What doesn’t kill makes you stronger — The other side of Farouk Musa

Source: FMT News

Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)’s Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa — Pic drawn from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: The year 2017 was eventful for Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, who heads the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), an organisation he formed eight years ago with the aim of empowering Muslims intellectually.

But it was a path full of thorns, especially when not many, especially within Malaysia’s Islamic bureaucracy, share his ideas on Islam.

His arguments in favour of liberal democracy, secularism, and human rights offer a completely refreshing view from what many have been accustomed to. Farouk believes that challenging long-held views thought as “Islamic” is most effective, and credible, by approaching it from the Islamic scholarly tradition.

That did not stop the government from taking action on him amid accusations that he was promoting “liberal Islam”. Read more

Malaysian transgender trailblazer Khartini named regional ‘hero’

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Transgender activist Khartini Slamah was among the 21 finalists selected from over 350 nominations across the region, and ended up being one of the eight activists awarded. ― Picture courtesy of APCOM

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 ― Local transgender activist Khartini Slamah, who was among the first to mobilise the community in the late 1980s, was feted with a Hero Award by Bangkok-based regional sexual minorities advocacy group APCOM last night.

Khartini, known to her friends as Kak Tini, was among the 21 finalists selected from over 350 nominations across the region, and ended up being one of the eight activists awarded.

“Khartini Slamah is Malaysia’s esteemed transgender activist who dedicated service to transgender rights and health,” the group said in a social media post announcing Khartini’s Hero Award in the “Transgender Hero” category. Read more

Walk the talk on human rights, Amnesty tells govt

Source: FMT News

Human rights organisation launches Brave campaign to push government to put its human rights declaration in the UN into practice. Pic from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: Amnesty International (AI) has launched a campaign to support “oppressed” activists to push for more effective implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

The campaign, known as Brave, is meant to empower, protect and support global human rights defenders in the face of rampant arrests.

AI-Malaysia’s executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said Brave would push for the government to put the human rights declaration into practice.

“It’s time the government fulfils what they had promised earlier when they declared they acknowledged the role of human rights activists and the need to protect them,” she said at a press conference after the launch of the campaign.

The declaration provides specific protection for human rights defenders in the context of their work, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Read more

Report on “Build and Develop Effective Engaging Content” Workshop — Alaleh Eghbali

(All photos courtesy of HAKAM)

Strengthening Civil Society Advocacy Through Effective Engaging Communication

NGOs and CSOs in the new world are continuously trying to engage audiences and spread their message across the public. It may seem that it is getting harder to reach people and get them involved in civil society missions, but it should be noted means of communication have changed; Social Media has changed the game. It has now become the main source of accessing and spreading news and content.


A large number of NGOs and CSOs in Malaysia still rely on the usual traditional methods of advocacy through press statements and forums. These medium have limited capacity to reach, and a limited opportunity of debate and discussions with audiences. In light of these circumstances, HAKAM has embarked on a social media training journey since 2016, with the first workshop “Leverage on Social Media for Impactful Social Change”.  The success of the first workshop, and the positive feedback from the participants, lead to the organization of a second workshop in March 2017.

In the second workshop, facilitated by cilisos.my‘s Lau Chak Onn, members of NGOs and activist gathered to sharpen their skills of content development for social media, and learn how to send their message in the most interesting, informative, and concise way possible.  Read more

Activist Lena Hendry disappointed over conviction

Source: The Star Online

Lena Hendry - Pic from Human Rights in ASEAN Online Platform.

Lena Hendry – Pic from Human Rights in ASEAN Online Platform.

KUALA LUMPUR: Activist Lena Hendry was convicted by a magistrate’s court over the charge of screening a Sri Lankan civil war documentary that had not been approved by the Censorship Board.

Hendry, 32, who stood expressionless in the dock upon hearing the verdict, said she was disappointed with the judgment.

“We will definitely appeal. No proof to convict me,” Hendry, who was accompanied by her lawyer New Sin Yew, told reporters here Tuesday.

Her well-wishers, friends and supporters surrounded her after the judgment, and they hugged and consoled her.

A supporter of her was holding a placard saying “Human Rights Documentaries are not dangerous”.

One of those present in the public gallery was Ivy Josiah, who is Hakam’s (National Human Rights Society) exco member and former executive director of Women Aid Organisation. Read more

Report on on the “Leverage on Social Media for Impactful Social Change” Workshop — Justine Chew

(all photos courtesy of HAKAM)

Strengthening Civil Society Advocacy through Effective Use of Social Media

“When we change to way we communicate, we change society.” — Clay Shirky

Social Media has over the past 10 years changed communication between individuals, organisations and nations. This ever evolving communication technology continues to transform the way people interact and even the way they think.  That is the reason, Social Media now occupies a vital portion of many successful corporations’ organizational and business strategies. Governments have also recognized the power of social media – to further their causes and goals, construct and deconstruct societies. Government and politics are changed, and some destroyed, through the use of social media.


In other parts of the world, civil society leaders and organizations have long teamed up with technology and social media experts to address community challenges through social media and this partnership had created new interesting solutions for those organisations to better serve their community.

However, Malaysian Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have yet to leverage much on social media tools notwithstanding that (a) the tools are readily available, and (b) social media is a proven potent platform to shape conversations and influence opinions, facilitate speedier and more effective engagement and sharing of information.

“Old ways won’t open new doors.”

CSOs have in the past and still do rely on the usual traditional methods of advocacy through press statements and forum and town hall meetings. Traditional medium like these are limited in its capacity to reach and often offer very limited space or time for any discussion or conversation to take place between the speaker and the audience.

Under these circumstances, and seeing the limited success in advocacy campaigns by Malaysian CSOs in general, HAKAM developed and implemented a How to Leverage on Social Media for Impactful Social Change in Malaysia Workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 16-17 July 2016. HAKAM’s strategy for this capacity building workshop was to engage and partner with social media experts to train human rights activists, CSO representatives and volunteers  in harnessing the tools and potential of social media, covering areas of technology and content for effective advocacy. Read more

Switzerland honours Sarawak activists

Source: FMT News

Penan organiser Komeok Joe and anti-dam activist Peter Kallang honoured for their commitment to the protection of Sarawak’s rainforests and defending indigenous rights. Pic taken from FMT News.

Penan organiser Komeok Joe and anti-dam activist Peter Kallang honoured for their commitment to the protection of Sarawak’s rainforests and defending indigenous rights. Pic taken from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Switzerland has honoured two Sarawak activists with the Bruno Manser Prize for Moral Courage.

They were Komeok Joe and Peter Kallang, the Bruno Manser Fund announced in a statement today.

The prize is named after rainforest activist Bruno Manser and honours personalities who have proven moral courage in defending the environment and human rights.

Komeok Joe and Peter Kallang are the first to receive the new award and were chosen for their outstanding commitment in defending indigenous rights in Sarawak, the press release said.

Komeok Joe, member of Malaysia’s indigenous peoples network Joas, was honoured for his struggle to defend the rights of the Penan.

Since the late 1980s, he had been working to protect Sarawak’s remaining primary forests and for the acknowledgement of the land rights of the Penan.

The statement said the commitment of Komeok Joe and the Penan Selungo communities had resulted in significant areas of primary rainforests being preserved until today.

Peter Kallang, as chairman of the grassroots network SAVE Rivers, was honoured for his courage in defending indigenous livelihoods against the threat of dams.

He and his fellow activists had managed to convince the Sarawak Government to cancel the Baram Dam, which would have led to the resettlement of up to 20,000 indigenous people, the statement said. Read more

Activist freed over uncensored movie screening charge [updated]

Source: FMT News

Pic taken from FMT News

Pic taken from FMT News

KUALA LUMPUR: Community Communication Centre (Komas) programme coordinator and activist Lena Hendry was freed today by the Magistrate’s Court over a charge of screening an uncensored movie.

Magistrate Mohd Rehan Mohd Aris ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against Lena.

“Thus, the accused is acquitted and discharged,” he said.

She was charged on Sep 19, 2013, under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act 2002 for screening an uncensored film, “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”, at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commmerce Hall in Jalan Maharajalela, Kuala Lumpur, at 9pm on July 3, 2013.

Speaking to reporters, Lena expressed her happiness over her acquittal.

“This has been a long journey of two-and-a-half years for me.”

“They (prosecution) should not have charged me in the first place for just screening a film,” she said.

She said prosecution of activists under laws such as the Sedition Act, Communications and Multimedia Act for their work on defending human rights should be stopped. Read more

International Women’s Day: Recognizing One Woman’s Fight for LGBT Rights in Malaysia

Source: Human Rights Campaign


Lyana Khairuddin – pic taken from The Star Online

hrc-general-blog1600In honor of International Women’s Day, HRC Global is spotlighting women who are advancing equality around the globe, including Lyana Khairuddin, a self-described “HIV & AIDS advocate” from Malaysia. Lyana, a bisexual, Muslim woman who served as an HRC global fellow last fall, is working in Malaysia to fight discrimination and the spread of HIV & AIDS in her country.

“Navigating activism around LGBT rights is an uphill struggle,” she says. “There is a multidimensional complexity to discussing these issues, especially when there is an increasingly restricted space for expression. “

Lyana’s work in Malaysia is not easy. Many human rights challenges are plaguing Malaysia, including the right to gender expression and unfortunate incidences of violence and discrimination. Read more

Malaysia must end unprecedented crackdown on hundreds of critics through Sedition Act – Amnesty International

Source: Amnesty International US

Press Release, January 26, 2016

Malaysia must end unprecedented crackdown on hundreds of critics through Sedition Act

Malaysia’s government has launched an unprecedented crackdown through the Sedition Act over the past two years to silence, harass and lock up hundreds of critics, Amnesty International said in a new briefing today.

Critical Repression: Freedom of Expression Under Attack in Malaysia shows how the use of the Sedition Act – which gives authorities sweeping powers to target those who oppose them – has skyrocketed since the Barisan Nasional coalition government narrowly won the 2013 general elections, with around 170 sedition cases in that period.

In 2015 alone, at least 91 individuals were arrested, charged or investigated for sedition – almost five times as many as during the law’s first 50 years of existence.

“Speaking out in Malaysia is becoming increasingly dangerous. The government has responded to challenges to its authority in the worst possible way, by tightening repression and targeting scores of perceived critics,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s South East Asia Deputy Campaigns Director. Read more