|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
8 April 2011