Feb 13, 2009

Malaysia Humiliated in the United Nations Human Rights Council

Malaysia who aspires to be a leader in the region is shamed at the United Nations review of its human rights record. This is the umno led government of Malaysia that has brought great disrepute to this nation by gross disregard of international laws and human rights and umno here means also mca and mic and the other irrelevant parties whose names that can’t even be remembered.

Whilst the world progresses and lesser countries are upgraded and advances over Malaysia who once led the region in most aspect including economic growth and human rights development and was in the late 70s and early 80s a leader over countries like Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and more and was the favored destination of migrants from all of Asia. And yet today it seems to have wavered from international standards and quality and is being chided by the United Nations and the laughing stock of the international community. It has become a joke in the region for its many disregards to common logic and its bullying and bumbling actions on its own people.

Malaysia’s international standing is an embarrassment today as compared to its early years of glory in the 70s where it excels and lead in the region in all areas of humanity even in sports like football and badminton as well as a high standard of education and attracting great wealth from international investors into the country, but that was than and now you can only wonder and reminisce on those good old days where Ali, Arumugan, AhSingh and Ah Fatt were all good friends and real Malaysians that played and prospered together.

It was even embarrassingly ranked at a lowly 98 over 140 countries for Civil and Political Liberties by Freedom House (an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world and founded in 1941) (Here is the Link: Freedom House) The African countries of Congo. Ethiopia, Togo, Zambia, Nigeria and etc was ranked just above Malaysia for civil and political freedom!
And shamefully ranked at No.47 for Corruption by Transparency International. (Check earlier posting Here: corruption-perception-index-2008).

Below are some of the questions and statements posted to the Malaysian delegation led by the Tan Sri Rastam Mohamad Isa, the secretary general in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia.

From the office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (United Nations):

A. Scope of international obligations

1. Malaysia has not ratified most of the major international human rights instruments, as highlighted by several organizations. The Bar Council of Malaysia (BCM) indicated that Malaysian Courts have taken the clear position that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is not legally-binding, and the Government of Malaysia (GOM) has stated on numerous occasions that the UDHR would only be given effect insofar as it is not inconsistent with the Federal Constitution (FC). This is one possible reason for the apparent reluctance to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and their respective optional protocols.3 Malaysia has also yet to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as indicated by Amnesty International (AI).

2. Malaysia has only ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), albeit with certain reservations, as noted by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and other organizations.5 Malaysia’s accession to CEDAW is subject to the understanding that its provisions do not conflict Islamic Sharia law and the Constitution. SUHAKAM indicated that ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and implementing the Persons with Disabilities Act 2007 (PDA) should go hand-in-hand.7

(If Malaysia wants to be part of the developed world than it is obligated to adhere to International Laws of which she has not done so or umno has not done it or she can remain the pariah that is now so.)

B. Constitutional and legislative framework

3. The Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the UPR process (COMANGO) indicated that the FC guarantees the fundamental liberties, however the protection afforded has been diminished. Until 8 March 2008, the ruling parties have held more than two-thirds of the parliamentary seats and were as such in a position to amend the FC at their convenience. In 1988, amendments were made to the FC, subordinating the Judiciary to Parliament. The Becket Fund (BF) referred to the parallel Sharia and civil court systems. Non-Muslims are governed exclusively by civil law. Muslims are also governed by Sharia in specific matters, usually having to do with family law and property rights. 10 The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) further noted that the country’s civil court system has gradually ceded jurisdictional control to Sharia’s courts in family law areas involving disputes between Muslims and non-Muslims.




• Malaysia has still to ratify several of the main conventions in the Human Rights field such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Convention against Torture (CAT). Malaysia has also yet to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. What is the Government’s timetable for ratifying these conventions?

• The Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows the police to detain any person considered a threat to national security or public order for 60 days without commencing a just legal process gives cause for concern, especially given that the Government may extend the detention an indefinite number of times, without reference to the courts. The Act has allegedly been invoked to limit the freedom of press and to restrain political opposition. Moreover, there have been reports of degrading treatment during detention under the Act. How does the Government intend to ensure that its efforts to combat crime and secure public order do not infringe upon the freedom from arbitrary detention, the right to a fair trial and the freedoms of press and expression?

• The Penal Code of Malaysia criminalises consensual sexual activity among persons of the same sex. These acts are punishable with imprisonment and whipping. Indecent behaviour which includes cross-dressing is also regarded as an offence under the Minor Offences Act. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender (LGBT) persons are routinely harassed and persecuted according to a study. What policy measures are the Government of Malaysia considering in order to promote tolerance and non-discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation or identity, in line with the Yogyakarta principles?

• Malaysia has not ratified the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol. There is a severe lack of domestic legal protection for asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons, including for minors, which face the risk of being indefinitely detained or deported. Moreover, there have been reports of unwarranted violence by immigration officers and the Malaysian Volunteer Corps (RELA). Can the Government please elaborate on how it intends to pursue the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees in line with international standards? Does the Government intend to ratify the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees?


• The last few years Malaysia has made great strides towards freedom of the press and expression. However, last year some critics were arrested and detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA). Could Malaysia elaborate on these cases and also give an explanation of the use of the ISA, which was, as it is understood, originally meant for use against terrorism?

• Malaysia is not party to the Geneva Convention but gives much appreciated support to UNHCR regarding refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. Still there have been reported cases of mass arrests, deportations and inhuman conditions of detention. Could the government elaborate on these reports and indicate if measures are being taken to ensure that foreign nationals are being treated according to international laws in this area?

• The existing right to freedom of assembly in Malaysia seems to be mostly applicable to groups supporting government policies, while groups opposing government policies are often denied permission or targeted for arrests and/or harsh crackdowns.

Could Malaysia elaborate on this subject?


• What further steps does the Malaysian Government plan on taking in order to guarantee the rights and prevent discrimination of the indigenous peoples, i.e. to customary land, to proper educations and health services?

• What is the explanation of the Malaysian Government for having ratified only two of nine UN Conventions on Human Rights and is it the intention of the Malaysian Government to ratify further conventions in the near future? When will Malaysia ratify UNCAT, OPCAT and establish an independent and effective national preventive mechanism?

• Reports indicate that torture and ill treatment has taken place during arrest and interrogation. What steps are taken to investigate these reports, to bring the perpetrators to justice, and to prevent any further incidents?


• Both the ICCPR and the ICESCR have not yet been ratified by Malaysia. Does the government of Malaysia plan to ratify core human rights treaties, such as ICCPR and ICESCR, in the near future? Has the government of Malaysia finished reviewing its reservations on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), in particular articles 5 (a) and 7 (b), and are there plans to withdraw all or some of these reservations?

• Germany has followed with great interest the establishment of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), which is a commendable development. However, doubts were expressed over whether SUHAKAM acts in agreement with the Paris Principles. Therefore, Germany would like to ask the Malaysian delegation to deliniate the exact scope of the mandate of SUHAKAM. Moreover, which steps has the government of Malaysia taken, or is going to take, to ensure full conformity of its National Human Rights institution with the Paris Principles?


• Lithuania would like to ask about the plans to ratify international human rights instruments in the near future.


• Could you elaborate on the use of the Internal Security Act (ISA); on whether any steps are being taken to modify or repeal this law and others allowing for detention without trial such as the Emergency Ordnance and the Dangerous Drugs Act; and on whether Malaysia plans to place greater emphasis in all cases on investigation and prosecution?

• Could you outline what protection is given to refugees and migrant workers in Malaysia. We would also be grateful to know whether any consideration is being given to signing the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees.

• We would be grateful to hear whether Malaysia is considering a moratorium on capital punishment with a view to abolition. And also if Malaysia is considering any reforms on the use of corporal punishment in detention.

• Could you please elaborate on how Malaysia guarantees freedom of religion for all citizens as stated in the Federal Constitution, including the right to leave a faith, the right to a place of worship for all faiths and the rights of non-Sunni Muslims to worship?

• Could you describe the nature of freedom of expression and assembly in Malaysia? Could you also tell us whether consideration is being given to grant all sectors of the media the freedom of expression guaranteed on the internet by the Multimedia Act?

• Could you advise if Malaysia is taking any steps towards signing up to other international human rights instruments, and what steps Malaysia is taking to implement recommendations made by both the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

• Could you advise if steps are being taken to ensure Suhakam, the national human rights body, complies fully with the Paris Principles status on National Human Rights Institutions.

READ the Full Compilation of the United Nations Human Rights Council HERE
Read some Press Report HERE

Feb 10, 2009

Malaysia's Human Rights Violation

Outdated laws and regulations such as the Internal Security Act (ISA) and Emergency Ordinance undermine fundamental rights and liberties such as freedom of assembly, expression, and the right to due process. While the national emergencies proclaimed in the 1960s and 1970s have long been resolved, the laws introduced then - the ISA and Emergency Ordinance -- remain.

RELA (People's Volunteer Corps or Ikatan Relawan Rakyat), an untrained paramilitary force numbering over half a million, is being strengthened and given sweeping new powers to arrest and detain undocumented migrants and criminal suspects. As far as documented migrant workers are concerned, domestic workers lack protection under the law and face a range of abuses.

Below is a summary of the submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council by the Human Rights Watch of Geneva which details the gross violations of basic human rights in Malaysia.

United Nations member states should raise concerns about arbitrary and preventive detention and abuses against migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers at the upcoming review of Malaysia's human rights record, Human Rights Watch said today. Malaysia will undergo its first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on February 11, 2009, at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Under the process, the rights record of each member state will be reviewed once every four years.

"A long, hard look at Malaysia's performance on fundamental human rights, including its detention practices, is in order," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Countries should call Malaysia to account for failing to address abuses against migrants and refugees, and for its continuing use of preventative detention."

Under Malaysia's draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), anyone deemed to be a threat to national security can be detained indefinitely without charge or trial, violating international due process standards. In its submission for the human rights review, Malaysia characterizes the ISA as "essential to peace, stability, and security" and describes the procedures under which a detained person can challenge the detention.

But Malaysia's reliance on the ISA violates a number of international human rights standards, including the right to be free from arbitrary detention, the rights to due process and to a fair trial, and the rights to freedom of speech and expression. While an advisory board reviews all ISA detentions, its recommendations are not binding. The detainees have no avenues of redress as the courts are not permitted to review a case on its merits. Permitted appeals on procedural grounds routinely fail.

On September 12, 2008, the Malaysian government arrested two journalists and an opposition politician under the ISA. All have since been released. But one of the journalists, Raja Petra Lamarudin, founder and editor of Malaysia Today, Malaysia's most popular website, is now on trial for sedition. In December 2007, five leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) were charged under ISA after the organization staged a demonstration to draw attention to education and economic policies that discriminate against Malaysia's Indian population. These five remain in detention.

"Malaysia uses the pretext of national security to invoke the ISA and lock up critics and political opponents indefinitely," Pearson said. "UN member states should challenge Malaysia to repeal the ISA, and either to charge or to free all those currently detained under its provisions."

In its report to the Human Rights Council, Malaysia fails to address the problems faced by migrant workers, but suggests that a Malaysia-Indonesia Memorandum of Understanding provides necessary protection. Human Rights Watch has long documented abuses suffered by domestic workers - physical abuse, unpaid wages, excessively long working hours, and lack of rest days. The memorandum with Indonesia still fails to establish minimum labor protections or to guarantee the rights of domestic workers to hold their own passports, which sometimes are confiscated by employers to maintain control over an employee.

Human Rights Watch said that UN member states should especially raise concerns about Malaysia's failure to address abuses by the People's Voluntary Corps (Ikatan Relawan Rakyat or RELA), the government-backed force that apprehends irregular migrants and provides security for Malaysia's immigration detention centers. In 2008, Human Rights Watch documented a pattern of abuse by members of RELA, including physical assault, intimidation, threats, humiliating treatment, forced entry into living quarters, extortion, and theft perpetrated against migrants, asylum seekers and refugees (http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/02/04/universal-periodic-review-malaysia).
One detained migrant told Human Rights Watch how RELA members treated them "like animals" and would punch and kick detainees for no apparent reason. Another migrant described a beating by RELA officers that left him so sore that he could not walk for days. The government consistently denies that abuses by RELA are widespread, and instead of disbanding RELA, wants to upgrade it into a fully-fledged enforcement agency.

Regarding human trafficking, Malaysia's submission to the Human Rights Council points to the state's new anti-trafficking law, shelters for trafficking victims, and awareness campaigns to prevent trafficking. But Malaysia has failed to investigate allegations of collusion between Malaysian immigration officers and trafficking gangs on the Malay-Thai border, dismissing such reports as "wild accusations." In 2008, Burmese migrants told Human Rights Watch of being sold to criminal gangs, who charged those with money to smuggle them back into Malaysia and trafficked those who could not pay.

"RELA officers have beaten, tortured, and extorted money from migrants, but instead of punishing them, the government wants to reward their bad behavior by giving them more powers," said Pearson.
"In reviewing Malaysia's record, states should be asking why Malaysia won't conduct impartial investigations into the involvement of RELA and immigration officers in abuses against migrants."

Malaysia has not signed major international human rights treaties
, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its optional protocol, and the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. The Malaysian government has repeatedly stated that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will only be given effect where it is compatible with Malaysia's constitution.

Feb 6, 2009


“You check out Guitar George, he knows all the chords
But it’s strictly rhythm he doesn’t want to make it cry or sing
Yes then an old guitar is all he can afford
When he gets up under the lights to play his thing”

~Dire Straits~

Ah.. the Sultan is after all a mere mortal, he is human and like all human beings they are driven by emotions of self first and foremost and is susceptible to erroneous decisions motivated by inconsistent values in conflict with emotional need.

The problem is that when does one feel that one has erred? Is it upon moments of conscious reflections and review of our decisions that has caused general injustice and public outcry or gross inconveniences and disruptions to others or on the reflection of the basis of our decisions which were based on the desire and emotions of self rather than the sense of integrity of honesty and truthfulness to those that we serve or rule.

A simple fact remains that the Sultan has demanded for the resignation of the Mentri Besar. Is that command consistent with the wishes of the people who elected in the present government in the polls? The decision on who is to be the government lies fundamentally with the people of the state and not anyone else and certainly not through the actions of Conspiracy of plotting and scheming through entrapment and threats and inducement that brought about the defections and betrayal of these assemblymen. 3 or 4 assemblyman cannot decide the fate of who is to govern who is already governing through just and proper process and procedure.

The conduct of UMNO who initiated this power grab, in this debacle has once again shown their arrogance and oppressions through the use of the police in shutting down the present state administration and its facilities preventing civil servants and officials from performing their duties is shameful. Looks like umno will never learn and had consistently kept to their old ways of deceit and conspiracy towards the people and nation. Sigh... the fall of the dynasty has been hasten and at these times of global economic crisis... looks like more hardship for the people during the upheavel of oncoming change that is sweeping the world and nation.
A word of advise to umno.. focus on bringing basic democratic rights to the people by bringing change to the whole structural foundation which has been so badly damaged through these many years of tyranny rule, the basic foundation of a democratic and civil society must be restrutured and put in place. And by so doing you can than only focus on economic growth that creates wealth and opportunity for all Malaysian. And a word of caution... there are only Malaysians in Malaysia... and it is paramount that you have the foresight towars this view.

And as this is being written, news had came in that the swearing in process is completed for the UMNO government. And so now we have two Mentri Besar? One voted in by the people and one brought brought about by umno?
Did the Sultan’s decision caused a Swing of power to umno who had lost in the electoral votes?
And as the songs by Dire Straits goes...
"You get a shiver in the dark
Its raining in the park but meantime..."