Strict Controls Maintained on Freedom of Expression, Assembly and Association
(New York, January 25, 2011) – Repressive practices by Malaysia’s government show that Prime Minister Seri Najib Tun Razak’s pledge to “uphold civil liberties” was little more than an empty promise, Human Rights Watch said today in its *World Report 2011*. The 649-page report, Human Rights Watch’s 21st annual review of human rights practices around the globe, summarizes major human rights trends in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide. The Malaysian government gagged critics, kept hundreds in detention without charge or trial, and restricted the rights to freedom of assembly and association, despite pledges made during Malaysia’s successful campaign for election to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch said. “The Malaysian government is all talk and no action when it comes to human rights,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Prime Minister Najib and his ministers are mistaken if they think that floating ‘trial balloons’ to make badly needed changes to laws and policies is enough to keep Malaysian civil society and the international community at bay.”
In Malaysia <http://www.hrw.org/en/world-report-2011/malaysia>, the report says, the government does not hesitate to use draconian laws to harass or gag journalists critical of the authorities, human rights defenders, civil society activists, or members of the political opposition. In a year that marked the 50th anniversary of the Internal Security Act (ISA), promised government action to reform security-related laws permitting preventive detention never materialized. Police regularly dispersed peaceful public assemblies, and the authorities used broadly worded statutes to prohibit publications and bully reporters and writers. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention visited Malaysia in 2010 and recommended that Malaysia repeal all of its preventive detention laws. The government not only continued to use the ISA but further expanded itsdefinition of what constitutes a security issue by wider application ofexisting law. The government also continued to use the Police Act 1967 to harass or ban peaceful public protests, marches, or meetings by opposition politicians and activists, Human Rights Watch said. Freedom of expression faced major challenges from the government during 2010. Officials harassed journalists, confiscated published materials for “review,” banned publications outright or suspended them for activities allegedly beyond the scope of their publishing license, and suspended publications while annual reviews of licenses, required under the 1984 Printing Presses and Publications Act, were negotiated. The political cartoonist Zunar was charged with sedition and several of his books were banned by the government. Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein claimed Zunar’s books commented in a negative way on the legal system and on religion and were detrimental to public order. The Home Ministry again denied Malaysiakini, a web-based daily newspapernot afraid to probe government assertions, a license for a print edition. Malaysiakini has applied and been denied a license every year since 2002. Power to deny or revoke a license is granted to Malaysia’s home minister under the 1984 Printing Presses and Publications Act. His decisions cannot be challenged. Previous government promises to preserve an open Internet took the biggest hit in 2010, Human Rights Watch said.
Prime Minister Najib led the way, backtracking from his vision of a media sector where journalists could “report what they see, without fear of consequence.” Yet by September, following a government investigation of websites and social networking pages, Najib’s rhetoric stressed that “those going against the law, whether it is defamation or whether it is inciting racial hatred, religious hatred, then you have to be responsible for your actions.” Government repression of the media was facilitated by broadly worded regulations on incitement, sedition, and public order that are used forpolitical ends, Human Rights Watch said. The Communication and Multimedia Act 1998, for example, prohibits “content which is indecent, obscene, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person.” The Sedition Act 1948 makes it a criminal offense to “excite disaffection against any Ruler or against any Government;” “to promote feelings of ill will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Malaysia;” or “to to raise discontent or disaffection…amongst the inhabitants of Malaysia.” Malaysia also hastily drafted amendments to the Anti-Trafficking in PersonsAct that will likely reduce rather than enhance protections for traffickingvictims as well as smuggled migrant workers. Government measures to counterhuman trafficking fall short of the prevention, protection, and prosecutionmeasures that are necessary to deal with the long-entrenched problem, HumanRights Watch said. Rather than a serious and sustained effort, Malaysian officials have opted for short-term and ill-considered measures, Human Rights Watch said. Human Rights Watch called on the Malaysian government to:
-Revoke the ISA and other arbitrary and preventive detention measures;
-Rescind the Printing Presses and Publications Act, and narrow the legal definition of sedition;
-Amend the Police Act to provide for reasonable and negotiated conditions for assembly; and
-Revoke amendments to the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act that conflate human trafficking and the smuggling of people, and
-Craft legislation that will protect the rights of victims of trafficking, migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.
“Malaysia has a long way to go to be the rights-respecting nation that itsgovernment leaders claim it to be,” Robertson said. “The slogan of One Malaysia should apply to respect for international human rights standards, with renewed commitment followed by concrete actions.”
To read Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2011 chapter on Malaysia, please visit: http://www.hrw.org/en/world-report-2011/malaysia
To read the Human Rights Watch World Report 2011, please visit: http://www.hrw.org/en/world-report-2011
2 thoughts on “Malaysia: Action to Improve Rights Falls Far Short”
Malaysia’s Muslims have ‘no way out’
JOHOR BAHRU, Malaysia — In multiethnic Malaysia, where Islam is the official religion but freedom of religion is guaranteed under the constitution, the majority Malays are born Muslim and apostasy is all but impossible for them.
Cases of aspiring apostates are handled by Shariah courts, rather than civil courts. According to the Koran, apostasy is grounds for death, and no Muslim should assist another out of the religion. So the appeals usually sit, and sit. Many would-be apostates don’t live to see their conversion officially recognized.
Some have been jailed. As one religious scholar put it, “In Malaysia, there’s a way into Islam, but no way out.”
Although proselytizing of Muslims by non-Muslims is forbidden, the reverse is permissible. Proselytizers have been sent to jail under the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for indefinite detention without trial. Hands off our Muslims, who make up 60 percent of the population, the Malay-led government appears to be saying.
The government is especially worried about Christian proselytizing, said Shad Salem Faruq, professor of law at the University of Technology MARA.
MAJLIS-MAJLIS ILMU 28-30 JANUARY 2010
28hb JAN 2011 – PENGAJIAN HABIB ALI, SURAU AL HIDAYAH, KERAMAT AU3 JAM 915PM
29hb JAN 2011 – USTAZ AZHAR IDRUS, CERAMAH PERDANA DI MASJID AR RIDUAN HULU KELANG LEPAS MAHGRIB.
30hb JAN 2011 MAJLIS MAWLID DI MASJID KOLEJ ISLAM MALAYA, PUSAT ASASI UIAM PJ, LEPAS MAGHRIB
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