Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CIJ calls on Malaysian government to enact a Freedom of Information law

Media Statement on International Right to Know Day

September 28, 2009

CIJ calls on governments to enact FOI law

As pressure for public accountability increases, the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) calls on the governments of the Federal and State administrations to immediately enact a Freedom of Information law to open up the information regime of public bodies.

In commemorating the International Right to Know Day that has been celebrated globally on 28 September since 2002, CIJ takes this opportunity to remind the governments of their responsibilities towards citizens by being transparent and accountable in the public decision making process. The exposure of possible maladministration and corruption in a number of high profile cases in the last year alone makes the FOI law more urgent for Malaysia, where secrecy laws are enforced widely.

According to freedom of information advocates, at least 90 countries and territories around the world have laws giving members of the public the right to ask for an receive information from public bodies.

Right to information is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but it is not a guarantee under the Malaysian Federal Constitution. In its place, the Official Secrets Act sets the framework in which the government has been operating since 1972, one where the culture of secrecy rules.

The absence of a freedom of information legislation has allowed for abuses to take place in the public sector, and as global watchdogs have noted, contributing to serious corruption levels in the key institutions such as the executive, legislature, judiciary and the corporate sector.

CIJ has been working closely with non-governmental organisations in the last four years to draft a Freedom of Information Bill and since 2008, pushed the draft law for enactment by the Selangor state government under the Pakatan Rakyat rule through the Coalition of Good Governance. The coalition is a group of NGOs that came together in the post-12th general elections to strategise on democratic reforms for Selangor. CIJ is hopeful that the draft law will be tabled at the legislative assembly meeting in November this year.

CIJ demands that Parliament and the state legislative assemblies in all 13 states table a freedom of information law immediately and radically transform the way they should be accountable to the citizens.

Released by

Gayathry Venkiteswaran

Executive Director

Saturday, September 26, 2009

23 Groups Joint Statement : Leptospirosis Causes Death Of Another 6 Burmese In Detention In Malaysia - Denial Of Healthcare....

Joint Statement - 25/9/2009



We are shocked and disappointed to hear that another six Burmese migrants have died while in detention in Malaysia because of a suspected waterborne disease. Leptospirosis is caused by exposure to water contaminated by animal urine, like rat urine. (Straits Times, 25/9/2009, Migrants die in detention/ Associated Press, 24/9/2009).

From our investigation, the names of 3 of those who have died are So Thein [Prison Body number 0853, Block B1, Ethnicity: Burman, Age: 36], Min Khaing [Body number 5009, Ethnicity: Karen, Age: 23] and Min Nown [Ethnicity: Arkan, Age: 28]. The other 3 are of Chin ethnicity. It seems that the deaths happened in August.

This time the deaths seem to have occurred at the Detention Centre at the KL International Airport (KLIA) depot. The Straits Times report states that an official had informed them that ‘…the detainees likely contracted the disease in another centre. They were transferred together with some 700 others after a riot there...’. In an earlier report (Star, 24/7/2009), it was stated that ‘…some 700 Myanmar illegal immigrants involved in a ruckus at the Semenyih immigration depot early this month have been moved to the department’s KL International Airport (KLIA) depot…’

It must be noted that this is not the first case of death by reason of Leptospirosis. Sa La Hin, 26, and Thang Hoih Ping, 21, two Burmese migrants, died in the Malaysia’s Juru Immigration Detention Centre from Leptospirosis in May 2009. 127 civil society groups and organizations responded vide a joint statement entitled ‘Death Of 2 Burmese Indicative Of State Of Detention Places In Malaysia - Denial Of Healthcare Is A Violation Of Right To Life’.

Complaints were also lodged with the Malaysia’s Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM), Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak,, Minister of Home Affairs Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, and the Minister of Health Dato' Sri Liow Tiong Lai,

After that Leptospirosis outbreak in the Juru Detention Centre in Penang in May, the Immigration Director-General Abdul Rahman assured us that the cleanliness and hygiene at immigration depots nationwide will be stepped-up to ensure safety of staff and inmates there against contracting infectious diseases (Bernama, 19/5/2009).

SUHAKAM also vide letter dated 16/7/2009 had informed us that they had met with the Director General of Immigration on 4/6/2009, and amongst others, had recommended that ‘… as a measure to control contagious diseases to ensure that all immigration detention centres should have a doctor or medical officer in line with international requirements, and that cleanliness of detention centres should be taken care of.’

It must also be borne in mind that last year SUHAKAM identified medical care as an overriding reason why 1,300 detainees have died over the past six years, and had made recommendations to the government. At present the 22 centres throughout Malaysia do not have a permanent clinical dispensary manned by doctors or a medical assistant to help detainees. (ABC News, 28/5/2009)

In May 2009, it was reported that about 26 were admitted to hospital following a Leptospirosis outbreak in the Juru Detention Centre, and they survived, and this leads us to believe that prompt access to healthcare can avoid death. It is shocking that in this recent case, 6 have died. What is more disturbing is that there seem to have been no reported disclosure by the Malaysian authorities on this. We still do not know the number of detainees that have been affected this time.

This is a disease caused by exposure to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals, and is very rarely propagated through contact with affected persons. Question must be raised as to how detainees in an enclosed detention centre are contracting this disease. Are they being affected through the food and water supplied by the detention centres? Are the detention centres having a rat infestation problem?

After the recent deaths and outbreak in the Juru Detention Centre, one would have expected the Malaysian government to have taken immediate steps to ensure that there are no more cases of Leptospirosis outbreak and deaths. We wonder also whether the authorities took a lackadaisical attitude, and did not even conduct a thorough investigation to determine the source of the contamination that caused that outbreak. Results of such investigations will not only determine liability, but would also ensure that further deaths from Leptospirosis could be avoided.

We, the undersigned, call on the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) to immediately commence a public inquiry into these deaths and detention places generally, and come up with concrete recommendations which could be implemented that will improve state of cleanliness, hygiene and healthcare of all detention places in Malaysia. It was sad that SUHAKAM decided not to carry out a public inquiry after the Juru deaths in May.

We are also call upon the Ministry of Health and the government of Malaysia to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of this Leptospirosis outbreak, which is reported to have already resulted in 6 deaths.

We also call for the resignation of Immigration Director-General Abdul Rahman, considering that this is second reported case of deaths by reason of Leptospirosis at Immigration Detention Centres within the last 4 months.

The Malaysian government must take necessary action to ensure that proper steps be taken so that such disregard for life does not happen again.

With regard to those who have died, their family and/or dependents should be given adequate compensation by the persons responsible, the detaining authority and the Malaysian government.

Officers and persons responsible for the acts or omissions that resulted in death and suffering should be charged and prosecuted for these crimes. They should not be permitted to hide behind safeguards provided to public servants, which unfortunately only promotes culture of impunity with no sense of responsibility and respect for human life.

Charles Hector

Pranom Somwong

Tun Tun

For and on behalf of the 23 organizations/groups listed below:-

Asian Migrant Centre (AMC)

Burma Campaign, Malaysia

Clean Clothes Campaign -International Secretariat

Coordination of Action Research on AIDS & Mobility (CARAM -Asia)

FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights

Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Organization (Cambodia)

Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW) Cambodia

MADPET (Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture)

MAP Foundation, Thailand

Mekong Migration Network (MMN)

Mekong Ecumenical Partnership Program-MEPP

Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA)

National League for Democracy [NLD (LA)], Malaysia

Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM)

Nepal Institute of Development Studies (NIDS) Nepal

Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)

Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor

Persatuan Masyarakat Malaysia & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)

Pusat Komas

The Shan Refugee Organization (SRO) Malaysia

Thai Action Committees for Democracy in Burma (TACDB)

The Action Network for Migrants (ANM) Thailand

Workers Hub for Change (WH4C)

Friday, September 25, 2009

So, does this mean Najib will make Malaysian Makkal Sakti part of the BN soon?

Makkal Sakthi means "People Power" or in Bahasa Melayu, 'Kuasa Rakyat'.

That was the call when tens of thousands of Malaysian Indians took to the street on 24/11/2007, and the reason, I believe, was because they felt that they have been given a raw deal by the Malaysian government - i.e. the UMNO-led BN government.

The response to this peaceful expression of discontent was tear gas, water cannons, etc ( see that video footage at the bottom of this Blog page).

Then there was the arrest of Uthayakumar and several leaders under that draconian ISA..the 'banning' of HINDRAF (Hindu Rights Action Force) - the name that this movement came to be known as. There was also a 'ban' on the usage of orange (or saffron) coloured clothing, which came to be associated with this movement.

It is still the same UMNO-led BN government that rules Malaysia - and the man who is the PM was the Deputy PM then....and now he apparently has been invited to the launch of a new political party called the 'Malaysian Makkal Sakti' party - and the PM has apparently accepted.

Interesting how easily and speedily this 'Malaysian Makkal Sakti' party got its registration when it really is quite difficult to get a political party registered in Malaysia. Ask the Parti Sosialis Malaysia how long it took....

Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), a political party claiming to represent Malaysian Indians, being one of the original partners with UMNO and the MCA of the political coalition now known as the BN, is certainly not going to be very happy with the PM going for a launch of this new party, who by name may likely be a party whose majority will be Malaysian Indians.

Would not the going to this launch be a slap on the face of Samy Velu and the MIC? Maybe, Najib may soon invite 'Malaysian Makkal Sakti' party to join the Barisan Nasional.

Well, this would not be the first time for MIC - for this also happened when PPP (whose members were majority Malaysian Indians were allowed to join BN)

With regards to MCA, the UMNO-led BN weakened its claim to be the party representing Malaysian Chinese by the bringing in of GERAKAN (a majority Malaysian Chinese party).

Will any Malay party...or Malay majority party be invited into the BN family...I think not.

UMNO still can claim (within the BN coalition, that is) that it represents the Malaysian Malays..

But, alas MCA can no longer make a similar claim with regard the Malaysian Chinese...

But, alas MIC can also no longer make such a claim when it comes to Malaysian Indians..

Do we still want and need ethnic based parties in Malaysia? After 52 years, Malaysians are no longer drawn to ethnic-based parties... they would like to move on to be Malaysian - to have political parties based on principles and values. They prefer to move away from that 'divide and rule' policies inherited and propagated by the UMNO, MCA, MIC ...and the BN.

The concern now is about justice, equality, rights, democracy, accountability, transparency, anti-corruption, ...

And there is now options available to the people of Malaysia... or are there? Pakatan Rakyat....

Makkal Sakti was a call heard at most of the Pakatan Rakyat ceramah - sometimes made just to give the impression that there is concern for the Malaysian Indians..

Makkal Sakti...REFORMASI calls and chants must not remain such but must be translated into real changes...or they are just 'shouts'...

One thing for sure is that Najib and the UMNO-led BN is all out to regain lost seats and power...

KLANG: The Prime Minister has accepted the invitation to launch the newly-formed Malaysia Makkal Sakti Party on Oct 10.

Party secretary-general Kannan Ramasamy said the Prime Minister accepted the invitation in late August to be the guest-of-honour at the party’s official launch scheduled to be held at 10am at the Malaysia Agricul-tural Exposition Park in Serdang.

“We are happy that he has accepted the invitation and we feel it is a good start for us with the Prime Minister launching our party,” said Kannan.

The party, which was officially registered early this year, is a splinter group of the outlawed Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) which organised anti-government rallies in November 2007.

Although a large number of pioneering Hindraf members appeared to still be anti-establishment, Kannan and party president R. S. Thanenthiran ‑ both Hindraf coordinators ‑ have made peace with the Government. - Star, 25/9/2009 - PM to launch Makkal Sakti on Oct 10

Leptospirosis causes death of 6 migrants at another Detention Centre in Malaysia

Well, another 6 migrants have died of Leptospirosis in a Malaysian Detention Centre, most likely the the KL International Airport (KLIA) depot. And we find out about this from an Associated Press report, and a Straits Times (Singapore) report....Wonder why our Malaysian media did not report this.

Leptospirosis is caused by water contaminated by diseased animal urine. This time, they say it is rat urine.

There are in a government Detention Centre - and we wonder about the state of cleanliness and hygiene there. Do they have a rat problem there?

Further, this is a Detention Centre at the KL International Airport (KLIA) - and does this also reflect on the state of cleanliness and hygiene at KLIA. Should we start advising users of the airport to stop drinking water there? Should we start telling them to not come into contact with water in the airport?

Leptospirosis very rarely is transmitted by contact with a human person suffering from Leptospirosis...Hence, we really have to ask why 6 people (and 2 earlier in May in Juru Detention Centre) died by reason of Leptospirosis. [See:126 groups:- Death of 2 Burmese Indicative of State of Detention Places in Malaysia - Denial of Healthcare Is a Violation of Right to Life ]

KUALA LUMPUR (Malaysia) - AN OFFICIAL says six Myanmar migrants have died while in detention in Malaysia because of a suspected waterborne disease caused by rat urine.

The immigration department official says the six men - detained for being in Malaysia illegally - fell ill last month. They died in hospital days later. All six had complained of severe internal aches.

The official said on Friday the detainees were believed to have contracted leptospirosis, a disease from water contaminated by rat urine.

He said the detainees likely contracted the disease in another centre. They were transferred together with some 700 others after a riot there.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing protocol. -- AP- Straits Times, 25/9/2009, Migrants die in detention

A related report in Star shows that these deaths most likely happened KLIA Detention Centre.

SEPANG: Some 700 Myanmar illegal immigrants involved in a ruckus at the Semenyih immigration depot early this month have been moved to the department’s KL International Airport (KLIA) depot.

They would be under strict monitoring for at least a month, KLIA depot commandant Shainurin Shaari told The Star here yesterday.

He added that so far, they had been behaving well.

“We also provide them with extra food of their choice (which the detainees pay for themselves) and we allow phone calls and visits from family and friends,” he said.

Staff of Amnesty International visiting the immigration depot in Sepang.

“If they continue to behave well, we will allow them to carry out their own activities, such as gotong-royong, and to play carroms outside the dormitories.”

Those who display aggressive behaviour would be isolated in separate holding cells for two to three days.

The riot in Semenyih on July 1 was because “a few bad apples” instigated the detainees to act aggressively, resulting in fences, control posts and four detention blocks suffering extensive damage.

“Some of them were frustrated because it took a long time to process their documents. They were riled up and influenced the others,” Shainurin said.

“Many of them are frustrated because of documentation problems.

“The Myanmar embassy failed to recognise their nationality, so they are stuck here, he added.”

Shainurin said to hasten their repatriation, the department planned to obtain the necessary documents even as those convicted of illegal entry were still serving prison time.

The process could start as early as two weeks before they were due for release.

Currently, processing of documents begins only after an inmate is released.

“The new system will prepare them for repatriation once they are out of prison.

“This will also reduce the number of detainees in the depot as there will be no need for them to return here,” he said. - Star, 24/7/2009, 700 illegals involved in ruckus moved to another depot

Monday, September 21, 2009

Caring Malaysia must improve wages, working conditions and rights of domestic workers...and other workers

What should be a fair wage for full-time domestic workers? How much is fair for working 7-days a week 24 hours a day?

With one rest day per week, it would be 6 days a week, 24 hours a day?

Why should they be required to work for 24 hours a day - maybe they should be working 8 hours a day...just like all other workers, and what are the hours that they need to work should be worked out between employer and domestic worker...

Example:- Morning 5.30 am - 7.30am (2 hours)
Morning 9.30am - 1.30pm (4 hours)
Evening 6pm - 8pm (2 hours)

If the employer requires the domestic worker to work for more than 8 hours per day, then the worker shall be paid overtime hourly rate, and the maximum number of hours per day should be fixed.

Put yourself in the shoes of the domestic worker, and ask what will be the fair and just salary. Some say RM1,000... some say RM1,200 .. RM800....RM500

I believe that there must be no discrimination of rates of wages based on the nationality or the ethnicity of the domestic worker...

I believe that there should be MINIMUM wages stipulated in law - but actual wages shall be determined by the employer and the domestic worker.

The employment act be amended, and the domestic worker shall be entitled to all rights and protections as provided in that law for workers.

There must be a new law which stipulate the minimum standards of housing/living conditions of a live-in domestic worker.

The problem now is that there are just too many AGENTS involved...and that is why the cost of employing a domestic worker is so high..., and the governments can do something to reduce all this extra cost. People pay RM7,000 to RM7,500 to these 'middle man' - WHY?

Do not speculate on the minimum salary for Indonesian maids as the matter has not been agreed upon by the two governments, said Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam.

“I cannot be responding to press comments and releases. We have to go through the official channel from the Indonesian government.

“So far, the salary issue has not been discussed in the meetings between both sides,” he said when met at the Seri Perdana Hari Raya open house hosted by the Prime Minister and Cabinet on Sunday.

The salary issue he said, would be discussed during the next meeting between the Indonesian and Malaysians officers scheduled for next month.

“I have told my officers to resolve this issue in the next meeting.

“We want all sides to stop speculating. There is no point as speculation does not help anyone at all.

“I hope things will be solved in a conducive manner for all,” he added.

There had been speculations and various statement issued as to what the new salary scheme would be like for Indonesian maids with some reports quoting the figure as RM800 while others stating that it would be RM500 per month.

On charges imposed by agencies on maids, Dr Subramaniam said discussions were ongoing to streamline the charges.

“The suggestion from the Malaysian side is to reduce the difference in a few categories but discussions are ongoing.

“We will try and reduce the charge to an appropriate level for employers that need maids.

“At present, some agencies are asking for RM7,000 while some want RM7,500. We need to streamline and reach a realistic figure,” he added.- Star, 21/9/2009, Indonesian maids salaries: Don’t speculate, says Subra

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bar Council Press Release: Lack of political will to uphold rights of indigenous peoples

Malaysian Bar Council

Press Release

Lack of political will to uphold rights of indigenous peoples

The Malaysian Bar is disappointed at the Government’s continuing lack of political will to promote and protect the welfare and rights of indigenous peoples throughout Malaysia. The Government’s inaction makes a mockery of its vote in favour of adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007 (“the UN Declaration”).

Most recently, the Government refused to make public the report of the National Task Force established to investigate the allegations of sexual abuse against Penan women and girls. This refusal flouts democratic principles of transparency and accountability. The Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development finally made the report publicly available only after pressure from various interest groups.

We are further disappointed that despite the Inspector-General of Police’s pledge of full support for a joint police-NGO investigative mission, the Sarawak police have now reportedly stated that the funds allocated for the project are not sufficient to fund the participation of NGO representatives.

The sexual abuse faced by the Penans is but one of a multitude of human rights violations that indigenous communities face on an ongoing basis, and which are inextricably inter-linked. Most indigenous persons are not able to fully enjoy their fundamental human rights because their traditions, customs and values are being eroded and their needs have been long neglected.

A crucial first step for the Government, in fulfilling its state obligation, is to formally recognise, protect and guarantee the right of indigenous peoples to their ancestral lands throughout the country and to gazette such ancestral lands as reserved areas for them. If necessary, land laws must be amended to achieve this.

We are concerned that many indigenous communities still live without basic amenities and infrastructure. It is within the context of the deprivation of their rights to ancestral lands and access to basic services that indigenous peoples have become vulnerable to sexual abuse and other violations of human rights. We strongly urge the Government to perform its duty by taking concrete steps to improve the welfare of indigenous peoples.

Finally, we denounce the wholly unnecessary arrest of 15 Sarawakian indigenous leaders on 16 September, who were reportedly detained as they attempted to deliver a memorandum to the Chief Minister to protest the building of hydro-electric dams that would adversely affect their communities.

The manner in which our nation deals with the needs and rights of these communities is a reflection of our commitment to democracy and human rights. In this, our leaders have failed.

Change is possible. More can, and must, be done.

We therefore echo our earlier call, made in a resolution that was unanimously adopted at the Malaysian Bar’s 63rd Annual General Meeting on 15 March 2009, that the Federal and State Governments, as well as all public and private enterprises and individuals, respect and protect the rights of indigenous peoples pursuant to the UN Declaration, and not act in any manner inconsistent with those rights.

Ragunath Kesavan
Malaysian Bar

18 September 2009

Good if Hisha­mmuddin expresses similar sentiments when persons are shot dead by police in Malaysia, as he did for Nordin Md Top (alleged terrorist)

I am amazed at how our Home Minister is so concerned about that 'shoot to kill' incident of a Malaysian in Indonesia. How he laments about what happened...stating that it could have been handled differently - i.e. that he could have been rehabilitated. (All this is according to the Star Report)

Is it not hypocritical that this same Minisiter, who is responsible for the Malaysian police, do not seem to have expressed similar sentiments when Malaysian police have killed so many in 'shoot to kill'. Surely, those alleged criminals shot dead by Malaysian police could also be rehabilitated...

Terrorist Noor­din Md Top, who was shot dead by Indonesian police, could have been rehabilitated.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hisha­mmuddin Tun Hussein said he was sad to hear about the death.

“What he did was wrong. We don’t condone what he did. I am sad that we did not get to rehabilitate him, like we have done with many others, including Jemaah Islamiah militants.

“I am sad because a life is a life,” he told reporters after watching personnel from the police, Rela, Civil Defence Department and Rescue and Safety Department carry out Ops Sikap at the Jalan Duta toll here.

Noordin, a militant mastermind who eluded capture for nine years and terrorised Indonesia with a string of deadly bombings, was killed during a shoot-out in central Indonesia yesterday.

Hishammuddin said the Government would help Noordin’s family bring the body back after the authorities completed their investigations.

He said Noordin’s identity had been confirmed through a fingerprint check but a DNA test would be conducted to verify the result.

Hishammuddin said Malaysia had cooperated with all parties, including Indonesia, in cross-border crime, but added that Malaysia had no part in yesterday’s raid. - Star, 18/9/2009, Hisham: Noordin could have been rehabilitated

And, what rehabilitation is our Home Minister talking about? If he is talking about detaining them under the ISA or other detention without trial law...surely that is certainly not 'rehabilitation' - but torture...and a violation of human rights. Detaining persons without even giving them a chance to defend themselves in an open trial is very wrong.

If one is interested in rehabilitation, then you must first give the person a fair trial, and after he pleads guilty...or is found guilty after a trial ...then, you can start your process of rehabilitation, and that too if the said person want you to do so.

It is also very wrong to brand people as criminals or terrorists... for all is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The Star is wrong in using the term "Terrorist Noor­din Md Top" - and rightly should use the term 'suspected terrorist' or 'alleged terrorist'.

I hope our Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hisha­mmuddin Tun Hussein, will also have similar sentiments when persons are shot dead by Malaysian police. In fact, it would be good to hear the Minister publicly call upon the Malaysian police to try to arrest persons alive...

Some incidents of 'shoot to kill' reported in the media that I saw in August 2009...

24/8/2009 - Star, 24/8/2009, Four Indonesian robbers killed by police

21/8/2009 - Star, 21/8/2009, Two robbers shot dead in Klang

11/8/2009 - - Star, 11/8/2009, Four wanted Indonesians killed by police

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Only 5 released - Release the hundreds who still are in Detention under ISA and other Detention Without Trial Laws...

It is so wrong for innocent men to have been detained for so long... 7 years

Yes, they are innocent for everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law...after a fair hearing... with the opportunity to defend oneself.

Under the ISA, you can only go to court to challenge the procedural stuff - i.e. whether the Minister signed the Detention Order, etc - you do not have the avenue to challenge the absurd reason for the deprivation of your liberty...

And, it all depends on the Minister... A Home Minister can literally jail any person he does not like.... even someone who may be wooing his daughter. And no one can question the Minister's reasons...

That is why this draconian ISA and other laws that allow for Detention Without Trial must be abolished....

And now the Home Minister announces the release of these 5 people - as though he has done something great... and expects 'praises' for releasing victims of a great injustice...

Guess what.... it will not be total freedom. The Minister is going to impose conditions....

Just release them unconditionally ....

In fact, release all who are under the ISA and the other laws that allow for Detention Without Trial, ....and also the Restricted Residence Act. Remove also all persons who are not in detention ... but who are not free by reason of all kinds of restrictions and conditions...

The government should also pay them compensation for their loss of freedom...pain and sufferings..

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein announced that five Internal Security Act detainees, who have been detained for up to seven years, will be released with certain conditions later today.

NONETwo of them have been in detention since 2002 and the remaining three since 2007 for alleged involvement in terrorist movement Jemaah Islamiah.

The five are Mat Sah Mohd Satray (left), Abdullah Daud, Mohd Nasir Ismail @ Hassan, Ahmad Kamil Md Hanapiah and Muhammad Amir Md Hanapiah.

Mat Sah and Abdullah were detained in April 2002 while the other three in May 2007.

Mat Sah was a technician at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka and originally said to be a member of Kumpulan Militant Malaysia, and later alleged to be a JI member. He was arrested on April 18, 2002.

Abdullah meanwhile was a lecturer at UTM Johor and was arrested on Jan 3, 2002 for allegedly being a JI member as well.

A Hari Raya gift, nothing to do with by-election

In announcing their release today, Hishammuddin said they were being released as they have been fully rehabilitated.

azlan"They responded well to our rehabilitation process and expressed their regret for being involved in their past activities," said Hishammuddin at a press conference in his ministry at Putrajaya.

He also said that the release was a "Hari Raya gift" for the families of the five from the government.

He however denied that the release was due to the upcoming Bagan Pinang by-election in Negeri Sembilan.

Rights group: Free them all

The decision to free the five followed a previous release of 13 detainees in April this year, including five Hindraf leaders, the day Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak took over as prime minister.

According to Hishammuddin, there are nine more ISA detainees left at the Kamunting Detention Centre in Perak, of which four are locals and the remainder are foreign nationals from Bangladesh, Thailand, Pakistan and Singapore.

The remaining detainees are in detention over their alleged involvement in militant activities (six of them) and document forgery (3).

Rights group campaigning for the abolition of the security law demanded that the government free all the remaining detainees immediately.

"We call this a selective release. We demand that the rest be released and for the ISA to be abolished," Abolish ISA Movement coordinator E Nalini told AFP.

The wife of Mat Sah, 44-year-old Norlaila Othman, said she was thrilled at the release of her husband who has been in custody since April 2002.

"I am so excited yet at the same time I feel like I am going to live with a stranger in the same house soon," she told AFP.

"My son is really excited to find out who is his real dad, he was only eight years old when my husband was detained under the ISA, seven years is too long for him to be apart from his dad," Norlaila said.

Gov't seeks feedback on ISA review

On a separate note, Hishammuddin said that he had discussed with the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), Malaysian Syarie Lawyers Association and Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association on a review of the ISA.

NONEHe said that their feedback was well received by the ministry and hoped that the Act is not abused or seen to be used for serving personal interests.

"What they were concerned about was the detention period and the treatment given to the detainees and they have asked us to review the mechanism," he said.

Hishammuddin also added that Suhakam wishes to see the ISA being abolished and replaced with a new Act.

However, he added, for the time being the government just "wants to improve the people's perception on ISA".

"But it is still hard to balance between national security and civil liberty in the national interests," said Hishammuddin. - Malaysiakini, 15/9/2009, Five more ISA detainees released

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Police can really avoid shooting them dead if they want to... A case of shot in the leg and arrested.

If the police, want to they can shoot people in the legs, etc....and arrest them. There really is no necessity of shooting them dead.

Man shot for threatening police with parang

KUCHING: A 38-year-old man was detained on Thursday after he evaded being checked by police.

A police car was patrolling along Batu 5 along Jalan Penrissen when they asked a Proton Wira driver to pull over.

But the man just drove away, prompting the police to give chase.

Somewhere along the way, a male passenger got off the Wira. Police went on pursuing the Wira.

Subsequently, more police cars joined in the pursuit as the driver headed towards Jalan Stapok Utama.

There, the suspect lost control of his car and crashed into a monsoon drain.

As police tried to apprehend the suspect, he wielded a parang threatening the police officers.

Police fired a warning shot but the man ignored it.

The police then shot the man’s leg.

After that, the suspect was taken to Sarawak General Hospital (SGH).

Police discovered three laptop computers, a mobile phone, and a ‘parang’ in the car apart from a car plate number, which the police believed belonged to another car.- Borneo Post Online, 12/9/2009, Man shot for threatening police with parang

See earlier post - Another 'shoot to kill' incident - 4 killed. Yahoo has this question now that need answers: Do you agree that Malaysian police tends to shoot to kill?

Some of the more recent shoot to kill incidents that got reported in the media, and came to my attention..

24/8/2009 - Star, 24/8/2009, Four Indonesian robbers killed by police

21/8/2009 - Star, 21/8/2009, Two robbers shot dead in Klang

11/8/2009 - - Star, 11/8/2009, Four wanted Indonesians killed by police

Cow Head Protests - were they all charged? If not, why?

Cow Head Protests - were they all charged? After all, we do have the Malaysiakini videos and other photo/vdo documentation of the event.

Or were just a few charged? Were they selectively charged to show that there were UMNO, PAS and PKR members involved in the protest....

Maybe Malaysiakini or some other journalist could tell us who were not charged?

As stated earlier, if they are to be charged, they should be charged under s. 298 or 298A of the Penal Code - not for illegal assembly or sedition. See earlier post:-Cow-Head Protest - They must be charged under section 298 and/or 298A of the Penal Code NOT for illegal assembly ...not under the Sedition Act

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cow Head Protests: BAR Press Statement:- Mutual Respect and acceptance of all faiths

Press Release

Mutual respect and acceptance for all faiths

The Malaysian Bar is disappointed with Minister of Home Affairs Y.B. Dato' Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein’s response to the demonstration outside the Selangor Secretariat building last Friday. By not denouncing the offensive actions of some of the demonstrators and instead accepting their weak explanation, he has trivialised the seriousness of the incident.

It is also disquieting that a number of Federal Government leaders have made irresponsible statements – including blaming the Selangor state government – that have politicised and exacerbated the situation while not addressing the issues at hand.

The fact that this is a Muslim-majority area is immaterial and should not, in and of itself, be permitted to serve as an adequate basis for rejecting the establishment of a place of worship for any other faith. In a uniquely multi-ethnic and multi-faith society such as ours, we must uphold the right of every group to have access to, and build, places of worship, within the parameters provided in the Federal Constitution.

The Malaysian Bar firmly believes that individuals must be allowed to legitimately exercise their rights to assemble peaceably and to express their viewpoints, including dissenting opinions. However, we do not condone any acts that disrespect, insult, or incite intolerance towards others and their beliefs. We regret that a small group of individuals engaged in an act that, in the public perception, was deliberately calculated to inflame sentiments, offend and show contempt, and we commend all those who have spoken up to criticise that behaviour.

We have numerous examples of how our diverse and rich cultures and faiths have co-existed, and even flourished, peacefully. The location of a mosque, Hindu temple and Christian church in very close proximity in the vicinity of Pitt Street in Penang, and the presence of temples and large Buddhist statues in Muslim-majority Kelantan, are but two compelling examples.

This, then, is our cherished heritage, which we must strive to preserve.

We urge not only an attitude of openness and tolerance, but the practice of mutual respect and acceptance. The true test of a mature democracy and responsible government is how the rights of the people, including minority groups, are protected.

Ragunath Kesavan
Malaysian Bar

3 September 2009

Mutual Respect: : Let us stop refering to Indonesians as 'Indons" . it is an offensive term

Mutual respect is needed by both Malaysians and Indonesians. Unknowingly, many of us have been very disrespectful in our calling of Indonesians - "Indons". They do not like it at all.

I was recently reprimanded by an Indonesian friend when I used the word, 'Indon'. She angrily told me that for Indonesians, that term is derogatory. She said that we should just call them Indonesians. 'Do not call us 'Indons' .

Our government also said that it will stop using that term - but alas some of newspapers still use that term...

I just did some research on this, and true enough what she said was true.

An offensive term used by Malaysians. It is even used by the government, signifying the biased opinions of the Malaysian Government. Used in the same context as 'nigger', offensive only if used by Malaysians.

"I'm jealous of those rich indons" - Malay person. - Urban Dictionary
In fact, the Indonesian government has also formally requested that Malaysians do not use the term 'Indon' anymore.

AND the Malaysian government have also called on every one to stop using the term, 'Indon'
Malaysian Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin said he had called on Malaysian citizens and media not to use the term 'Indon' for Indonesia. "I have made an appeal to the Malaysian media and people not to use terms which could slacken the relations between Malaysia and Indonesia which have been good so far," the Malaysian Minister told ANTARA on the sidelines of a conference of ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) here on Thursday. He said Malaysia understood that the use of the word 'Indon' hurts the feelings of the Indonesian people so that on Wednesday he called on the Malaysian public not to use the term. "We only provided directives and would not take sanctions against those who still use the term 'Indon'," he said. He said that there were a lot of non-obligatory but firm advices that were applied in social intercourse in Malaysia. "If they violate the directives we will summon them and remind them again," Datuk Zainuddin Maidin said. - Antara News, 24/5/2007, MALAYSIANS TOLD TO STOP USING 'INDON' F0R INDONESIANS

""Indon politicians in bitter dispute,"" read the headline of a widely circulated Malaysian newspaper. ""Najib: Don't abuse Indon workers,"" read another. A third headline in The New Straits Times read, ""INDONESIA: Advertisers desert Indon playboy,"" while Starbiz wrote, ""Telekom wins bid for Indon celcom"".

The term Indon, referring to Indonesia or Indonesias, has become more popular among Malaysian people, whether it is used as an insult or not.

Indeed many Indonesians living in Malaysia feel extremely irritated when the term ""Indon"" is aimed at them, particularly when it is used in a scornful tone. They have complained to the Malaysian government regarding this.

Why should Malaysian people continuously use this term when referring to Indonesian nationals? Should Indonesians simply accept this? If not, what should they do?

It is interesting to observe how major newspapers in Malaysia (some of which are published in Singapore) are willing to introduce such a derogatory term in addressing their neighboring nation. - Jakarta Post, 1/10/2007, Should we retaliate by calling them Malokai?

Sementara itu, Hamka mengatakan di Indonesia, istilah 'Indon' tidak pernah digunakan oleh rakyat Indonesia sendiri.

"Walaupun Indon hanya istilah, rakyat Indonesia menganggapnya sebagai martabat, harga diri dan identitas sebagai satu bangsa yang berdaulat. Oleh karena itu, kami minta rakyat Malaysia memahami dan menghormati perasaan rakyat Indonesia sebagai rekan yang berkongsi budaya, agama serta sejarah sama," ujar Hamka. - Antara News

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Cow-Head Protest - They must be charged under section 298 and/or 298A of the Penal Code NOT for illegal assembly ...not under the Sedition Act

If those involved in the said 'cow-head protests' are to be charged in court they should be charged under section 298 and/or 298A of the Penal Code - not for illegal assembly...definitely not under the Sedition Act.

We have been calling for the repeal of all laws that criminalize freedom of assembly..., and that is why we must not at all be happy that the Attorney General have decided the said cow-head protesters under Section 27(5) of the Police Act 1967 for illegal assembly - we must protest this.

Likewise, his decision to charge for an offence under Sedition Act. Remember this is an evil act that we have always been campaigning for its repeal.

The truth is that we have section 298 of the Penal Code - and, if these persons are to be charged for any offence, it must be under section 298 of the Penal Code. Section 298A may also be relevant.

298. Uttering words, etc. with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person.

Whoever, with deliberate- intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, utter any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person, or makes ant gesture in the sight of that person, or places any object in the sight of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

298A. Causing etc, disharmony, disunity, or feelings or enmity, hatred or ill-will, or prejudicing, etc., the maintenance of harmony or unity, on grounds of religion.

(1) Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by signs, or by visible representations, or by any act, activity or conduct, or by organising, promoting or arranging, or assisting in organising, promoting or arranging, any activity, or otherwise in any other manner-

(a) causes, or attempts to cause, or is likely to cause disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will; or

(b) prejudices or attempts to prejudice, or is likely to prejudice, the maintenance of harmony or unity,

on grounds of religion, between persons or groups of persons professing the same or different religions, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than two years and not more than five years.

(2) Sections 173A and 294 of the Criminal Procedure Code (F.M.S. Cap. 6) shall not apply in respect of an offence under subsection (1).

(3) Where any person alleges or imputes in any manner specified in subsection (1)-

(a) that any other person, or any class, group or description of persons, professing any particular religion;

(i) has ceased to profess that religion; or

(ii) should not be accepted, or cannot be accepted, as professing that religion; or

(iii) does not believe, follow, profess, or belong to, that religion; or

(b) that anything lawfully done by any religious official appointed, or by any religious authority established, constituted or appointed, by or under any written law, in the exercise of any power, or in the discharge of any duty, or in the performance of any function, of a religious character, by virtue of being so appointed, established or constituted, is not acceptable to such person, or should not be accepted by any other person or persons, or does not accord with or fulfil the requirements of that religion, or is otherwise wrong or improper,

he shall be presumed to have contravened the provisions of subsection (1) by having acted in a manner likely to cause disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will, or likely to prejudice the maintenance of harmony or unity, between persons or groups of persons professing the religion referred to in the allegation or imputation.

(4) (a) Where, on any ground of a religious character, any person professing any particular religion uses for burial or cremation of any human corpse a place other than one which is lawfully used for such purpose by persons professing that religion, he shall be presumed to have contravened the provisions of subsection (1) by having acted in a manner likely to cause disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will, or likely to prejudice the maintenance of harmony or unity, between persons or groups of persons professing that religion.

(b) Where any person, on any ground of a religious character, counsels, advises, instigates, urges, pleads with, or appeals or propagates to, or in any manner or by any means calls upon, whether directly or indirectly, any other person or persons professing any particular religion-

(i) to use for burial or cremation of any human corpse a place other than one which is lawfully used for such purpose by persons professing that religion; or

(ii) not to use for burial or cremation of any human corpse any place which is lawfully used for such purpose by persons professing that religion; or

(iii) not to use for worship any place which is lawfully used for such purpose by persons professing that religion,

he shall be presumed to have contravened the provisions of subsection (1) by having acted in a manner likely to cause disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will, or likely to prejudice the maintenance of harmony or unity, between persons or groups of persons professing that religion or different religions.

(5) Where any person who is not a religious official appointed, or a religious authority established, constituted or appointed, by or under any written law purports to exercise any power, or to discharge any duty, or to perform any function, of a religious character, being a power, duty or function which can be lawfully exercised, discharged or performed only by a religious official appointed, or a religious authority established, constituted or appointed, by or under any written law, he shall be presumed to have contravened the provisions of subsection (1) by having acted in a manner likely to cause disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will, or likely to prejudice the maintenance of harmony or unity, between persons or groups of persons professing the same or different religions.

(6) The foregoing provisions of this section shall not apply to-

(a) anything done by any religious authority established, constituted or appointed by or under any written law and conferred by written law with power to give or issue any ruling or decision on any matter pertaining to the religion in respect of which the authority is established, constituted or appointed; or

(b) anything done by any person which is in pursuance of, or which accords with, any ruling or decision given or issued by such religious authority, whether or not such ruling or decision is in writing, and if in writing, whether or not it is published in the Gazette.

(7) It shall not be a defence to any charge under this section to assert that what the offender is charged with doing was done in any honest belief in, or in any honest interpretations of, any precept, tenet or teaching of any religion.

(8) If in any proceedings under this section any question arises with, regard to the interpretation of any aspect of, or any matter in relation to, any religion, the Courts shall accept the interpretation given by any religious referred to in subsection (6), being a religious authority in respect of that religion.

I am saddened that sometimes when angry we forget .... and start calling for others to be arrested and charged for illegal assembly...arrested under the ISA... whipped...

We should be driven by principles...and this must be constant - and, as such we must protest the charging of people under illegal assembly laws...or even that draconian Sedition Act. More so, in this case where the Penal Code provides very clearly for such offences...

It is the act of dragging along the cow's head...the stomping on the cow's head... acts that is totally insensitive and disrespectful to our Hindu brethren, for whom the cow is very sacred.

I must state that I am very proud with my fellow Malaysians of the Hindu faith for their patience and calm in this issue.

The newspaper report about what the protesters may be charged with is as follows:-

The cow’s head protesters are likely to be charged with sedition and illegal assembly today.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail confirmed in a statement issued yesterday that the protesters in the controversial demonstration against the relocation of a Hindu temple in Section 23 in Shah Alam on Aug 28 would be hauled to court.

He said: “I have decided to charge those who carried and spoke while stepping on the cow’s head under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act alternatively Section 298 of the Penal Code.

“They, as well as the other demonstrators, will also be facing another charge under Section 27(5) of the Police Act 1967 for illegal assembly.”

Those charged under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act are liable to a fine not exceeding RM5,000 or jail terms of not more than three years or both, while under Section 298 of the Penal Code, offenders can be jailed up to a year and/or fined.

For illegal assembly, the punishment is a fine of between RM2,000 and RM10,000 and a jail term of up to one year.

Abdul Gani said the police had personally submitted the investigation papers to him yesterday afternoon, and “I am satisfied that the demonstrators should be taken to court”.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said police were serious about taking action against protesters who offended the people of other faiths.

“We will not tolerate such incidents that can spark racial tension. We are pushing for deterrent sentences.”

On Aug 28, some 50 people, led by residents of Section 23, marched some 300m from the state mosque to the gates of the State Secretariat building to protest against the relocation of the 150-year-old Sri Mahamariamman temple from Section 19 to Section 23.

They carried a cow’s head and stepped on it, kicked it and spat on it during the protest.

They also warned of further action if the temple was built in their area.

The manner of the protest drew heavy criticism from various parties for insulting religious sensitivities as cows are considered holy by Hindus.

Last week, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said he would leave it to the A-G to determine if there were any violations of the law when the residents staged the protest.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein also met with Section 23 residents representatives to resolve the issue.

In an immediate response to the A-G’s decision, Hindu Sangam adviser Datuk A. Vaithilingam said: “The move to charge the culprits is a good step.”

Coalition of Malaysian Indian NGOs secretary Gunaraj George said the decision to prosecute would help ease the hurt felt by the Hindu community.

Chairman of the Section 23 action committee for the protest, Mahayuddin Manaf, said he respected the decision taken by the A-G to prosecute those responsible for incident.

Malaysian Indian Associated Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Datuk K.K. Eswaran welcomed the decision to charge the protesters.

“This is a stern reminder that the Government does not condone actions which disrupt harmony among the various races in the country,” he said. - Star, 8/9/2009, Protesters to be charged with sedition and illegal assembly

By not charging them just under section 298 and/or 298A of the Penal Code - I wonder what is the message that the government is sending...

It seems to be that old message that they are AGAINST the freedom of assembly, freedom of expression...

That is so wrong - the message that should be clearly sent is that government is against such behaviour that was insulting and hurtful to our Hindu brethren...our Buddhist brethren and other Malaysians....and that is why they must ONLY be charged under section 298 and/or 298A of the Penal Code.

Arrest, charge and try 'dirty cops' in the same way as other persons in Malaysia. Art 8 - Equality and Equal Protection of the Law should apply to ALL

Like UMNO, it seems that the Malaysian police is also above the law....maybe not the correct phrase. It seems that the law for every other person just do not apply to the Malaysian police.

When there is evidence of them being corrupt, they may not get arrested, detained, charged in court, tried and sentenced if found guilty. (Apparently, there is a 'secret' procedure that takes place and if found 'guilty', they only get warned, fined, sacked...and if there is insufficient evidence, they just get sacked..is this not a violation of the Federal Constitution - Article 8 of the Federal Constitution guarantees that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law). I say secret because the public may not be aware of the fact that this or that 'corrupt' cop is being investigated and what happens... The 'secrecy' also may not serve as a deterrent ...or as motivation for others to provide evidence/complaints about other corrupt cops.

I am still waiting for the police (or MACC) to charge that UMNO big-wig who was found 'guilty' of money politics (i.e. corruption, in my books), so guilty that he was disallowed from continuing his quest to become a top leader of UMNO....

There is less corruption in the police force now, said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission statistics from 2000 to May 2009 made available to the New Sunday Times show that in the last three years, arrests of policemen by the MACC decreased from 158 in 2006 to 117 last year.

In the first five months of this year, only 46 arrests have been made. In the last 10 years, 942 policemen were arrested. Of the number, 225 have been charged, and 250 are awaiting charges.

In addition, 227 policemen, who could not be taken to court due to insufficient evidence, were referred to the police disciplinary division and sacked.

There was a dramatic peak in 2006, with 158 arrests, up from 56 the previous year.

“In 2006 it went up because at that time I encouraged whistle-blowers,” said Musa, whose contract has been renewed for one year from Sept 13.

Up till then, the arrest figures had been declining. But after 2006, the number fell again.

He said the second decline was due to a drop in corruption among policemen.

“There are black sheep in any organisation, but we don’t want bad hats in the force. We want to clean our house.”

However, corruption is but one element of a lack of integrity.

From 2002 to May this year 2009, there were 7,157 cases of disciplinary offences involving policemen.

A total of 3,300 of these concerned insubordination and irresponsibility accounted for 2,126 cases.

More serious offences like subordinating public duty to private interest and using public position for personal interest were fewer in number (24 and 115 respectively).

Of these, 7,157 cases that went up to the disciplinary division, 7,136 have been dealt with.

A total of 3,600 policemen were warned, 2,305 fined, and 440 sacked.

The remainder received penalties ranging from forfeiture of emoluments to a reduction in rank. Only 217 were absolved of wrongdoing.

Former Transparency International Malaysia president Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said:of the figures, “Statistics are statistics. It’s a question of interpretation.

“Even if the statistics show an improvement, the public’s perception has not improved.

“Although it takes two hands to clap, the people in authority have got to exercise greater integrity because they hold the public’s trust.”

The adviser to the Selangor Crime Prevention Foundation said: said the people’s perception of the police being selective in nature did not help bolster build up the image of public confidence in them.

“Sometimes, the police take very heavy-handed action; sometimes they take only light action and sometimes they just stand by watching and do nothing.”

He said with the extension to the IGP’s contract, Musa hads the “golden opportunity to be tough and crack the whip”.

“I hope Musa will be able to give the final blow to knocking down the crime rate.”

He said to show their commitment to keeping a clean police force, all top police officers should declare their assets and liabilities every year.

The declaration should either be done publicly , or confidentially to a body of eminent persons.

Further declarations should also be made as and when an officer acquired an asset or liability.

“The best way to get the ball rolling is for the IGP himself to come out and declare his assets and liabilities.,” said Navaratnam.

“If subordinates know their leader is tolerates ant of corruption, they will take the risk of being corrupt.

“But if the subordinates know their leader is intolerant of corruption, they will not dare to be corrupt.” - New Straits Times, 6/9/2009,
‘Dirty’ cops feel the heat

MCCBCHST: THERE MUST BE ONE RULE FOR ALL MALAYSIANS - refering to the cow-head incident, etc




MCCBCHST (Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism & Taoism) notes with deep concern that the cowhead incident in Shah Alam is not an isolated case. Another recent example of this kind of insensitivity was when the Holy Eucharist was desecrated when certain persons went to a church, took the consecrated bread and spewed it out.

Such irreverent and sacrilegious conduct should not be condoned and allowed to be repeated with impunity. In seating the organisers of the recent demonstration in Shah Alam to his right and left during his press conference, the home affairs minister seemed to have bestowed honour to the perpetrators of a gravely offensive and dangerous event whereby seditious speeches accompanied by the stepping on the severed head of the cow were made. What signals would this send to the people?

Not surprisingly, therefore, the same disrespectful, unruly and unwilling to listen behaviour on the part of some rendered the town hall meeting between the Menteri Besar and Section 23 residents to discuss the issue on September 5 2009 unmanageable and unproductive.

The same rules must apply to all.

MCCBCHST is concerned that wheareas in the August 28 2009 Shah Alam incident the police had stood by while the demonstrators desecrated the cow head and made seditious speeches, the police acted strongly against would-be candlelight vigilers in the vicinity of Dataran Merdeka on September 5 2009. Also, Malaysiakini has now been warned by MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) not to make the video showing the terrible acts in the Shah Alam incident available for viewing to their readers. Thinking Malaysians will rightly raise the question: Which comes first- the act or the video which exposes the act? How do we as a country go about resolving our problems? In this case, stopping the video of the act will not unmake the act. We must surely first prevent the act and the video would not have existed.

For the sake and good of all Malaysians and peace and order in Malaysia, consistent, fair, just and rational measures should be applied regardless of religion, ethnicity, culture, gender or political connection.

There must be one rule for all Malaysians.

All who incite ill feelings amongst religious communities, denigrate any religion, desecrate the religious symbols of any religion or threaten to commit violence against others must be promptly deterred and held accountable. They must face charges and given a fair trial in a court of law.

Sacrilegious acts committed by adherents of any one religion upon another religion must never be condoned. We hold to the principle that all human beings and communities have a sacred right of freedom of choice as far as their religious belief and practice is concerned.

We stand with Malaysians of all religious and political persuasions who were outraged by the flagrant disregard for the sensitivities of others shown by the Shah Alam demonstrators.

We welcome the partnership of all Malaysians of goodwill. Together we can weather the mischief and bigotry of those who seek to drive a wedge between us and divide rather than unite the people of this land.

We Malaysians live in a pluralistic society and accordingly we must respect our neighbours and endeavour to learn about their beliefs, customs and sentiments. It is upon such understanding of others and what is dear to them that our nation can be firmly rooted and grow strong and united.

The way to manage our differences is not by creating enclaves whereby Malaysians will be segregated and separated from one another but through understanding and respect. Let us live together next to one another rather than to live apart. Each succeeding generation of Malaysians should grow closer rather than to be pulled apart.

The site chosen in Section 23 of Shah Alam for the Hindu temple to be relocated to complies with local government conditions. It is over 300 meters away from any housing area, six times more than the 50-meter requirement. If the authorities accept the objection to it by certain quarters, the social dynamics of Malaysian life will be affected and the consequence on national integration will be very serious indeed.

We must not subscribe to the view of thinking about Malaysians as majorities and minorities, and majorities versus minorities.

MCCBCHST therefore calls upon all Malaysians of goodwill to be in earnest prayer for the peaceful and just resolution of the issue. Those in authority at the community, religious and governmental level must be firm to unequivocally reject unreasonable, unfair and anti-social behaviour and demand.

Rev. Dr Thomas Philips

MCCBCHST President

7 September 2009