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Hokkien Association
100.   Persatuan Persahabatan Berpanjangan N.Sembilan
101.   Eng Choon Association Negeri Sembilan
102.   Persatuan Belia Prihatin Malaysia Cawangan N.Sembilan
103.   Lai Association Negeri Sembilan
104.   N.S. Teo Chew Youth
105.   N.S. Kwang Tung Youth
106.   N.S. Hainan Youth
107.   Chinese Methodist Church Seremban
108.   Kelab Sukandan Rekreasi Taman Layang-layang Seremban
109.  COMIT Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan
110.   Persatuan Kebajikan Cahaya Wawasan S’gor
111.   Persatuan Kebajikan Bharatham Negeri Selangor
112.   Persatuan Wawasan India Selangor
113.   Consumer Association of Klang
114.   Persatuan Prihatian Belia Malaysia
115.   Pertubuhan Seni Music India Malaysia
116.   Young Malaysians Movement (YMM) Negeri Sembilan
117.  Perak Han Chiang Ex-Pupils Assocation
118.   Penang Yan Huang 312 Centre
119.   Negeri Sembilan Teo Chew Association
120.   Persatuan Belia Xiang Hui, Negeri Sembilan
121.   The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia Youth Section
122.  Penang Chinese Assembly Hall
123.   Chinese Schools Alumni Association of Kedah
124.   Centre for Independent Journalism, CIJ
125.   Human Rights Committee of BAR Coucil Malaysia
126.   Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce

Thursday, January 20, 2011

CAP and SAM: Revoke approval for field trial of GM mosquitoes

CAP and SAM: Revoke approval for field trial of GM mosquitoes

CAP and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) call upon the National Biosafety Board (NBB) to revoke the approval given to the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) in October 2010 to release genetically modified (GM) male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes for the purpose of a field experiment.

The applicant and implementer of the field trial is the IMR which had developed the GM mosquitoes in a joint research with UK-based biotech company Oxitec Ltd. The field trial which was supposed to be carried out last December in uninhabited and inhabited sites in the districts of Bentong, Pahang and Alor Gajah, Melaka was reportedly delayed because of bad weather.
Following the NBB’s decision, CAP and SAM had submitted a memorandum to the Malaysian Government on 20 December 2010 raising our concerns on serious ethical, legal, public health and human rights issues.   Twenty-nine organizations in Malaysia and 87 civil society organizations throughout the world, concerned by the impending release of the GM mosquitoes had also raised their apprehension in open letters to the authorities.

Malaysia will be the first country to release this particular strain of GM Aedes aegypti mosquitoes OX513A (My1). The only other country which has released GM Aedes mosquitoes with the same transgenic construct is the Cayman Islands - a British overseas territory. In November 2010, international reports had revealed that Oxitec publicly announced its GM Aedes mosquitoes’ field trials in the Cayman Islands only one year after the event.

The field releases in the Cayman Islands in 2009 and 2010 were controversial and calls have been made for a transparent assessment of the full, long-term health and environmental impacts of these trials in the Cayman Islands, pending which, no further field releases of GM mosquitoes should occur anywhere else.

Besides this, GeneWatch UK, a science-based not-for-profit organisation, has conducted and published an investigation of Oxitec’s role in the development, patenting and promotion of the use of these genetically-modified (GM) mosquitoes. [Please see GeneWatch UK’s December 2010 report titled “Oxitec’s genetically-modified mosquitoes: in the public interest?”]

GeneWatch UK is concerned that the novelty of this application of GM technology has made regulators in several countries too dependent on advice provided by Oxitec which has a vested interest in speeding its products into the market place in order to generate financial returns for its investors. In GeneWatch UK’s view this means that a number of potential risks have been omitted or downplayed.

[Please click on the link below this statement to read GeneWatch UK's comments on Risk Assessment report of the  Malaysian Genetic Modification Advisory Committee (GMAC) for an application to conduct a limited Mark-Release-Recapture of Aedes aegypti (L.) wild type and OX513A strains].

The fact that this project involves the creation and propagation of a deadly insect and its eventual release in the natural environment means that it is a dangerous and risky enterprise.

The GM mosquitoes will be released into a complicated ecosystem, involving other mosquito species, predators and prey, the dengue virus, and the humans who are bitten. Because this system is poorly understood there remain unanswered questions about the impacts of the proposed releases.   

The outcome of this experiment is thus unpredictable and largely unknown. If the unintended occurs in the environment, these releases would be impossible to monitor, contain or mitigate and they are irreversible.

Mosquitoes, natural or engineered, do not respect national borders. It is not possible for any country to control mosquitoes from crossing their borders in this age of air travel and large scale movements of people and materials. For this reason, releasing a GM mosquito must be considered as a worldwide release as it will potentially affect every nation on the planet. Hence, were Malaysia’s neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand officially informed about the impending release?

Given the unpredictable consequences and potential risks, the chances of things going wrong cannot be overstated. Why are we allowing ourselves to be guinea pigs for this doubtful technology? What if the experiment does not go according to plan and something goes terribly wrong with the release? First and foremost, Oxitec will not be wholly liable as IMR is the applicant for the release.

It is regrettable that the authorities seem intent on allowing the trials to go ahead, despite public calls to be cautious and to take into account the precautionary approach based on valid concerns. That we are dealing with GM insects especially disease-carrying mosquitoes’ on which there are very few guidelines for biosafety assessment simply because there is very little information to go on, should be a push for the precautionary approach.

Malaysia should uphold transparency, rigorous scientific standards, the precautionary principle, justice and human rights, and ethical and lawful practices. Otherwise, we will be opening the floodgates for foreign corporations to dump in Malaysia other GM insects, crops, food, feed and processing in the future. What is at stake is the health of Malaysians and our neighbours, our environment and biological diversity.

We hereby call upon the NBB in consultation with the Genetic Modification Advisory Committee to review and revoke the approval for the field release of these GM mosquitoes as allowed for under the Biosafety Act 2007.

Press Statement - 17 January 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Joint Statement of BERSIH 2.0 and Sarawak CSOs 10 January 2011

Joint Statement of BERSIH 2.0 and Sarawak CSOs
10 January 2011 

[Released in Sarawak]

Bersih 2.0
Malaysian Election Observers Network (MEO-Net) - Sarawak State Election Observation Mission 
Panggal Sarawak
Tabahas Sarawak
Sarawak Central Region Friendship Association

We, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (BERSIH 2.0) and the undersigned civil society organisations (CSOs) in Sarawak, call upon the Election Commission, the Federal and State Governments and other relevant parties to implement the following reforms.

A:        Suffrage

1.      Increased Outreach of National Registration Department (NRD) and Election Commission (EC) – Disenfranchisement is a major issue in Sarawak as substantial percentage of Sarawakians are not registered as voters and even citizens because of insufficient documentation. The Federal agencies like National Registration Department (NRD) and Election Commission (EC) should expand and enhance their outreach to ensure maximum registration of citizens and voters. In particular, we call for:

a.      The NRD to have at least one mobile unit for  each of Sarawak’s 11 divisions.
b.     all rural settlements are visited by them at least once a year.
c.      Besides the Kuching state headquarters, the EC to set up an office in every of Sarawak’s 11 divisions.
d.     The Sarawak divisions of both NRD and EC to be led by Sarawakians and maximise employment of Sarawakians to provide more locally-informed and friendly service.

2.      Automatic Registration and related reforms. Democratic elections must be based on universal suffrage. That 4.2 million eligible citizens are still unregistered is a failure of democracy. The current voter registration drives are hampered by insufficient number of assistant registrars of voters and slow and non-transparent processing of new applications.  
To make the matters worse, the existing electoral rolls contain many deceased voters, fraudulent registrations and other errors, which may be largely solved if the Election Commission (EC) and the National Registration Department (NRD) can synchronise their data bases. In particular, we call for:
a.      As a temporary measure, appointment of more assistant registrars of voters from amongst non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and local government nominees, not just representatives of political parties.
b.      As a temporary measure, an online tracking system that allows new applicants to check the progress of their application of voter registrations.
c.      Automatic registration that allows all eligible citizens to vote as per their status on NRD database.
d.      The lowering of voting age from 21 to 18 in line with the global and regional trend.

3.      Absentee Voting Reform. The existing arrangement of postal voting is flawed in three ways. Firstly, it is imposed on military voters and in practice also police voters, who vote in a setting that may compromise their freewill and confidentiality and who are in practice treated as BN’s “fixed deposit” to tip off the balance in BN’s marginal constituencies. Secondly, it is available as an option to only: (a) civil servants and spouse overseas; (b) tertiary students and spouses overseas; (c) election workers; and not others away from home temporary, including East Malaysians visiting West Malaysia. Thirdly, while voters on ordinary voter list can apply to vote on postal ballot, those on postal voter list – like students or diplomats returning to Malaysia for holidays – cannot vote in ordinary polling stations and will be disenfranchised. We call for the following reforms:

a.      In principle, absentee voting is an option available to all but mandatory to none.
b.     There is only a single voting list, where everyone with a reasonable ground may apply to vote on postal ballot three weeks before polling day; so that no absentee voters can be identified before election and transferred across constituencies.
c.      To ease administration of absentee voting, polling should be held at least three weeks after nomination is closed.

4.      Increased access and protection for rural voters. Many native Sarawakians do not vote because of the distance from the polling stations. Meanwhile, transportation of ballot boxes to counting centre by helicopters triggers concern whether the ballots may be tampered. To increase access and protection for rural voters, we call for
a.      presiding officers, to be accompanied by  political parties’ polling agents, to bring ballot boxes to far remote villages.
b.      ballots to be counted in all polling stations before ballot boxes being transferred to the counting centres to avoid any possible rigging in the process of transportation.

5.      Removal of Fraudulently-Naturalised Foreigners. A Royal Commission of Inquiry should be set up to investigate and rectify fraudulent naturalisation of foreigners in Sarawak and Sabah.

B:         Contestation

6.      Nomination Reform. The requirement and process of nomination should be simplified to encourage contestation. In particular, we call for
a.      Reduction of deposit for both federal and state elections
b.      A nomination period of one week.

7.      Media Freedom. We call for thorough reform of all media-related laws to produce a pluralistic and competitive media environment in the long run. In the short run, we call for
a.      Free access to state-owned media for all contesting parties, which may take the form of televised debates and radio/television advertisement.
b.      Non-discriminatory access to private media for all contesting parties.
c.      Rights of reply for all candidates and party officials who are reported negatively.

8.      Political finance. Contemporary democratic elections are expensive but this should not leave elections a game of the rich, either as candidates or their financial backers. The current regulation has failed to promote transparency and inclusion. We call for the following reforms:
a.      Mandatory disclosure of all contributions in cash, in kind and in labour, and severe penalty for both the recipients and donors.
b.      Party to be made a unit of accounting alongside the candidate in election expense accounting,
c.      Public provision of campaign materials from collective leaflets to collective billboard for all contestants, making it more viable for resource-poor candidates to campaign.

9.      Promotion of Administrative Neutrality and Criminalisation of Discriminatory Practices. Elections are meaningless without level playing fields. State agencies, individual citizens, groups and corporations must not be allowed to discriminate against any contestants and undermine free and fair elections. The Election Offences Act should be amended or replaced by a new act to
a.      Prohibit the caretaker government at both federal and state levels to announce any major policy decisions, in the exception of emergencies, from dissolution of legislature to the swearing-in of the new government.
b.     Criminalise all federal and state officials who intentionally abuse government resources and power to promote or undermine certain candidates or parties in an election.
c.      Criminalise discriminatory practices by individual citizens, groups, business entities that aim to undermine level playing fields in elections, such as refusal to sell fuel and other goods and services to certain political parties and candidates.

10.   Election ObservationElection monitoring is vital to deter election rigging and enhance the legitimacy of elected governments. Unfortunately there have not been international election observation missions in Malaysia since 1990 while domestic election watchdogs like MAFREL are subject to restrictions and obstructions. Specifically, we propose and call for:
a.      The Election Commission (EC) to accredit international and domestic election observation missions liberally and professionally for all future elections including the upcoming Sarawak state election.
b.      The international community to request  Malaysia and Sarawak governments to observe the upcoming Sarawak state election and the federal election.
c.      The EC to propose the establishment of the legal right of election monitoring.
d.      ASEAN to establish a regional level election monitoring mechanism.

C:         Institutions

11.   Community and local elections. Elections should be expanded beyond the existing federal and state elections to enhance representation. At the community level this will minimise the incidences of these community leaders being utilised as tools by the government of the day to secure votes for the ruling coalition. In Sarawak, many state-government-appointed tuai rumah have split small rural communities as these leaders are not the ones recognised by the villagers in general.
 In particular, we demand:
a.      That the community leaders from tuai rumah, penghulu, pemancar to temenggung to be directly elected by their community  in accordance with their cultural traditions and not selected by the state government.
b.      That there be a third-tier elected government, modelling cabinet governments at federal and state levels, for cities/municipalities and divisions (excluding urban centres).

12.   Fair and reasonable constituency redelineation.  Elections must be based on the one-person-one-vote principle and aim to optimise representation and aggregation of community interests. The Election Commission (EC) must commit to maximally equal representation and minimisation of gerrymandering. In particular, we demand the following principles be adopted to the following principles in the constituency redelineation exercise for Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah which may begin this March and the one for Sarawak in two years’ time the earliest:
c.      That the largest state constituency in a state must not be larger than half of the smallest parliamentary constituency in the same state.
d.      That electoral constituencies must cross the boundaries of local authorities and divisions.
e.      That the demarcation of a local authority area or division into parliamentary and state constituencies must group communities of similar interests together.
f.       That local neighbourhoods must not be arbitrarily partitioned by electoral boundaries.

Maria Chin Abdullah
Executive Director
13 Lorong 4/48E
46050 Petaling Jaya
Selangor, Malaysia
Tel:    603  77844977
Fax:   603  77844978
Facebook: Empower Malaysia

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Joint Media Statement:- "Utusan" must respect NUJ leader; call off domestic inquiry

Centre for Independent Journalism
Charter 2000-Aliran
Writers' Alliance for Media Independence
1 Muted Malaysia

Joint Media Statement (5 January 2011): "Utusan" must respect NUJ leader; call off domestic inquiry
We are four civil society groups speaking up in support of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) president Hata Wahari, who is facing a domestic inquiry by his employer, “Utusan Malaysia,” for being critical of political interference in the newspaper.

We echo the words of NUJ general secretary V Anbalagan that Hata was speaking in his capacity as a union official and thus merely exercising his rightful duty and fulfilling his national obligation. The management of “Utusan Malaysia” is as free to make a public rebuttal if it disagreed with Hata. It should not penalise Hata by subjecting him to a domestic inquiry that may result in him being fired.

According to Hata, the domestic inquiry notice followed two show-cause letters from the management – on 14 October 2010 and 14 November – in response to his first statement as NUJ president on 21 September. The domestic inquiry letter was dated 23 December, and received on 27 December.

Hata has been speaking out since he was elected to the top union position in September, and appears to be implementing his election manifesto, which includes engaging in efforts to abolish the draconian Printing Presses and Publications Act as well as promoting ethical reporting on religious and race issues. He also aimed to monitor newspapers that contravene journalism ethics in this regard ( His first statement took to task senior editors of the much-criticised “Utusan Malaysia” for failing to advocate media freedom in their quest to serve the agenda of their political masters UMNO. His new year statement cited racist rhetoric in the same paper as the reason for the daily’s declining sale, and urged the authorities to act against the editors for inciting racial hatred.

We note that this is the first time in a long while since an NUJ leader has spoken up against unethical media practices, which he correctly blamed on the lack of media independence due to political interference and restrictive laws.

We believe that Hata was not only speaking up for the integrity of the profession, but for the right of all Malaysians to have a media that will put the people as their first loyalty, and truth as their first obligation, which means allowing as many different perspectives as possible so that the people can judge and decide for themselves what is truth.

We view any attempt to sack the union president for expressing his opinion in defence of journalistic integrity as a serious attack on the freedom of expression and media freedom.

We call on all journalists, unionised or not, to stand behind Hata and urge for the domestic inquiry, rescheduled to 17 January, to be called off.

Similarly, all Malaysians who want a free media must now speak up and stand in line together with the journalists.

Jointly issued by:
Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
Charter 2000-Aliran
Writers' Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
1 Muted Malaysia

For more information, contact: Masjaliza Hamzah, CIJ Executive Officer, 03-40230772; Anil Netto and Mustafa K Anuar, Charter 2000-Aliran coordinators,; Wong Chin Huat, WAMI chairperson,; or Josh Hong, 1 Muted Malaysia coordinator,


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.

Charter 2000-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.

1 Muted Malaysia is a citizens’ initiative in response to the shrinking public space for expression as evidenced by series of book bans, sackings and arrests involving writers, media practitioners and artists.