Human rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) today highlighted Putrajaya’s inconsistency in dealing with the rise of racial and religious hate speech and with critical and dissenting views.
BY MELATI A. JALIL
Published: 24 June 2015 3:12 PM
The group in its 2014 annual report on the state of human rights in Malaysia also revealed six worrying trends that have developed under the administration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and urged the government to immediately reform all archaic laws and enact necessary ones to protect human rights in the country.
Suaram noted that the authorities had tended to be silent and inactive when hate speech is made by groups such as Perkasa and Isma.
This silence contrasted with how Putrajaya dealt with legitimate dissent, which has seen many people investigated under the Sedition Act 1948 for being threats to public order.
Suaram warned if no immediate action be taken to eradicate hate speech, it would hinder the process of freedom of religion and racial equality
“It can also fuel ethnic and religious hatred that may lead to civil conflict, destroying the multi-ethnic and multi-religious society of Malaysia,” the report said.
In 2014 alone, 44 individuals including politicians, elected representatives, lawyers,academic, cartoonist, journalist, religious leaders, social activists and students have been investigated, charged or convicted under the act.
The report also addressed continued abuse of power by police through the remand system which Suaram said has been used to detain human rights defenders.
Deaths in police custody remained high with 14 cases last year, it added.
On detention without trial laws, Suaram said it was concerned with the enactment of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) and amendments to the Prevention of Crime (Amendment) Act 2013 (Poca).
These laws had moved Malaysia back to past practices such as indefinite detention to silence and oppress dissidents.
Until November 2014, 37 people have been detained under Sosma, and another 116 were reportedly detained without trial under Poca in the first month after it was enforced in April 2014.
“More injustice is expected to take place under detention without trial law in the coming years,” it said adding that the findings showed that Malaysian government is unwilling to govern according to standards required that of Universal Declaration of Human Rights despite it has committed to.
Meanwhile Suaram director Dr Kua Kia Soong added that custodial deaths were still at worrying stage this year and showed no signs of decreasing.
“In cases like death in police custody, at the moment (June 2015) there are nine cases compared to overall 14 cases last year, so who knows what will happen at the end of this year as there maybe more than 14 cases.”
“That’s why we say the IPCMC (Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission) should be set up to prevent cases like Teoh Beng Hock,” he said adding that the government has the responsibility to pay attention to Suaram’s report.
Other worrying trends that developed in 2014 involved refugees, asylum seekers, migrant workers and attacks on freedom of association.
Suaram cited the examples of attacks by the Home Ministry and Registrar of Societies (RoS) towards the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs, Negara-Ku, Sisters in Islam, Sarawak Association for Peoples’ Aspiration, and continuous intimidation against Bersih 2.0 and Suaram itself. – June 24, 2015.