HAKAM Condemns Arrest & 3-Day Remand of Patrick Teoh; Calls for His Immediate Release – Statement dd 2/11/2020

HAKAM condemns the unwarranted arrest and 3-day remand of local radio personality and actor Patrick Teoh by the Johor police for alleged insults against Crown Prince Tunku Ismail.  pdf

HAKAM is of the view that there is no basis to invoke the remand procedure primarily because Patrick Teoh had at all times cooperated with the police. HAKAM wishes to remind authorities to respect the right of personal liberty of the individual who has not yet been proven guilty guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.

This is particularly so when Patrick Teoh is 73 years of age and confining him for 3 days may pose a risk to his health amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.  Read more

Kenyataan Atas Siasatan Polis Tashny Sukumaran – HAKAM Youth

Pemuda HAKAM merakamkan solidariti untuk wartawan South China Morning Post (SCMP), Tashny Sukumaran yang kini sedang disiasat oleh pihak polis di bawah Seksyen 504 Kanun Keseksaan dan Seksyen 233 Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998 selepas menerbitkan suatu artikel pada 1 Mei 2020. Artikel tersebut adalah berkenaan serbuan yang dijalankan oleh pihak berkuasa ke atas warga migran dan pelarian secara besar-besaran semasa pandemik COVID-19.

Artikel Cik Tashny yang dikatakan “membangkitkan pecah keamanan” merupakan artikel yang penuh berfakta. Operasi serbuan yang dijalankan baru-baru ini telah mengundang pelbagai kritikan kerana tidak mematuhi langkah penjarakan sosial sempena pelaksanaan Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan. Beratus-ratus orang termasuk kanak-kanak telah ditahan dan dibawa ke pusat penahanan yang penuh sesak, maka potensi peningkatan risiko jangkitan virus dan pembentukan kluster baru menjadi tinggi. Ironinya, pihak berkuasa menerangkan bahawa operasi tersebut diperlukan untuk mengelakkan migran yang tidak berdokumen daripada bergerak ke kawasan lain supaya perebakan virus dapat dihentikan. Read more

Statement on Tashny Sukumaran’s Police Investigation – HAKAM Youth Statement

HAKAM Youth expresses solidarity with journalist Tashny Sukumaran who has been called for an investigation with the authorities after publishing an article dated 1 May 2020 on South China Morning Post (SCMP). The article, which reported the mass raids conducted on migrant workers and refugees in Malaysia amidst the COVID-19
pandemic, is alleged to have violated Section 504 of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

Claimed to be “offensive”, Ms. Tashny’s article is nothing short of facts. The recent raids on immigrants have attracted wide criticism for not adhering to social distancing measures despite the Movement Control Order (MCO) being in force. Hundreds of people including children were hauled up and taken away in trucks to overcrowded
detention centres, and this put them at a higher risk of getting infected and forming a new cluster. Ironically, the authorities later clarified that the Labour Day operation is necessary to curb the spreading of the virus by preventing undocumented migrants from travelling to other areas. Read more

HAKAM Reiterates Call for Government to Extend Parliament Sittings on an Urgent Basis – Statement dd 4 May 2020

HAKAM Reiterates Call for Government to Extend Parliament Sittings on an Urgent Basis

HAKAM reiterates its call for the Government to extend Parliamentary sittings beyond the mere 1 day scheduled on 18th May 2020.pdf

This is especially in light of the Government’s recent decision to allow all businesses to operate with full capacity on 4th May 2020, and will even allow for recreational activities like jogging and golfing to take place.

It would be a complete mockery to the august house of Parliament and constitutional democracy in Malaysia if Parliament is deemed less essential than these activities. There is no excuse now for the Government to restrict Parliamentary sittings to 1-day with no further dates in sight. Read more

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

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

Treat undocumented workers right – Statement dd 24 March 2020

The statement by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob that undocumented migrants who attended the tabligh gathering in Sri Petaling will not be penalised if they come forward to be screened for Covid-19 – was assuring, although we wish it could have come much earlier.pdf

However there is a huge trust deficit between the government and these workers – because of how shoddily and uncaringly they have been treated in the past by the authorities.

To gain their confidence, the Minister must come out with a clear written public declaration which must also be addressed to all the relevant agencies – like the immigration and the police.

We must understand that all this while we, the Malaysian public, has enjoyed their services in restaurants, petrol stations, retail stores, markets, offices, and the like. They are at the bottom of the scale, have scant protection and get by on dismal wages. Living in sub-conditions and away from their distant families and friends. A kind of isolation that we are only now beginning to understand – and sometime even complain about. Read more

HAKAM Urges the National Art Gallery to Uphold Freedom of Artistic Expression – Statement dd 10/02/2020

HAKAM notes with grave concern the National Art Gallery’s decision to take down 4 paintings of visual artist Ahmad Fuad Osman’s exhibition titled “At The End Of The Day Even Art Is Not Important (1990-2019)”.

Ahmad Fuad Osman’s installation ‘Mak Bapak Borek, Anak Cucu Cicit Pun Rintik’ (2015-2018). Photo: Handout – Source the Star

This was reportedly pursuant to a complaint by a board member of the National Art Gallery itself. Some of the 4 paintings depicted politicians or contained political elements. This lead to Ahmad Fuad’s request to close down the entire exhibition.

HAKAM condemns the National Art Gallery’s decision to curtail & censor artistic expression. Freedom of artistic expression is part & parcel of the freedom of speech protected under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

Politics plays a big part in our everyday lives. Art, in turn, is a reflection of life. Politics should not in any way be deemed as “sensitive”, “unsuitable” or “undesirable” in the arts. In fact, the arts should readily comment, critique & satirise politics in order to produce an enlightened electorate. The National Art Gallery – of all bodies – should hold true to these principles.

Ahmad Fuad Osman’s ‘Dreaming Of Being A Somebody Afraid Of Being A Nobody’ (UV print on mirror, 2019). Source The Star/Ong Soon Hin

HAKAM therefore urges the National Art Gallery to revoke its decision to take down Ahmad Fuad Osman’s 4 paintings.

HAKAM also requests for the National Art Gallery & the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture’s commitment to not censor artistic expression in the future & to fully respect the freedom of artistic expression.

Lim Wei Jiet

HAKAM Secretary-General

10.2.2020 – HAKAM Urges the National Art Gallery to Uphold Freedom of Artistic Expression