Saturday, July 31, 2010

ISA ‘beyond repair’ Malaysian infamy

ISA ‘beyond repair’, say groups

Saturday, 31 July 2010 Combat

“It has done the country a lot of bad because of the reputation it has given us. (Malaysia) is not a respecter of human rights and that puts us in the lead of a very backward country,” he said, calling the ISA a black mark for the country.

“It puts people in fear of speaking out even if they are speaking out for justice. It represses the people and the creativity of Malaysians and not to mention, it has also put more than 10,000 people under detention,” he said.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 — Human rights groups and lawyers have continued to rubbish Putrajaya’s efforts to amend the Internal Security Act (ISA), reiterating that the five-decade-old security law was “beyond repair” and should be abolished entirely.

The Home Ministry announced recently that the Cabinet was currently studying amendments to six preventive laws including the ISA which, among others, will see changes to the powers of the home minister, the duration of the detention period and rights of detainees under confinement.

The ministry, however, stressed that the ISA would not be abolished, despite rising opposition, and would merely be tweaked to protect detainees. The amendments are expected to be tabled in the next parliamentary sitting.

Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) chairman Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh told The Malaysian Insider that it made little sense to merely amend an Act that, by allowing detention without trial, not only strips away basic human rights, but also silences any dissenting voices in the community.

“The essential problem with ISA is that it cultivates a culture of fear. At any point in time, if the government or politicians feel a person is a threat to national security, they can just arrest him or her.

“No one is allowed to exercise their duty and criticise the government because the minute he does that, he can be threatened by the ISA,” he said.

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) director Dr Kua Kia Soong echoed Syed Ibrahim’s sentiments.

“It has done the country a lot of bad because of the reputation it has given us. (Malaysia) is not a respecter of human rights and that puts us in the lead of a very backward country,” he said, calling the ISA a black mark for the country.

“It puts people in fear of speaking out even if they are speaking out for justice. It represses the people and the creativity of Malaysians and not to mention, it has also put more than 10,000 people under detention,” he said.

Kua, formerly a detainee himself during Operasi Lalang in 1987, claimed that the oppressive Act had changed the tone and the spirit of even the most outspoken communities.

“I know the NGOs before Operation Lalang... they were not as fearful as they were after it. The NGO communities tended to be the more outspoken community (back then), so imagine the effect it had on university students and politicians... it has definitely frightened people,” Kua said.

Bar Council constitutional law committee chairman Edmund Bon claimed that most of the lawyers in country agreed that such an Act should be repealed.

“We have about 13,000 lawyers and I think a large majority of us agree that any Act that denies (the right pf people to defend themselves in court) should be repealed.

“It should be repealed wholesale and not amended because there is no need for the ISA,” he said, adding that there were other preventive laws that could be used to punish offenders.

“There are various other laws that people can be charged under. If the government wants an extended period for investigations of certain complicated crimes, (the detention period) should be up to 28 days from 14 days, no more,” he said, adding that by then the detainee should either be released or be charged in court.

Kua pointed out the irony that out of the 10,000-plus people detained under the ISA thus far, none was charged with any crime, let alone for terrorism.

“That shows the ISA is a sham.

“I have always argued against amendment. Repeal it, for the simple reason the first atrocities committed are usually during the first week of solitary confinement,” Kua said. He cited numerous reports on abuse and torture of detainees during the solitary confinement period.

He said the provision in the ISA allowing for 60 days of solitary confinement was the longest in the world.

According to Syed Ibrahim, the longest anyone had been detained was for 22 years and that person was detained when Singapore was still a part of Malaysia.

He said that although in terms of numbers, the ISA’s current number of detainees is way smaller than those detained under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) Act 1969 and the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) 1985, which totals about 1,000 detainees, the ISA was still the “mother of cruel laws”.

Kua concurred, saying that once the ISA is repealed, it would clear the path for the abolishment of the EO and DDA.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

ISA Malaysia infamy

UPDATE : Details of the venue for the vigil in the other states are as follows :

PENANG : at Speakers Square. For details, call Jing Cheng @ 012-7583779

PERAK : at Dataran Bandaraya Ipoh. For details, call Dr Kumar @ 019-5616807

KEDAH : at Dataran Zero KM, Sg Petani. For details, call Simon Ooi @ 012- 4202264

KELANTAN : at Taman Hijau, Jalan Sultanah Zainab ( after Merdeka field ). For details, call Zaidi @ 012-3840415

SEREMBAN : at Dataran Seremban. For details, call Veron @ 016-6687900

SIBU : No.25, Pusat Tanah Wang, Jalan Perdada, 96000 Sibu, Sarawak. For details, call George @ 019-8873535

Kuching : at Lots 468-469, Bangunan Al Idrus Commercial Centre, Jalan Satok, 93400 Kuching. For details, call See Chee How @ 019-8886509 or Zulkifli @ 013-8958174

Let us end ISA forever.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sarawak Ibans trials

Logging woes: Ibans seek supernatural help

By Joseph Tawie

SEBUYAU: The native Ibans of nine longhouses in Sebangan and Sebuyau have resorted to performing a traditional “miring” ceremony which involved summoning their “petara” (gods) and the spirit of their ancestors to help them resolve their dispute with the Quality Concrete logging company over their communal forest. But the company which received its licence from the Sarawak Forest Corporation to log timbers in the area thinks it is a virgin jungle not owned by anyone.

The 3,305 hectares is home to many rare species of timber, flora and fauna. It is also the primary source of drinking water for this native community.

“Today we held a ‘miring’ ceremony and called upon our ‘petara’ and the spirits of our great grandfathers to cast a spell on those who cross the line of blockade.

“We have to do this as a last resort after our meeting with the company and authorities failed to stop them from going into our sacred forest,” said Nicholas Mujah, a leader from the nine longhouses.

“Anyone who dares pass through the line of the blockade will suffer the consequences either by the spirits or by us,” he warned.

'We can be violent'

The Ibans mounted a blockade yesterday to stop Quality Concrete Holdings' workers from entering the area.

“It was just like a ‘cat and mouse’ game when the natives chased after the loggers who were using eight tractors to construct roads to the forest.

“Today is the second day running that we have mounted the blockade,” said Mujah who is also the secretary-general of the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association.

He said for the past four days the company had been carrying out activities such as making camps and constructing rails or roads into the forested area and in the process many of their rubber and fruit trees have been destroyed.

“On July 14, we submitted evidence to the Land and Survey Department to prove that the disputed area belongs to us,” said Mujah, warning that they might take the law into their own hands if the authorities failed to stop the company.

“We will continue our blockade. And we do mean business. Up to now we have been very tolerant. But if they persist we can also be very violent,” he said.

He said if anything should happen, the villagers should not be blamed as they had already informed the police, the district officer, the Land Survey Department and the Sarawak Forest Corporation.

Meanwhile, it is understood that the Sarawak Forest Corporation had temporarily suspended the company’s licence until further notice.

Mujah said that the temporary suspension of the licence could be due to the current change in the state government’s policy on native customary rights (NCR) land as announced by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

The state government has started to recognise NCR land which is to be surveyed and to be gazetted as native communal reserve, said Mujah.

“In a way it is our victory, but we cannot celebrate yet. We are watching the development very closely,” said Numpang Anak Suntai, another leader of the group.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Chief Minister of Sarawak, Abdul Taib Mahmud systematically plundered a country once rich in natural resources, oil and timber.

Malaysia's Timber Baron coming to the UK - Join the protest

Where: Entrance of the Said Business School, Park End Street, Oxford OX1 1HP
When: From 9.30 am Monday 26th July 2010

One of Asia’s greatest kleptocrats and single-handedly one of the most destructive forces against the environment and the people who depend on it, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, Abdul Taib Mahmud, will be making the opening address at the Said Business School’s inaugural Islamic Branding and Marketing Forum on Monday 26th July.

During his 30 years of iron grip over Sarawak, Taib Mahmud has systematically plundered a country once rich in natural resources, oil and timber. He and his family are now multi-billionaires, while indigenous tribes resort to the law courts to reclaim their ancestral lands.

Indigenous tribes are struggling to keep logging and oil palm plantations out of the last corners of their ancestral lands, some which are the last remaining areas of bio-diversity left on earth. Recent reports have revealed shocking evidence of their treatment, including the systematic rape and abuse of their women by logging workers, an outrage that Taib Mahmud has refused to acknowledge or investigate.

Abdul Taib Mahmud has destroyed all but 3% of the Borneo jungle in the state, which had been handed all but intact into the care of his uncle, his predecessor. Habitats which are home to the Orang Utan, proboscis monkey, a plethora of unique plant and animal life have been destroyed due to his rapacious and unsustainable plunder of the jungle. Oil Palm plantations span the length and breadth of Sarawak where ancient trees once stood before they were cut down. One would think that proceeds from exports would have been ploughed back into the state but the people of Sarawak remain some of the poorest in Malaysia.

Taib Mahmud’s ‘business interests’ are notorious. The whole state of Sarawak has been illegally absorbed into the possession of his cronies and family members through ‘privatisations’ and the handing out of palm oil and timber concessions, via arbitrary state acquisitions of native lands. He now runs the State as a family business, maintained through systematic electoral intimidation and fraud. See SarawakReport for evidence linking Taib to multi-million dollar properties in Canada, the US and the UK.

Taib Mahmud has laughably advertised his UK visit as a promotion of ‘Green Development’ in Sarawak and will be focussing on the promotion of Islamic and Halal products, his latest venture, during his visit to Oxford. But, we ask – just how ‘Halal’ are products produced under the auspices of this man ?

It is a standing disgrace that Oxford University should be extending a hand of welcome and supporting the status of such a man. His wealth and ability to endow is not in doubt, however there is no possible basis of legitimacy for such wealth, as can only be plainly apparent to all his hosts.

The people of Sarawak are struggling to rid themselves of this man and his parasitical family and to preserve their unique environmental heritage from his further ‘business ventures’.

Please lend your support to their struggle and to the campaign to preserve what is left of the Book of Life and the Borneo Jungle’s natural wealth. Defend the rights of the indigenous tribes that rely on the rainforest for their livelihoods. Demand that Taib Mahmud explain the source of money that has enabled him to purchase multi-million pound properties in Canada, USA and the UK. Urge the Malaysian government to seek justice for the Penan women who have been raped and sexually abused by loggers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Report reveals rape of tribeswomen by loggers

Report reveals rape of tribeswomen by loggers 20 July


A new report has exposed an ‘environment of violence’ against tribeswomen in Borneo. According to the report, released by a coalition of Malaysian human rights groups called the Penan Support Group, there have been repeated cases of rape and sexual assault against Penan women by the loggers who are destroying the tribe’s forests.

They follow allegations by other Penan women in 2008, which the Malaysian government denied but was later forced to confirm.

The report condemns the Malaysian government for giving lucrative logging concessions on Penan land to ‘private companies closely tied to the state government’, resulting in ‘dispossession, destruction, dislocation and impoverishment’ and an ‘environment of violence’ which leaves Penan women and girls ‘highly vulnerable’.

The Sarawak state government has licensed the Penan’s land to logging and plantation companies that have devastated the rainforests the tribe rely on.

The Malaysian Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development has refuted the new allegations. The Chief Minister of Sarawak also denied the previous allegations of rape, saying they were ‘lies’ and an attempt at ‘sabotage’. A government investigation later confirmed that the women’s claims were true.

Officials have continued to dismiss the issue. When the BBC confronted Sarawak’s Minister for Land Development with the statement of a teenage Penan rape victim, he said, ‘They change their stories, and when they feel like it. That’s why I say the Penan are very good storytellers.’

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Logging has brought the Penan nothing but abuse, with rape, violence and hunger now commonplace. For the government to react by calling them ‘storytellers’, and pretending all this is ‘progress’ is appalling.’

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is due to visit some Penan villages on July 22.

Download the Penan Support Group’s report

Act now to help the Penan

The Orang Asli need help, not insults

The Orang Asli need help, not insults The forest means many things to the Orang Asli, but first and foremost it is home. For timber mer...