Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Will this former UMNO legal adviser be Head of the Judiciary one day?

Can or should the Minister even defend the appointment of Zaki Azmi to the Federal Court? Was he not appointed by the YDP Agung acting on the advice of the Prime Minister. The way Nazri is defending the appointment, it looks as though he had a role to play in the choice. It is the PM who should be answering (unless Nazri is really representing the Prime Minister here).

On Sept 5 2007, Zaki Azmi became the first person to be appointed direct to the Federal Court, bypassing the convention of first serving in the High Court and the Court of Appeal. (not really, previously we had Sri Ram who was appointed directly to become a Judge of the Court of Appeal.)

Wonder whether Zaki Azmi is going to be made Chief Justice - the head of the Malaysian Judiciary? That will really not be good for the perception of independence of the judiciary, and this perception is VERY important.

Nazri defends Zaki's appointment as judge
Syed Jaymal Zahiid | Oct 30, 07 6:51pm

De facto law minister Nazri Aziz was the ‘man of the hour’ in Parliament today.

He ducked all shots coming from opposition MPs adamant to drill out answers on why former Umno legal adviser Zaki Azmi was appointed a Federal Court judge despite past involvement in the ruling party.

Replying to Karpal Singh (DAP-Batu Gelugor) in his winding-up speech, Nazri calmly said that Azmi was not holding any key positions in Umno and therefore the question of conflict of interest does not arise.

"He (Azmi) was just a member of Umno's disciplinary committee. It's unfair to deny him his rights simply because he was a Umno member," Nazri said.

Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang then stood up and lambasted Nazri for the manner in which he replied describing it as a lackluster response.

First Umno judge?

"In the history of the appointment of judges, there was not one case where a judge appointed has any links to political parties... will Azmi be the first Umno judge?" Lim loudly retorted.

However, the minister responded by saying that Lim was viewing the matter from a narrow perspective.

"If we look from that angle, of course, we would reach such a conclusion. As for me, I believe Azmi has done a good service to the judiciary, he has been a good legal practitioner and therefore, I believe he has earned his place."

Nazri then argued that if Karpal - an opposition MP and also a practicing lawyer - was representing a defendant, it does not necessarily mean that his defendant supports the opposition.

"It's just a matter of perception. I believe Azmi is capable of performing his duty professionally and it is unwise to assume he cannot do his job because he used to represent Umno,

"I believe it would be even more difficult for him as the public will be scrutinising his judgments because of his past involvement with the party and given the circumstances, do you think he would still be doing Umno any favours... I do not believe so," he reasoned.

Nazri also said that the appointment of Zaki was constitutionally correct under Article 123 read in conjunction with Article 41 and 41A of the Federal Constitution.

On Sept 5, Zaki Azmi became the first person to be appointed direct to the Federal Court, bypassing the convention of first serving in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

Several quarters have criticised his appointment as a politically motivated move and cast doubts as to whether he could perform independently due to his past involvement with Umno.

'AG can do as he pleases'

On another matter, Nazri managed to duck further questions from M Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) regarding the attorney-general's move to appeal against a judge's decision that was in favour of former ISA detainee Malek Hussin in his civil suit against the government.

Kulasegaran reasoned with Nazri that if Malaysia is truly a democratic country, the AG should not appeal against justice Hishamudin Yunus' judgment that forced the government to compensate Malek RM2.5 million for being illegally detained and tortured.

A smiling Nazri replied that the AG was free to do whatever he wants as long as the he has the reasons for it.

"If the judgment went against Malik and he is to appeal against it, nobody would say anything and why is this? Just because he is an individual? Because he sides the opposition?" the minister asked.

He then argued that the AG's action is not a matter of "what he should or should not do" rather a matter of "whether he can or he cannot" indicating that from the legal angle, the AG may do so.

Nazri also said that he cannot do anything as a minister as he belongs to the executive and reasoned that it is unethical to temper with the AG's decision as it would mean that he is encroaching into the independence of the judiciary.

Friday, October 26, 2007

1,830 rape cases in 7 months

1,830 rape cases in 7 months Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 October 2007, 08:31pm

Rape VictimAbsence of Witness Protection Act not cause of unsolved rape cases

©The Sun
by B. Suresh Ram

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 24, 2007): A total of 1,830 rapes were reported in the first seven months of this year, of which 85% or 1,606 cases were solved by the police, Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow said.

He said 224 cases remain unsolved because the rape victims could not identify the assailants as many were rendered unconscious when the crime was committed.

Replying to a question from Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) in the Dewan Rakyat (Parliament) today, Fu said many rape victims were also reluctant to help police in their investigations, especially those involving people known to them, or relatives.

To a supplementary question from Karpal Singh on whether the proposed Witness Protection Act would be extended to cover rape victims, which would enable them to provide help to the police and courts, Fu said: "The Act is still being studied.

"What is important is that hundreds of cases are being solved and the crime-solving rate remains high. The unsolved cases are not not due to the absence of a Witness Protection Act but other factors."

To another question from Datuk Tan Lian Hoe (BN-Bukit Gantang), he said police statistics showed 49,903 robberies were reported between 2005 and July this year.

In the same period, 25,383 snatch thefts and 1,431 murders were reported.

Fu said 21,787 women fell victim to snatch thefts and only 270 women were murder victims.

Tan had asked the ministry to provide statistics on the number of women who fell victim to criminal acts for the two-and-a-half year period.

Fu said various measures had been taken to reduce the crime rate, including placing more rank and file police personnel in crime prone areas, conducting anti-crime operations, increasing the number of police stations and police personnel, the use of CCTV in crime prone areas and improving the capability of the police forensics unit.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why M'sia refuses to ink refugee pact (Malaysiakini)

Why M'sia refuses to ink refugee pact
Yoges Palanippan
Oct 24, 07 3:24pm

Why Malaysia has not signed the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 and the Convention relating to the Stateless Persons 1961 despite being a United Nations member for more than 50 years?

The answer: Malaysians come first.

According to Foreign Ministry parliamentary secretary Ahmad Shabery Cheek, refugees will take jobs away from Malaysians.

"Malaysia is an escape door to people from our neighbouring countries like the Philippines, Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. And we all know that there are internal problems in these countries.

"Given this, if we open our doors and recognise these people as refugees, we need to give them jobs and it is not possible when our people are also struggling to gain employment," he said.

"We need to think Malaysians first. And this is the main reason why the government is not ready to sign the conventions."

However, he told Parliament today that the government had adopted a policy where refugees are given "temporary shelter" to those who need it.

"As a caring country, we have worked together with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)to refugees who wish to go back to their home countries.

"For those who don't want to, we provide temporary shelter in countries recognised by UNHCR," said Ahmad Shabery.

28,668 refugees in Malaysia

Ahmad Shabery (BN-Kemaman) was responding to a query from M Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) who asked the foreign minister to state the number of refugees in Malaysia according to their country of origin and what are the assistance and protection given to them.

"Why are refugees often mistaken for illegal immigrants and put behind bars? Althought the government says that refugees benefit in certain ways in our system, why do we still have refugees who don't have access to legal employment, education and healthcare?" asked Kulasegaran.

Ahmad Shabery that as of May, there were some 28,668 refugees from countries like Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Nepal, China, Somalia, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Burma in Malaysia.

In July, the government launched a major operation to arrest and detain illegal immigrants from Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal and Philippines.

Some 100,000 refugees were also picked in the exercise leading to several organisations urging the government to stop the crackdown on refugees.

Remembering those still not free - - about Ops Lallang 1987 - ISA Arrests and Detentions

Remembering those still not free
David Anthony
Oct 22, 07 12:27pm

From late afternoon on Oct 27, 1987 and well into the night, operatives of the Special Branch moved like snakes in the grass.

They knocked on doors and took people away in unmarked cars. More than 90 people were arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA), although the official figure was 63.

Section 73(1) of the ISA empowers the police to detain a person for up to 60 days without a detention order. The detention can be extended by the home minister. The police can use this power without providing reasons.

The act was enforced in 1960. That year, it was used against 20 members of the Socialist Front and two years later, against 50 people.

The government has since been invoking the ISA at the drop of a hat whenever convenient

  • On Nov 26, 1966, it arrested 70 people from various opposition parties in connection with alleged links with the Communist Party of Malaya.

  • On Aug 5, 1969, the largest number of detentions took place, involving 117 people from Badak and Sintok near the Thai-Malaysia border.

  • On Nov 19, 1985, the ISA was used on 36 alleged Muslim extremists under the leadership of Ibrahim Libya in Kampung Memali, Baling, Kedah.

We have gone to great lengths to obliterate vestiges of British colonialism like renaming roads named after prominent Englishmen, but we have religiously maintained the draconian British legacy of the ISA.

In October 1987, those arrested were members of opposition parties, United Chinese School Committees Association, NGOs and consumer associations, as well as university lecturers, church workers, social workers and environmentalists. To show a semblance of impartiality, some members of the ruling coalition were also picked up.

Why was there such a sudden swoop? The reason given by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was to defuse racial tension that had reached a dangerous level. He blamed the politicians from opposition parties, individuals, newspapers and magazines for creating racial and religious tension. He said he had to take immediate steps to prevent riots and save the country from disaster.

He, however, failed to mention members of his own government who bore much of the responsibility for the escalation in racial tension. Analysts began to see the crackdown less as a means of defusing tension and more the result of the prime minister’s concern over the steady erosion of his authority.

Looking back

Was the situation as volatile as it was made out to be? Let’s look back a little at some significant events of 1987 that led up to the October crackdown.

In April, Mahathir (left) won the Umno presidency by a narrow margin. There was a split right down the middle of the party - Team A under Mahathir and his supporters and Team B under Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (right) who was supported by the heavyweights like Musa Hitam and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

In May, the pledge to the Rukunegara was made mandatory in schools. This was opposed by the Chinese community.

On June 12, Umno members filed a suit to nullify the April party elections. The prime minister’s position was approaching check-mate status.

That month, tribal leaders from Sarawak approached federal authorities to seek recognition of their rights to their ancestral lands.

In July there was protest against Universiti Malaya’s decision to teach all optional courses in the Malay language.

In August, a Supreme Court injunction restrained United Engineers Malaysia over a road contract. Some highly-placed people were involved.

In September, following mass demonstrations, there was a high court injunction to stop Asian Rare Earth from dumping radio-active waste. The local business community and Japan were involved.

The same month, PAS accused Christians of proselytising among Malays. The prime minister’s office blamed Christian missionaries. Also in September, Sarawak Minister for the Environment James Wong was asked to resign for having vested interests in logging concessions.

When October came around there was protest by the Dong Jiao Zhong at a Chinese temple against the appointment of non-Mandarin speaking teachers in Chinese primary schools.

This was followed by a Umno Youth rally urging the government not to yield to Chinese protests. Umno then announced it would hold a mammoth rally on Nov 1 - and Operation Lalang soon got underway.

Newspapers worked overtime to splash headlines of the arrests. The Star produced two editions on Oct 28 - shortly after, the printing licences of three dailies, The Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan were revoked.

Private radio and televisions stations were issued warnings and Radio Television Malaysia rescheduled programmes to broadcast specially crafted programmes called Cabaran.

Malay dailies Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia justified government action in their editorials and the Tamil dailies Thinamani and Tamil Nesan lauded the move in order to save their own skins.

Share prices fell across the board on the KLSE with blue chips and quality stocks suffering double-digit losses. The KLSE Composite Index dropped 30.30 points to close at 236.74 from 267.04 on the morning after the arrests began.

Denial of freedom

Against this backdrop, questions were being asked about the Barisan Nasional spirit. Component parties MCA and Gerakan alleged that the government was going against the coalition’s manifesto of the previous general election.

The problem was that the component parties were all seeing the spirit through the lens of race-based parties.

The Bar Council appealed to all political parties to place the interests of the nation before their political and sectarian interests. It deplored the arrests as an “extremely serious matter” and promised to closely monitor the situation and consider steps to seek the early release of those detained.

Seventeen social interest and professional groups called for the setting up of a National Consultative Council on Ethnic Relations, with powers to make recommendations to Parliament.

Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first prime minister, condemned the arrests in a statement: “This is undemocratic and I deplore the attitude of the prime minister. It portends ill for the future of the country.”

Three exco members of Umno Youth were among those detained - their leader Najib Abdul Razak went to see the prime minister. He came out of the meeting, giving the premier’s action his undivided support.

Anwar Ibrahim, then the education minister, praised Mahathir for his “no nonsense” speech in Parliament adding that “it showed the Prime Minister meant business”. He echoed his boss’s reasons saying that groups had betrayed the trust placed in them and “There can be no compromise on national security”.

On Oct 29, the government indefinitely banned all rallies indoors and outdoors, including the mammoth Umno unity rally expected to gather 500,000 Malays on Nov 1. That was indeed a prudent move.

The detainees were psychologically and physically tortured and interrogated without sleep and held in solitary confinement. Family visits were denied until after the first week, but some would only receive visitors after a fortnight.

Several detainees were released at the end of 60 days, while others were kept at the detention centre in Kamunting for two years. They have since left the camp, but others have taken their place.

Issues rise and issues fall
Like the waves in the sea
The current under the water
We must dive deep to see
Malaysians have a short-lived memory
Tall grass has grown this twentieth anniversary
Let us remember those still not free.

DAVID ANTHONY is a freelance writer.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Malek: My ISA detention horror

Malek: My ISA detention horror
Soon Li Tsin
Oct 20, 07 1:47pm

People often forget incidents of the past but for former ISA detainee Abdul Malek Hussin, one horror event will forever be etched in his mind - his 57 days of living hell in detention.

Abdul Malek Hussin, 51, was this week awarded RM2.5 million in damages against the government over his arrest and torture in 1998. This was the result of a civil suit he filed in March 1999, naming special branch officer Borhan Daud, the then Inspector General of Police Abdul Rahim Noor and the government as respondents.

It has been nine years since the chairperson of polls watchdog Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) was detained under the draconian Internal Security Act and he recollects every moment of it in an interview with Malaysiakini.

Here are some excerpts:

Can you relate to us what happened then - what did they do to you and how you felt?

When (former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim) was expelled by the government on allegations of immoral activities, there was widespread dissent among the people against the injustice of (Anwar’s arrest) and as a private citizen, I undertook to support the cause of justice for Anwar. I was among the many who were unhappy with how the government under Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) used and abused powers to expel Anwar, and I decided to show my support.

I was involved with the reformasi movement from the first day - on Sept 4, 1998. After the arrest of Anwar Ibrahim, I took the initiative to organise another massive gathering to demand the release of Anwar and the resignation of Mahathir and Inspector-General of Police Abdul Rahim Noor then. I led the gathering at Masjid Negara on Sept 25, five days after Anwar was arrested.

(Later that day) I was arrested at my home. It was about 10-11pm and I was staying in Ampang. I returned (home) in a car driven by a friend who dropped me (off) about 200 metres from my house and the police arrested me at the gate. I was handcuffed and forced to open the gate of my house by the arresting party led by ASP Borhan Daud.

First, he forced me to open (my house door) and of course I asked him, “Why are you handcuffing me?” and he said I was being arrested under the ISA. I asked, “Why do you need to handcuff me?” he said “ISA”, and I asked him “What's the reason for my arrest?” (and he said) “ISA”. He mentioned it like some mechanic and robotic answer that everything was (under the) ISA.

He then said he wanted to conduct a search in my house and I asked him where was the warrant. In fact, I asked for the warrant of arrest under the ISA. He said it was not necessary and I asked him why and he said well, ISA, and he said I should know that.

He wanted to search my house and I asked him where was the warrant of search and again, he said it was not necessary, and I asked him why, and he said (again) ISA. I called my kids and my family to open the door and the policemen went in with their shoes straightaway to the ground floor and the first floor of my house.

Then they went to my study room and ransacked and checked all my documents. He entered my master bedroom where my wife and children were sleeping. My wife was shocked and asked me what was happening and I showed her the handcuffs and when she asked me why, I said, “ISA”.

They confiscated some documents and they also recorded the documents. After 40 minutes in my house, they told me to leave with them. I was then asked where was my car. Borhan forced me to show him my car and I said I was driven by a friend and I was dropped about 200 metres away. I showed Borhan exactly the spot where I was dropped.

My friend had just left the scene. (Borhan) became so angry and irritated by my response that he slapped me there and then - the pain I can feel until today. There is this drizzling sound I am still hearing it now, until today. I think I have got more than 40-50 percent hearing loss in my left ear. When this was brought up in the courts, Borhan denied it.

After that, he forced me into the car, it was not a police car, it was an unmarked car. I was told to wear a certain (pair of) spectacles with blurred vision but then I realised that the frame here (on the left) was broken and I told them that it was broken and they told me to (take off) my specs, and one of the officers (took) off his black T-shirt and wrapped my whole head (inside it).

You can imagine the smell from the T-shirt which he must have worn from early morning and it was then midnight. It was so smelly. They forced me down inside the car. I knelt down and told not to look anywhere because they did not want me to know where I would be taken.

They drove, and about a few minutes later the car stopped at a location. I didn't know where. They then carried me up a staircase of a building which later turn out to be the (Kuala Lumpur Police Contingent headquarters).

They brought me to a room and I was told to sign a certain (piece of) paper which stated that I was arrested under the ISA prepared by Borhan - so Borhan was the arresting officer.

After that they told me to undress - to take off my shirt and my trousers. I thought that was okay because I knew ISA detainees would be given a special detention uniform - blue in colour - so I thought I would be given a new uniform.

(After) I undressed myself completely, suddenly an officer handcuffed me very tightly from the back and there were about six to eight officers in front of me in a small room on the first floor. I was handcuffed and they blindfolded me with two (pieces of) black cloth and I was completely disoriented. I did not know who they were so I guess they were all the arresting officers led by Borhan.

Then Borhan kicked and punched me, and I can hear his voice right in front of me ... I can recognise his voice. One officer took a hard object and hit me on the right leg, another officer hit me on the left leg and then they started punching my face. Then I was given a flying kick, a side kick...

Soon I fell unconscious for the first time, and they poured water and forced me to stand up again and I fell unconscious again - all a total of five times. And I also counted how many times I was hit by using my fingers - altogether it was 63 hits. After that I could not withstand it and I passed out. That was what I could recall consciously.

In one of those moments, I was hit by a very powerful punch and suddenly my blindfold dropped down and right in front of me was (Abdul) Rahim Noor who was wearing a red (boxing) glove. He was wearing an Indonesian batik (shirt), dark trousers and brown polished shoes. I could remember and I described that in court in detail.

And because the (blindfold) had fallen, I was shocked and he was also shocked because I could recognise him and he just ran away behind the door, and the officers all fled the scene because they did not want to be recognised. Then they turned me to the wall and blindfolded me again and the beating went on until I passed out.

When I regained consciousness, it was still before 4am. They told me to go to another room with the air-cond in full blast. I was still stripped naked and my body was aching from the beatings. The air-cond was right in the middle of the room, and for every couple of minutes they poured cold water on my head... I was shivering. They asked me whether I was cold and I said yes, and they poured more cold water until about 4.30 am. Then they stopped, no questions asked.

During that ordeal, Borhan asked me if I was thirsty after all the beatings and I said “Of course”. Then suddenly one person would be holding me from the back and another opening my mouth wide open with his fingers. They then poured this dirty, rancid tasting liquid into my mouth. It was urine and they told me it was urine. Their urine, not mine. They just peed between them and they forced into my mouth two cans of their urine.

When they asked if I was hungry or not, I said “Of course, I am hungry”. Borhan told his officers to prepare tahi anjing (dog faeces) for me. It was near to my mouth, I could smell the stench.

And he threatened me that he wanted to use the syringe which contains HIV virus to be injected into my body because I told him, “You better kill me. What's the point? What are you trying to prove? What are you doing here? Why are you so cruel?” I asked them. (He said) “Oh you wanna die, oh then we'll kill you slowly, we'll put the HIV virus into you”. Of course, they didn't do that.

After about 5am, they stopped the beatings. I think they were also tired and went home.

On Sept 26, by mid-afternoon I was taken to Bukit Aman and placed in solitary confinement only to see sunshine on the 28th day of my detention. So if you ask what's my feeling about that, (it was) very cruel and inhumane. (The police) are not human. I feel even animals have compassion. Even dogs know their masters and even dogs don't bite any other people. They are worst than dogs. If people say they are anjing kerajaan (government dogs), I think at that time they were worse then dogs.

How were you treated there (in Bukit Aman)?

I wasn't allow to contact anybody. A couple of days later before the 28th day, they asked if I wanted to see my family. Of course before meeting the family they would arrange a special session for me not to mention anything about what happened to me, not to give any hint that I was tortured and to show to the family that everything was okay and to convince my family (not to file) a habeas corpus (a court application challenging the detention) or else (I) will not be released. So the threat was there.

And I told my investigating officers in Bukit Aman that I was tortured in IPK (Kuala Lumpur Police Contingent headquarters) and I want to make a police report against Borhan, they said, “No, you don't need to - we have already taken action against Borhan”. Which was, of course, not true.

I was not given any opportunity to lodge any report, not given any opportunity to meet my lawyer, no access to my family and I was only given medical attention a couple of days later in Bukit Aman.

I told the doctor and he checked me and it was confirmed in the medical report about the bruises on the left leg, the right leg, the abdomen... I complained to Dr Vasantha Ponniah about what happened to me and she had testified in court about my condition based on the bruises that I sustained.

(The) Special Branch (police) methodology is (to) give harsh treatment on the first day as a very strong reminder to the detainees that things are going to be worse if we fail to give our cooperation. It's more psychological in nature. And of course in Bukit Aman it is already more institutionalised in terms of how they handle the detainees.

I was under solitary confinement, there was no sunshine, I did not know whether it was the morning, I did not know at all. On the 28th day, on the (day of) family visit when I was taken to IPK from Bukit Aman - I really appreciate the sunlight, it was wow, the beauty of the sunray. I tell you, it was beautiful.

What was interrogation like?

I was subjected to interrogation for 17 days on the third floor of the (Bukit Aman) building. They would ask me questions from the morning, afternoon, until evening and then sometimes, late in the night. Once when they were dissatisfied with what was going on outside where people were still gathering on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (and) in Kampung Baru, they were unhappy so they call me very late in the night for further interrogation until early morning.

During the course of the interrogation by Bukit Aman officers, the questions they asked day in and day out - questions about the reformasi movement, on Anwar Ibrahim, his relationship with this person and that person.

Then Nurul Izzah was meeting (deposed Philippines president Joseph) Estrada in the Philippines and (former US secretary of state) Madeline Albright. I was inside and the activities were outside, and they were asking me what was this Gerak (reformasi coalition) and that was formed, and about political reform, on PAS, on whether ISA should be abolished or not.

They denied me of utensils if they found I was not cooperative enough. (They would) pull out the mattress or take away the pillows. After the family visited, they told me I would only be detained for a month and they would release me. (They said) if I do not get the recommendation to release me, then they would extend it until the end, and it went on until the 57th day.

There were also days when they (did) nothing. They would send the food and at that time, I got food it was like packed rice and fish with maggots. That means it was done on purpose. I mean we were detainees and this food was supposed to be provided by the government ... this means the state had provided me with rotten food.

What happened after your release?

I was released on Nov 21 and subjected to some kind of monitoring ... appointed by the Special Branch to monitor my activities. I have to report to them and they even threatened me that I could even be re-arrested.

I must cooperate with them and the psychology was that they have the power to re-arrest me. So there was that constant fear in me of being re-arrested. It took me quite some time to gather the strength and courage to lodge a police report, and I arrived at that decision in March (1999).

What influenced me much more was when the government decided to form the royal commission on (Anwar’s black eye incident) when we read about the testimony of Dr Vasantha Ponniah. Then I remembered “Well, that's the lady who treated me”. I thought that was some help. I thought that with the formation of the royal commission there will be some space to make a complaint.

From then on (during the trial), when I was cross-examined in the court, they asked me why I took such a long time. Well, this is not a road accident. This is something you have been tortured, subjected to. You need to rebuild that courage back.

Were you scared? Did you ever feel like giving up?

I tried not to look scared although I was very scared. I feel the Special Branch (officers) are almost everywhere. (I felt) intimidated but to regain that, you have to meet people, and you have to talk to people. Slowly, I started to tell people (about) what (had) happened in detention.

They were really surprised. Then friends convinced me - why not I speak out, and in February I spoke in an event organised by (opposition alliance Malaysian People's Movement for Justice) Gerak by (the late former PAS president) Fadzil Noor in Kuala Lumpur's Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in February 1999.

I regained my courage and you have to make the most of the (police) report. And you have the understanding that you (would) be accused of making a false report. I have to prepare a very lengthy police report and very detailed and an affidavit to file for the civil suit.

How does your family feel about all this?

They are used to what I have been doing. They are very supportive of my activities. The fact that my children and wife knew that I’ve already resolved to report (on) activities for the rights of the people, political activities or social activism.

They've been very supportive in the sense that there has been no resentment from my family.

Friday, October 19, 2007

DAP’s Liu wins suit against police (From the PAST - 11/7/06)

DAP’s Liu wins suit against police
Andrew Ong
Jul 11, 06 5:37pm

The police have been ordered to compensate DAP central committee member Ronnie Liu RM21,220 for injuries suffered during his run-in with riot police in 1995.

Shah Alam Sessions Court judge Latifah Mohd Tahar allowed his claims with costs today, ending a nine-year wait for the case to be resolved.

Liu was awarded RM18,000 for aggravated damages, RM3,000 for general damages and RM220 for special damages on claims of injuries caused by assault and distress.

Latifah, however, did not allow a claim for exemplary damages as the actions of the defendants - Petaling Jaya district police chief and the Inspector-General of Police - were not characterised as oppression, arbitrary or against the Federal Constitution.

Before announcing the quantum of damages, the judge said she had considered the fact that the defendants had not disputed their vicarious liabilities.

“Even though powers were given (to the police), no one is above the law,” she said.

The courtroom was packed with DAP supporters and also several members of Kampung Taman Aman, who later garlanded Liu to celebrate his victory.

Liu was represented by Gobind Singh Deo and A Magesan.

Case for IPCMC

Approached later, Liu hoped that the judgment would remind the police not to abuse their powers in future.

“The police have the right to arrest, but not to beat up anyone in carrying out their duties,” said Liu.

He also said that his case reveals the urgent need for the Independent Police Misconduct and Complaints Commission to be set up, as proposed by a royal police commission.

According to his statement of claims filed in 1998, he was beaten by five baton-wielding Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) personnel at Kampung Taman Aman, Petaling Jaya during the demolition of squatter houses on Sept 18, 1995.

The area was being cleared to make way for the Paramount Garden LRT station.

He claimed he had approached one deputy supt Sulaiman, who was leading the five FRU personnel, for the court order in relation to the demolition.

However, Liu said they surrounded and beat him although he was unarmed. He claimed to have sustained injuries to the forearm, collarbone and abdomen and a six-inch laceration on the chin.

In their reply filed on March 16, 1999, the defendants alleged that Liu’s injuries were the result of self-negligence and that his words and actions had created pandemonium at the scene. They also alleged that he was trying to stop public servants from performing their duties.

The IGP at the time was Rahim Mohd Noor, while the Petaling Jaya OCPD was Johar Che Din.

Will Malek even see a single sen? (Malaysiakini)

Will Malek even see a single sen?
Oct 19, 07 4:06pm

How long would it take for the government to pay ISA detainee Abdul Malek Hussin RM2.5 million in damages awarded in court yesterday?

Judging from DAP central committee member Ronnie Liu's experience, the government is likely to drag its feet.

Liu was awarded RM21,220 on July 11 last year for injuries suffered at the hands of riot police in 1995 during a squatter demolition exercise in Kampung Taman Aman, Petaling Jaya.

“18 months have passed. I have yet to be compensated,” said Liu in a press statement to the media today.

Bloodied and bruised

Liu mentioned the government’s failure to fulfil the court’s decision in passing in his statement.

He also called for action to be taken against those responsible for his and Abdul Malek’s assault.

In Liu’s case, he had submitted to the courts that he was beaten by five baton-wielding riot police resulting in injuries to the forearm, collarbone, abdomen and a six-inch laceration on the chin.

Abdul Malek on the other hand claimed that he was beaten and sexually assaulted while naked and blind folded. He was awarded RM2.5 million by the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday.

In both cases, the courts were convinced that the plaintiffs were assaulted by police personnel.

Book those responsible

Liu said that it was regrettable that those responsible for the assaults were never brought to book.

He called on the government to form a Royal Commission of Inquiry to probe Abdul Malek's allegation of torture and abuse, including the role of then IGP Rahim Mohd Noor.

“No amount of money is sufficient to compensate for the losses incurred by the victims and their families,” said Liu, adding that a royal commission would discourage police personnel from engaging similar acts in the future.

“If the public continues to be silent on police assaults or tortures, they are shielding the police who breaks the law and justice cannot be upheld,” he added.

Ex-ISA detainee gets RM2.5 million (finak report)

Ex-ISA detainee gets RM2.5 million
Soon Li Tsin
Oct 18, 07 12:29pm

Ex-ISA detainee Abdul Malek Hussin, 51, today won a rare law suit against the government over his arrest and torture in 1998, and was awarded RM2.5 million in damages.

Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus in a landmark decision ruled that Abdul Malek’s arrest at the height of the reformasi demonstrations was unlawful and that he was assaulted under custody.

“The arrest and detention were made in bad faith under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution.

“The nature of interrogation was clearly for a political purpose and had nothing to do with genuine concern for national security,” Hishamudin told a packed courtroom.

Abdul Malek, was arrested under the Internal Security Act - which allows for detention without trial - on the night of Sept 25, 1998, after addressing a demonstration earlier that afternoon in Masjid Negara.

This was following the sacking and arrest of Anwar Ibrahim, who was then deputy prime minister.

Abdul Malek was detained under the draconian security law for 57 days before he was released without being charged.

He filed his civil suit in March 1999, naming special branch officer Borhan Daud, the then Inspector General of Police Abdul Rahim Noor and the government as respondents.

Abdul Malek had previously testified that he was stripped naked in an air-conditioned room, blindfolded during interrogation, physically assaulted up to 60 times, beaten until he was unconscious, forced to drink urine and subjected to sexual abuse.

He also testified that he saw Rahim punching him at his chin in the interrogation room when his blindfold accidentally dropped.

On the assault and battery claims, Hishamudin said he was convinced that it took place after major contradictions were found in the defendants’ witnesses compared to Abdul Malek’s “consistent statements”.

Ex-IGP slammed

He also opined that the public prosecutor’s refusal to prosecute Abdul Malek for making false claims against Rahim implied that there was some truth in his claims.

“Both the DPP and police knew there was a lot of truth in the plaintiff’s report of assault against the IGP... it shows his report was not a sham,” he said.

The court also ruled that it was unconstitutional for Abdul Malek to be denied access to his lawyer.

When making his decision on the award of exemplary damages, Hishamudin made strong statements about Rahim’s conduct as IGP in dealing with Abdul Malek’s case.

“The despicable conduct of the then IGP Rahim Noor was shameful and a disgrace that shows a bad example to the department of men under his charge.

“The award of exemplary damages for the plaintiff is to show the abhorrence of the courts against the gross abuse of power by the police and the use of the ISA,” he asserted.

Outside the courtroom, Abdul Malek was greeted with cheers from supporters including Abolish ISA Movement (GMI) chairperson Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, rights group Suaram's Yap Swee Seng and corruption watchdog Gerak chairperson Ezam Mohd Noor.

Abdul Malek’s wife, Faridah Ishak, and two of their children were also present (right).

Bring officers to book

Abdul Malek, who is currently the chairperson of polls watchdog Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel), expressed his happiness over the court decision.

However, he said the judgment was not about the monetary compensation but bringing the police officers involved in his torture to justice.

“It’s very traumatic, I tell you. It is not just enough with monetary compensation. Those who tortured me have now gone scot-free and some are promoted.

“Many officer have lied in court and gave false testimonies. Those officers involved in the torture should be investigated again. They do not deserve to serve in the force anymore,” he told the press.

He said he was considering to lodge police report with police headquarters Bukit Aman to investigate the torture and abuse of power by these officers.

Abdul Malek also called for the abolition of the ISA saying that “it has no reason to exist in the country”.

Lawyers R Sivarasa (photo, right) and M Mogananambal appeared for Abdul Malek while senior federal counsel Isnan Ishak represented the defendants.

It is unclear if the defendants will appeal the decision as Isnan refused to speak to the press.

Landmark decision

Attorneys for Abdul Malek said it was the first time that a Malaysian court had awarded significant compensation to a political detainee for illegal detention and abuse.

Sivarasa said the verdict was a wake-up call for the government.

"This decision should give fresh impetus to the government to set up the long-needed Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to investigate such abuses and this has yet to happen," he told AFP.

Groups campaigning against the ISA, which allows for indefinite detention without trial, also welcomed the move.

"This sends a message to the government that you cannot entertain such abuse and assault against individuals," said Abolish ISA chairman Syed Ibrahim.

"It is good that exemplary damages were given as you really cannot justify the Internal Security Act. Any kind of detention without trial can be opened up to abuse," he added.

In an immediate response, Amnesty International Malaysia called on the government to abolish the ISA, which it said was an "arbitrary law that creates a climate for torture and ill-treatment".

It said the court verdict "confirms that torture and ill-treatment" occurs in Malaysia under draconian internal security laws that allow for indefinite detention without trial.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Malek gets RM2.5 million for ISA arrest (Malaysiakini)

Malek gets RM2.5 million for ISA arrest
Oct 18, 07 12:29pm

Ex-ISA detainee Abdul Malek Hussin today won his legal suit against the government over his arrest and torture in 1998, and was awarded RM2.5 million in damages.

Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that Abdul Malek’s arrest at the height of the reformasi demonstrations was unlawful and that he was assaulted under custody.

The court also ruled that he was denied access to his lawyer.

Abdul Malek was arrested under the Internal Security Act on the night of Sept 25, 1998 after addressing a demonstration earlier that afternoon in Masjid Negara.

In his suit, he accused the police of severely assaulting him, physically and mentally.

In his statutory declaration, Abdul Malek said he was slapped, kicked and punched, and was hit so hard on the head until he passed out.

He was also stripped naked, forced fed dirty and stinking water and subjected to sexual abuse.

Parents irked by school's costume ruling (NST)

Parents irked by school's costume ruling

Thursday, 18 October 2007, 09:23am

©New Straits Times

SEREMBAN: The parents of several non-Muslim students of SMK Datuk Sedia Raja in Rembau are unhappy that their children are required to wear traditional Malay costumes for a school function next month.

One of the parents, G. Rajendran, of Taman Koperasi Chembong in Rembau, said he was shocked to learn that the school had made it compulsory for non-Muslim students participating in the school's certificate presentation ceremony on Nov 5 to wear baju kurung, baju melayu and songkok.

"There are six male and eight female Indian students involved in the ceremony. The reason given by the school is to make the ceremony more uniform."

He said the parents were against the move because the students had their own customs, beliefs and traditional costumes.

"The school needs to be more sensitive in this matter."

He said this was not the first time the school had come up with such a decision as previously the school's Red Crescent Society had compelled non-Muslim female members to wear the tudung during a march.

Yesterday, several parents submitted a memorandum to the Negri Sembilan Education Department to protest against the school's decision.

"Only a few of the parents signed the memorandum because they are worried that the school might take action against the students, who will be sitting the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination this year," Rajendran said.

State Education Department director Datuk Mohd Yasin Mohd Yunus declined to comment on the matter.

Efforts to contact the school's principal, Datin Azimah Alis, as well as other senior assistants proved unsuccessful because of the school holidays.

Monday, October 08, 2007

17 years on, Penang Indians 'have nothing' (Mkini)

17 years on, Penang Indians 'have nothing'
Athi Veeranggan
Oct 8, 07 12:12pm

When the standard of living among some sections of Indian Malaysians falls lower than that of foreign workers in the country, tough questions have to be asked.

And community leaders are asking the questions - with plenty of scepticism, too - in the wake of a Penang government pledge to lend a “strong helping hand” to some 150,000 Indian Malaysians in the state.

Last week, Chief Minister Dr Koh Tsu Koon said a comprehensive policy would be drawn up to upgrade the standard of living of the community.

But with speculation growing that a snap election could be called by March next year, community leaders wonder if Koh is attempting to make up lost ground and if the decision only amounts to an election gimmick.

United Hindu Religious Council president G Mugunthan said Koh should have kick-started such a policy when he was sworn as the state’s third chief minister 17 years ago - not now.

"Since Gerakan took over the Penang chief ministership after the 1969 general election, Indians have been marginalised, sidelined and discriminated against. They have not reaped the benefits of economic prosperity enjoyed by the state over the past three decades,” he said.

"The community now lagged far behind others, including even foreign workers."

National Silambam Association Penang branch treasurer L Balasupramaniyam also claimed that migrant workers from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia are far better off than the majority of Indian Malaysians in Penang.

He said Koh will not need feedback from Indian grassroots leaders to formulate and execute the policy because “it’s open for all to see that Indians are the most marginalised community in the state and country”.

“It’s shocking that it has taken 17 years for the Penang chief minister to realise this," he said.

Koh had announced the policy when officiating the People's Progressive Party state annual general meeting, and had called on local Indian leaders to provide feedback to assist the state government.

This is not the first such announcement. Two years ago, he said the state government would set up a special fund to provide soft loans at a low interest rate to Indians to finance business ventures; further their education at either public or private tertiary institutions or to acquire vocational skills; expand property ownership; and increase their economic stake. The fund has yet to materialise.

Difficulties confirmed

The Penang government has long been aware of the Indian Malaysian community’s difficulties.

In 1997, it commissioned and funded a study on the socio-economic status of Indians. More than RM100, 000 was spent on a survey conducted by the Socio-Economic and Environment Research Institute (Seri).

Between November 1997 and February 1999, it polled 3,100 Penang Indian households in 27 residential areas, focusing on employment and income distribution; participation in the corporate, professional and business sectors; social development; youth and children; housing and community facilities; and education and skills.

The findings of the study told an appalling story of neglect:

• 80,000 or 60 percent were wage earners in the lower income brackets.

• Average monthly income was between RM500 and RM1, 000 per household.

• Seven percent were living in hardcore poverty.

• About 80 percent in the manufacturing industry, Penang’s biggest revenue earning sector, were low-level workers.

• Involvement in the tourism sector, the state’s second highest revenue earner, was virtually non-existent.

• About 50 percent of private companies did not have a single Indian employee.

• The share in paid-up capital investments in the state were a mere 0.2 percent.
• The majority were indulged in traditional businesses due to lack of funds, bureaucratic red tape, racial discrimination and difficulty in securing loan.

• Nearly 30 percent were squatters or living on temporary occupation licence (TOL) land.

• About 75 percent of pupils in 28 Tamil primary schools had failed to achieve the minimum pass-mark of `C' in all six subjects in the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah public examination.

• At secondary level, 80 percent of pupils had stopped schooling after Form Five.

• Many Indians were involved in alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence and child abuse.

• Nearly 40 percent of the state’s suicide cases involved Indians.

Publicity stunt?

Although the state government then announced it would use the Seri report as the foundation of a comprehensive policy to upgrade standard of living for the community, there has been no follow-up action.

Mugunthan said the findings were unambiguous that Indians lag far behind other communities because of unequal distribution of state wealth.

Balasupramaniyam pointed out that 50 years of independence and capitalism have not done the community any good.

He said the state government has yet to start a comprehensive programme to increase Indian share in the state economic pie and improve academic achievement by investing in physical infrastructure and teaching facilities in Tamil schools.

Discrimination in terms of jobs and salary, especially in the private sector, has affected the livelihood of several generations of Indian Malaysians, he claimed.

“It’s clear that Koh’s recent announcement is only to fish Indian votes. He knows that the majority are disgusted and disillusioned with the Gerakan-led state government," he said, pointing out that the need is to redress the imbalance instead of carrying out frequent publicity stunts for political mileage.

"Otherwise, the state will soon have a large pool of impoverished people, dominated by Indians. The symptoms are there. This could trigger serious social problems," he warned.