Why Malaysia failed to get on the UN Human Rights Council — Zan Azlee

Source: Asian Correspondent

BY ZAN AZLEE

LAST week, Malaysia faced a slight disappointment when they lost their bid to be elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The last time the country was on the council was five years ago, with membership ending in 2013.

Out of 16 countries that were vying for a spot on the council, 15 made it, making Malaysia the sole candidate to lose its bid. Foreign Minister Anifah Aman mentioned that the loss could be attributed to North Korea and Burma (Myanmar) going back on their promise to vote. Read more

Malaysia: Can police be trusted to investigate their own failures? — Zan Azlee

Source: Asian Correspondence

Policemen stand outside North Korea's embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March 7, 2017. Pic from Reuters

Policemen stand outside North Korea’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March 7, 2017. Pic from Reuters

“I received a call from the police saying my husband was in a very serious condition. The next thing I know, he is dead,” said a sobbing S. Perimilah, the wife of the late M. Thanaseelan who died under police custody.

Thanaseelan’s passing is one of the 1,654 custodial deaths since 2010 until February 2017, according to Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who revealed the statistics in Parliament recently.

“I want to know if he died because of what happened to him when he was in police custody or after he had been sent to the hospital,” she said before having to be consoled off the stage by her daughter because she couldn’t control her emotions any longer.

Perimilah was one of the panelists at a public forum entitled Let’s Talk About Our Police at a suburb in the outskirts Kuala Lumpur over the weekend. The forum also saw in attendance lawyer R. Sivaraj from the  and the Sevan Doraisamy from human rights group Suaram. Read more

Film censorship is being used to quell discourse in Malaysia — Zan Azlee

Source: Asian Correspondent

BY ZAN AZLEE

Activist Lena Hendry is seen outside the courtroom after the film censorship case decision in Kuala Lumpur February 21, 2017. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

Activist Lena Hendry is seen outside the courtroom after the film censorship case decision in Kuala Lumpur February 21, 2017. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

AS a documentary filmmaker, I regularly screen my films and also give talks and workshops, both locally and internationally. When I am out of the country, I always get asked the question of how local filmmakers deal with the strict censorship laws in Malaysia.

My first response is always to correct their question. The question shouldn’t be how we Malaysian filmmakers deal with strict censorship laws; it should be how we deal with vague, unclear and inconsistent censorship laws.

Take for example, Lena Hendry, who is a former employee of a Malaysian-based human rights non-governmental organisation called Pusat KOMAS. She was found guilty of screening the documentary ‘No Fire Zone: The killing fields of Sri Lanka’ without censorship approval in 2013.

Hendry was convicted under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act, 2002 on Feb 21, 2017 and could now face up to three years’ jail or a fine not exceeding RM30,000 (US$6,750). Sentencing has been set for 22nd March. Read more

Malaysians will protest Rohingyan plight with rage, then they forget — Zan Azlee

Source: Asian Correspondent

Newly arrived and long-term Rohingya refugees close to the Kutupalong makeshift refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar District, Southeastern Bangladesh, Nov 21, 2016. Source: Amnesty International

Newly arrived and long-term Rohingya refugees close to the Kutupalong makeshift refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar District, Southeastern Bangladesh, Nov 21, 2016. Source: Amnesty International

IT was only a few months ago when Malaysians grew livid and disgusted with what was happening to the Rohingya in Burma, accusing the Burmese government of not only oppressing the people but even of ethnic cleansing as well.

They carried out protests, chanted and fumed at the Burmese government. Even the Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak got in the act and attended a huge rally at a stadium organised by his ruling party.

Why a prime minister and his administration would need to organise a demonstration leaves a big question mark since they are in a position to create policies and use diplomatic ties to act. But that is not the point of this article.

The point of this article is to question what has happened following all the angry protests. It seems that as the trend of protesting in support of the Rohingya slowly fizzles out, the passion exuded by most of the Malaysian people followed suit. Read more

How serious is Malaysia about helping the Rohingya? — Zan Azlee

Source: Asian Correspondent

BY ZAN AZLEE

Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee Burma. Pic: AP.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee Burma. Pic: AP.

THERE’s been a sudden spike in interest in the region on the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, a crisis that has stretched on for decades. And much of the attention seems to be coming from Malaysia.

On Sunday, the country’s ruling party Umno (United Malays National Organisation) organised a mass rally protesting the Burmese’s treatment of the Rohingya.

Most people know about the Rohingya, an ethnic minority from the west coast state of Rakhine in Burma, who are considered stateless by the government. They are oppressed, tortured and killed to the point of ethnic cleansing.

To escape persecution at home, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled their country over the years. In Malaysia alone, official records from the Foreign Ministry show that there are about 56,000 Rohingya refugees in Malaysia.

But here’s the thing. Malaysia doesn’t recognise them as refugees because the country is not a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Basically, all the 56,000 Rohingya in Malaysia are just recognised as illegal immigrants.

Hence why it is funny that Umno, whose members form the Malaysian government, organised the pro-Rohingya protest. Read more

Systematic thuggery on the rise in Malaysia — Zan Azlee

Source: Asian Correspondent

Riot police standing guard as they made sure to prevent the red and yellow shirts from clashing during Saturday's rallies. Pic by Zan Azlee for Asian Correspondent.

Riot police standing guard as they made sure to prevent the red and yellow shirts from clashing during Saturday’s rallies. Pic by Zan Azlee for Asian Correspondent.

IT looks like political thuggery is fast becoming legit and commonplace in Malaysia. The perception that state-sponsored thuggery is starting to proliferate is on the high side among many citizens in the country and you can’t blame them.

There have been many cases where groups that are known to have links with the ruling party, mainly Umno (United Malays National Organisation), resorting to violence to counter any ideas and opinions that go against theirs. Here are some of the more recent ones that have been in the media. Read more

Fix the problems and the rallies will stop

Source: FMT News

Writer Zan Azlee puts it simply for the government to understand how protests have always been part of Malay culture, and to recognise the reasons for Bersih 5. Pic from FMT News.

Writer Zan Azlee puts it simply for the government to understand how protests have always been part of Malay culture, and to recognise the reasons for Bersih 5. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Just fix the problems, get the systems right, have free and fair elections, then the people will have no reason to come out in protest in a peaceful rally anymore.

That is the simple call by social activist and writer Zan Azlee on how the government can deal with the issue of Bersih 5.

Bersih 5 is scheduled to be held in Kuala Lumpur, and other locations around the country as well as overseas, on Nov 19. It is organised by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, better known as Bersih 2.0.

Referring to the government’s disapproval for the rally taking place, be it by using threats (from related parties), or the excuse that businesses, tourism and other daily aspects of life in the city would be disrupted, Zan said that’s the whole point.

“That’s what these demonstrations are supposed to do – disrupt everyday life to bring attention to more important and pressing issues – but peacefully and without violence, of course. It’s a part of a healthy and thriving democracy. Read more