In conjunction with World Human Rights Day on December 10, instead of the usual state of human rights in Malaysia and the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, here are my top 5 enemies of human rights in Malaysia.
1. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak
Just when we thought we had a prime minister who was serious about reforms – with the repeal of the Internal Security Act and Emergency Ordinance among others, all his good efforts came to nothing the moment he went back on his repeated promises to repeal the Sedition Act.
What was worse, he is now seeking to “fortify” this archaic piece of legislation in the midst of the biggest political crackdown since Operation Lalang in 1987, surely an act of desperation to protect Umno and please the Malay right-wingers who are holding Umno and the country hostage.
This is what Najib said on July 11, 2012, “the Sedition Act represents a bygone era in our country and with today’s announcement we mark another step forward in Malaysia’s development” – a momentous announcement that was in line with the rest of the civilised world that has either repealed or place such legislation into disuse.
Fast forward two years later, he surely must hold the unwanted world record, if there ever was such a category, for the leader (democratically elected or otherwise) with the most sedition cases against opposition and dissidents.
Najib will be remembered as a false democrat, a flip-flop PM, keen to talk the good talk but without the political will to act decisively when it really mattered.
2. Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi
The home minister is someone who is way too preoccupied and gets all upset with petty issues like insults and postings on Twitter and Facebook rather than focusing on real issues like law and order, crime prevention and national security.
He gets all worked up over Alvin Tan’s and Ali Abdul Jalil’s taunting, and in retaliation revoked their passports while they were abroad, effectively banishing and turning them into “illegal” immigrants, surely a rash and disproportionate act, unbefitting of a minister.
He seems to live in his own bubble of the primacy of religion, race and royalty and even had the audacity of contacting Interpol to arrest Alvin and Ali when clearly Interpol has no interest in such pettiness.
Zahid harks back to the bad old ways of law enforcement, of talking tough (most notoriously his “shoot to kill and without warning” suspected criminals remark), an obstinate refusal to move on with the times with modern techniques and standards and insisted that some criminals in Malaysia were a special breed that only detention without trial will do.
With the connivance of the police, detention without trial was resurrected via the Prevention of Crime Act and numerous other harsh and questionable provisions were added to the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code. The Security Offences (Special Preventive Measures) Act was also widely used to deny bail and a fair trial to those charged.
3. Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar
Khalid gets even more worked up than the home minister on petty issues like insults and postings on Twitter and Facebook by causing social media users and individuals to be charged with “provoking a breach of peace” and “the modesty of a person”, including against the police and himself.
He was seriously offended with a tweet calling him the “Henrich Himmler of Malaysia” and caused the Twitter handler to be charged even though he quickly retracted and apologised.
The IGP following the time-honoured tradition of previous IGPs, continued with the harassment and misuse of police powers against the opposition and dissidents with record numbers of politically motivated investigations and charges under the Sedition Act, Peaceful Assembly Act and Penal Code.
Even as you are reading this, an absurd investigation is under way in Penang over a mysterious banner promoting a communist/Chin Peng-inspired dinner purportedly supported by Pakatan Rakyat.
But, on the other hand, thugs from Umno Youth or those affiliated with Perkasa get a free hand to assault, threaten and intimidate their political adversaries with impunity.
4. Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail
To say Gani is not independent in politically motivated cases is a serious understatement. How else would you explain the A-G’s astonishing act of bending over backwards to explain every ambiguity of Datuk Ibrahim Ali’s Bible-burning speech in his favour, that by reading the full context and background of the speech, he did not have the requisite intention and, therefore, the speech was “safe” and “non-seditious in nature”.
What about the “full context” when he charged MP Khalid Samad for his opinion on the powers of Mais, lawyer and MP N. Surendran for his statement defending his client Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the Sodomy II case, Associate Professor Azmi Sharom for his legal opinion, or MP Teresa Kok for her parody video?
Are we seriously to believe that their statements were more offensive and seditious than Ibrahim’s?
The A-G’s action in giving preferential treatment and not prosecuting Ibrahim or those from or affiliated with Umno while being trigger happy with the opposition and dissidents reeks of double standard and selective prosecution, and it is high time that his office be made accountable to Parliament.
5. Malay right-wing groups and personalities
These are really a spiteful bunch of people mainly from Perkasa and Isma – Ibrahim, Abdullah Zaik, Abdul Hamid Mohamad, Mohd Noor Abdullah, Ridhuan Tee etc – who have no qualms making the most racist and bigoted statements that the Nazi Party, Ku Klux Klan, Zionist or National Party (in Apartheid South Africa) would be proud of – all in the name of defending race, religion and royalty.
The sharp increase in racial and religious hate speech, fear-mongering and intolerance is quite shocking as these right-wingers seek to create a siege mentality among the Malay Muslims and drive a wedge with the non-Malays/Muslims.
They seek to rewrite history and refuse to allow for different narrative or views other than maintaining the supremacy of their issues at the expense of everything else, including peace and harmony, the constitution, rule of law, democracy and the rights and freedom of others.
Despite their blatant threats, incitement to violence and hate, these non-state actors have enjoyed free reign, wide publicity and support or tacit approval from the government and state institutions.