Hope for refugees in the new Malaysia? — Dennis Ignatius

Source: Free Malaysia Today

By Dennis Ignatius

One of the great failures of the former BN regime when it came to human rights was its dismal record in honouring its moral and legal obligations towards those fleeing political, religious or ethnic persecution in their homelands. For BN, it was all about political expediency instead of respect for sacrosanct principles.

Many genuine refugees and asylum seekers were hastily handed back into the hands of their tormentors, never to be heard of again. For quite a few, it resulted in long years of incarceration, torture, persecution and great anguish. That our nation was party to such terrible acts will forever be to our shame.

Among the more infamous cases were that of a Saudi blogger fleeing to New Zealand who was apprehended in Malaysia and sent back to Jeddah, several Turkish nationals living in Malaysia who were arrested in almost clandestine fashion and handed over to President Erdogan’s secret police, and dozens of Uighurs who were deported to China despite being registered with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Read more

Call to make Internet access a constitutional right should be supported — Lawyers for Liberty

Source: Malay Mail

BY LAWYERS FOR LIBERTY

JUNE 12 — Lawyers for Liberty supports the recent call by Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo to make Internet access a constitutional right, or at the very least a legal right.

Should this proposal become a reality, Malaysia will be the first Asian country to join the ranks of a growing group of mostly European states such as Estonia, Finland, Spain and France in ensuring that all citizens have a legal right to broadband access. More recently in 2016, the UN Human Rights Council declared Internet access a basic human right. Read more

AG’s appointment: Lessons learnt — Gurdial Singh Nijar

Source: The Sun Daily

BY GURDIAL SINGH NIJAR
(Deputy President, HAKAM)

AS THE saying goes, the greater the storm, the brighter the rainbow. Smiling colours beamed when the Yang di-Pertuan Agong finally consented to the appointment of lawyer Tommy Thomas as the 10th attorney-general of Malaysia/Federation of Malaya. After a cliffhanger thriller to the finish – as royalty prevaricated in the face of the prime minister’s insistence that the government’s choice was not negotiable.

The short announcement on behalf of His Majesty alluded to the King’s “disappointment and worry about inaccurate and negative media reports of late which could threaten peace and harmony in the country”. The country – barely over the euphoria of a change of government – heaved a welcome sigh of relief. A potential constitutional crisis saved from the brink.

Are there lessons to be drawn from this episode? Several, I believe.

Read more

Five stateless persons’ case postponed as AGC seeks Home Ministry’s instructions

Source: The Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 — The Federal Court has deferred hearing five cases where five Malaysia-born persons want recognition as citizens, as the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) has asked for time to seek new instructions from the Home Ministry on how to proceed.

Senior federal counsel Suzana Atan, who represented the government and Ministry of Home Affairs, today told the court that the AGC was seeking an “adjournment for all matters pending fresh instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs”.

The Federal Court’s five-man panel, which was chaired by Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, granted an adjournment of the hearing.

The other judges on the panel today are Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim and Tan Sri Aziah Ali.

The hearing has now been fixed for July 23 and July 24.

Today was initially fixed for hearing of the five cases after it was rescheduled from May 30 and May 31, and also after several adjournments previously. Read more

Malaysian elections: Next government must prioritize human rights — Amnesty International

Source: Amnesty International

Malaysia’s next government must put human rights at the heart of its policies and avoid repressive tactics like those that have marked the general election build-up, Amnesty International said ahead of polling day on 9 May.

“As Malaysians head to the polls, they will do so in a country where the space for freedom of expression has shrunk alarmingly in recent years. Regardless of who wins the vote this Wednesday, the next government must usher in a new era of respect for human rights,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher.

“Predictably, the authorities have placed arbitrary restrictions on the opposition, media and rights defenders leading up to the vote. Malaysians deserve a country where their rights are defended and upheld, not increasingly restricted at every turn.” Read more

Suhakam is committed to protect press freedom — Razali Ismail

Source: Malaysiakini

By Razali Ismail, SUHAKAM

Suhakam chief Tan Sri Razali Ismail — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) renews its commitment to protect and promote press freedom in Malaysia and reiterates that freedom of the press is a fundamental component of democratic governance.

Suhakam values the important role of the media and recognises the influence of the media in shaping public opinion. In the context 14th general election, there is an expectation that the media will play the role of fair arbiter, provide an open platform for broader public deliberation, represent a plurality of opinions; and accordingly provide election coverage that gives voters comprehensive, balanced and accurate information.This is critical in enabling the public to make informed choices. Read more

Press freedom in Malaysia – whither rule of law? — Anusha Arumugam

Source: Malaysiakini

By Anusha Arumugam

Today, World Press Freedom Day, was declared to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression.

What follows is a snapshot glance at the treatment of the press in Malaysia over the past few four years. Read more

NHRAP should be totally rewritten — Proham

Source: Malaysiakini

By Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari & Denison Jayasooria,
The Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham)

The Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) calls for a total rewrite of the National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) to ensure that it is consistent with global human rights standards.

Further, Proham calls on political parties in GE14 to declare their commitment to human rights.

Proham is greatly disappointed with the Malaysian government for its lacklustre commitment to human rights as reflected in its formulation of the National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) as mandated by the Vienna Convention and subsequently suggested by Suhakam in 2001 and also recommended by the Universal Periodical Review (UPR) in 2009 and 2013. Read more

The election money game — Gurdial Singh Nijar

Source: The Sun Daily

BY GURDIAL SINGH NIJAR
(Deputy President, HAKAM)

THE election money game is on! Promises of goodies if a party is voted in, such as a long overdue road or a kampung bridge or the abolition of tolls, which are often accompanied by open threats that all this will be denied if the votes do not materialise.

This in flagrant concealment of the stark truth that, in any event, the money and development will come from the public taxpayer – not the personal coffers of the party or its leader.

There is a law called the Election Offences Act. It prescribes what can or cannot be done. The Election Commission (EC) oversees the election to make sure that all is fair and legal. No undue advantage. No bribery. No undue influence. No use of government machinery. No money spent beyond the permitted amount – RM100,000 for a state seat; and RM200,000 for a parliamentary seat.

Read more

Our rights deserve a broader perspective — Azmi Sharom

Source: The Star Online

BY AZMI SHAROM

Dr. Azmi Sharom is a law teacher.

THE anti-fake news law has already been much criticised for its vagueness and broadness and, due to that, its potential to be a potent threat to free speech and the freedom of the press.

I won’t therefore add to that line of argument.

Neither would I dwell on the disingenuous argument that anyone who does not support the new Act supports fake news. That is too facile to dignify with a response.

I would like, however, to state that I find it difficult to justify the law from a legal perspective. The Constitution states that Parliament may make laws that restrict free speech if the purpose is to protect national security, public order and morals. Read more