Category Archives: Malaysia

Bakun Hydro Dam Malaysia

Read the rest of the Redd article here.

And my article from 1999 on the background to the project, and anthropologists complicity, Resettling Bakun iot

Malaysia

Closet cleaner: links to my stuff on Malaysia from when I used to visit a lot (1990s) – I am now looking at another proper visit soon.
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Here are my reminders to self.
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Internal Security Act:
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Prime Minister Najib Razak said last November he would abolish ISA and allow trials! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-14937820
But I presume this was largely after pressure from Bersih Movement:
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Australian colonial patronage
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A short squib summary on the anniversary of the Australian Air Force base renegotiation (1988) (Australia still has a force in place there, the rhetoric of the agreement is more ‘inclusive’)
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Hydro Electrical Dams and complicit anthropologists:
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I wrote something about the Hydro scheme in Sarawak, Bakun Dam. I had a piece on this in Left Curve, in 1999, here
Update[backdate] my 1999 Left Curve article: here
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Rio Tinto
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The nasty bastards at Rio Tinto mining corp of course have long set their sights on Malaysia: http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2007/08/24/sarawak-sights-rights-and-might/
Tin mining, copper etc – extending into today the old treatment of Malaysia between the wars as number one extraction site for colonial Britain. With attendant racialization – Indian, Chinese Mayal, Orang Asli – and subsequent trouble, language riots, nepotism etc. An uneasy compact of the business associations.
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Multimedia Super Corridor project.
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I followed this science park mega city development (land grab) that in some respects now exists, though in changed form.
In 1999 I had a piece called ‘Semi Feudal Cyber Colonialism’ in the Nettime Reader, but its not online http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Readme_filtered_by_Nettime.html?id=AHbSOwAACAAJ&redir_esc=y
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Communists/The Emergency.
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If there is one thing to read that tells the history in an interesting way, its the autobiography/history fo Chin Peng – communist decorated by the English for fighting against Japan in WW2 but subsequently hunted by them through the ‘Emergency’ and then sidelined at Independence, and still living in exile in Thailand. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alias-Chin-Peng-Side-History/dp/9810486936
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Bersih
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I do not have any real details on this beyond personal emails with activists. And a few squibs or snippets of news:
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Tian Chua
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Opposition youth leader now MP and prominent figure in the opposition Tian Chua, known via activist groups in Sydney:
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What else do I need besides a metro card and Lonely Planet? Also gifts for certain MPs (!)

#occupy Dataran: Mask up for Malaysian New Year

 

This just popped up on you tube and I’d like a ticket. If you have a mask, and you are in KL, this is the new year party to ring in something special. (Londoners, see you at Holloway)

I do, like many of you, enjoy lepakking at home and watching TV.

I appreciate the comforts of every day routine, the security of familiar things, the tranquillity of repetition.
But in the spirit of celebrating the New Year, with much partying and revelry, I thought we could mark this December 31 with something special.
There are, of course, those who don’t want us to speak. I suspect even now orders are being shouted into telephones and men with guns will soon be on their way.
Why?
Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power.
Words… offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen…the enunciation of truth.
And the truth is…there is… something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there?
Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression.
And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.
How did this happen? Who’s to blame?
Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable.
But again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.
I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be?
MAY 13, RACE RIOTS, FEAR OF COMMUNISTS, OPERASI LALANG.
There are a myriad of problems which conspire to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense.
Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to Barisan Nasional.
BN promised you order, BN promised you peace and all they demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.
Today, I seek to end that silence.
2011 will go down in history as the Year of Peaceful, Non-Violent Revolutions. It began in Tunisia, culminating in Tahrir Square, Egypt.
Tahrir Square is now the symbol of human freedom and liberation in the 21st century.
We also saw the uprising of the Indignados, which occupied Puerta del Sol in Madrid, Spain, giving inspiration to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
This democratic wave, driven by ordinary peoples on the street – as opposed to leadership by elites the world over – is a major turning point in our time.
As the year draws to a close, dark clouds still hang over the Malaysian sky, no different from the previous years.
Repression of human rights continue unabated. Malaysians suffer these abuses in different forms and at different levels. It is often hard for the ordinary Malaysian to articulate and give voice to their suffering and plight.
We want every person to find his or her own voice, formulating his or her own demands.
Some of these demands may spring from a litany of injustices:
the repression of street protests (for example Bersih 2.0),
the passing of the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011,
the Lynas debacle,
the continuous land-grab of Orang Asli & indigenous land in Sabah & Sarawak,
corruption in government,
exploitation and repression of local and migrant workers’ welfare & rights,
deaths in the custody of the MACC and THE POLICE,
the suppression of academic and student freedoms by the UUCA.
And the list goes on!
So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain insignificant to you, then I would suggest that you allow the 31st of December to past unmarked.
But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me and wear you V Mask on New Years Eve at the stroke of midnight, at Dataran Merdeka, and give them a New Year that shall never, ever be forgotten.

Global Day of Action on Military Spending

Memorandum to the Malaysian Defence Minister

By Malaysian NGOs on the Global Day of Action on Military Spending,

April 12, 2011

In 2009 alone, global military spending rose to an all-time high amount of $1.53 TRILLION! Because we encounter countless crises in today’s world -poverty, hunger, lack of education, poor health care, and environmental issues – it is essential that we come together and create a global movement focusing on what IS important: human lives and their needs. It really is up to us… if not, then who? But we must act NOW!

Global Day of Action on Military Spending on April 12, 2011 has been organized to coincide with the release of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) new annual figures on world military expenditures. On this day, people on all continents will join together in joint actions to focus public, political, and media attention on the costs of military spending and the need for new priorities. Such events will help us to build the international network around this issue.

Join us in this historic Global Day of Action on Military Spending. This day of action has been coordinated by:

The International Peace Bureau (IPB), dedicated to the vision of a World without War. IPB are a Nobel Peace Laureate (1910); over the years, 13 of its officers have been recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. They have 320 member organisations in 70 countries, together with individual members from a global network, bring together expertise and campaigning experience in a common cause. Their current main programme centres on Sustainable Disarmament for Sustainable Development.

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) is a community of public scholars and organizers linking peace, justice, and the environment in the U.S. and globally. They work with social movements to promote true democracy and challenge concentrated wealth, corporate influence, and military power. As Washington’s first progressive multi-issue think tank, the IPS has served as a policy and research resource for visionary social justice movements for over four decades.

Statement by Malaysian NGOs on Military Spending, 12 April 2011

Malaysian NGOs on Military Spending are concerned about the carte blanche given to the Ministry of Defence for arms purchases while health, education and other social services are still so deplorable. The total security allocation under the Tenth Malaysia Plan is RM23 billion. Through the years, the allocation for security (internal security + defence) has been as high as 15.9% and 15.0% under the 3rd and 6th Malaysia Plans while the allocation for health has been as low as 1.6% and 1.0% under the 4th and 5th Malaysia Plans respectively. The Education Minister said recently that 600 schools in the country are in critical condition, most of these in East Malaysia.

The arms race among the Southeast Asian countries seems the most pointless after all the talk at conferences on ASEAN integration. Even so, each country’s attempt to be ahead in the race is self-defeating.

In 1997, Malaysia was described as one of “East Asia’s Big Eight” countries devoting “lavish resources” to develop its military industries. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said that these countries – China, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia – were enhancing their capabilities in military organization, arms purchases, and military industrialization.

Malaysia’s rivalry with Singapore springs not from ideological differences but from the latter’s forced separation from the Malaysian federation in 1965, after a crisis emanating from the racial politics of their ruling classes. From this rivalry we can see how the ensuing arms race has burdened the peoples in the two countries with billions in arms spending.

Many are not aware of the rapid growth of Malaysia’s domestic military-industrial complex. The top brass of the military guard their power and privilege and this is nourished by easy access to the defence budget and the simple justification of “national security”. Today we have seen the growth of such a complex in many countries, including Malaysia. An offshoot of the arms purchases is the race to develop domestic defence equipment industries in each of the S.E. Asian countries.

It is clear that the BN Government could get away with such huge defence budgets during the last few decades because of the erosion of these safeguards in our democratic system, viz. dominance of the executive over parliament; loss of public accountability; absence of Freedom of Information legislation; inadequate separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary; poor safeguards for civil rights. The National Defence Policy is as good as giving a carte blanche to the Ministry of Defence for “deterrence and forward defence”.

The Non-Aligned Movement was founded upon the principles of peace, neutrality and impartiality to the Superpowers. A genuine non-aligned policy can therefore go a long way toward ridding us of the need to procure expensive arms.

Disarmament must ultimately be inclusive of all the nations within ASEAN. The peoples in ASEAN deserve a better quality of life compared to the status quo which is committed to an irrational arms race among the ASEAN countries themselves and deprives their peoples of valuable resources for social development.

Minimising the defence budget in Malaysia and throughout ASEAN can free more valuable resources into urgently needed social services and socially useful production. Wasting money on arms prevents it from being spent on health, education, clean water or other public services. It also distorts the economy and diverts resources, such as skilled labour and R&D away from alternative economic activity.

Leaders have the responsibility to initiate that fundamental change and involving everyone in that peace-building process. It involves overcoming the fears, prejudices and other contradictions that give rise to misunderstanding, violence and conflict. It involves re-ordering our financial priorities away from wasteful and destructive arms to the social well-being of all our peoples.

Facilitating greater democracy in our society also creates a culture of peace since the more that citizens have the opportunity to participate in the running of their society and the freedom to express their aspirations and criticisms, the less likely are they to take up arms to overthrow the government.

To achieve a culture of peace would require a profound reformation but reform we must. Cooperating in shared goals and nurturing positive interdependence can help to build this culture of peace. A culture of peace should be our nation’s vision. It is a vision that is only attainable in a society that respects human dignity, social justice, democracy and human rights. It is an environment that can settle conflict and differences through dialogue and democracy and not through threats and repression.

Social change will only happen when the people are mobilised in a movement for peace. Only such a movement and consciousness can divert the billions spent on unnecessary and wasteful armaments to peaceful and socially useful production.  Malaysian NGOs on Military Spending have a responsibility for initiating this movement.

Internal Security

Meanwhile, in some countries, they even have a debate about Detention and the Internal Security Act (which has been mentioned before on this blog, here, and in the Weekly Worker, here).

SUARA RAKYAT MALAYSIA

www.suaram.net

Press Statement by SUARAM: 7th March 2011

Mission Report on Malaysia by Working Group on Arbitrary Detention:

Implement Recommendations Now!

The findings and recommendations of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) from its visit to Malaysia from 7 to 18 June 2010 have added to the long list of recommendations and concerns pertaining to the Malaysian government’s legislations, policies and practices of arbitrary detention. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) has despatched Ms Temme Lee, SUARAM Secretariat member to make interventions at the UN Human Rights Council after the mission report presented by the WGAD[1].  SUARAM supports the recommendations made by the working group to the Malaysian government.

“Classic Cases of Arbitrary Detention” under the ISA, EO, DDA, RRA

In their mission report, the WGAD states that it is “seriously concerned” about the existence and enforcement of laws which provide for detention without trial in Malaysia, namely the Internal Security Act (ISA), the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance (EO), the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act (DDA), and the Restricted Residence Act.

“(These laws) impede the detainee’s right to a fair trial, consecrated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by international human rights customary law. They also severely restrict detainees’ access to legal counsel.”

The working group has also stated its concern on the periodic review by the Advisory Board. The working group considers that an appearance before an Advisory Board does not fulfill minimal fair trial guarantees. Although detainees may appeal every six months to the Advisory Board on the preventive laws, the detainees are not notified of its recommendations, its recommendations are not binding and they are not made public. On the other, the defence lawyers may appear on behalf of the detainee, attend the hearing without access to all the documentation, including evidence, and have no right to call witnesses.

During the press conference held by the WGAD on 18 June 2010, its Chairperson-Rapporteur El Hadji Malick Sow stated that detentions under the ISA, the EO, and the DDA are “classic cases of arbitrary detention”. The WGAD also noted with concern that “thousands of people” are being detained under the EO and the DDA.

“Systematic” Detention of Refugees

Also of concern to the WGAD is the detention of refugees and asylum seekers. The WGAD’s Chairperson-Rapporteur has described the detention of refugees as “systematic”, noting that even refugees who are in possession of identity cards issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are not exempt from arrests and detentions.

Malaysia’s non-ratification of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and non-recognition of the status of refugees and asylum seekers have resulted in the detention of many refugees under immigration laws in Malaysia for their alleged “illegal presence” in Malaysian territory. The WGAD notes that detainees who have served prison sentences under Immigration laws are often held in immigration detention centres for an indefinite period while awaiting deportation to their countries of origin.

Police Force: Excessive Power leads to human rights violations

The working group has also expressed concern over the excessive power given to the police force in Malaysia particularly under the preventive laws. The working group is of the view that the excessive power given to the police has led to their eluding the normal penal procedure for common crimes and offences. This has given an opportunity to the police and the Home Minister to detain persons without the need to sustain evidence or to probe penal responsibility. The Working group also concludes that the police often fail to inform the detainees about their rights to contact family members and to consult a lawyer of their choice.

The working group also raises serious concern about the deaths that occur during the police detention and while in police custody; the ill treatment and torture in police stations and detention centres in order to obtain confessions and incriminatory evidence.

Repeal All Detention-without-Trial Laws

On detention-without-trial laws, the WGAD unambiguously recommends that the ISA, the EO, the DDA, and the RRA be repealed. In the interim period, while the laws are in force, the working group has urged that the decisions by the non-judicial Appeals Advisory Board should be binding on the Home Minister, and decisions with regard to the Act should be subject to judicial review.

SUARAM thus calls upon the government to re-think the proposed amendments to all the detention-without-trial laws in the light of the latest WGAD’s recommendations. The ISA, the EO, the DDA, and the RRA must be repealed forthwith; the government should immediately end all arrests under the detention-without-trial laws, and release all those currently detained under these laws or charge them in a fair and open court.

End Detention of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Other Vulnerable Migrants

On the detention of immigrants, the WGAD states that:

“Detention of immigrants should be decided upon by a court of law, on a case by case basis, and pursuant to clearly and exhaustively defined criteria in legislation, under which detention may be resorted to.”

The WGAD stresses that immigrants should have an effective remedy to challenge the necessity and legality of their detention at any time; that immigration detention should not be applied to refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable groups of migrants, including unaccompanied minors, families with minor children, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, elderly persons, persons with disabilities, or people with serious and/or chronic physical or mental health problems.

The WGAD has also urged the Malaysian government to ratify the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, a recommendation which has been made on numerous occasions by SUHAKAM as well as UN member states during the Universal Periodic Review of Malaysia in February 2009.

SUARAM strongly urges the government to immediately implement these recommendations and to   stop arresting refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups of migrants. The government should provide a concrete timeframe for the ratification of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees.

Invite UN Experts in Other Areas Too

While Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the UN Human Rights Council can only visit a country with the host government’s invitation, SUARAM would like to point out that the WGAD had in fact made a request for a country visit to Malaysia way back in 2008. It was only in early 2010 that the Malaysian government officially and publicly confirmed its acceptance of the WGAD’s request to visit Malaysia.

To date, the Malaysian government has still not responded to eight pending requests by other Special Procedures Mandate Holders, namely the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders (request made in 2002); the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples (2005); the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion (2006); the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants (2006); the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism (2005); the Independent Expert on Minority Issues (2007 and 2009); the Special Rapporteur on Racism (2008); and Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (2009).

SUARAM therefore strongly calls upon the Malaysian government to extend standing invitations to all Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the UN Human Rights Council which have made requests for country visits to Malaysia as soon as possible.

Implement WGAD’s Recommendations Now!

Today, WGAD’s final report is being submitted to the UN Human Rights Council. The recommendations of the Working Group are clear enough for the government to make immediate human rights reforms.  The working group has also urged the Malaysian government to become a party to the main international instruments on human rights, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, (CERD), the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Protocol there to, the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Similar recommendations have already been made by other bodies such as the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), the Royal Commission on the Police, and UN member states. As such, there is no justification for the government to delay implementing these recommendations immediately, especially when Malaysia currently has a seat in the Human Rights Council.

The Malaysian government’s attitude toward these recommendations of the WGAD will be an indication of either its commitment to human rights or otherwise, its sheer hypocrisy while sitting in UN Human Rights Council.

Released by, Nalini.E, SUARAM Coordinator

Bakun and other damn floods

My friends at Suaram have been vigilant where no-one else has. I wrote on Bakun dam, resettlement and anthropological complicity in the journal Left Curve years ago (see link at the end of this post), and I remain interested in the politics of dams in general (from Aswan to Narmada to the Snowy Mountains). That there be opportunist politicians and compromised anthropologists comes as no surprise, but that they think they can pass themselves off as do-gooders (or at best naive) is not something that should pass unremarked. That Bakun and Suaram activists keep working at this juncture no doubt needs more support than this, and of course it would be good to see more than calls for an economic rethink, more than an expose of the schemings of piggy pollies, and surely more than a solidarity blog post like this. But the first step is to be informed, and Dr Kua Kia Soong leads the way.

THE SARAWAK DAMS: MULTIPLE FOLLIES

By Dr Kua Kia Soong, Director of SUARAM, 22 August 2008

The recent announcement that the Sarawak government intends to build 12 more dams in Sarawak apart from the ill-fated Bakun dam is cause for concern. It is a cause for grave concern. Malaysian tax payers, Malaysian forests and Malaysian indigenous peoples will again be the main victims of this misconceived plan.

The stop starting since the damned project was first proposed in the seventies, the proposal and abandonment of the aluminium smelter, the upsizing and downsizing of the dam, the inclusion or exclusion of the undersea cable project are all symptomatic of a wanton disregard for planning. Let us remind Malaysians of the ludicrous inconsistencies of official policy on this damned project:

On Off On Off On

In 1980, the Bakun dam was proposed with a power generating capacity of 2400 MW even though the projected energy needs for the whole of Sarawak was only 200MW for 1990. The project was thus coupled with the proposal to build the world’s longest (650 km) undersea cable to transmit electricity to the peninsula. An aluminium smelter at Bintulu was also proposed to take up the surplus energy.

In 1986, the project was abandoned because of the economic recession although the then Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir announced just before the UN Conference on Environment & Development at Rio that this was “proof of Malaysia’s commitment to the environment” (NST, 13.6.90)

In 1993, with the upturn in the Malaysian economy, the Government once again announced the revival of the Bakun HEP project. To cushion the expected protests, the Energy Minister Samy Vellu gave Parliament a poetic description of a “series of cascading dams” and not one large dam as had been originally proposed. Before long, it was announced that the Bakun dam would be a massive 205-metre high concrete face rockfill dam, one of the highest dams of its kind in the world and it would flood an area the size of Singapore Island. The undersea cable was again part of the project. There was also a plan for an aluminium plant, a pulp and paper plant, the world’s biggest steel plant and a high-tension and high-voltage wire industry.

Then in 1997, with the onset of the Asian financial crisis the Bakun project was put on hold for the second time. But the scandal was, while the anthropologists in all the Malaysian universities were sound asleep, the Government proceeded to remove 10,000 indigenous peoples made up of fifteen different ethnic groups from their ancestral lands. All this happened while the project was on hold and Malaysians shouted “Malaysia Boleh!”

In 1999, after the economy had recovered, the Government again announced that the project would be resumed albeit on a smaller scale of 500MW capacity.

Before long in 2001, the 2400MW scale was once again proposed although the submarine cable had been shelved. Today we read reports about the government and companies still contemplating this hare-brained scheme which is now estimated to cost a whopping RM21 billion! Not only that, we now hear that the 12 more hydroelectric dams will be generating a total capacity of 7000MW by 2020 – an increase of 600 per cent from current capacity!

Who Pays?

Ultimately it will be the Malaysian consumers who pay for this expensive figment of the Chief Minister’s wild imagination. Enough tax payers’ money has been wasted – Sarawak Hidro has already spent some RM1.5 billion on the project. The human cost has been immeasurable – 10,000 indigenous peoples have been removed from their ancestral lands in 1998 even while the project had been shelved.

Improve the Efficiency of our Power Stations

If the Prime Minister really wants to know the state of the Malaysian energy industry, he should ask for independent audits on every power station in the country. These should preferably be done by reputable international audit authorities from outside Malaysia. We are told that TNB is now selling off property, power stations are not working at full capacity and that the electricity industry is hugely indebted.

Right now, the country is being fed conflicting reports about energy demand. There is supposed to be a 43% oversupply of electricity capacity in peninsula Malaysia. Experienced Bakun dam watchers will tell you such conflicting and mutually contradictory assertions have been used by the dam proponents to justify every flip flop of this misconceived project.

Show Us the Plan!

Apart from the economic cost and the wastage, how are investors supposed to plan for the long-term and medium term? What is the long-term plan for Bakun? Can Bakun compete with the rest of the world or for that matter, Indonesia?

Aluminium smelters to take up the bulk of Bakun electricity have been mentioned ever since the conception of the Bakun dam project because they are such a voracious consumer of energy. Even so, has there ever been any proper assessment of the market viability of such a project with the cheaper operating costs in China?

Does it matter that the co-owner of one of the smelters is none other than Cahaya Mata Sarawak (CMS) Bhd Group that is controlled by Chief Minister Taib’s family business interest?

Clearly, Bakun energy and Sarawak’s tin pot governance do not give confidence to investors. First it was Alcoa, and then Rio Tinto also had second thoughts about investing in Sarawak.

Damn the Dams

Concerned NGOs have all along called for the abandonment of this monstrous Bakun dam project because it is economically ill-conceived, socially disruptive and environmentally disastrous. The environmental destruction is evident many miles downstream since the whole Bakun area has been logged by those who have already been paid by Sarawak Hidro.

The social atrophy among the 10,000 displaced indigenous peoples at Sungei Asap resettlement scheme remains the wicked testimony of the Mahathir/Taib era. The empty promises and damned lives of the displaced peoples as forewarned by the Concerned NGOs in 1999 have now been borne out.

The economic viability of the Bakun dam project has been in doubt from the beginning and the new scheme to build 12 more dams merely represents multiple follies and a scandalous flaw in planning.

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This was from Suaram. The money shot is from a blog post a few days back noting that ‘some 2,000 people from 400 families living downstream of the RM6bil Bakun hydro-electric dam project site in Belaga district in central Sarawak had been served eviction notices by the State Land and Survey Department’.

On the Politics of large dams, see Patrick McCully’s book Silenced Rivers, and an old piece of mine on the Bakun scheme from Left Curve #23 1999 ‘Resettling Bakun: Consultancy, Anthropologists and Development’.

Abolish Malaysian Detentions/Internal Security Act

I have written on this before, here, and now it really is time Malaysia decided to lead the world and abolish their outrageous ISA (holdover from the anti-communist Emergency, and legacy of British colonialism). Seriously guys, get rid of this embarrassment, even if it means getting rid of Badawi as well.

GERAKAN MANSUHKAN ISA

Press Statement: 1st August 2008

48 Years of ISA: We have had enough!

1st August marks 48 years of existence of the draconian and infamous law called the Internal Security Act (ISA). The ISA has its origin in the Emergency Regulations Ordinance 1948, which served its purpose and was subsequently repealed when the Emergency ended on 30th July, 1960. However, the power of detention without trial under Regulation 17 was subsequently transformed into Part II of the ISA.

In 1989, ISA detainees’ recourse to the courts of law was further curtailed when we dutifully followed our southern neighbor in ousting judicial review in matters concerning the minister’s power to detain any person under ISA. With the amendment, detainees can now only challenge the detention on procedural grounds.

Abuse and torture under ISA

Under the ISA, detainees are subject to an initial 60-day detention period in special police holding centers, allegedly for the purpose of investigation. No judicial order is required for such detentions. The locations of these holding centers are kept secret, and detainees are transported to and fro in blindfolds. Visits by family members are purely discretionary and, contrary to Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution, detainees are denied access to lawyers. As a result, the ISA has morphed into a powerful instrument of fear and suppression.

There have been many reports of abuse and torture perpetrated on ISA detainees during their detention. Among them have been: continuous interrogation by Special Branch officers for long hours without any breaks; threat of indefinite detention if detainees fail to answer questions directed by the officers; detainees kept in a small dark room; being forced to drink their own urine etc. There have also been reports of the Police Special Branch (SB) officers hitting the detainees’ penis and inserting hard objects into their anuses. The physical abuse has often been accompanied by vulgar and obscene words.

In a recent case, Sanjeev Kumar Krishnan (25) is now confined to a wheelchair as he has become partially paralyzed as a result of torture while under ISA detention, having lost the function of his left leg and hand. In another case, when the daughter of a current detainee, Shahrial Sirin, was hospitalized in serious condition, authorities delayed permission for him to visit her; by the time he was finally brought to the hospital his daughter had already died.

The Use of ISA under Abdullah Badawi

Since Abdullah Badawi came to power in 2003, the ISA has continued to be used in the same way in the name of “national security”, on people ranging from persons allegedly spreading rumours through SMS, to political dissidents and alleged “terrorists.” In 2007, the government continued its tactic of creating a climate of fear through the use of the ISA, threatening to invoke it upon bloggers who allegedly wrote inflammatory statements and upon those who participated in street demonstrations. This was stepped up in the run-up to the 2008 general election, and has continued to this date to prop up the ruling party’s weakened hold to the power.

Based on GMI’s monitoring, as of 30th June 2008, there were 64 detainees in the Kamunting Detention Camp. Most of them are alleged members of “religious extremist groups” including the Jemaah Islamiah (JI), while another significant number comprises those allegedly involved in counterfeiting currency or falsifying documents, and also THE 5 Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF)  activists. To date, none of the detainees has been charged with any offence in an open court. More than half of them are into their second detention order and out of that number, 24 are serving their sixth years detention and seven of them namely Yazid bin Suffat, Suhaimi bin Mokhtar, Shahrial @ Syahrial bin Sirin , Abdullah bin Daud , Abdullah Minyak bin Silam , Mat Sah bin Mohd Satray and Shamsuddin bin Sulaiman  are serving their seven year of detention.

We have a vast array of laws which provide an adequate legal frame-work to deal with threats against national security, counterfeiting currency or falsifying documents which do not by contravene universally accepted principles of justice and human rights. Why, therefore, is the ISA still needed?

GMI, in existence for more than seven years, has succeeded, through its many programmes, in raising public awareness about the injustice and cruelty of the ISA. It has also been able to put continuous pressure on the government by campaigning at home and abroad. As part of an intensive programme to campaign against the seventh year of detention of a number of current detainees, GMI has produced several publications and pamphlets which have been distributed throughout the country. A candle-light vigil was held outside the Kamunting detention camp on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the longest-standing detentions, and more recently a large public gathering was held in a stadium in Shah Alam.

Since the March 8 general election, with 82 Members Parliament and five states under its controls, the Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance) representatives have shown commitment to free the detainees and repeal the ISA. Several of State Governments concerned have also provided the much needed aid to the detainees’ families. GMI welcomes these commitment and measures taken by the Pakatan Rakyat governments.

GMI is encouraged by the growing public and international support for its campaign and resolves to continue with its work until its aims are achieved. In the following months, GMI will continue to focus on raising public awareness through exhibitions, petition on-line and signature campaigns. Specifically as one of the campaign against 48 years of the draconian ISA, a program open to public, called “Malam Seni ‘Tanpa Bicara'” will be held on the 2nd August 2008 in Bazar Melawati, Taman Melawati, Hulu Kelang, Selangor.

Finally, GMI once more urges the Government of Malaysia:

  • To immediately and unconditionally release all persons presently detained without trial, or prosecute them in a public and fair trial.
  • To immediately repeal all laws which allow for detention without trial, such as the ISA, Emergency Ordinance (EO) and Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA).
  • To immediately close all detention camps where detainees are held without trial.
  • To apologize to all detainees – past and present – held without trial, and provide compensation for their suffering, anguish and the injustice perpetrated upon them.
  • To investigate all complaints and cases of victimization, torture, cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment, tyranny and abuse of power in relation to past and present ISA detentions, and to prosecute the perpetrators by establishing a Royal Commission of Inquiry for the said purpose.

● To immediately debate SUHAKAM’s reports in Parliament and implement its recommendations to repeal ISA and other restricted laws.

  • To commit to a monthly dialogue session on human rights issues with representatives of SUHAKAM, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, non-governmental organizations, human rights groups and the Bar Council.
  • To recognize, respect and restore the inherent powers of the Judiciary as an independent check on the powers of the Executive and police, including repealing laws which have ousted the judicial review of Executive actions or decisions.

Abolish ISA!

Release all ISA Detainees!

Close down KEMTA!

Razor-wire Imperialism

Weekly Worker 489 Thursday July 17 2003
Razor-wire Imperialism
From Guantanamo to Kumingting to Campsfield, detention without trial is used to divide and rule. John Hutnyk calls for an international working class response…

 

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