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, 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)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bar: Nation’s institutional reforms deserve greater priority and attention than bedroom antics

Press Release
Nation’s institutional reforms deserve greater priority and attention than bedroom antics
The proposal to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry (“RCI”) to probe the sex video clip publicised by the “Datuk T trio” is misguided. It invokes more questions in people’s minds, than the suggested exercise might hope to answer.

Under the Commissions of Enquiry Act 1950, an RCI is set up to enquire into matters of unarguable public importance, commonly involving or implicating public institutions having authority over some aspects of the life or welfare of citizens. Royal Commissions have been established in the past to investigate the conduct and functioning of public institutions such as the police and the Judiciary, for example the ones on reforming the Polis DiRaja Malaysia, on the “nude ear squats” incident, or that arising from the video clip featuring VK Lingam.

The Government has in the past been reluctant and slow to establish Royal Commissions, where far more pressing and undeniable public interest issues were at stake. Even when set up, often only after incessant public outcry, the Government has been disappointing in implementing their major recommendations, such as with some of the abovementioned RCIs.

Viewed against this backdrop, it is not surprising that the sudden enthusiasm displayed in the call for an RCI in the present instance raises a serious sense of scepticism and indignation in the minds of many enlightened Malaysians.

Countless Malaysians have made themselves hoarse through speaking out to urge the Government to display a genuine sense of purpose and political will in order to urgently deal with long-untreated problems of immense public impact, such as the eradication of endemic corruption and meaningful revamp of vital institutions. Many of these matters are truly deserving of investigation by RCIs, in priority to, and in contrast with, the episode under examination that has curiously but unwarrantedly received so much official zest.

Very often, an RCI has, among its tasks, the restoration of public confidence. This can hardly be achieved, if the people notice that the Government has lost its sense of priority and fair play. Instead of having to face criminal charges for the screening and publication of a sex video, and for what may amount to criminal intimidation, the trio’s members have been inappropriately described as whistleblowers, forgetting that a whistleblower is one who quietly furnishes relevant information to an enforcement agency vested with proper investigative powers, and not one who provides public viewing of a sex video and who desires and demands public attention.

The Malaysian Bar calls on the Government to restore its proper sense of priority, and to channel its energy, resources and political will in ways that will truly benefit the rakyat.

Lim Chee Wee
Malaysian Bar

9 Apr 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bar : Government must end recurrent human rights violations

Press Release: Government must end recurrent human rights violations

Friday, 08 April 2011 04:54pm    
The month of April is only eight days old, and yet in these past few days alone, we have witnessed several major human rights violations in Malaysia.

On 1 April, Kadir bin Hashim, a disabled restaurant operator, was arrested under the draconian Internal Security Act 1960, which provides for detention without trial.  He is alleged to be involved in subversive activities, but no court of law is permitted to review this allegation.

On 3 April, Teluk Intan Member of Parliament M Manoharan and activist M S Arjunan were arrested for leading a protest against the book “Interlok” at Batu Caves.  On the same day, in Pulau Ketam near Klang, a group of people who gathered to protest the possible construction of a nuclear power plant were dispersed by police.  That very day as well, native customary land rights activist Steven Ng, a Malaysian, was without notice denied entry into Sarawak upon instructions from the state security department.  No explanation was supplied.

On 4 April, detainees at the Lenggeng Immigration Detention Centre rioted and burned down part of the detention centre, complaining of poor food and severe and intolerable overcrowding.

On 7 April, the High Court at Shah Alam postponed to 11 April 2011 a decision on an ex parte interim injunction stopping human rights defender and migrant workers’ rights activist Charles Hector from blogging about the terms and conditions of employment of a group of migrant workers working at a factory run by a Malaysian subsidiary of a Japanese company, and about their fate.  He faces a defamation lawsuit.

In any civilised nation, the right to dissent against government policy, the right to gather and express oneself peacefully, the right to defend human rights of indigenous peoples and migrant workers – these rights would be protected, even cherished.  Sadly, this is not so in Malaysia.  Ordinary Malaysians standing up for their rights, and that of their families, communities, fellow citizens and foreign workers, appear to constitute such a threat to the national security of this country that stringent, intolerant, and belligerent actions are taken to prevent the expression and ventilation of such rights.

These actions are being undertaken purportedly in the name of safeguarding our interests.  Yet right now we are facing a crisis of confidence in our law enforcement agencies.  With Teoh Beng Hock’s death still fresh in our minds, the nation is once again plunged into agony over yet another tragedy, that of the sudden death of Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed. 

The conduct of the institutions that are meant to protect us and to uphold the rule of law is being seriously called into question.

We urge the Government to make absolutely clear that it will do its utmost to uphold, respect, protect and defend the human rights of Malaysians and the many foreign workers contributing to our economic development.  In an open democracy, the voice of the people can be a useful and effective check and balance against the excesses of Government, or even of businesses.  Instead of fearing Malaysians who wish to express themselves freely and peacefully, the Government should promote and celebrate a culture of human rights. 

Rather, it is imperative that the Government appreciates that the real danger arises from those in power who believe that they can operate in an atmosphere of secrecy and environment of impunity, yet whose conduct directly undermines the very integrity of the Government that they have pledged to serve. 

The threat to our safety and security is not coming from outside Government, but from within.  The Government must seriously and immediately end the multiple human rights violations that are being perpetrated against those living in Malaysia, both citizens and foreigners alike.

Lim Chee Wee
Malaysian Bar

8 April 2011


8        April 2011

Kuala Lumpur – 8 April 2011. CCM Youth issued a press release today expressing their views in response to the various press statements issued by the Christian Federation of Malaysia (“CFM”), the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (“NECF”), the 10-point solution as proposed by Senator Datuk Seri Idris Jala (“10-Point Proposal”) Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, and comments made in the media by the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and various parties.

The 10-Point Proposal presumed that Christians were only concerned with the Alkitab issue.  That premise is incorrect.  The 10-Point Proposal distracted both the public and the church leaders from getting to the heart of the matter, that is, the concern over the overt and covert manner which the government had discriminated against the Christian citizenry for close to forty (40) years that had resulted in the gradual deterioration of basic rights of Christians to freely exercise their faith. 
CCM Youth denounced deplorable accusations that Christians were not being “fair” or “reasonable” in resolving the Alkitab matter.  CCM Youth disclosed that the Malaysian government had unreasonably and unjustly acted in bad faith since the early 1970s to-date against the Christian community.  Among some examples were:
·         Gradual erosion of the control of mission schools which included even the physical removal of words such as “Holy” and crosses from schools, even though the land, building and board of governors belonged to the church;
·         Removing or disallowing “Christian Fellowships” from being recognized as societies in schools and universities;
·         Harassing and transferring out Christian teachers found teaching Bible Knowledge, a legitimate examinable subject for the SPM;
·         Gazetting the AlKitab, the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia,  as a threat to national security under the Internal Security Act;
·         Denying the use of the word “Allah” for the Christian God, even though it had been used by indigenous groups way before independence, and being the only Muslim country in the world to do so despite wide Arab usage;
·         Denying Christians land to operate churches or cemeteries.
And the list goes on. 
CCM Youth was saddened that Christians today were openly abused, harassed and provoked in the media and encouraged by the government, with all sorts of erroneous information being placed on official government websites put up as decrees; linking activities from Valentine’s Day to ‘poco-poco’ to crosses on football jerseys, to Christian beliefs without so much as a dialogue or a clarification with the Christian community.  So much so that even the Islamic government machinery, with nods from cabinet ministers, the Home Ministry and state governments, unashamedly encouraged over-zealous religious officers and Islamic-based NGOs, to propagate and sow seeds of hatred towards the Christian community.
CCM Youth was informed that recently a group of students went for an excursion to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall, and were denied entry just because their uniform had a cross.  After so many years of racial-religious polarisation under the hands of government machinery, religious and racial bigotry is now blatantly practised and widely nurtured in government departments against Christians. 
CCM Youth believed that the 10-Point Proposal was superfluous as Christian citizens were not asking for anything extra, but for their basic constitutional rights, enshrined in the Federal Constitution, to be respected and honoured. 
CCM Youth opined that it was ludicrous to deny Malaysian Christian citizens the right to use the country’s national language for the purposes of exercising their faith.  On the one hand, non-Malay citizens are often criticized for their purported lack of loyalty when they did not speak Bahasa Malaysia, but when they did, like in this case in order to read the Bible, which they had been doing for generations, they were denied that right! CCM Youth reiterated that as citizens of this country, it was their God-given birthright, which “should not be given up, negotiated, traded away, nor ‘sold for a bowl of pottage’ ”, being simply rushed into just because Christian leaders were offered a “quick-fix” solution to the immediate problems that were originally created by unjust parties. 
CCM Youth decried attempts to create a “Band-Aid” compromise solution that did not carry the weight of law. If the Malaysian government were truly sincere, there would not be a need for a 10-Point Proposal.  Insofar as this matter was concerned, all the government needed to do was to instruct the Home Ministry to drop its appeal on the “Allah” issue, which the Catholic Church won on 31 December 2009 when it took the case to the High Court. This action would immediately lead to the withdrawal of the Allah and the Alkitab from any further restrictions in the country.   CCM Youth urged the government to uphold democratic principles and not play games by taking a round-about route that did not reflect their sincerity. 

The 10-Point Proposal served only to promote disunity amongst Christians, playing to the ruling government’s “divide-and-rule” tune. CCM Youth questioned how it could be plausible for a 1Malaysia, yet a 2-Bible and 3-Rule solution?  If at all, it only cemented CCM Youth’s opinion that 1Malaysia had been nothing but political rhetoric.  If Christian leaders had agreed to this proposal, the Orang Asal of Sabah and Sarawak would have one rule; while believers in the Peninsula, including the Orang Asli, would have another rule.  Should Christians subject themselves to such confusion and be manipulated to accept such terms?  Likewise, by agreeing to such terms now, would Christians then forfeit the right to resolve future outstanding matters beyond the Alkitab issue? 
Time and time again, the Christian community have been given assurances but only to be disappointed later on.  CCM Youth urged church leaders to be wise, for what had been dressed as compromise could turn out to be an entrapment – “Even the elect were deceived, if that were possible.”  CCM Youth pointed out that they were well aware that there were many obstacles ahead, and they understood the “card game was in the hands” of the government.  Even if the Federal government gave the impression of giving way, they could fall back on the state government machinery that would kick in and take that to another gear which involved harassing book stores, printers, forwarding agents, schools and so on, located in affected states. 
CCM Youth urged church leaders to take their time and not to be in a hurry.  It was imperative that they did not fail future generations, or act in a manner that could adversely undermine or enslave future generations from practising their faith freely. CCM Youth urged church leaders to remain faithful and to take as much time as they needed to ponder and to ask pertinent questions without compromising the faith.  Otherwise, future generations would return to remind past generations of leaders of "compromises" made today, or that the church leaders held silent when they could have spoken up, having restrained themselves from pursuing justice when they had the opportunity to do so.  CCM Youth urged church leaders not to worry about having to come to a decision by the CFM’s Biennial General Meeting on April 14, 2011, but to take ample time to pray and seek the Lord before coming to a decision.
CCM Youth reminded church leaders that even the youths today were still learning the full extent of the rights that had been eroded to-date as events unfolded, and CCM Youth would endeavour to support church leaders to their best of abilities to recover that which was lost, and hand over full freedom to future generations as their legacy.
With due respect to Senator Datuk Seri Idris Jala, CCM Youth raised concerns that there were no assurances that he had the full weight of the cabinet behind him in this regard, given the underlying tones and lack of media support from cabinet ministers.  Even the Prime Minister himself had been strangely silent.  From remarks given by the Home Minister and various “shadow gatekeepers”, there had been no assurance that the relevant ministries would honour any form of agreement.  What remained consistent so far had been the consistency of the government’s inconsistencies.  The danger of flip-flops was not a probability, but a given. CCM Youth believed that this rush to force a solution was inadvertently linked to the outcome of the Sarawak elections and the potential impact from its Christian majority population. CCM Youth observed that it was this careless ‘short-term opportunistic’ attitude of the government for political expediency that had made them wary of such overtures and advised church leaders to exercise greater caution under such circumstances.  If the government were sincere in addressing the grievances of the Christian community, CCM Youth believed that nothing less than the coming together of a task force from the Prime Minister’s Department, the Home Ministry, the Attorney General, the Education Ministry and all state governments and Islamic departments had to take place.
CCM Youth pointed out that it was Datuk Seri Idris Jala who apologized. So far, no official statement of apology had been offered by any ministry, especially none was forthcoming from the Home Minister, the main protagonist who directed the stamping of the Bibles.  The public ought to know that this entire episode of the desecration of the Christian’s Holy Scriptures happened during the holy month of LENT which precedes and commemorates the Lord Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and celebrates His resurrection.  If an opportunity presented itself for reconciliation and restoration to properly right the grave wrong committed, CCM Youth would certainly offer forgiveness.  Obviously, the situation had yet to present itself.
CCM Youth noted that except for Datuk Seri Idris Jala, many Christian cabinet ministers have kept silent.  One cabinet minister even called Christians foolish for holding prayer rallies.  CCM Youth challenged cabinet ministers to be faithful and to choose today whom they served – whether God or man. 

CCM Youth reiterated that they were not being unreasonable, audaciously demanding or stirring trouble.  CCM Youth regretted that for a long time, the Church had remained silent, having compromised when it should not have.  In good faith, church leaders had been drawn into endless unproductive closed-door meetings, given verbal promises and handshake agreements that never materialized.  Unfortunately for the Church, Christian goodwill had not been reciprocated, and closed door agreements never honoured. The recent desecration of the AlKitab was the last straw. 
CCM Youth called upon all Christians today to rally firmly behind their Christian leaders as they worked towards a resolution for the community.  CCM Youth urged the Christian community to uphold their leaders in prayer more fervently. 
CCM Youth reiterated that they remained committed to nation-building and bringing about justice, peace and reconciliation for all Malaysians and migrants, and would stop at nothing to bring about change for the betterment of all peoples regardless of creed, race or religion, through proclaiming truth and bringing about justice and transformation to the nation.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Daniel Chai
CCM Youth

April 8, 2011
Media Contact details:
Persons to contact – Daniel Chai 012 3986776 and Elaine Teh 016 221 7894