Sadly, our Barisan Nasional's response, it seems, more so of late under Prime Minister Najib has been to go after people that highlight wrongdoings, and so the Human Rights Watch's report title may be right - “Creating a Culture of Fear: The Criminalisation of Peaceful Expression in Malaysia”
Sadly, he never said that anything stated in the report was untrue - all he said was that HRW was 'politicing allegations' - what does that mean?Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed has accused watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) of politicising allegations that the Malaysian government was clamping down on dissent by using repressive laws to silence critics.
He then says that HRW is not as critical about other countries. You do not attack people of highlighting wrongs or injustice in Malaysia by saying 'unfair' - please highlight issues in the US, Singapore, etc... That is so lame - the question is whether the report is true or false?
It is great that Malaysia has repealed the Internal Security Act (ISA) and EO - laws that provided for detention without trial....But not enough, there are still many unjust laws like the Sedition Act and the SOSMA. We will discuss POTA and POCA at a different time.
Global rights group politicising issues in Malaysia, says deputy home minister
He said the group's report (pic, left) was unfair as Malaysia made several reforms to improve freedom of expression by repealing the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for detention without trial, as well as the Emergency Ordinance (EO).
"Malaysia has shown commitment by repealing the ISA and the EO. This move has shown Malaysia is fair towards its citizens," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.
"I think the report has been politicised by HRW. Countries like the United States have Guantanamo Bay, where they detain people for donkey's years but that's alright. They (HRW) have never harped on the issue." The New York-based watchdog released a report yesterday documenting Putrajaya’s alleged abuse of laws to criminalise peaceful expression and urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to stop treating criticism as a crime.
Titled “Creating a Culture of Fear: The Criminalisation of Peaceful Expression in Malaysia”, the 145-page report accuses Najib of repeatedly breaking his promises to repeal repressive and draconian laws and also reminded him of his pledge to “uphold civil liberties” when he took office in April 2009.
HRW said the Najib administration, particularly since 2013, had used a range of broad and vaguely worded laws “to harass, investigate and arrest” individuals for peaceful expression.
The level of repression intensified since late last year amid increasing public criticism of Putrajaya’s treatment of former opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, now serving jail time for sodomy, and over plans to impose the goods and services tax which was rolled out in April this year.
Although the ISA and EO were replaced with the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota) and Prevention of Crime Act (Poca), Nur Jazlan maintained that the newer laws were not repressive like its predecessors because of certain allocations.
"The difference between Pota and ISA is with ISA, you can only appeal to the minister, only he has the power and there's no right of review.
"Now under Pota, the minister is no longer involved but the board is and the suspects detained can ask the board to review their case for them to be released," he said.
"We had to introduce Poca because of the rising threat of organised and transnational crime. And Poca is also the same system as Pota, there is a board to administer it and the suspects can have their right of review for their release to the board."
The Pulai MP said that other countries had harsher laws, urging HRW to look into abuses of laws in those places as well.
"Not just in Western countries, but also in Singapore. Singapore still has ISA but they haven’t focused on Singapore as much as they focused on Malaysia.
"Even the US ignores them (HRW). Malaysia has not. We have made reforms, what else is not enough? They want us to remove everything, I’m sorry we can’t because of our multi-racial and multi-religious nature of our country," he said, adding that Malaysians knew how to manage their country "better than foreigners". – October 28, 2015.
They are creating a culture of fear. If you engage in any talk of public interest, the police may come to your house, you may be arrested, taken to the police station, remanded. Even members of Parliament are treated that way.
—Yap Swee Seng, former executive director of Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Kuala Lumpur, April 14, 2015
When the ISA was abolished, there was a sense of freedom. I thought Malaysia was going in the right direction. When Najib promised to abolish the Sedition Act, I thought: “We have arrived. We are on the right path.”
It is a duty for us to speak out when the government tampers with the rule of law to keep themselves in power…. It is not about the result or what is to be accomplished in the short term. Protest is necessary to open up more democratic spaces…. Freedom of expression in Malaysia is under duress by the state. The authorities are clearly not in favor of the rights of free speech and expression.
For the authorities, everything I say is a problem.… If you go for peaceful protest, they will catch you for assembling. If you criticize government, they come after you for sedition.
Overly Restrictive Laws as a Tool for Repression
Individuals face the constant threat of being arrested, held in pretrial detention, subjected to expensive criminal trials, fines and imprisonment, as well as the social stigma associated with having a criminal record.
Targeting the Political Opposition
- PKR Vice President and lawyer N. Surendran was charged with sedition twice, in both cases for statements he made about the sodomy case against his client Anwar Ibrahim;
- Former Perak Chief Minister Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, from the opposition Parti Islam Se-Malaysia, was charged with criminal defamation on August 25 for remarks he had made about Prime Minister Najib during the election campaign in April 2012;
- Khalid Samad, a member of parliament from PAS, was charged with sedition on August 26 for remarks he made regarding the Selangor State Islamic Religious Council, a government body that advises the sultan of Selangor;
- DAP Penang State Assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer was charged with sedition on August 27 for saying “celaka celaka UMNO” (“damn, damn UMNO”) to several state assemblymen of the United Malays National Organization during an assembly session in May 2014; and
- PKR Secretary General Rafizi Ramli was charged on August 28 with violating section 504 of the penal code, which criminalizes “intentional insult with intent to breach the peace,” for a statement he made alleging that right wing groups who were staging protests in front of churches in Selangor were being orchestrated and supported by the UMNO.
Targeting Civil Society
Targeting the Media
One time we published a letter criticizing UMNO. The police came and asked who wrote the letter, which was under pseudonym. We protect identity to encourage free opinion. We refused to provide details. The police confiscated our computers…. We have the police come in at least once a month. It has become routine really. Someone files a complaint and they want a statement.
Targeting Social Media Users
Last year they started with politicians, then branched out to lecturers and activists. People started realizing that it affects not just political people but also ordinary people.
Restrictions on Freedom of Assembly
Abusive Police Tactics and Selective Prosecution
To the Prime Minister and the Government of Malaysia
- Develop a clear plan and timetable for the repeal or amendment of laws as recommended at the end of this report and, where legislation is to be amended, consult thoroughly with Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia (SUHAKAM) (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia) and civil society groups in a transparent and public way;
- Drop all prosecutions and close all investigations based on peaceful expression or peaceful assembly. At a minimum, immediately drop all investigations and charges of sedition based on criticism of judicial decisions, the government, government decisions or government bodies in light of the parliament’s decision, in the 2015 amendments to the Sedition Act, to delete such criticism from the scope of that law;
- Establish a clear policy that participation in peaceful assemblies should never be the basis for charges under sections 143, 124B or 124C of the penal code;
- Instruct all police departments that it is their duty to facilitate peaceful assemblies, not to hinder them. Persons and groups who are organizing assemblies or rallies should be permitted to hold their events within sight and sound of their intended audience, and the police should take appropriate steps to protect the safety of all participants; and
- Instruct all police departments to avoid late night or evening arrests of persons charged with crimes unless necessary to prevent flight or the destruction of evidence and to permit individuals to appear voluntarily to give a statement unless there is a clear and compelling reason to believe that an individual will not comply with a police summons relating to an investigation.
NOTE:- The above is but the summary of the report, go read the full report at https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/10/27/creating-culture-fear/criminalization-peaceful-expression-malaysia