|Lenggeng detainees in a state of tension|
|Fauwaz Abdul Aziz | Apr 24, 08 2:15pm|
| Overcrowding in the Lenggeng immigration depot - scene of a riot last weekend - is causing the foreign detainees held there to be in a 'state of tension', said Suhakam commissioner N Sivasubramaniam today.|
At the time of the riot, the facility was bursting at its seams with 1,090 detainees from 14 countries and suffered from chronic disruptions of water supply - two to three times a month - each disruption lasting for up to three days.
Make drastic changes
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
|Everyone knows the danger of releasing genetically modified beings into our environment - how could our government even come up with such an idea. Mother nature and our eco-system are very delicate... |
Warrior mosquito plan under fire
|Apr 27, 08 5:40pm|
Environmentalists have condemned a trial plan to deploy millions of genetically modified mosquitoes in Malaysia to fight dengue fever, a report said today.
Malaysia has expressed concern about the insect-borne scourge after 25 people were killed in the first three months of the year.
The New Sunday Times newspaper said the genetically modified (GM) male mosquitoes will be first freed in Pulau Ketam, a fishing village south of Kuala Lumpur, in an attempt to kill Aedes mosquitoes which spread dengue fever.
Environmental groups, however, oppose the plan.
"Like all GM organisations, once they have been released in the wild, how do you prevent them from interacting with other insects and produce mutants which may be worse than the Aedes mosquito," said Gurmit Singh, chairperson of the Center for Environment Technology and Development.
Dengue is endemic to Malaysia, which has seen a rise of 16 percent in cases every year since 2003, according to the government.
Fatalities from dengue in Malaysia reached record levels in 2004, when 102 people died.
Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai said in the first three months of 2008, more than 9,800 cases of the mosquito-borne disease were reported, with 25 people killed.
The field trials for the GM mosquitoes will be undertaken by the Malaysian health ministry and British-based Oxiter Ltd, an insect bio-tech company.
The newspaper said lab trials conducted for the first time in the world during the past one year had produced success, and that field testing would begin by early next year.
The technique involves releasing GM-made Aedes mosquitoes to mate with the female mosquitoes of the same type, it said. The lethal genes from the warrior mosquitoes cause the larvae to die.
Only a female mosquito can transmit dengue fever because it has a proboscis that can pierce the skin.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
|Plight of the ‘modern slaves’|| || || |
|Sunday, 27 April 2008 09:47am|
©New Sunday Times
• Foreign workers trapped in a 'no-win' situation
The Bangladeshi worker, who is in his late 30s, came to Malaysia with the hope of helping his debt-stricken family back home but ended up with nothing to show for it.
Deluar came here in May last year, after having paid close to RM12,000 to an agency that promised him a well-paid job at a construction company in Rawang.
Foreign workers trapped in a 'no-win' situation
Their rightful redress is the Labour Court, but in reality, this avenue is not one of justice for foreign workers.
Yes, Ravi agreed that the foreign worker could apply for a special pass while waiting for his case to be settled. However, he said, the pass did not allow a foreign worker to work in the country.
Harun - from legal to illegal overnight
He received his visa and work permit before leaving his homeland in 1996.
His salary was first paid to his agent, and after deductions were made, the agent passed what was left to him.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
|Uthaya: Suhakam's conduct deplorable|
|Charles Hector | Apr 25, 08 3:48pm|
I refer to the Malaysiakini report Suhakam: Uthaya wasn't denied treatment.
Madpet (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is disappointed by the fact that the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) made and pronounced conclusions about complaints about detention conditions and health care of an Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee in Kamunting Detention Centre without even meeting with the said P Uthayakumar.
The Malaysian Human Rights Commission should never come to any conclusion or finding without at least meeting and talking to both sides.
In this case, it was reported that the Suhakam team, led by Human Rights Commissioner Siva Subramaniam, had meetings with ‘…senior officials, the doctor and police personnel at the camp, as well as medical personnel in Taiping hospital’.
It was also reported that ‘Uthayakumar was neither present during the four-hour probe, nor interviewed by the team’. When Siva Subramaniam was asked why Uthayakumar’s side of the story was not heard it was reported, ‘He pointed out that media reports were also sufficient to highlight Uthayakumar’s plight’.
The manner in which this ‘inquiry’ was done and the conclusions reached are very wrong, and is a deprivation of Uthayakumar and his family’s fundamental right to be heard and participate in any inquiry and/or investigation.
Uthayakumar is already a victim of a draconian law that allows for detention without trial - where there is no right to defend oneself; no right to a fair and open trial and no right to even go for judicial review of the alleged reasons for detaining him.
As such, the manner in which Suhakam conducted themselves in this case makes it even more deplorable and is certainly unacceptable behaviour for a national human rights commission.
Madpet seriously hopes that the making of such speedy ‘conclusions - in this case by Commissioner Siva Subramanian - was not affected by the fact that his current term expires in July 2008, and a belief that a ‘pro-government’ positioning now may assist chances of a re-appointment for another two-year term.
Human rights commissioners and Suhakam must at all times be independent and be seen to be independent and fearless and should only be driven by human rights and justice considerations. If a human rights commissioner cannot do this by reason of fear or some other reason, then the proper and ethical thing to do is to resign.
Madpet urges Suhakam to immediately retract its conclusions about the complaints by Uthayakumar, his family and/or his friends as reported in the media, and conduct a proper inquiry into these complaints in the proper manner – which would necessarily include that the fundamental rights to be heard and to participate be accorded to the alleged victim and the complainants.
Madpet also calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Uthayakumar and all those currently detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and other laws that allow for detention without trial and that all laws that allow for detention without trial be repealed.
The writer represents Madpet.
|Hindraf wants Suhakam commissioner out|
|Syed Jaymal Zahiid | Apr 25, 08 12:12pm|
Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) lawyers have accused the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) of deceit and demanded for one of its commissioners to step down.
Lawyer N Surendran claimed that Suhakam’s report by commissioner N Siva Subramaniam was utterly incorrect in suggesting that detained Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar is fine.
"It’s a lie. The report is totally incorrect. Uthayakumar is in bad shape. He has been denied medical attention for more than a month now," he told reporters at a Hindraf gathering outside Istana Negara this morning.
About 30 supporters gathered outside the palace gates to submit a memorandum seeking royal intervention for the release of Uthayakumar and four others held under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
The memorandum was handed to a palace official by Vaishnavi, the five-year-old daughter of Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy who is currently in self-exile in London.
Meanwhile, PKR Kapar MP S Manickvasagam, who was also present, claimed that Uthayakumar’s blood sugar level (right) had increased to a worrying point.
This was caused by deliberate medical negligence on the side of the government, alleged the politician.
Hindraf lawyer and DAP MP for Teluk Intan M Manogaran also lambasted the alleged denial of medical treatment, which he described as "inhuman."
"We deplore Suhakam’s report, it is a blatant lie. Siva Subramaniam must step down immediately," he added.
On Wednesday, Subramaniam, after visiting the Kamunting detention centre, said that Uthayakumar was given proper medical treatment by the authorities.
He, however, did not meet Uthayakmar or any of the other four Hindraf detainees during his visit.
Threat to BN, not nation
In their memorandum to the King, Hindraf lawyers appealed to his highness to facilitate the release of the five.
This action followed a recent media report stating that the King had consented to the government’s recommendation for the Hindraf leaders to be detained for two years [see letter below]. This decision was reportedly conveyed in letters sent by His Majesty to the five.
Manogaran stressed that the use of ISA to detain the Hindraf leaders was utterly unjust and appealed to the King to raise the matter in his parliamentary address next Monday.
"ISA is evil and the government that carries it is an evil government. We urge the King to look into the matter and justly react by releasing all of them," added Surendran.
They argued that Hindraf is not a threat to national security but to the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional.
The other Hindraf leaders under detention are M Manoharan, V Ganabatirau, R Kenghadharan and T Vasantha Kumar.
All five were detained on Dec 13 shortly after they had organised a mammoth street rally which drew some 30,000 people.
Friday, April 25, 2008
|Gov't repeals ban on Makkal Osai|
|Lee Weng Keat | Apr 24, 08 3:01pm|
| The government has reversed its decision a week after banning Makkal Osai by renewing the Tamil daily's publishing permit today.|
The newspaper, promising that it would be careful in the future, will hit the stands on Saturday.
He thanked the government and the ministry in allowing the daily to continue. He also thanked the daily’s faithful readers for their continued support.
Syed Hamid said the decision to allow the newspaper to continue publishing was based on looking after the interests of the paper's employees.
"They are supporting so many people and... they assure that they will abide by the guidelines and they will contribute to our nation building efforts," Syed Hamid said.
"I think their request is reasonable and I renewed it (the permit) yesterday," he told reporters.
Syed Hamid had earlier said the daily violated guidelines stipulating that newspapers should not raise sensitive issues that could threaten racial harmony and the country's stability.
The minister said his ministry had not been pressured to act.
"There was none ... no political pressure. No one has come to see us except the newspaper. We never act under pressure. What we act on is in the interest of the country," he said.
Periasamy said that the daily suffered at least RM400,000 loss in revenue as a result of their shutdown.
Time to release Hindraf 5
Makkal Osai, or 'The People’s Voice', has a circulation of 52,000 and was launched in 2005. It has a staff of about 100 people.
"Syed Hamid should learn the lesson of the Makkal Osai faux pax and not repeat the same mistake of complying obediently and blindly the dictates of the 'Little Napoleons' in the bureaucracy and to bring to bear his higher duties and responsibilities as the minister ultimately responsible for all decisions made by his ministry."
He said that the minister cannot again pass the responsibility of the continued detention of the Hindraf 5 to the civil servants.
It was reported that the King has ordered for the five to complete their two-year detention after receiving the recommendation of the prime minister's Advisory Board
Thursday, April 24, 2008
MEDIA STATEMENT –
SUHAKAM’S CONDUCT UNBECOMING OF A HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
- Conduct proper inquiry into complaints concerning P. Uthayakumar
MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is disappointed by the fact that the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) made and pronounced conclusions about complaints about detention conditions and health care of an Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee in Kamunting Detention Centre without even meeting with the said P. Uthayakumar. This was reported by Malaysiakini(
The Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) should never come to any conclusions or findings without at least meeting and talking to both sides.
In this case, it was reported that the SUHAKAM team led by Human Rights Commissioner Datuk Siva Subramaniam, had meetings with “…senior officials, the doctor and police personnel at the camp, as well as medical personnel in Taiping hospital…”
It was also reported in Malaysiakini that “Uthayakumar was neither present during the four-hour probe, nor interviewed by the team…”
When Datuk Siva Subramaniam was apparently “…asked why Uthayakumar’s side of the story was not heard….He pointed out that media reports were also sufficient to highlight Uthayakumar’s plight….”(Malaysiakini).
The manner in which this “inquiry” was done and the conclusions reached are very wrong, and is a deprivation of P.Uthayakumar and his family’s fundamental right to be heard and participate in any inquiry and/or investigation.
P. Uthayakumar is already a victim of a draconian law that allows for detention without trial - where there is no right to defend oneself; no right to a fair and open trial; and no right to even go for judicial review of the alleged reasons for detaining him.
As such, the manner in which Siva Subramanian and SUHAKAM conducted themselves in this case makes it even more deplorable and is certainly unacceptable behaviour for a National Human Rights Commission.
MADPET seriously hopes that the making of such speedy “conclusions” in this case by Commissioner Siva Subramanian, was not affected by the fact that his current term expires in July 2008, and a belief that a ‘pro-government’ positioning now may assist chances of a re-appointment for another 2-year term.
Human Right Commissioners and the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) must at all times be independent, and be seen to be independent, fearless and should only be driven by human rights and justice considerations. If a Human Rights Commissioner cannot do this by reason of fear or some other reason, then the proper and ethical thing to do is to resign.
MADPET urges SUHAKAM to immediately retract its conclusions about the complaints by P. Uthayakumar, his family and/or his friends, as reported in the media, and conduct a proper inquiry into these complaints in the proper manner – which would necessarily include that fundamental right to be heard and to participate accorded to the alleged victim and the complainants.
MADPET also calls for the immediate and unconditional release of P. Utayakumar, M. Manoharan and all those currently detained under the Internal Security Act(ISA) and other laws that allow for detention without trial.
MADPET also reiterates its call that the ISA and all laws that allow for detention without trial be repealed.
for Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)
[For further information, contact Charles Hector (019-2371300/019-2371100)]
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Uthayakumar's claim of improper medical care untrue: Suhakam
| || || |
|Wednesday, 23 April 2008 03:01pm|
Commissioner Datuk Siva Subramaniam said Suhakam had a two-hour meeting with representatives from various quarters, including Taiping Hospital, the police and the Kamunting detention centre on Tuesday.
On a claim that Uthayakumar’s food had salt and sugar in it, Siva said the relevant authority assured Suhakam that the detainee only received salt- and sugar-free food and drinks.
In fact, he said, Uthayakumar would undergo medical checks soon.
STOP ARREST OF Press Statement of Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia: Stop arrest of BURMESE refugees
|Press Statement of Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia: Stop arrest of Myanmar refugees|| || || |
|Wednesday, 23 April 2008 05:16pm|
STOP ARREST OF BURMESE REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS. RELEASE REFUGEES IN DETENTION AS SIGN OF COMPASSION AND SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE OF BURMA.
The recent riot by the Burmese political refugees in Lenggeng Detention Camp shows the frustration of refugees as there are no solution to refugees issues. The Malaysian government has continued the Crackdown against refugees and on the other hand there is no development to their application to resettle in the third countries.
UMNO is a political party - and if members of the UMNO party want to form a Commission to investigate why they did so badly this last elections -- then it is up to them members. Why are you going out there and making a statement to the whole world when it is merely a party matter.
Rais, and many others are behaving as though the losses of UMNO-led Barisan Nasional government is a matter of national concern - a matter of concern for all the RAKYAT...it is foolish.
It is just a political party -- and a coalition of political party who have stayed way too long in power so much so that that even 'wise' former de-facto law Minister is getting confused and is having difficulty seeing the difference between the party and the government...
There is no NATIONAL TRAGEDY when Malaysians voted for some other political party not UMNO and/or its gang of political parties... in fact some say that it is HAPPY MOMENT THAT NEED TO BE CELEBRATED....
Rais: Form commission to probe Umno's losses
Apr 23, 08 3:32pm (malaysiakini)
Since this is the season of commissions, Umno supreme council member Dr Rais Yatim is calling for one to be formed on the party.
He said Umno, which is considered the backbone of the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional, is in dire need of a commission to look into the heavy losses it sustained in the March 8 polls.
Rais, who is also foreign minister, said the party should also "change" the way it operated.
"If you can create a commission for judges and now you want to create the anti-corruption commission, why can't you create a commission for Umno," he said, adding that Umno should go forward now.
"I am always here to say the quota system should go. The creation of the overlords, the barons at state levels of Umno should also be looked at again, so that we should not have to serve too many bosses when it comes to election," the veteran politician told Bernama.
Rais, 66, was referring to the quota system which stipulates that for a leader to contest the positions of president, deputy president, vice-presidents or supreme council member, he or she must obtain a certain number of nominations from Umno divisions.
"This I think may not go well with some, we have to say what we believe in. Again I am not blaming anybody, but the system must be fair," he said.
Fond of blaming others
On former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad's call for his successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to step down as prime minister and Umno president and take the blame for BN's dismal election performance, Rais said this was not the time for bickering but the time to work.
"It is the time to forget and forgive. Everybody has a sanctum somewhere in his inner thinking to be enforced and to be said aloud.
"I think the time has come for all levels of leadership to accept and love Malaysia and allow the working process to take place," he said.
Rais said while he was not pointing fingers at anyone for the loss, Malaysians were "very fond of blaming people."
MEDIA STATEMENT –
MADPET SAYS NO TO PROPOSAL TO WHIP ‘MAT REMPIT’
MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is disturbed by the recent statement of Federal Traffic chief Senior Assistant Commissioner II Datuk Hamza Taib, as reported in the Star (
The report stated that “...under the proposed Section 42 (A), illegal racers can be jailed for up to five years and fined not less than RM5,000, and have their licences suspended for three years for a first offence…The penalty for second-time offenders would be a minimum of 10 years’ jail, three strokes of the rotan, not less than RM10,000 fine, and not less than a five-year suspension of the driving licence…”
Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states that "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".
Whipping is one such cruel, inhumane, degrading form of punishment, and there is no good reason why the punishment of whipping is still there in the statute books of caring compassionate
The only flawed reason why some may want to add whipping as an extra-punishment for repeat offenders of an offence under the Road Transport Act is possibly the belief that it will have a deterrent effect. This reasoning is baseless for there is no evidence whatsoever to support such a belief. It is also unlikely that Malaysian authorities will be able to supply Malaysians evidence that the introduction of the punishment of whipping has had a direct consequence in the reduction of any crime.
The Malaysian government must seriously look into root causes, which may reveal that it was the failings of the government itself that has led to such crime in Malaysia today, and if that be the case, then the taking of the easy way out by just blaming the “Mat Rempits” and the introducing whipping as an additional punishment is wrong and unacceptable.
"If you suffer your people to be ill-educated and their manners corrupted from infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded, sire, but that you first make thieves and then punish them?" -Thomas More
It should be noted that the Malaysian Bar, a body of about 13,000 lawyers, did in March 2007 pass a resolution unanimously calling for the abolition of the whipping sentence from the laws of
MADPET calls for an immediate removal of the sentence of whipping from the laws of Malaysia.
MADPET calls also for an end of the execution of the sentence of whipping, which has been known to cause permanent physical and psychological damage to victims, including also impotency.
MADPET calls also for Malaysia to immediately ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984).
for Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)
State police chief Osman Abdullah had earlier stated that ""We are still investigating the cause, but at this point in time all I can say is that they were unhappy because they heard that their application to a third country had been rejected,"
Now that reason about unhappiness because application to third country denied is found to be baseless.
SO - what did happen and WHY? We deserve to know this and a thorough investigation needs to be done maybe by SUHAKAM(Human Rights Commission).
It is also shocking that Malaysia has given over the management of detention centres to the Volunteer Corp RELA - and this detention centres were previously under the professionals - the Prisons Department.
RELA should be abolished - and that has been the call of the Malaysian Bar, ALIRAN and other groups but the government is turning a deaf ear to the call that law enforcement, including management of detention centres should be undertaken by full-time professionals. If there is a shortage of man-power - then HIRE and TRAIN -- not resort to volunteers.
Until shown otherwise, blame must rest with the body responsible - the RELA.
Lenggeng riot: 'A disaster waiting to happen'
|Fauwaz Abdul Aziz | Apr 23, 08 10:44am (Malaysiakini) |
| It was only a matter of time before trouble broke out at the 14 immigration detention centres taken over earlier this year by voluntary corps Rela - as the Lenggeng incident in Negri Sembilan has proved.|
“We anticipated it to happen sooner or later. Lenggeng is only the beginning of worse things to come,” said Migrant Care coordinator Alex Ong when contacted yesterday.
Ong was commenting on the riot on Monday in which about 60 Burmese detainees reportedly tried to pull down the perimeter fence and afterwards torched an administration building.
More than 100 Rela members, riot police, civil defence department and fire and rescue service personnel had to be called in to contain the riot.
According to state police chief Osman Salleh, the detainees had vented their anger against the authorities after their application for resettlement to a third country had been denied.
Ong, however, questioned this version of the story and said the more likely reasons involve the poor living conditions and treatment that migrants receive in such detention centres.
Many human rights and migrant groups have long decried the harsh treatment, overcrowding, poor sanitation, and inadequate food and medical facilities.
Since Jan 15 when Rela took over the running of Lenggeng from the prison department, the plight of those detained has gotten from bad to worse, Ong claimed.
“We have always opposed Rela taking over because we expected the move to be accompanied by complaints of more human rights abuses and abusive treatment,” he said.
Rela is already saddled with a poor track record in relation to treatment of migrants, given its previous role in rounding up undocumented foreigners in Malaysia and the number of complaints this attracted.
Lending strength to Ong’s contention that the riot was not over the issue of resettlement, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that no refugees in Lenggeng have been told that their resettlement request had been denied.
“Our records indicate that their cases are still being actively processed by our office,” said spokesperson Yante Ismail when contacted.
There are 75 refugees and asylum-seekers known to UNHCR in Lenggeng, of whom seven are non-Burmese and 68 are mostly Chin Burmese. It is still unclear whether and how many of these were involved in the riot, said Yante.
All-Burma Democratic Force vice-chairperson Mohammad Sadek pointed out that it is not usually the Chin - who are predominantly Christian - whose applications for resettlement in Western countries are denied.
“It is the Burmese Rohingyas who have complained that their applications for resettlement have been turned down,” said Mohammad.
A social worker who had visited the centre a few weeks ago said a day-long hunger strike had been held on April 3 by a large number of refugees, to protest the severe beating of a Burmese detainee by Rela officers.
“It took a senior immigration officer to come to the detention centre to persuade them to call off their hunger strike,” said the worker, who declined to be identified.
“I think things only got worse after that, which is why the riot happened.”
Osman said 14 foreigners - six Burmese, six Indonesians, one Vietnamese and one Cambodian - have been called in for questioning over the riot.
He said they were arrested under Sections 148 (possession of dangerous weapons) and 438 (committing mischief by fire or use of explosive substance) of the Penal Code.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Myanmar detainees riot, set fire at Malaysian camp
April 21, 2008
Detainees from Myanmar rioted at a Malaysian holding camp on Monday,
torching a building, after hearing they had been denied asylum in a third
country, the authorities said.
Some 72 Myanmarese, who were being held at a camp just outside the capital
Kuala Lumpur, forced their way into an administrative block and set it
ablaze, the Immigration Department's head of enforcement, Ishak Mohammad,
"They were disappointed on hearing the UNHCR (the U.N. Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees) couldn't get a placement for them in a third
country," he told Reuters. Malaysia considers them to be illegal
Police said the rioters, who were unarmed, would be charged with arson. No
one was injured.
"They set fire at the ground floor causing damage to office furniture and
computers," the local Star newspaper quoted Osman Abdullah, the police
chief in the southwestern Negeri Sembilan state, as saying in its online
edition. The camp is located at Lenggeng in the state.
The camp, housing some 800 illegal immigrants including Bangladeshis and
Indonesians, would be closed temporarily, the immigration department said.
Malaysia is home to around 3 million foreign workers, 1 million of whom
are working illegally, Home Minister Syed Albar said at the weekend.
The country currently has about 39,000 refugees registered with the UNHCR,
the body said.
Of the total, about 13,000 are members of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim
minority and another 12,000 are members of other Myanmar minority ethnic
The Rohingyas came in the 1990s from Myanmar, but the government there
disputes their origin and refuses to let them return.
(Reporting by Jalil Hamid, Editing by Alex Richardson)
|Time's up, but will Suhakam chief go?|
|Beh Lih Yi | Apr 22, 08 12:33pm|
| All eyes are on Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) chairperson Abu Talib Othman, as his tenure - alongside that of 11 commissioners - expires tomorrow.|
Indications so far point to the likelihood of the former attorney-general being re-appointed for a fourth term, but there is no official confirmation of this as yet.
It is learnt that some Suhakam officers were told two months ago that Abu Talib would have his contract renewed for another two years, to helm the government-backed commission.
Malaysiakini also learnt that de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim (photo) has been asked to recommend fresh faces to Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, to fill the posts of those commissioners whose tenure ends tomorrow.
A well-placed Suhakam source said Zaid’s office contacted the commission last week to ask for details of the commissioners to be furnished on an urgent basis.
Confirming this, a spokesperson for Zaid’s office said the final decision on the line-up lies with Najib, whose portfolio includes supervision of Suhakam’s operations.
“The names have yet to be given to (Najib) based on what I understand,” the source said.
Najib’s aide Tengku Sarifuddin Tengku Ahmad, when contacted, declined comment apart from saying that an announcement will be made soon.
A check with a number of commissioners revealed that they too are in the dark as to whether their contract will be renewed.
“There might be some changes perhaps,” one commissioner said.
They said they do not know when the announcement will be made, although one commissioner said it could take place next week.
Those affected include vice-chief Simon Sipaun (left), commissioners Dr Chiam Heng Keng, Dr Mohammad Hirman Ritom Abdullah, Asiah Abu Samah, Dr Raj Abdul Karim, Dr Abdul Monir Yaacob, KC Vohrah, Dr Denison Jayasooria (right), Dr Michael Yeoh, Muhammad Uthman El-Muhammady and Zaitoon Othman.
Commissioner Choo Siew Kioh’s term will expire on April 29, followed by Tunku Nazihah Tunku Mohamed Rus (May 31), Prof Dr Khoo Kay Kim, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and N Siva Subramaniam (all on July 19) and Khalid Ibrahim (Nov 30).
This is not the first time that commissioners have waited on such announcements. In 2006, the new batch of the commissioners was only announced 10 days after their term expired.
There is a strong concern over the possible re-appointment of Abu Talib, whose initial appointment in 2002 had been boycotted by 32 NGOs for 100 days.
This was due to his defence of the 1987 mass crackdown dubbed Operasi Lalang and actions during his tenure as AG, when he played an instrumental role in the sacking of Lord President Salleh Abas.
Human rights watchdog Suaram director Dr Kua Kia Soong stressed that only personalities with credibility and human rights credentials should be appointed.
“No, not Abu Talib. He is the person who said during my habeas corpus application that solitary confinement is like (staying) in a hotel room,” Kua said, referring to his legal challenge against his detention under the Internal Security Act during Operasi Lalang.
Frustration of officers
Some Suhakam officers also argue for a pressing need to overhaul the line-up. They would like to see eight commissioners who have held the post for three terms (six years) - in particular, Abu Talib - being dropped.
The eight are Simon, Chiam and Mohammad Hirman - all of whom were appointed at Suhakam’s inception in 1999 - and Abu Talib, Asiah, Raj, Abdul Monir and Vohrah who were appointed in 2002.
“In countries like Australia and New Zealand, the human rights commission makes it clear that a commissioner should not stay for more than five years,” said an officer.
Another high-ranking officer echoed the sentiment, saying it is a common feeling among the 70-odd officers that they want a “complete change”.
“If I had my way, I would not mind seeing all of them replaced, especially those who will soon entering their 10th year at Suhakam. Even Parliament has changed half of faces but we’re still getting old faces here,” she said.
“We really need new blood in Suhakam and I hope the decision-maker knows this is coming from us - the officers.”
Former Court of Appeal judge Vohrah - who heads Suhakam’s law reform and international treaties working group - has indicated his wish not to be re-appointed, sources said.
Another personality who may be excluded is Denison, who heads the MIC-linked Yayasan Strategik Sosial. This follows the party’s request to Denison to focus on the foundation’s work after the March 8 general election, which saw severe losses for its candidates.
Two officers said they hope to see constitutional expert Prof Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi in the new line-up.
Other names suggested by them and Kua include former United Nations special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Param Cumaraswamy (left), human rights group Hakam ex-president Ramdas Tikamdas and prominent lawyer Raja Aziz Addruse (right).
“It could be a good idea to bring back Prof Hamdan Adnan too,” said a Suhakam officer. The vocal ex-commissioner was dropped in 2006.
According to sources, some ex-politicians have lobbied to be appointed as commissioners.
Suhakam has a chequered history in defending human rights, with NGOs frequently complaining about its ineffectiveness.
Most of the commission’s recommendations over the past nine years have been ignored by the government, while repeated attempts to get the Suhakam annual report to be debated in Parliament have proved futile.
The government has previously stated that it has no intention of giving the commission any ‘teeth’, in terms of enforcement of recommendations. Suhakam only acts as an advisory body to government at present.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Monday April 21, 2008
Rela may be upgraded to an enforcement agency
By JASON LIOH
MALACCA: The Home Ministry is mulling over whether to upgrade Rela to an enforcement agency in a move to enhance its enforcement and public order operations.
Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said a draft of the proposal was being finalised for consideration by the Government.
“The role and responsibility of Rela has increased and become even more challenging,” he told reporters after attending a get-together between its officers and leaders at the Rela Southern Zone Training Camp in Sungai Udang yesterday.
“So it is appropriate that the organisation is upgraded to an enforcement agency under the ministry.”
Syed Hamid said the move would allow for better logistical support and funding for facilities, equipment, and uniforms for its personnel.
“We need to give the 508,000 volunteers sufficient training, not only to enhance the capability of Rela but also to further assist the police and immigration. To date, Rela has caught 73,938 illegal immigrants,” he added.
Under the 9th Malaysia Plan, three more Rela training camps would be set up – in Negri Sembilan, Pahang and Perak – to complement the existing camps at Sungai Udang in Malacca, Sungai Petani in Kedah and Tuaran in Sabah.
On Makkai Osai, Syed Hamid reiterated that the decision not to renew the vernacular paper’s licence was taken after thorough consideration.
The Government did not restrict the publication of newspapers as the media had a role to play in society, he said, but cautioned news publications to not create conflict or disharmony among the people,
“Freedom comes with responsibilities. The Government allows ample freedom of speech and practices democracy with fairness and integrity,” he said.
Sunday April 20, 2008
Proposal to upgrade Rela to enforcement agency
By JASON LIOH
MALACCA: The Home Ministry is proposing that Rela be upgraded to full departmental status as an enforcement agency under the ministry.
This would enhance the organisation's enforcement and public order operations, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, adding that a draft of the proposal was being finalised before being tabled to the Government for approval.
“The role and responsibility of Rela has increased and become even more challenging.
“As such it is appropriate that the organisation be upgraded to an enforcement agency under the ministry,” he told reporters after attending Rela's get-together between officers and leaders at the Rela Southern Zone Training Camp in Sungai Udang Sunday. He said that the move would allow for better logistical support and funding for facilities, equipment, and uniforms for its personnel.
“We need to give the 508,000 volunteers sufficient training, not only to enhance Rela’s capability but also to further assist police and the Immigration Department -- as of today, it has nabbed 73,938 illegal immigrants," he added.
Under the 9th Malaysian Plan, three more Rela training camps would be set up in Negri Sembilan, Pahang and Perak to complement the existing camps at Sungai Udang in Malacca, Sungai Petani in Kedah and Tuaran in Sabah.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
|ISA detainee gets to visit sick daughter|
|Azreen Madzlan | Apr 19, 08 3:24pm |
| Four-year old V Vishaleny refused to eat ever since she was warded for severe viral fever at the Cheras Pantai Medical Centre on Tuesday.|
But when her father came to visit and fed her a slice of bread, she began to eat. But this was no ordinary hospital visit.
Vishaleny is the youngest daughter of K.Vasantha Kumar, Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf)
coordinator who is currently being held under the ISA in Kamunting.
Yesterday, her wish to see her father came true. After her mother appealed to Home Minister, Syed Hamid Albar to allow Vasantha Kumar to visit her was approved, Vishaleny has been waiting impatiently.
A big group of police and Special Branch officers were stationed at the hospital from noon until Vasantha Kumar arrived at 5 pm. About 50 of them were patrolling outside and inside the hospital building and another 25 went in to the pediatric ward with Vasantha Kumar.
Vasantha Kumar went in to see her daughter at 5.35 pm. However, Vishaleny was asleep and too tired to respond when her father arrived.
The detainee spent about 40 minutes with his sick daughter before being whisked away at the back exit, to avoid Hindraf supporters and the press. Reporters were not permitted into the ward.
Meanwhile, about 20 Hindraf supporters gathered at the paediatric ward in the hospital to catch a glimpse of the Hindraf leader.
Children psychologically affected
In an interview with Malaysiakini, Vasantha Kumar's wife, K Vickneswary said her two daughters, aged six and four are psychologically and physically affected by their father's detention.
"I dragged them along to Kamunting every weekend because they want to see their father. They're in school five days a week and because of the weekly trip, they did not get enough rest." she said.
Four year old V.Vishaleny, who is being warded for severe viral fever, has gotten sick since Sunday. She was warded after her school teacher called Vickneswary that she has been vomiting at school.
Vickneswary expressed her disappointment when the court postponed the hearing for the Hindraf Five ISA detainees for another month.
"Today is my daughter (who has gotten sick). We don't know whether others (ISA detainees’ children) will follow. They (ISA detainees) also have babies and small children. The children can't bear this anymore." she said.
Vickneswary expressed her gratitude to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar for allowing Vasantha Kumar to visit her daughter.
The five Hindraf leaders have been detained under the draconian law since December following the massive rally of Hindraf supporters in Kuala Lumpur.
Hindraf 5 remain united
Meanwhile, according to Hindraf supporter S Sivalingam, Vasantha Kumar had asked him to inform the public that the five Hindraf leaders are still together, quashing rumours that they are disunited.
Sivalingam also revealed that Vasantha Kumar had applied for permission to visit her daughter for the second time next Saturday but has not received a reply yet.
Hindraf leader Uthayakumar, according to Sivalingam, is now in better health after receiving proper medication and food for his diabetes following his hospitalisation.