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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rakyat the 'Third Force' or 'The Main Force"

Today I am taking a challenge to write against the tide.

In physics, a force is any influence that causes a free body to undergo a change in speed, a change in direction, or a change in shape. Force can also be described by intuitive concepts such as a push or pull that can cause an object with mass to change its velocity (which includes to begin moving from a state of rest), i.e., to accelerate, or which can cause a flexible object to deform. Wikipedia

If I am not wrong, the third force was not heard before except the term 'fence sitter' which described those indecisive voters pre-308. Even post 308 for over a year and a half there is no one bringing up the third force subject. What the general public saw was an opportunity for a two party system and that is when Pakatan Rakyat was created or formed.

The talk of the third force begins to appear in some blogs initiated from a movement group, sometime in late 2009 or early 2010 without mentioning that the rakyat was going to be the third force. Why suddenly the call for the third force when everything was pointing towards a two party system.

This movement group had played a large roll through their blogs, social and new media and even gave ceramahs in person to help the opposition triumph in the 12th GE. If I am not wrong, they to, see a possibility of a two party system after the 308 tsunami. What makes them came out with the idea of having a third force.

Many were scratching their heads and questioning what is the third force. Reading the comments on those blogs that wrote about the third force will give you an idea that a majority do not agree. It does not matter to the movement that started this third force and they kept explaining to the people from England to downtown KL. Sometime between then and now this third force movement begins to claim that the rakyat is the third force.

This is getting interesting, the question in my mind is why should the rakyat be the third force? Are we talking about politics here, I guess we are.

Now, if rakyat is the third force, who then are the first and second forces? Umno/BN the first force and Pakatan the second force but both without rakyat, since rakyat is the third force, how can that be?

Let us take a look at how the third force came into the picture. Many are saying that the 308 tsunami is not the love for the opposition but rather the hatred for Umno/BN. Question is are the voters that voted for the opposition out of hatred going back to Umno/BN in the coming 13th GE? Did Umno/BN transformed themselves after 308 that the voters are flocking back to them as some ministers and media are proclaiming?

The reasons for having the third force were that Pakatan did not keep their election promises, they are no different from Umno/BN, many elected representatives, especially PKR, did the frog dance and jump over to Umno/BN and that PR is not listening to the 'rakyat' or is it 'them'!. So, it is better to go for the devil we know rather than the devil we do not know?

Are these reasons, in a true sense valid to call for a third force when originally this third force from the movement were fighting against Umno/BN? The original thoughts of many were to bring about a change, what happen to that, just because Pakatan is as bad?

This movement third force are planning their own team of candidates (supposedly to be of the best integrity) and offer to political parties that are willing to accept their manifesto, something of that sort, especially to Pakatan. If their candidates are not accepted they are willing to go alone even if there are three corner fights.

To me the third force is not the rakyat but another political entity. They wanted to assist in bringing a better Malaysia for the rakyat and we welcome them with open arms. But when they claimed that others are bad and do not keep their election promises and elected representatives like to do the frog dance, what do we see here?

Firstly, should they go it alone and won a few seats, what can they do unless the election results gave them the opportunity to be king maker, which I do not foresee that happening in this coming 13 GE.

Secondly, everyone is human, what guarantees (other then their words) can they give us that they are different from other political parties which they claimed are bad, can they keep their election promises or turn froggy? No one can really see through the future of another human being, once elected, a person can still change for many a reason.

Thirdly, we all know very well that any three or above corner fights will give the trophy to Umno/BN on a silver platter.

Other then the movement third force, there are other new political parties, such as KITA, Parti Cinta Malaysia, most likely Amanah and others. I would call these parties as splinter groups. They formed these parties out of frustration and disagreement with their former party umno, PKR, Gerakan or MIC.

These splinter groups are no difference from all other political parties, one way or another they are coaxing the rakyat to trust them, believe that they are the one which can make the change that the rakyat are seeking. Are they serious? Can they win enough seats to govern?

So, can we say that the rakyat is the third force? It would be more proper to say that the rakyat is the main force, because they are the deciding force to elect a government that they want and surely they know that by voting the splinter groups ain't gonna help them. The choice is between Pakatan Rakyat and Umno/BN.

The main objective is to bring about a real change, preferable in the federal government and return the rights and freedom back to the rakyat which the present government is not willing to.

We now have the opportunity for change by staying with Pakatan Rakyat. Yes, I agree Pakatan has its weaknesses but it is a much better choice then Umno/BN. Pakatan may not have complied with all their election promises but we can see that they are performing other better things which they did not promise at all.

Maybe what the movement meant when it says that rakyat is the third force are the 'fence sitters' which make up about 30 or so per cent of voters. But still they need a political party as a vehicle to undergo a change.

In conclusion, my hope is that the movement third force can work with Pakatan and don't act as spoiler. The other splinter groups will be putting up candidates to split the votes and we know why and whom they are helping. The 13th GE is the only opportunity for Pakatan to take over PutraJaya and realizing a two party system. Let us start a two party system first, weigh Pakatan performances then the movement third force can do whatever they like.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Malaysia Belongs To All Malaysians

You were born in Malaysia, received a birth certificate as proof and you received an identity card upon attaining the age of twelve and with these you are a citizen of Malaysia, hence you are a Malaysian.

Why is it so hard for the ruling government to accept this simple fact and treat each and every Malaysian with fairness. Why must they keep harping about race and religion. The Federal Constitution of Malaysia , which came into force in 1957, is the supreme law of Malaysia. Is it that difficult to run the country with this guided Constitution? Trying to misinterpret, ignoring or quote the constitution as and when it suites the government in order to hold on to power is a sure disaster.

Each time Malaysia has a new Prime Minister, Malaysians have high hope from the new PM to take the country to new heights. Each PM came in with a big bang, promising the sky and moon with each having their own slogan and using the rakyat's money to promote it aggressively. But alas the euphoria did not last long when the NATO (no action talk only) syndrome sets in.

The 4th PM, Tun Dr. Mahathir had totally destroyed the strong foundation for a workable system among the various races and religions set by his predecessors. Corruptions became part and parcel of his iron fist rule.

The 5th PM, Tun Abdullah Badawi, a new hope that the rakyat were looking up to that can reverse what Tun Mahathir had done to the nation. A Mr. Clean and soft spoken type he started a series of changes one that included the fight against corruptions. He managed to turn the old ACA into the new MACC but it did not work out well as many see it as old wine in new bottle. With his predecessor breathing down his neck, he was toppled after only one term as PM.

Everyone is more or less accustomed to the ways how these two PMs run the country be it corruptions or the NATO syndrome.

With the 6th PM, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the rakyat are now getting more worried. He is a total different creature from his two predecessors. Other than the many baggages that he carried into his premiership he is loaded with the greed for power and to have that he has gone against every principle of his own "1Malaysia People First Performance Now" slogan.

His many speeches were truly frightening while his support for Utusan and Perkasa that raised racism and religious issues against the Non Muslim reflects his inability to perform his duty as a PM for all Malaysians. His call for "lost lives and crushed bodies' to defend PutraJaya indicates that he is willing to see Malaysians die in order for him to remain in power.

What is worst is his shameless lectures to the world about Islamic moderation, democracy, corruptions and what is good for the world but back home his actions are a total 180 degree turn.

The way he handled the Pre and Post Bersih2.0 rally, his visit to the British PM and Queen, his meeting with the Vatican and what he said after returning home clearly identify his true hypocrite character.

He is using his position as PM to fight for his political party Umno and his presidency. He is fighting for SURVIVAL and he could not care a damn about the rakyat.

Najib & Co. must stop being paranoid and cast away all their imaginary enemies from within or without and stop all persecutions of the innocents.

Up to this point and having seen the damages done with not much hope of any improvement in the near future, I am sad to say that I have given up on Najib & Co.

Whichever party governs or whoever wants to be PM must know and fully understand The Federal Constitution of Malaysia and be guided by it in running this country. By all means help those in need of helping irrespective of color or creed and not those who are already rich or those who are standing on the sideline doing nothing but are well connected.

They need to know these are what the majority of Malaysians are thinking.


Malaysia belongs to all Malaysians.

Islam is the official religion of Malaysia.

We respect the King and the Constitution.

We wanted to live in peace and harmony among all the various races/ethnic groups, we respect each other and all religions

No one is planning to overthrow a legitimate government or King nor using religion, Jews, Communist or foreigners to take over the country.

Malaysians do not need to follow Egypt, Tunisia or Libya to remove their oppressive leaders,

Malaysians Only Need One Day To Topple Umno/BN
On Polling Day Of The 13th General Election
Use The Power Of Your Vote To Send Umno/BN Packing

Teoh’s ‘suicide’ — fact or fantasy?

By Kim Quek | TMI
The Royal Commission of Inquiry on Teoh Beng Hock’s death (RCI) says that Teoh had committed suicide.

And what had driven this promising young political aide to take his own life?

RCI provides the answer in the concluding paragraph on its probe (para 232 of RCI Report), which refers to the supposed final stage of the all-night grilling of Teoh in the MACC office on July 15, 2009:
“TBH experienced a change in his state of mind. And in a matter of hours, this change transformed him from being in the low-risk group for suicide into the high-risk group. The doubts, extreme emotional conflict and the immense feeling of guilt were all intolerable . . . Finding no viable strategies to surmount the hurdle of accusations levelled, he found himself unable to escape from the suffocating quagmire in which he was trapped. Losing all hope, TBH would have felt trapped and succumbed to despair . . . TBH would have found that the only way for escape from the torment he was undergoing was by jumping out of the window, even though it meant taking his own life.”

Judging from the severity of anguish described by RCI, one would have thought Teoh must have been cornered for improprieties over millions of public funds, and now was the moment of reckoning when he had to face the terrible shame of having to dishonour himself, his loved ones, his party and his government.

Not at all the case.

Petty and dubious allegation

Teoh was in fact only brought in by MACC as a witness to assist in the investigation of an unfounded allegation against his political boss of having abused a mere RM2,400 of public funds — allegedly claiming the money to buy flags that were not delivered.

If you are a novice to the case, you would certainly have expressed shock and disbelief that such a trivial matter could have driven a seasoned political activist to commit suicide. But RCI thinks otherwise, for which they have come up with a host of reasons, the main ones of which are summed up in para 230 of the report, which I quote in full:

“These intense stages of interrogation must have created serious doubts in TBH’s mind as regards his action in relation to his duties as YB Ean’s political secretary. Signing his name but affixing YB Ean’s seal, the absence of at least three quotations before the awarding of a project or programme, the alleged kickbacks to the DAP, the direct awards of projects, and fixing prices to goods required for projects also weighed heavily on his mind.”

RCI has earlier explained in its report that MACC officers had bullied Teoh with all sorts of false accusations of wrongdoing. These included Teoh signing on documents with boss Ean’s rubber stamp (though Teoh was actually blameless as his own name was clearly written on the document, indicating he was signing on behalf of his boss), awarding contracts without calling at least 3 quotations (though this rule was superceded by a new Selangor government directive allowing direct awards for projects under RM20,000, but Teoh apparently was not familiar with these rules).

Other events that had compounded the distress of Teoh, in the opinion of RCI, were the removal of his hand phone to which Teoh was addicted, and the disclosure of the password to his email account, which would have enabled an invasion into his privacy.

Teoh and boss’s integrity intact

However, in RCI’s laborious weaving of the picture of gradual doom that was supposedly experienced by Teoh that had eventually reduced him “to almost a mental and physical wreck” (para 229 of the RCI Report), RCI had forgotten the cardinal fact of the case — that the integrity of Teoh and his boss was intact and Teoh was well aware of that. In fact, when Teoh was taken in, he was already familiar with MACC’s witch-hunting against Selangor’s Pakatan leaders that had been going on for some time — it was part of BN’s strategy to destabilise the Selangor state government.

Under the circumstances, even if MACC had succeeded in creating self-doubt in Teoh through the false accusations as outlined in para 230, these are all technical in nature. There was no element of dishonesty, as neither Teoh nor YB Ean had illegally pocketed any money. How is it then that RCI can make the conclusion that such dubious allegation of minor technical misconduct had plunged Teoh into a state of “extreme emotional conflict”, “immense feeling of guilt”, “losing all hope” and “succumbed to despair”?

In reaching these bizarre conclusions, hasn’t RCI made a giant leap in fantasy land?

By all accounts, Teoh was a bright young man of integrity and cheerful disposition, looking forward to his imminent marriage to his lover who was then conceived with his child. Will such a person jump from the 14th floor of the building just because he was unjustly and unfairly interrogated by government officers?

Professor Paul Edward Mullen, emeritus professor of forensic psychiatry of Monash University, who was brought in by the Malaysian Bar to prepare a report, seems to have provided the answer when he stated (quoting from para 209 of RCI Report):

“TBH was firmly in the lowest risk group for suicide when he was taken into MACC custody. And if TBH . . . did kill himself, things were likely to have occurred both to undermine his psychological stability and to frighten him literally to death . . .”

Could Teoh have been frightened to death by the interrogation antics, albeit cruel, waged by MACC officers over such minor and dubious accusations?

Isn’t the answer obvious?

Psychiatric reports quoted out of context

On the subject of psychiatrists’ reports, it is regrettable that RCI has resorted to quoting these out of context to make them appear as if these psychiatrists support its postulation of suicide. This is decidedly not the case.

The press release of the Malaysian Bar has quoted from these reports showing that none has supported the suicide theory.

On Professor Mullen’s report, the Malaysian Bar says: “He further opined that the contest of the events that had taken place was not one ‘which in [his] experience, leads to suicide in custody’, as he had not been made aware of anything ‘to explain panic and distress sufficient to drive [Teoh Beng Hock] to conclude his honour had been irreparably tarnished.”

And the joint report of Dr Badiah Yahya and Dr Nor Hayati Ali, who were present in the court proceedings and had interviewed people close to Teoh, apart from confirming Teoh’s status as low risk for suicide, states:

“We did not have any evidence on how the investigation was conducted as there were ‘no written questions posted to [Teoh Beng Hock]’ or audio recording as to ascertain the amount of pressure that he experienced. It is not known whether he had experienced in his mind the effects of being possibly prosecuted on the allegations, whether it would have been devastating for him and/or his organisation.”

Despite these two psychiatrists’ clear stand that there were no evidence that suggested Teoh’s suicidal move, RCI persisted in using part of these psychiatrists’ observation to buttress its suicide postulation. The psychiatrists observed that Teoh was subjected to emotional stress over these two events prior to his questioning by MACC:

• Teoh had to bring forward his wedding after discovering that his fiancée was pregnant.

• The gathering of documents by MACC from District and Land Office insinuating misappropriation of allocation by his boss YB Ean.

That RCI has to resort to using these two rather tame events to support its conclusion of suicide only exposes that RCI is actually scraping the bottom of the barrel to convince a sceptical public.

Bringing forward a marriage due to unplanned pregnancy is already a common and accepted occurrence in local society and, hence, it is not supposed to raise any eyebrow, not to mention causing any emotional crisis.

MACC officers visiting government offices to fish for evidence to incriminate Pakatan leaders has long been recognised as BN’s modus operandi to sabotage the Selangor state government, and should therefore be no big deal to a seasoned politician like Teoh.

Spinnig suicide will damage BN more

However, despite RCI’s unconvincing attempt to spin a suicide, it has nevertheless done a good job in exposing the deplorable state of lawlessness and abuse prevailing in MACC, which, like almost all other institutions, has been depraved through the long reign of a corrupted political leadership.

If only RCI has applied the same measure of honesty on the cause of Teoh’s death, as it has done in criticising MACC’s mismanagement, it would have done its political masters a great favour, as nothing will reassure the electorate more than the moral courage to own up to an ugly truth.

As it turned out, Teoh Beng Hock in his death will continue to take his pound of flesh from the political masters who were ultimately responsible for his tragic death.

Habeas corpus made meaningless!

P Ramakrishnan

22 July 2011

Aliran is deeply disillusioned with the judiciary. Instead of depending on technicalities and loopholes in the law, it should focus on fairness and justice.

It should be prominently and predominantly concerned with freedom and human rights of the citizens. When the freedom of individuals is deprived by dubious means, the judiciary should be uncompromising in defending that freedom.

Dr Jeyakumar (pic) and his five companions have been incarcerated since 2 July 2011. Nobody believes the accusations levelled against them. The whole exercise has turned into farcical nonsense.

They were initially accused of “waging war against the King”. But that accusation has been dropped now. What does this suggest with regard to the integrity of the police? It only means that they cooked up an excuse to detain them.

Then they were accused of reviving communism in this country. Images of past communists leaders printed on T-shirts in their possession do not support this theory.

It is now no longer the contentious issue. What does this prove? The police are grasping at straws in desperation to justify their action. But it won’t do them any good.

Then the six were detained under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 under the false pretence that they were a threat to public security.

These six citizens are no goons or gangsters to pose any such threat. Nevertheless, they are accused of being a threat to national security. What does it prove? It only means that any flimsy grounds would suffice to detain any individual under this anti-democratic and draconic law, which blatantly denies a person his natural justice, including the right to defend himself or herself. But it won’t win support for the police.

Ridiculously, the six are now projected as the prime movers of Bersih 2.0, when the entire country is aware that it is the coalition of 62 NGOs headed by Dato’ Dr. Ambiga Sreenevasan that was the sole mover of Bersih 2.0. These six are members of a political party and therefore had no role to play in Bersih 2.0, which excluded political parties from the Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0. What does it prove? It means that there is no respect for truth and the rule of law. But it is not going to help the police to shore up support for the Barisan Nasional.

It is under these circumstances that an application was made for a habeas corpus hearing to question the conduct of the police in detaining these six PSM members. After much haggling, 22 July was fixed for hearing. But now this hearing has been postponed to 5 August.

Any application under habeas corpus should – and must – deserve priority to ensure that it is heard almost immediately. There is an urgency that cannot be ignored. There is the question of justice that has to be addressed at the earliest possible time without any undue delay. This urgency is no longer there.

Whatever the reason for justifying this frustrating postponement, it will not look good for the judiciary. Its battered image – from previous absurd judicial pronouncements that had discredited the judiciary – will suffer a further ignominious blow. It appears that there is no saving grace for the judiciary!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Malaysian Bar Press Release: The search for justice and truth must continue

There are a number of key points on which the Malaysian Bar agrees with the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Death of Teoh Beng Hock (“RCI”).

We concur with the following findings of the RCI:

(1) That the RCI was unable to accept that the alleged suicide note had been written by Teoh Beng Hock, and that the undue delay by the authorities in tendering the alleged suicide note at the first available opportunity could not be taken as mere carelessness or neglect, and therefore the authenticity of the note could not be trusted;

(2) That Teoh Beng Hock was, at all material times until his untimely death, in the care, custody and control of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (“MACC”) officers;

(3) That Teoh Beng Hock was not released from the care, custody and control of the MACC officers after his statement had been recorded at approximately 3:30 am, and this failure “amounted to cruel conduct and punishment inflicted on purpose”;

(4) That Teoh Beng Hock was subjected to “aggressive, relentless, oppressive and unscrupulous interrogation” and that the recording of his statement was unlawful;

(5) That the majority of the MACC officers exhibited a “total lack of consideration for human sensitivities”, and that the recruitment process of MACC officers should include a “psychological evaluation to assess their suitability for investigative work”;

(6) That most of the MACC officers who were involved in the operations on 15 and 16 July 2009, and who gave evidence as witnesses, were neither truthful nor credible, as they “had the inevitable habit of lying”;

(7) That massive operations launched by MACC Selangor – which were headed by then-Selangor MACC deputy director Hishamuddin Hashim – against the Pakatan Rakyat members of the Selangor state assembly were grounded on mere belief of information purportedly received over the telephone, and without proper ground work or verification;

(8) That Hishamuddin Hashim was “arrogant, given to falsehoods, untruthful and uncompromising”, and that he was “just too stubborn [such trait was also displayed when he gave evidence before us] to retreat from his mistake in mounting such a massive operation”;

(9) That not only was Hishamuddin Hashim involved but he also “unleashed his officers to do his bidding in order to get results within that night and morning come hell or high-water”, and that Hishamuddin Hashim should be held responsible for the actions taken by him and his officers that led to Teoh Beng Hock’s death; and

(10) That the Selangor MACC had shown an extreme lack of cooperation with the police in the latter's attempts to investigate complaints of assault and other offences previously made against its officers.

The Malaysian Bar, however, does not concur with the finding by the RCI that Teoh Beng Hock had committed suicide. Such a finding, in our view, is unsupported by the facts and the evidence.

Contrary to the statement made by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, forensic psychiatrist Professor Paul Mullen did not testify that Teoh Beng Hock had a “weak character” that had led to him taking his own life. Professor Mullen also did not conclude that Teoh Beng Hock had committed suicide; rather, his testimony stated that “in [his] opinion, what we learned of Teoh Beng Hock’s personality and behaviour do not suggest any increased risk of suicide”. He further opined that the context of the events that had taken place was not one “which, in [his] experience, leads to suicide in custody”, as he had not been made aware of anything “to explain panic and distress sufficient to drive [Teoh Beng Hock] to conclude his honor had been irreparably tarnished”.

This is in stark contrast to what the Minister reportedly stated during the release of the RCI’s report, namely that Teoh Beng Hock had “truly committed suicide based on his character that had changed from a low-risk group to a high-risk group for suicide after undergoing a continuous and aggressive questioning session”. Professor Mullen’s testimony does not provide the basis for the RCI’s finding of suicide, such as that described in the section titled “conclusion on forensic psychiatric aspects” in the RCI’s report.

It is noted that the RCI found the following:

(1) That the time of death had been between 7:15 am and 11:15 am on 16 July 2009;

(2) That Teoh Beng Hock had not been released at 3:30 am and been left alone sitting on a sofa after his statement had been recorded, as Hishamuddin Hashim had issued a written circular the previous month that “witnesses and visitors in the Selangor MACC office should be accompanied at all times”;

(3) That Teoh Beng Hock had been subjected to a fourth interrogation session after 3:30 am by Hishamuddin Hashim and his officers, which was aggressive and relentless. In addition, the RCI rejected the evidence of MACC officer Raymond Nion that he had seen Teoh Beng Hock lying down unattended on a sofa at approximately 6:00 am;

(4) That the fourth interrogation session was probably between 3:30 am and 7:00 am; and

(5) That the window from which Teoh Beng Hock is said to have fallen out was located conspicuously.

In view of the above, and that there was no evidence whatsoever produced at the RCI hearing of Teoh Beng Hock’s whereabouts or movements after 6:15 am, and the staff of the Selangor MACC office would have begun arriving by 8:00 am, to surmise that Teoh Beng Hock had committed suicide between 7:15 am and 11:15 am requires a leap in logic and an assumption of facts not in evidence.

The Malaysian Bar also notes that the joint expert psychiatric report of Dr Badiah Yahya and Dr Nor Hayati Ali – the experts engaged by MACC who were present during most of the court proceedings and had interviewed Teoh Beng Hock’s family members, housemate and work colleagues – stated:

We did not have any evidence on how the investigation was conducted as there were “no written questions posted to [Teoh Beng Hock]” or audio recording as to ascertain the amount of pressure that he experienced. It is not known whether he had experienced in his mind the effects of being possibly prosecuted on the allegations, whether it would have been devastating for him and/or his organisation. This should require more information on what was said and done in the period taken [sic] into custody until he was found dead.

It is very clear to the Malaysian Bar that full responsibility for Teoh Beng Hock’s death lies squarely and solely on the MACC, and that immediate action must be taken to hold the culpable officers accountable for their behaviour. In this regard, we welcome the reported statement by Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, that “appropriate action would be taken against the officers through the process of law without delay”. The authorities should investigate the relevant MACC officers for possible offences under sections 304 and 304A of the Penal Code, namely for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and for causing the death of TBH by negligence, respectively.

The Malaysian Bar also calls on the Government of Malaysia and MACC to consider:

* offering an unqualified written apology to Teoh Beng Hock’s family, and to the citizens of Malaysia, for his death; and

* making reasonable recompense to Teoh Beng Hock’s family in respect of his death. The Malaysian Bar extends its heartfelt sympathy once again to Teoh Beng Hock’s family and loved ones.

Lim Chee Wee
Malaysian Bar

23 July 2011

Rule of law, rule by law — Ambiga Sreenevasan

Acceptance speech delivered by Datuk Dr Ambiga Sreenevasan upon her conferment with the Honorary Doctorate Of Laws, University of Exeter.

Good Morning! Chancellor, vice chancellor and graduating students.

It is so good to be back!

I am deeply moved by the conferment of this honour upon me. That it comes from my alma mater is especially significant for me. That it comes at this time is almost providential, for it allows me and all lawyers to reflect on our roles in the societies we live in.

For this honour and this moment of reflection, I extend my grateful thanks to the Council and Senate of the University of Exeter.

Tired of injustice and oppression, people the world over are crying out for truth, goodness, justice and universal love and understanding.

The events in Malaysia over the past six weeks culminating in the rally for free and fair elections on the 9th of July, has taught me so much more than I could have ever learned in the last 30 years as a practising lawyer.

My team and I faced first-hand the full force of the unleashed power of the state, and I realised then the importance of the independence of the Institutions of government, particularly the judiciary, to check such abuses of power.

I also realised how real and present the absence of the Rule of Law can be.

In countries where the Rule of Law reigns strong and true one probably does not even talk about it. But in countries that veer towards Rule by Law, talking about getting back to the basics is crucial.

In many countries, Rule by Law is reflected in the existence of repressive laws that violate the fundamental rights of its citizens. One example of this is preventive detention laws that lock people away without affording them the basic right to a trial. There are many examples of such oppressive laws worldwide and they are not confined to underdeveloped or developing countries.

As lawyers, we are in a unique position. Our years of legal study and practice teach us to see and appreciate the fundamental role that the Rule of Law plays in guaranteeing that the state governs its citizens in a just and democratic manner.

Who better to remind those in power of their responsibilities to their citizens than lawyers trained in understanding the difference between “Rule of Law” and “Rule by Law”?

Our role as lawyers must therefore extend far beyond traditional legal practice.

Here, I make no reference to rules, guidelines, documents, or declarations. My only reference point is our conscience. Can we as lawyers, ever sit back and watch the erosion of fundamental liberties of the people around us and do nothing? Clearly, silence in these circumstances, is not an option.

When I graduated from this university about 30 years ago, things were of course very different. Today the Internet and social media has empowered people with a continual flow of unfiltered and up-to-date information. No longer can the manipulation and control of information be effectively used by those in power to suppress either thought or action.

You are in a world where you know instantly of injustices taking place in any part of it. In this global village drawn together by so many factors, we are one. We can reach out to each other using these new means of communication and we owe it to each other to stand together for what is right.

You may say, “But I studied law to be a solicitor or barrister and to earn money for a decent standard of living”. There is nothing wrong with that, I assure you. I run a commercial litigation practice in a partnership of four where we also do public interest litigation. The two can co-exist quite comfortably.

The point I make is this.

You are graduating from one of the best universities in the country if not on the planet! You are special. And you are now a proud member of an army of people that is equipped with all that is necessary to both practise law and to fight injustice.

I urge you to use this arsenal of knowledge and your passion for justice to fight for those who are downtrodden.

You have already heard of the events of July 9th in Malaysia. Whilst it brought out the worst in some, it brought out the best in others and this is where our hope lies.

There were some in government who opposed the methods used to shut us down. Even doctors left their comfort zones to speak up against injustices. And of course there were the lawyers and the independent media who stood on the side of truth and justice.

However, the real heroes of that day are our friend and supporter Allahyarham Baharuddin Ahmad who paid the ultimate price in fighting a noble cause, the six members of the Socialist Party of Malaysia who, as we speak, sit in solitary confinement under preventive detention laws and finally the brave people of Malaysia who overcame their fear of intimidation and harassment to uphold their fundamental rights.

With all my heart I dedicate this honour you have bestowed upon me to them.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A lie has robbed their freedom

A lie has robbed six Malaysians of their precious freedom. For three weeks they have been locked up and put away unfairly and unjustly.

Not a shred of evidence has been unearthed so far to justify their detention. Not an iota of proof has been disclosed to date to convince sceptical Malaysians that the action of the police has been honourable.

A lie that robs innocent Malaysians of their human rights discredits the police beyond repair. A lie that denies access to lawyers for the detained six denigrates the rule of law and disgraces the Barisan Nasional government for not observing the principles of decency, truth and honesty.

With this kind of unethical behavior , with this kind of human rights violations, does Malaysia deserve to occupy a seat in the United Nations Human Rights Council? This is a question that has to be asked by all justice-respecting Malaysians. This question has to be raised by the international community that voted in Malaysia for a place in the Human Rights Council. Please search your conscience and demand an answer.

With each passing day, the BN’s crime becomes unpardonable; with each passing day, it loses its credibility. No one believes that the government has done the right thing; no one believes that the government has done this in the interest of the nation. The common consensus among Malaysians is that the BN government has acted in a selfish manner to safeguard its self interest.

When it comes to the preservation of the BN’s hold on power, it throws caution to the winds, it sacrifices ethics and resorts to brute strength to hold on to power. Recently we witnessed how it conducted itself with regard to the Bersih “Walk for Democracy” rally, deploying the police to act harshly and cruelly. Even the sanctity of the grounds of a hospital was not spared or respected. The welfare of the hospital patients was callously ignored when the police went after the protesters seeking refuge in the hospital grounds.

Back to Jeyakumar and his five companions. First they were charged with “waging war against the King”. This charge within seven days collapsed as sheer nonsense and evaporated into thin air – but they were deprived of seven days of freedom in isolation.

Then, they were released but in a show of mockery to the rule of law, they were immediately arrested and detained under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 and whisked off to Bukit Aman, where they are being kept in solitary confinement. The intense interrogation and the long hours of questioning have taken a toll on Jeyakumar. For a person with a heart ailment, it is dangerously causing him a lot of stress and torment. He has had to be hospitalised twice within the span of two weeks.

Third, in spite of the fact that he was first charged with treason and later with being a threat to the nation, he wasn’t investigated for this. What they were interested in was to find out about the Bersih rally and related information. This irrevocably confirms the lie that Kumar and his companions were neither traitors to the nation nor a threat to the country.

There are no moral grounds whatsoever to justify their continued detention. The BN’s saving grace would be to release them unconditionally and immediately. Our plea is, don’t perpetuate the lie.

P Ramakrishnan
President, Aliran

16 July 2011

Teoh Beng Hock RCI report (full) pdf download / online

Read the full Teoh Beng Hock's RCI report which are available for download in pdf for both English and BM at YB Lim Kit Siang's Blog here

You can also read it online Here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Forced suicide is homicide - Justice For Teoh Beng Hock Video

Is the RCI report being written in a way to hide or protect someone indirectly?

“You cannot have a situation it’s not homicide but (rather) forced to commit suicide” YB Lim Kit Siang

Watch this video and see whether Teoh Beng Hock voluntarily 'committed suicide'.

RCI rules Teoh Beng Hock committed suicide

Lim Kit Siang has likened Teoh Beng Hock’s suicide under duress from graftbusters to murder and said that those responsible for his death must “face the full consequences”.

The DAP parliamentary leader said any layman would agree that being forced to commit suicide by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers was not the same as suicide but was “equal to homicide”.

“You cannot have a situation it’s not homicide but (rather) forced to commit suicide”

By Debra Chong | TMI

A royal commission has ruled that Teoh Beng Hock committed suicide as a result of pressure from aggressive and continuous questioning by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers.

The MACC officers had wanted to pressure Teoh to be a witness in their case against a DAP assemblyman for alleged abuse of public funds.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Nazri Aziz disclosed the finding today which, he said, was unanimous.

“The result of the Commission’s investigations shows that TBH was not murdered but that he felt burdened and pressured by the aggressive and continuous questioning session, supported by his weak character, had caused him to commit suicide,” he told a news conference in Parliament today.

“The facts on the suicide were supported by testimony from a psychiatric forensic expert, Professor Paul Edward Mullen, who was hired by the Bar Council.

“Prof Mullen said TBH (Teoh Beng Hock) had truly committed suicide based on his character that had changed from a low-risk group to a high-risk group for suicide after undergoing a continuous and aggressive questioning session,” he said.

The royal commission of inquiry (RCI) also found three MACC investigating officers involved in the case to have used “continuous, aggressive and improper questioning tactics on TBH which had breached its existing standard operating procedures”.

It recommended that action be taken specifically against the three MACC officers.

The RCI also made three recommendations to the MACC: to improve its entry qualifications and officer training programme, to improve the infrastructure and office facilities and to review its existing procedures to be more comprehensive and effective.

Nazri told reporters the government would leave it to the police to take the necessary action against the three MACC officers.

He said the police would have to open an investigation and take the matter up with the Attorney-General’s Chambers for any potential prosecution.

RCI chairman Tan Sri James Foong Cheng Yuen submitted on June 22 the report by the RCI into Teoh’s death two years ago.

The five-man RCI wrapped up its report on June 15 after having heard testimony from 70 witnesses in its bid to unravel the mysterious circumstances behind Teoh’s death.

The 30-year-old DAP political aide was found dead on July 16, 2009 on the fifth-floor corridor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam after he was questioned overnight by MACC officers at their then-Selangor headquarters on the 14th floor.

The coroner’s inquest had in January returned an “open verdict” ruling out both suicide and homicide some 18 months after Teoh’s death.

The government was then forced to establish the RCI, which first met in February, with two terms of reference: to probe how Teoh plunged to his death and to look into MACC’s investigative methods.

Foong also said only three copies of the report were prepared, one each for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and himself.

The other four members of the RCI were retired Federal Court judge Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman, former Court of Appeals judge T. Selventhiranathan, Penang Hospital senior consultant forensic pathologist Bhupinder Singh and Mohamed Hatta Shaharom who is dean of the Cyberjaya Medical Science College University and a consultant forensic psychiatrist.

The report will be on sale from 10am tomorrow at the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya.

The 124-page report is retailing at RM45 a copy and is available in both English and Bahasa Malaysia.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

'Why I am a socialist and intend to remain so' - Dr. Kumar in detention

Written in detention,
Dr. Jeyakumar Devaraj

“Hey Kumar! Still tilting at windmills are you?” a doctor friend greeted me at an MMA function 4 years ago. There had been some news regarding the Parti Sosialis Malaysia in the media that previous week.

For many, the socialist experiment had already been assigned to the dustbin of history and only deluded people would still work towards socialism.

But in the PSM, we believe that socialism has an important, even crucial, role to play in averting a collosal economic-ecological disaster that will occur within the next 30-60 years!

We believe that the world has to find a workable alternative to an economy driven by corporate greed. We advise 3 main arguments for this position.

1. Malaysia’s current economic course recommends to a "Race of the bottom"

The global owners of capital and technological expertise who control market access are a relatively small number of corporations – about 500 to 1000. They have become all powerful in the unipolar world of today and they can “bargain hunt”. Even the biggest governments can’t control them.

The measures that Malaysia is taking to attract investors into Malaysia include

Lowering corporate tax and supplementing tax income by enacting a GST. The tax burden is being shifted onto ordinary Malaysians

Enhancing “labour flexibility”. This is a misnomer - it undermines job security and workers’ rights through allowing contractualizing of labour and by weakening unions.

Privatization of basic services such as health care and tertiary education.

All these measures pile economic pressure on the lower 70% of the population.

And these are measures other developing countries are also taking – each outdoing the neighbor in the mad rush for FDI. It is very difficult to build a caring society within this framework of development.

2. Chronic under consumption leading to massive growth of financial capital and increasingly volatile financial “bubbles”

The ability of large corporations to “bargain hunt” in the cheapest sites to station their factories has meant mega-profits for these corporations but at the same time has stunted the aggregate consumption power of the global economy. When a US or European firm lays off 100 US workers by shifting to China and hiring 100 Chinese workers at 1/7 the wage, the total buying power of the working class is reduced.

The absence of robust growth in consumer demand dictates that the profits of the corporations cannot be invested in the production of more consumer goods. So the corporations need to try other alternatives to make money such as the Futures Market, Currency Trading, the Share Market, and other financial products like derivatives.

This tendency is highlighted by the fact that “Quantitative Easing” – the release of more money into the US economy in an effort to stimulate industrial production thus reducing unemployment – has backfired into the creation of more financial bubbles in various parts of the world. The problem is sluggish consumer demand, not a lack of productive capital.

The issue here is not insufficient regulations but a misdistribution of the world’s wealth! To address this problem, the power of the corporations has to be challenged!

3. We are reaching the environment limits of growth

The global economy is heavily dependent on petroleum. This commodity is going to run out within the next 50 years or so. We urgently need to think not only of alternatives sources of fuel, but also of much greater fuel efficiency!

Global warming is with us. How soon and how fast sea levels are going to rise is still a matter of conjecture – but does that mean we can afford to ignore the issue if it only impacts our grandchildren and not us?

An economic model that requires a global average rate of growth of 4% per year to avoid downturns is clearly not sustainable! Not for the next 50 years! We need to redistribute the wealth we already are creating more equitably. We have to cut down waste! Growth cannot be endless.

All of these are only possible if we are ready to challenge the paradigm that unchecked greed will lead to the best possible outcome for the world’s majority because Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” is still operating in today’s corporate led globalization.

The ordinary people of the world need to take power to dictate the direction of the national or world economy away from the hands of the 560 richest corporations of the world.

We need to empower the marhein of the world to take on these tasks through a democratic process. These are the tasks facing 21st century socialism. These are not easily attainable goals.

But the problems we are facing are extremely serious. Unchecked they could lead to an ecological, food or climatic disaster that will lead to a decimation of the world’s population.

This is not the world that I wish to bequeath my grandchildren. That is why I am a socialist and intend to remain so despite the EO/ISA arrest!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

1Malaysia Boleh Censor : KDN blacks out the Economist

Why Blackout, if they are wrong or misreporting take them to court or Is the government afraid of the truth being told.

The Economist’s article at the web site: Embolden italic paragraphs censored by KDN.

Political affray in Malaysia
Taken to the cleaners
An overzealous government response to an opposition rally
Jul 14th 2011 | SINGAPORE | from the print edition

MALAYSIA is one of South-East Asia’s stabler nations; but a rally in Kuala Lumpur on July 9th in demand of electoral reform turned surprisingly nasty, leading to the arrest of more than 1,600 people. The police fired tear gas and water cannon into the crowd, and one man died of a heart attack. All those arrested were released fairly quickly, but Amnesty International, a London-based human-rights group, called it “the worst campaign of repression in the country for years”. The government’s reaction showed a lot of nervousness about how much opposition it can tolerate.

In fact the crackdown started a few weeks ago after “Bersih 2.0” announced that it was going to stage the rally. Bersih, also known as The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, is a loose alliance of NGOs and activists (bersih means “clean”). It argues that all candidates should be given access to the mainstream media and that indelible ink should be used to stop people voting more than once. It all sounds uncontroversial, but not to the government. Bersih was declared illegal on July 1st and about 200 activists were rounded up. The march itself was then banned, although the authorities offered Bersih a stadium to meet in—and then withdrew the offer.

Perhaps the government was looking back nervously to the first Bersih march, in 2007. On that occasion, too, thousands protested against the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition government and demanded reform. Subsequently, in the 2008 general election, the BN lost its largest share of votes since 1957 when it started ruling the country after the British left. The current prime minister, Najib Razak, deputy prime minister in 2007 before taking over the top job in an internal party coup, must have feared that the second Bersih rally might be a similar portent. He has to hold an election before 2013, but wants to do so earlier to win his own mandate. Opposition politicians were quick to join Bersih. The pre-eminent leader of the opposition, Anwar Ibrahim, was shoved to the ground and injured in the affray.

None of this bodes well for Malaysia. The heavy-handed police tactics have provoked a lot of anger; the government has conceded an official investigation into claims of police brutality. In one instance (caught on film), police seemed to fire tear gas and water cannon into a hospital where protesters were sheltering from a baton charge. Few old laws were left untouched in the attempt to round up suspects before the march. It was reported that 30 people arrested in Penang were investigated under Section 122 of the Penal Code for the charge of waging war against the king. Dragging in the constitutional monarch, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, seemed particularly desperate, reminiscent of the abuse of the monarchy’s position in neighbouring Thailand. On the eve of the rally, the king came out with a statement reminding everyone that “street demonstrations bring more bad than good, although the original intention is good.”

Mr Najib defended the police and accused the marchers of sowing chaos. Dismissing the motives of Bersih, he cast it as a desperate attempt by Mr Anwar to grab power. The immediate upshot is that Mr Najib may choose to delay calling for an election for some time, to let things settle down. He presumably hopes that if he waits long enough, people will have forgotten about this ugly incident. But the longer-term effects are hard to judge. It might also help to unite a fractious opposition against what they portray as an assault on democracy.

from the print edition | Asia
Taken to the cleaners

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Bersih 2.0 9th July walk started & ended at KL Sentral Part 2

My Bersih 2.0 9th July walk started & ended at KL Sentral Part 1

On Thursday evening I purchased my bus ticket for Friday morning leaving at 8 am. Back home I shoot an email to a friend living in KL informing her that I will be traveling on Friday. I told her to text me any latest news as I will be disconnected during the trip. I do not have the latest ipad or iphone, just a normal cellphone.

My packing is the simplest ever using a recyle bag with just 2 extra t-shirt and an emergency poncho. Knowing that random checks will be carried out, I leave everything yellow behind, this is not the time to be brave or a hero, the objective is to be there. I would rather be caught at ground zero on the day itself rather then sitting in jail somewhere else.

Surprisingly the trip was very smooth, no road blocks all the way to 1Utama, the first stop. I decided to get off at this point after talking to the driver. Since my hotel is in PJ, it would be easier and closer rather then expecting a big jam down to Puduraya bus station.

I checked into the hotel requesting 2 nights stay but was disappointed that Saturday is full. In the room I sent a text message to my friend and informed her that I had dug in. I stayed in the room until dinner time.

When I went down for dinner there were 5 policemen/woman at the hotel lobby. Outside a police car was parked not far away. They were still there, but left only three, when I came back from dinner. I got back into my room and waited for the final moment.

Saturday, 9th July 2011, what is going to happen, no one knows, maybe only the predators will know. I woke up feeling a little tense, check for any text messages, no message, so its on. I went down to have my breakfast and saw two police one male,one female sitting at the lobby.

Coming back from breakfast and seeing the police were still there, I decided to have a chat with them. One male and one female, both in their mid thirties. I started my conversation by asking them where to take a bus back to Penang. They told me the Pudu station is closed and I started venturing into the Bersih rally. Sensing that I will be going to the rally, he started to sway away from the topic and ask how was the Penang Government, is PR able to retain the State and ending the conversation, he simply acknowledge that they are just doing their job and earning for a living.

I thank and say goodbye to them as I need to check out before noon. I checked out at 11:30 am and headed to the nearest LRT station. My plan is to ride the LRT and monorail to make a survey first at which point is the best to get down.

I bought the LRT ticket and the first person I encounter were policemen stationed there. One asked "uncle nak pergi mana", I told him KL Sentral and walked away. Two young teenagers were stopped and their backpack searched.

There were at least three to five policemen at every station that I passed. All roads leading to KL were quiet, no cars and as you approached KL all the main roads were blocked. Even though I bought the ticket for KL Sentral, I continue my journey towards Pasar Seni and Masjid Jamek. At this time both stations were not closed as yet. At Pasar Seni I could see about a thousand people walking towards the GPO but could not view further than that. After Pasar Seni the journey to Masjid Jamek was underground right through to KLCC. Failing to see anything I drop at Kampong Baru station and took the reverse back to KL Sentral.

From KL Sentral I took the monorail to see what the situation is like at Stadium Merdeka. Both the Maharajalela and Hang Tuah stations were closed. The road leading to the stadium were deserted except for the FRU and police. Not knowing that people were gathering around Puduraya and Sungai Wang I decided to go back to KL Sentral.

At KL Sentral I walk around and saw the extremely large crowd all over the place and of course the many police and SB present as well. The police and SB were questioning and searching at random among the people, youngsters, middle age and old male and female. About 20 people were arrested inside the station and brought to the trucks waiting outside.

As I walk towards the exit, I slip and fell and twisted my back. A young couple help me and guided me inside looking for a place to sit. What a day of all days to get my back injured and not able to join in the walk for freedom.

After a short rest and discovered that I could not walk in the rally because of the pain, I decided then to call it the day. I inched my way to the ticketing booth and take the LRT back to PJ and from there journey back home. Just before boarding the train, suddenly there were loud chatting and for a second I was thinking of going back to join them but realised that I could not walk fast enough with the back pain. (this must be the group where the people got tear gassed inside the tunnel)

Readers must be hoping to read all about the attacks of tear gas and water cannon and not this boring shit. I apologised for I cannot write what I have not experienced and there are reasons as to why I wrote this article.

1) From what I saw while travelling between the LRT and monorail stations, there are thousand others who are lost, mostly from outstation, and could not find their way out to join the rally.

2) All the stories from government of businesses lost and traffic chaos are all bullshit. They themselves are causing the business lost when they lock down completely the whole inner KL. My question is why can't they allow the protesters to march along the empty roads since they are locked down instead of forcing the people to rally throughout the heart of KL.

3) The police force are so efficient in clamping down the rally with police everywhere from LRT stations, roadblocks and even hotels. But PDRM is complaining of insufficient workforce when it comes to fighting crime. Can we see daily policing from the police like what they did on the 9th July?

4) In Malaysia anything that you do that are against umno/bn, even when its legal you will face the wrath from all the government institutions.

5) For now we have to live with it, tolerate and when the right time comes, you have to wise up and elect a competent government that does not make the world laugh at us for all the silly things that they do.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Bersih 2.0 9th July walk started & ended at KL Sentral Part 1

My Bersih 2.0 walk started and ended at the KL Sentral location point. Let me narrate my bersih story.

I was already determine to attend the rally when the date was announced and make a big mark on the calender. I have attended the first bersih and the anti ISA rallies and knew very well what to expect.

With such massive clampdown by the government two weeks before the actual date, I expected the worst to happen a day or two before the 9th. With the arrest of over 200 people simply for wearing yellow t-shirt and 6 including an MP under the EO, the rakyat should know by then that this government had gone bonker over nothing or making mountain out of a molehill.

I have some personal things to do on the 5th in KL so I decided to bunker in till the 9th. On the 6th the news is that the rally will be held inside the stadium with the Agong and PM blessing. A big sigh of relieve, even though the impact may not be that great at least it lower down the temperature after the threats of chaos from Perkasa and umno youth.

I decided then to go back home and decide later whether to attend the rally inside the stadium as I assume that it will be much easier with no hassle from the police.

But on the 7th, the PM back pedal on his agreement to allow the rally to be held inside the stadium and of course big words and threats against "illegal" bersih coming out from the home minister and pdrm. Everything that was suppose to be peaceful was turned into something that was going to be disastrous should the rally be held even inside the stadium. So the whole affair ding dong from the PM to home minister to the police the whole day.

I could not be bothered with what the government said or intended to do but I decided to attend the rally upon hearing the words of bersih chairwoman "The rally is on come what may".

Part 2: The day before and the actual day of my bersih story.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Malaysia: Government risks undermining democratic progress, say UN experts

“The right to freedom of opinion and expression, including in the form of peaceful protests, is essential for democracy. By declaring the demonstration illegal, sealing off parts of the capital in advance and responding in such a heavy-handed manner against peaceful demonstrators, the Government of Malaysia risks undermining democratic progress in the country,” said Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

GENEVA – UN human rights experts* on Monday expressed their dismay at the use of tear gas and water cannons by security authorities against peaceful protestors in Malaysia on Saturday, reportedly leading to injuries and one death, and the arrest of more than 1,600 people at the Bersih 2.0 rally.

“The right to freedom of opinion and expression, including in the form of peaceful protests, is essential for democracy. By declaring the demonstration illegal, sealing off parts of the capital in advance and responding in such a heavy-handed manner against peaceful demonstrators, the Government of Malaysia risks undermining democratic progress in the country,” said Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Tens of thousands of people gathered near the Medeka Stadium on Saturday despite the announcement made by the police that no gathering would be permitted that day on the basis of the Malaysia Police Act, which requires organizers of public gatherings of three or more persons to seek permits beforehand. The protests were called by Bersih, a coalition of more than 60 non-governmental organizations seeking to promote free and fair elections in Malaysia.

“Actions taken by the authorities prior to and during the rally unduly restricted the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association,” said La Rue. “Declaring Bersih illegal based on claims that it is trying to topple the Government or is a risk to national security and public order - in the absence of any credible evidence to substantiate such claims – is also an unnecessary restriction of civil and political rights.”

According to Malaysian police, all of those arrested on Saturday have been released. But the UN experts noted that six leaders from the Socialist Party of Malaysia reportedly remain in detention. These individuals include Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, Sukumaran Munisamy, Letchumanan Aseer Patham, Choo Chon Kai, Sarasvathy Muthu, and Satat Babu Raman.

“We remain deeply concerned about the detention of six individuals since 25 June under the Emergency Ordinance, which allows for detention without trial for up to 60 days,” said El Hadji Malick Sow, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also reiterated its recommendation, made to the Government of Malaysia following a visit to the country in June 2010, to repeal the Emergency Ordinance and other preventive laws, on the grounds that they significantly hinder fundamental human rights, such as the right to fair trial.**

The independent experts reminded the Government of Malaysia of its obligation to fully respect the rights to peaceful assembly, association, and expression, as guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They also recalled that as a member of the Human Rights Council, Malaysia has pledged to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.

“Malaysia, as a dynamic, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and pluralistic nation, should remain open to legitimate political discourse on democracy, including the expression of dissent,” the experts said. “We urge the Government to allow all individuals to enjoy their human rights, and to address the problem of preventive detention. Likewise, we call upon the Government to ensure that there will not be any punitive measures taken against peaceful demonstrators.”

* Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. Frank La Rue; and Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Mr. El Hadji Malick Sow.

Malaysia: Police use brutal tactics against peaceful protesters

Press Release by Amnesty International

The UK government must press Malaysia’s Prime Minister on freedom of assembly in his visit this week, Amnesty International said today, after peaceful protesters in Kuala Lumpur were met with police violence and 1,667 arrests at the weekend.

Police arrested peaceful demonstrators, fired tear gas canisters directly at protesters, and tear gassed a hospital compound on 9 July, in attempts to stop the electoral reform rally known as Bersih 2.0 from gathering in a stadium.

One protester, 56-year-old Baharuddin Ahmad, collapsed near the landmark Petronas Towers while fleeing teargas and was pronounced dead later in hospital.

“Prime Minister Najib’s government rode roughshod over thousands of Malaysians exercising their right to peaceful protest,” said Donna Guest, Deputy Director for the Asia-Pacific at Amnesty International.

“This violent repression by the Royal Malaysian Police flies in the face of international human rights standards, and cannot be allowed to continue. Any future peaceful demonstrations should be permitted and respected by the authorities.”

Amnesty International is calling on the Malaysian authorities to investigate claims that police failed to provide prompt assistance to Baharuddin Ahmad before his death, including reports that an ambulance arrived only an hour and a half after he collapsed.

Many protesters were beaten by police and officers of the Federal Reserve Unit, a special force used to suppress mass public assembly. One of the numerous Youtube videos of police violence shows plainclothes officers kicking a protester lying on the ground, while uniformed police stand by.

Police also fired tear gas canisters directly at protesters, including members of the parliamentary opposition. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was injured after a canister was fired in his direction, and Khalid Samad, a Pan-Islamic Islamic Party (PAS) member of parliament, was injured after being hit in the neck by a canister.

Tear gas was also fired at a hospital where protesters had retreated, putting the health of patients at risk, although this was denied by the Malaysian police.

“The British government shouldn’t reward this brutality by rolling out a red carpet for Malaysia’s prime minister,” said Donna Guest. “David Cameron should tell Prime Minister Najib that these human rights violations against peaceful reform protesters are unacceptable.”

Amnesty International is also calling on the Vatican to press Najib to respect human rights when the Malaysian leader visits Rome later this week.

All protesters arrested during the rally have now been released without charge. According to local sources, many of those released bore injuries sustained during arrest.
“The use of force by police at this rally was excessive, unnecessary and designed to instil fear,” said Donna Guest.

Around 40 people arrested in the run-up to the rally still face prosecution. Most have been charged under Section 49 of the Societies Act for possession of illegal materials, including Bersih T-shirts.

Six members of the Socialist Party (PSM) have been indefinitely detained without charge under an Emergency Ordinance since 2 July. One of them, member of parliament Dr Jeyakumar Kumar, was hospitalized 10 July for a heart condition following days of prolonged interrogations.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Good Things that Came Out of Bersih 2.0 Rally

by Kee Thuan Chye |

WHAT the Bersih 2.0 rally of July 9 has shown is that Malaysians of all races are willing to risk arrest to speak up for their rights; that Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali is nothing but hot air and the media should no longer give him any attention; that Umno Youth is just a directionless bunch of brats; and, above all, that the Government is the biggest loser for mishandling the entire issue.

As it was, the rally turned out to be peaceful, as the organizers had pledged it would be. The only acts of violence were those committed by the police, when they attacked the protestors with teargas and water cannons although the latter did not provoke them. In retrospect, if the Government had allowed the rally to go on without fuss from the start – and it must be said that Bersih 2.0 (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections) asked modestly for only two hours, from 2pm to 4pm – it would have just gone on without fuss, and everything would have been all right.

The Government would have been seen to be accommodating and benevolent, and not afraid of a call for fair elections. Instead, by choosing to clamp down on the rally even weeks before its scheduled date – in ways as brutal as detaining six people under the Emergency Ordinance and as absurd as arresting more than 200 people, some for merely wearing yellow T-shirts – it has lost immense favor and, some analysts say, the middle ground. It is also seen to be insecure, and irrational in its overreacting to the rally, surely not a trait of good governance.

Be that as it may, two positive things emerged from July 9.

One, the culture of fear that was forged during the time of Mahathir Mohamad is forever gone. If Malaysians were daring enough to defy the strong, repeated calls by the police and the Government to stay away from the Kuala Lumpur city center on July 9, they will not be intimidated any more by future threats as long as they know what they are doing is right and the Government is wrong.

Sure, pro-Government critics will argue that the Bersih 2.0 supporters did not comprise all Malaysians, but what is significant is that it comprised the knowing ones. In the history of revolutions, these are the ones who agitate for change and cause it to happen, not the ones who have been brainwashed by official propaganda.

Two, the most heartening feature about the rally is the composition of the protestors. They came from all races, young and old. They came from all over the country, including Sabah and Sarawak. Even a one-legged man walked (on crutches) for fair and free elections.

Many were the Chinese on the streets shouting “Hidup Bersih!” and “Hidup rakyat!”, giving the lie to Ibrahim Ali’s prediction that the Chinese would stay home. As it turned out, he was the one who stayed home!

After the event, the New Straits Times interviewed some Universiti Sains Malaysia lecturer about his observations of the rally. When he said he did not see any Chinese there, he told a blatant lie. I was there and I saw a few thousand Chinese, if not more. Many were women, many were elderly. One of them said to me, “We are walking for our rights.” To see how wrong he is, this lecturer should go to youtube and type in “Bersih 2.0 at Petaling Street” and watch the video.

My friend, the writer-filmmaker Amir Muhammad, said it very well in response to the lecturer’s observation, “Maybe he meant that there were no Chinese because everyone there was MALAYSIAN.”

Indeed. Everyone there must have been a Malaysian who cared enough for the country to dare to defy the odds against them, in order to ask for their country to be set right again.

Many of them actually booked rooms in KL hotels the night before so that they would not be locked out of the city on the historic day. Many came from other states one or two days ahead to elude the authorities’ restriction on travel. Many from the outskirts found ways to get into the city center despite the police road blocks and checks, causing massive traffic jams.

Many feared arrest as they made their way to gathering points. I walked with trepidation, with my friends, from KL Sentral to Stadium Merdeka. We passed by policemen stationed along the way. When we got to the stadium vicinity, we found the road to it barricaded so we hung out for a while in Petaling Street. Throughout our wait for the rally to start, we felt a sense of unease; at any time, the FRU could rush us and catch us unawares.

When the march started, many faced the dreaded power of the police as the latter shot water cannons and teargas at the crowd. But whenever the crowd was thus scattered, they regrouped a short while later to carry on the march. Some protestors were chased and beaten up, but spirits were not broken. In the end, nearly 1,700 people were arrested, including the leaders of Bersih 2.0 and those of Opposition parties that had responded to Bersih 2.0’s call to all (including the ruling Barisan Nasional) to join its cause.

Ten thousand is an underestimation of the total crowd size at the rally, although that’s what an online news website puts it at. The police’s estimate of 6,000, on the other hand, is far too few. That puts the 1,700 arrested as being a quarter of their total, which doesn’t seem plausible. The crowd I marched with to Puduraya, at the base of Menara Maybank, was already about 10,000. This did not include the other groups elsewhere at the time.

If there had been no road blocks, no court order barring the leaders from entering certain parts of the city, no restriction on travel from other states to KL, no shutdown of public transport, no fear-mongering, no warnings from sultans to subjects to stay away, many, many more people would have come.

Even so, in spite of all these formidable stumbling blocks, the turnout was fantastic. The people’s belief in the cause overwhelmed their fading belief in the Executive, the Police and, even to a certain extent, the Royalty. And when a people come to lose faith in their country’s institutions, that is when change is inevitable.

The July 9 rally marked a moral victory for Bersih 2.0. And it was a well-deserved one. It proved more than ever to Prime Minister Najib Razak that the people wanted electoral reform – and, more than that, a better government. He and his government would have been spared all this drama if they had read the writing on the wall from the very start.

Last week, when it seemed he had relented by agreeing to let the rally be held in a stadium, he could have still achieved some damage control, but instead his ratings dropped further when his team came up with a Catch-22 that made it impossible for Bersih 2.0 to get the stadium.

Now it seems he’s still rejecting the writing on the wall. He’s still talking tough and trying to put on a brave, even aggressive, front by hastily arranging an unusual gathering called Majlis Penerangan Perdana, attended by reportedly 6,000 Umno members and Malay NGOs, at which he ridiculed the Bersih 2.0 rally and boasted, “Umno has three million members. If we gather one million members, it is more than enough. We can conquer Kuala Lumpur.”

This is pathetically childish behavior for a prime minister. It is as if he is playing the game of ‘Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better’. His need to stage this show of force clearly shows his insecurity. One wonders which adviser of his suggested this move, but the effect of it is more laughable than impressive.

Deep down, Najib is afraid. That explains the paranoia he exuded over the Bersih 2.0 rally before July 9. Now, in its aftermath, neither he nor anyone can stop the reform movement. The wheels of change are already rolling. Even if BN wins the next general election, it will not rest easy.

The knowing Malaysians are already sensitized to BN’s dirty rule and want to have a clean government. They will continue to press for change and reform. If BN tries to stop them by applying repression, it will not frighten or deter them anymore. If one group is put down, another one will rise and take its place.

To BN, Bob Dylan sings:

Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

If BN doesn’t hear that, it will surely sink.

9th July -- The Proudest Day for Malaysians

By Thomas Lee Seng Hock

MCA president Chua Soi Lek has again put himself and his party in a very awkward, embarrassing and contradicting poistion by endorsing the Umno Youth street demonstration while condemning the march by concerned citizens initiated and led by Bersih leaders.

According to a report in The Star, when asked about the Umno Youth demonstration, Chua said that its chief Khairy Jamaluddin had a reason to do it as the youth movement wanted to "defend the current institutions and make known that the electoral roll was not tainted".

Chua and the other MCA leaders, including Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung, have been on record for saying that street demo is not part of the Malaysian culture, and that those protesting in the city are law-breakers, and are causing inconvenience and hardship to those doing business in the city, and damaging the image of the nation. The MCA Toursim Minister Ng Yen Yen has claimed that street protests will drive away tourists. And party vice-president Donald Lim wants to emulate Ibrahim Ali by forming a "Chinese Pekasa".

Yet, the hypocrites in the MCA have unilaterally and unashamedly given their approval to Khairy and his Umno Youth street protest, becoming their apologists to defend their demonstration as legitimate and necessary.

What sort of leaders are these? They claim to be representatives of the Chinese community in the country, yet they are subsevient to their Umno master and obsequious to everything that Umno does. They have to kow-tow to even the Umno Youth leader.

Of course, I firmly believe that Khairy and the Umno Youth have every right, like the Bersih leaders and supporters, to hold peaceful protests on the street to press home their views and socio-political agenda, but the discrimating manner in which Chua and the MCA endorsed Khairy and the Umno Youth, and condemned the Bersih campaign surely exposes their questionable ethical and moral character.

Instead of condemning and frustrating the Bersih efforts to bring about a reformation and transformation of the electoral process in the nations, with free, fair, just, equal, clean, and transparent elections, Chua and the MCA should be using whatever influence and leverage they have within the Barisan Nasional federal government to actively press for people-friendly changes to be made in the governance of the country.

Instead, what we see and hear is their interests in positions, power, and prosperity. There is nary a care or concern for the well-being of the nation and its people. When Chua and the MCA leaders talk about the next general election, they are more interested in getting more elected positions, so that they could bargain for more powerful posts in the government. They want the Chinese community to give their a political blank cheque at the next general election to demand for more posts in the federal cabinet and other levels of government.

There is no real vision, and no affirmative political agenda, to work for a truly righteous, harmonious, united, equal, just, fair, accountable and transparent system of government, with the long-term permanent interests of the people as the gerundive priority.

The massive turnout of concerned citizens on Saturday 9th July 2011 for the Bersih march should serve as the "yellow warning light" to the Barisan Nasional leaders, including those from the MCA, that the people are simply fed up, disenchanted and disillusioned with the misgovernment, the corrupt culture festering within the administration at all levels, the increasing decline of moral leadership, and the unpredictable runaway and uncontrollably economic mess and chaos.

There is nothing racial or religious about the Bersih campaign for a better tomorrow for our children and grandchildren, although there are some racists and religious fanatics trying to desacralize and demonize the Bersih movement as such.

The turnout on Saturday 9th July 2011 has demonstrated how united and harmonious are the hearts and minds of the common citizens of various races. When I was assaulted and about to be grabbed by some policemen outside the Tong Shin Hospital in Pudu, scores of Malay and Indian youths surrounded me to protect me, and led me to safety. I also saw how people of various races helping each other climb over walls and fences to escape the police assault. We were all colour-blind that day and will be colour-blind always, except for the brilliant yellow ray of hope that we represent to our people, our children and their children.

The Najib government must take heed that each of us who went for the march for electoral reform represents at least dozens or more family members, relatives, friends, and collegues, and also the hundreds of thousands from outside the Klang Valley who were not able to come, or blocked from coming. It is not merely 50,000, but thousands and thousands more who want to see a transformation of our beloved nation into a better place to live.

I am proud I was there, to stand up and be counted, without fear or favour, with my beloved fellow patriots of all races and religions to register and demonstrate our love and concern for our beloved motherland. May God bless Malaysia real good. Amen and Amen.

Malaysians Passed The Test, Brilliantly!

By M. Bakri Musa

[Due to last Saturday’s Bersih 2.0 event, for this week only, the serialization of my book, Malaysia in the Era of Globalization, is switched to Wednesday, and my weekly essay to today (Sunday). My usual pattern will resume next week.]

A remarkable thing happened this past weekend. To many, the event on Saturday was nothing more than a massive public demonstration that capped a long brewing confrontation between those advocating “fair and free elections” and those who deemed that our elections are already so.

As with any fight, the drama was played out long before the event, and by the time the actual battle took place, the participants had long forgotten the original issue. Instead, now the preoccupation is who blinked first, who outsmarted whom, and most of all, who lost and who won. These then become the new overriding divisive issues, eclipsing the original one.

The losers would return to their corner with their new resolve: “Next time!” And the battle continues; they never learn! There were plenty of losers this weekend but few winners. The winners may be few but their achievements scaled new heights.

To me, this weekend was one of those moments (much too frequent, I hasten to add!) that test our nation. This time however, Malaysians acquitted themselves well. The same cannot be said of the Najib administration.

If this was an academic exercise, I would grade the performance of Malaysians as represented in Bersih an “A,” while the Najib Administration flunked badly. So dismal was its performance that the Najib administration should have no recourse to a remedial course or supplemental test; expulsion is the only option.

Terrible Trajectory

I would have thought that after the debacle of 1997 with the grossly inept handling of the reformasi demonstrations, and again a decade later with HINDRAF, the UMNO government would have learned a thing or two on how to deal intelligently with dissent and public demonstrations, two inherent features of a democracy. My expectation is not unreasonable, if not heightened, considering that we are today dealing with essentially the same characters in the administration. Most of the ministers who were in power during the reformasi and HINDRAF (now dubbed Bersih 1) are still there in Najib’s cabinet.

Obviously they, individually and collectively, have a flat learning curve. They are incapable of learning. There is a clinical term for that, but since this is a lay article I will resort to street lingo: idiots.

Their flat learning curve is even more incomprehensible considering that the consequences to them were so severe. The 1997 reformasi mess resulted in Barisan being thrashed in the 1999 elections, with Najib nearly being kicked out of his safe seat in Pekan that his father had held for many years.

The price escalated with Bersih 1.0. The general elections of 2008 saw Barisan being humiliated with an unprecedented loss of its two-thirds parliamentary majority, along with five states, including two of the most developed: Penang and Selangor.

I will let readers plot the trajectory as to the consequences of this weekend’s mess should the next general elections be held soon, as is widely predicted.

The iconic image of the reformasi debacle was of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar’s battered face; that of Bersih1.0 was of Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin frothing at the mouth, babbling incoherently in front of the international news media trying to justify his government’s brutal suppression of its people. It was a classic demonstration of that uniquely Malay mental malady, latah (verbal diarrhea). It was also a display of amok, another peculiarly Malay affliction, albeit in this case only of the oral variety.

The iconic image of Bersih 2.0 was refreshing; that of its leader Ambiga Sreenivasan, former Bar Council President, serenely leaving the Istana after an audience with the King. The symbolism could not be overstated, for the Najib Administration had earlier declared her organization illegal! Only those retarded would miss the message, and they are precisely the types we are dealing with here.

Winners and Losers

My award for courage and excellence in Berseh 2.0 goes to those brave Malay masses who defied their government, their imams, and the party that had long proclaimed and presumed to speak on their behalf. In taking a very active part in a movement led predominantly by non-Malays, those Malays showed that they are no longer trapped by tribalism; they had escaped the clutches of chauvinism. There is now no going back.

This significant milestone is not acknowledged, much less appreciated. However, leaders who ignore this do so at their peril. For aspiring Malay leaders, it is now no longer enough for you to display your nationalistic zeal or ethnic instincts. You have to articulate the issues that matter most to the Malay masses: fairness, honesty, and justice, in elections and on other issues. I would also add competence. Those incidentally are also the concerns of all Malaysians.

Yes, there was a time when you could garner Malay support by justifying that the victims of your corruption, injustices and unfairness were non-Malays. Those days are now long gone; get used to it! Malays now realize that while in the past those victims may be mostly non-Malays, today they are increasingly Malays too.

The comforting corollary to my observation is that those capable non-Malay leaders would be assured of Malay support, if they were to address the central issues facing the masses.

Yes, Bersih 2.0 had strong non-Malay support especially abroad. Unanswered is whether a similar movement with equally noble objectives but with predominantly Malay leadership would garner the same enthusiastic support from non-Malays. If reformasi was any indication, the answer would be a reassuring yes.

I am especially heartened by the responses of Malay NGO leaders like Marina Mahathir. When Najib, and others who took their cue from him, began demonizing Ambiga by maliciously injecting ugly racial and religious accusations, Marina unambiguously and passionately defended Ambiga. Marina was of course all smiles and gentleness, as is the traditional halus (fine) Malay way, but there was no disguising her contempt for such odious tactics and their purveyors.

The biggest loser was of course the Najib Administration, specifically Najib and his fellow UMNO ministers. Their inanity was typified by Home Minister Hishammuddin complimenting the police for keeping the peace and stability. Yes, with the streets blockaded, stores closed, and citizens bludgeoned – the ‘peace’ and ‘stability’ of a prison “lockdown.” That was KL all week leading to last Saturday.

The conspicuous silence of other Barisan leaders was noted; that reflected solidarity not out of courage but cowardice. In contrast, even UMNO Youth defied Najib in declaring that it too would stage a counter demonstration.

Despite its defiance, UMNO Youth was also the loser, together with that ultra-Malay organization led by has-been politicians and past-their-peak professors, Perkasa. Good thing that the government had banned their leaders from KL; at least they had a ready excuse for their dismal performance.

The list of losers is long; there is little merit in mentioning more except for just this one, and I do so with profound sadness. A few weeks before the event, all the mosques in Kuala Lumpur, including the National Mosque, were warning their Friday prayer congregants of the evilness of those who led Bersih 2.0 and the sin that would befall those who would participate in it.

At a time when our community is divided, as with this central issue of fair and free elections, I would expect our ulamas and religious leaders to be our healers, to bring us together, to be the balm to our collective wounds. Instead they became only too willing instruments of the state with their canned state-issued sermons demonizing those who saw merit in the objectives of Bersih 2.0.

Obviously to the thousands of Malays who took part in Bersih 2.0, including one particular old man in his jubbah who had to be helped to walk, those characters cloaked in their flowing robes standing at their mimbar every Friday noon are less pious ulamas to be revered but more propagandists for the state to be defied. They may be Imams, but to the thousands who took part in Berseh 2.0 last Saturday, they are carma imams, to borrow National Laureate Samad Said’s term. Carma is the Malay contraction of cari makan, seeking a living. Idiomatically it refers to those who prostituted their honored craft or profession.

Those GI Imams (Government-issued) have flunked their test; there is no remedial course for them either. That is one of the great casualties of last Saturday’s event. For those carma imams, there is no corner they can return to or hide in.


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