Pushing back boat carrying refugees and scurrilous attack wrong – Statement dd 4/28/2020

On 16 April 2020, the Malaysian Navy pushed back to sea a boat carrying Rohingyas. In violation of international law obligations to provide access to asylum seekers. In January this year, the International Court of Justice ruled that the Rohingyas were “extremely vulnerable” to military violence; and faced the threat of genocide. Sending them back to a territory where they would be at risk of such dire human rights violations clearly falls afoul of general international human rights as well as customary international law.pdf

Predictably, there has been a rising chorus of protest against the government’s action. Unfortunately, there have also been vicious attacks against those who have expressed concern. We refer in particular to one such statement by the Ambassador to Malaysia of The European Rohingya Council Tengku Emma Zuriana Bt Tengku Azmi who expressed her organisation’s grave disquiet.

Regretfully, instead of a civil and balanced reasoned discussion or response, her statement was visited upon by a sustained barrage of vitriolic abuse. Which transcended into personal, aggressive, racist and sexist comments. It even incited criminal acts of rape and physical violence against her person. Read more

Parliamentary Session Limited to its Mere Opening is Wrong – Statement dd 4/27/2020

HAKAM notes with concern the Prime Minister’s decision to convene a mere 1- day sitting on 18th May 2020. We also understand that there will not be room for debates on 18th May 2020 as the schedule only accommodates the Royal Address and the first reading of several Government Bills.pdf

The Constitution requires Parliament to be summoned from time to time and in any event within 6 months of the last sitting. This strikes a balance between allowing the government to do things, and holding them to account. So that the peoples’ representatives can scrutinise government actions, ask questions, propose alternatives and force them to reveal information and justify their actions. This will inspire public confidence in any measures taken by the
government.

Summoning Parliament just to allow for its opening by the King without more hence subverts this critical Parliamentary role. It fulfils the letter but not the substance of the Constitutional requirement. Its validity is clearly questionable. Read more

The need for a Comprehensive Policy for Migrant Workers during the Covid 19 Pandemic – Statement dd 4/24/2020

HAKAM Media Statement

The need for a Comprehensive Policy for Migrant Workers during the Covid 19 Pandemic

There are at present 2 million documented migrant workers in Malaysia. The number of undocumented migrant workers are estimated to be 1.5 million to 4 million. [1]

Migrant Workers are one of the most vulnerable groups that are disproportionately affected by the Covid 19 Pandemic. Most of them have been left without employment, social and health security. pdf

The lack of decent housing and accommodation prevents the implementation of proactive measures which could further trigger the spread of the virus.

There are at present many barriers facing migrant workers to access the healthcare facilities. These barriers include access, costs, language, fear of arrest and detention. Read more

Implications of a 1-Day Parliament Sitting – HAKAM Yoth Statement

HAKAM Youth expresses concern over the convening of a 1-Day Parliament Sitting on 18 May 2020, as announced by the Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on 17 April 2020. 

As Article 55(1) of our Constitution provides, the Prime Minister may advise the YDPA to postpone the Parliament, provided that it is not to a date more than six months after the last sitting. The act of announcing the 1-Day Parliament Sitting on 18 May has fulfilled the constitutional requirement to a degree of pedantic compliance so as to avoid being seen as proroguing the Parliament.

In the face of a global pandemic, all branches of government must come together in overcoming the aftermath with the Judiciary taking a lead on hearing matters online, a historic first. The newly-formed Cabinet, however, invoked the Prevention And Control Of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and declared a Movement Control Order (MCO) from 18 March 2020. Although the MCO has been effective in its purpose of flattening the curve, the way forward as a nation—such as mass randomised testing or further economic stimulus—remains largely unclear.  Read more

We need to be vigilant at all times – Law Speak

From the Sundaily

THE Covid-19 pandemic has abruptly altered life. The government has introduced measures the likes of which were unimaginable barely a few weeks ago. They are larger than any implemented before and keep us away from social life, from extended familial connections, workplaces and more.

These have been accompanied by sanctions and penalties. Generally surveys show that the public approves them. Fear from the fatality figures paraded daily, has clearly influenced this. And the public accepts that the strictures on their life are well intentioned and justified. After all they will expire when the scourge ends.

But there are mixed signals emanating from on high. The prime minister spoke of the need to adjust to a “new normal” – even after the pandemic is “conquered”. Read more

Punitive versus facilitative police action – Statement dd 4/3/2020

Last week a number of people were shown being bundled off in police vans. All handcuffed. Later remanded in police lockups. And subsequently, charged in court. Facing potential punishment of fines and even imprisonment.

Photo from the Star Online

Even earlier, I am sure many were startled to see the police pdfleading an accused down a court stairway. Shirt ruffled, hands behind his back, shackled. He will be tried soon, the narrative said.

These are not some high criminals. They are ordinary members of the public who were found outside their abodes during this Covid-stricken stay-home lockdown. Ostensibly, for violating measures and laws.

Charges can be laid under section 269 of the Penal Code for the offence of committing a negligent act likely to spread infection of any disease dangerous to life. The offence carries a six-month jail term and/or fine upon conviction. As well as under rule 3(1) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020, which carries a RM1,000 fine or six-month jail term. Read more