Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Zaid Ibrahim writes open letter to PM

Sep 30, 08 1:53pm

In our proclamation of independence, our first prime minister gave voice to the lofty aspirations and dreams of the people of Malaya: that Malaya was founded on the principles of liberty and justice, and the promise that collectively we would always strive to improve the welfare and happiness of its people.
Many years have passed since that momentous occasion and those aspirations and dreams remain true and are as relevant to us today as they were then. This was made possible by a strong grasp of fundamentals in the early period of this nation.The federal constitution and the laws made pursuant to it were well founded; they embodied the key elements of a democracy built on the rule of law. The Malaysian judiciary once commanded great respect from Malaysians and was hailed as a beacon for other nations.
Our earlier prime ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn were truly leaders of integrity, patriots in their own right and most importantly, men of humility. They believed in and built this nation on the principles and values enunciated in our constitution. Even when they had to enact the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960, they were very cautious and apologetic about it. Tunku stated clearly that the Act was passed to deal with the communist threat.“My cabinet colleagues and I gave a solemn promise to Parliament and the nation that the immense powers given to the government under the ISA would never be used to stifle legitimate opposition and silent lawful dissent”, was what the Tunku said.
Our third prime minister, Tun Hussein Onn, reinforced this position by saying that the ISA was not intended to repress lawful political opposition and democratic activity on the part of the citizenry.

Gov’t has failed the people
The events of the last three weeks have compelled me to review the way in which the ISA has been used. This exercise has sadly led me to the conclusion that the government has time and time again failed the people of this country in repeatedly reneging on that solemn promise made by Tunku Abdul Rahman.
This has been made possible because the government and the law have mistakenly allowed the minister of home affairs to detain anyone for whatever reason he thinks fit. This subjective discretion has been abused to further certain political interests. History is the great teacher and speaks volumes in this regard. Even a cursory examination of the manner in which the ISA has been used almost from its inception would reveal the extent to which its intended purpose has been subjugated to the politics of the day. Regrettably, Tunku Abdul Rahman himself reneged on his promise. In 1965, his administration detained Burhanuddin Helmi, the truly towering Malay intellectual, a nationalist who happened to be a PAS leader. He was kept in detention until his death in 1969. Helmi was a political opponent and could by no stretch of the imagination be considered to have been involved in the armed rebellion or communism that the ISA was designed to deal with.This detention was an aberration, a regrettable moment where politics had been permitted to trump the rule of law. It unfortunately appears to have set a precedent and many detentions of persons viewed as having been threatening to the incumbent administration followed through the years.
Even our literary giant, ‘sasterawan negara’ the late Tan Sri A Samad Ismail was subjected to the ISA in 1976. How could he have been a threat to national security? I need not remind you of the terrible impact of the 1987 Operasi Lalang. Its spectre haunts the government as much as it does the peace-loving people of this nation, casting a gloom over all of us. There were and still are many unanswered questions about those dark hours when more than a hundred persons were detained for purportedly being threats to national security. Why they were detained has never been made clear to Malaysians.Similarly, no explanation has been forthcoming as to why they were never charged in court. Those detainees included amongst their numbers senior opposition members of parliament who are still active in Parliament today.
The only thing that is certain about that period was that Umno was facing a leadership crisis. Isn’t it coincidental that the recent spate of ISA arrests has occurred when Umno is again having a leadership crisis?

‘Militant’ Ezam back in Umno
In 2001, Keadilan ‘reformasi’ activists were detained in an exercise that the Federal Court declared was in bad faith and unlawful. The continued detention of those that were not released earlier in the Kamunting detention facility was made possible only by the fact that the ISA had been questionably amended in 1988 to preclude judicial review of the minister’s order to detain.Malaysians were told that these detainees had been attempting to overthrow the government via militant means and violent demonstrations. Seven years have gone and yet no evidence in support of this assertion has been presented. Compounding the confusion even further, one of these so-called militants, Ezam Mohamad Noor, recently rejoined Umno to great fanfare, as a prized catch it would seem. At around the same time, members of PAS were also detained for purportedly being militant and allegedly having links to international terrorist networks. Those detained included Nik Adli, the son of Tuan Guru Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, the menteri besar of Kelantan. Malaysians were made a promise by the government that evidence of the alleged terrorist activities and links of these detainees would be disclosed. To date no such evidence has been produced.
The same formula was used in late 2007 when the Hindraf 5 were detained. Malaysians were told once again that these individuals were involved in efforts to overthrow the government and had links with the militant Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam of Sri Lanka. To date no concrete evidence have been presented to support this assertion.It would seem therefore that the five were detained for their involvement in efforts that led to a mobilisation of Indian Malaysians to express, through peaceful means; their frustration against the way in which their community had been allowed to be marginalised. This cause has since been recognised as a legitimate one. The Hindraf demonstration is nothing extraordinary as such assemblies are universally recognised as being a legitimate means of expression. In the same vein, the grounds advanced in support of the most recent detentions of Tan Hoon Cheng, Teresa Kok and Raja Petra Kamarudin leave much to be desired. The explanation that Tan Hoon Cheng was detained for her own safety was farcical. The suggestion that Teresa Kok had been inciting religious sentiments was unfounded as was evinced by her subsequent release. As for Raja Petra Kamarudin, the prominent critic of the government, a perusal of his writings would show that he might have been insulting of the government and certain individuals within it.
However, being critical and insulting could not in any way amount to a threat to national security. If his writings are viewed as being insulting of Islam, Muslims or the Holy Prophet (pbuh), he should instead be charged under the Penal Code and not under the ISA.In any event, he had already been charged for sedition and criminal defamation in respect of some of his statements. He had claimed trial, indicating as such his readiness and ability to defend himself. Justice would best be served by allowing him his day in court more so where, in the minds of the public, the government is in a position of conflict for having been the target of his strident criticism.

Law used against dissidents
The instances cited above strongly suggest that the government is undemocratic. It is this perspective that has over the last 25 plus years led to the government seemingly arbitrarily detaining political opponents, civil society and consumer advocates, writers, businessmen, students, journalists whose crime, if it could be called that, was to have been critical of the government.How it is these individuals can be perceived as being threats to national security is beyond my comprehension. The self-evident reality is that legitimate dissent was and is quashed through the heavy-handed use of the ISA. There are those who support and advocate this carte-blanche reading of the ISA. They will seek to persuade you that the interests of the country demand that such power be retained, that Malaysians owe their peace and stability to laws such as the ISA. This overlooks the simple truth that Malaysians of all races cherish peace. We lived together harmoniously for the last 400 years, not because of these laws but in spite of them.I believe the people of this country are mature and intelligent enough to distinguish actions that constitute a ‘real’ threat to the country from those that threaten political interests. Malaysians have come know that the ISA is used against political opponents and, it would seem, when the leadership is under challenge either from within the ruling party or from external elements. Malaysians today want to see a government that is committed to the court process to determine guilt or innocence even for alleged acts of incitement of racial or religious sentiment. They are less willing to believe, as they once did, that a single individual, namely the minister of home affairs; knows best about matters of national security.
They value freedom and the protection of civil liberties and this is true of people of other nations too.

I attempted to push for reform
Mr Prime Minister, the results of the last general election are clear indication that the people of Malaysia are demanding a reinstatement of the rule of law. I was appointed as your, albeit short-lived, minister in charge of legal affairs and judicial reform.
In that capacity, I came to understand more keenly how many of us want reform, not for the sake of it, but for the extent to which our institutions have been undermined by events and the impact this has had on society. With your blessing, I attempted to push for reform. High on my list of priorities was a reinstatement of the inherent right of judicial review that could be enabled through a reversion of the key constitutional provision to its form prior to the controversial amendment in 1988.
I need not remind you that that constitutional amendment was prompted by the same series of events that led not only to Operasi Lalang but the sacking of the then Lord President and two supreme court justices.Chief amongst my concerns was the way in which the jurisdiction and the power of the courts to grant remedy against unconstitutional and arbitrary action of the executive had been removed by Parliament and the extent to which this had permitted an erosion of the civil liberties of Malaysians.
It was this constitutional amendment that paved the way for the ouster provision in the ISA that virtually immunises the minister from judicial review, a provision which exemplifies the injustice the constitutional amendment of 1988 has lent itself. I also sought to introduce means by which steps could be taken to assist the judiciary to regain the reputation for independence and competence it once had. Unfortunately, this was viewed as undesirable by some since an independent judiciary would mean that the executive would be less ‘influential’. I attempted to do these things and more because of the realisation that Malaysia’s democratic traditions and the rule of law are under siege. Anyway, there is nothing wrong with giving everyone an independent judiciary and the opportunity to a fair trial.
This is consistent with the universal norms of human rights as it is with the tenets of Islam, the religion of the federation. Unchecked power to detain at the whim of one man is oppressiveness at its highest. Even in Israel, a nation that is perpetually at war the power to detain is not vested in one man and detention orders require endorsement from a judge. If there are national security considerations, then these can be approached without jettisoning the safeguards intended to protect individual citizens from being penalised wrongfully. In other jurisdictions involved in armed conflicts, trials are held in camera to allow for judicial scrutiny of evidence considered too sensitive for public disclosure so as to satisfy the ends of justice.
If this can be done in these jurisdictions, why not here where the last armed struggle we saw, the very one that precipitated the need for the ISA, came to an end in the 1980s?

ISA was never intended to be permanent
Any doubts as to the continued relevance of the ISA in its present form should have been put to rest by the recommendation by the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) that the ISA be repealed and an anti-terror legislation suited to the times enacted in its place. Containing as it did a sunset clause in its original times, the ISA was never intended to be a permanent feature on the Malaysian legal landscape. Through its continued use in the manner described above and in the face of public sentiment, it is only natural that the ISA has become in the mind of the people an instrument of oppression and the government is one that lends itself to oppressiveness.
Its continued use does not bode well for a society that is struggling to find its place in the global arena. It does not bode well for the democracy that is so vital for us to develop sustainably. Mr Prime Minister, I remember very clearly what you once said; that if one has the opportunity to do what is good and right for the country, then he must take on the task. I respect you deeply for that and if I were confident that I would have been able to do some good for Malaysia, I would have remained on your team.
Sir, you are still the prime minister and you still have the opportunity to leave your footprint in Malaysian history. I urge you to do so by repealing the ISA once and for all. Let us attempt to fulfil that solemn promise made by our beloved first prime minister to the people of this country.

Yours sincerely
Zaid Ibrahim

Letter to PM ( Pregant Rajeswary detained without proper trail)

Prime Minister of Malaysia
Block Utama,
Bangunan Perdana Putra,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan,
62502 Putrajaya
Tel: 03 8888 8000
Fax: 03 8888 3444



Re: Six months pregnant Malaysian born Rajeswary (22) “detained without trial” and delivered her baby at Lenggang detain centre and to be deported to Sri Lanka.

We refer to the above matter which was reported in the New Straits Time on 19/09/08 at page 3 and the front page of the Tamil Nesan dated 08/09/08 and to the very serious race and religious extremist policies and the implementation thereof in the UMNO controlled administration of the various government machinery concerning Rajeswary but which is the tip of iceberg with regards to the pain and sufferings of the Indians in Malaysia on a day to day basis as follows:

1) Police Force.
Six months pregnant Rajeswary was arrested on suspicious being a Sri Lankan in Brickfields for having lost her identity card and not being able to remember her identity card number and her less than satisfactory command of the Malay language. Had the arresting police personal asked her the relevant questions about her whereabouts, where she studied and at least two references that could vouch for her, there would have been no necessity to arrest her. But things have come to a stage in Malaysia generally that when the police see an Indian they see a suspect worthy of being harassed or detained without proper investigation or evidence. An immediate finger point check would have revealed that Rajeswary was Malaysian born.

2) Junior Magistrates dispensing Justice.
Rajeswary was given a trial by a “qualified and independent” Magistrate to two months jail, we presume under Malaysia’s “Summary Justice” lasting a few minutes. This learned Magistrate did not bother sending Rajeswary for finger print test or asking the police to verify her references before sentencing her to two months imprisonment. Sending someone to jail has not been done with extreme caution. Magistrates are also known to be “friendly” with the police. Magistrates must have at least seven year standing before being allowed to dispense justice especially sending people to jail.

3) No State funded legal aid.
Assuming there was fully state funded effective legal aid for all criminal cases to be fair as one single individual has to face the weight and might of the whole state machinery, this and hundreds of similar or worse injustices would not be happening to especially the Indians. The RM 207.93 Billion budget made zero provisions for the provision of legal aid. Even in Thailand the legal aid lawyer is given a room within the police station itself to see to the administration of justice being meted out fairly.

4) No qualified Public Prosecutor
Even after 51 years of independence, legally qualified junior Police Officers still conduct criminal prosecutions at Magistrates Courts. A legally qualified Public Prosecutor would have made the difference by at least having a thumb print check and a check of her family’s permanent address. Yet again there had been zero allocation for legally qualified Public Prosecutors at all levels of the Malaysian Judiciary including the Magistrates Courts. The Police end up being the arresting officer, investigating officer, the prosecuting officer and the jailor all in one without proper check and balance.

5) Prison and Welfare Authorities.
Had the prison welfare officers taken even the basic and minimum standards of care and basic humanitarian concern, Rajeswary would not have served her two months sentence and a further nine months detention at the Lenggang Detention Centre. Rajeswary was lucky not to have been “successfully” deported to Sri Lanka. The Prison and Welfare Officers failed justice.

6) Indian NGO
Rajeswary was lucky to have bumped into an Indian NGO member by chance when taken to a clinic to treat her daughter. The Malaysian Indian Youth Council had succeeded in tracing her birth certificate from her Tamil school, procured a confirmation letter from the National Registration Department in Putrajaya and eventually secured her release together with her now eight month old baby who probably has not been issued with a certificate only for her to be arrested and imprisoned like her mother in twenty years time. And the cycle goes on especially for the Indian community.

7) Multi Racial Civil Society
Had Rajeswary been at least a foreigner some NGOs’ would have reached her like the Nepali Bahadur case some two years ago. So much for multi racialism by the opposition parties, NGOs, civil society and print and electronic media and mainstream media except NST in this case.

8) No mercy for 8 months pregnant lady.
The Malaysian authorities obviously had no mercy for even this eight months pregnant Indian lady. What more the rest of the Indian community.

9) Failure of Education System.
Rajeswary has obviously not been given the basic education to even to be able to properly converse in Malay. What more to excel like the Malay Muslims.

10) Conclusion
This case is not an isolated. Every hundreds of especially the most vulnerable Indians suffer in almost all other aspects of day to day life at the hands of the Malaysian Authorities under UMNO’s racist and religious extremist regime’s policies and the implementation thereto. Suhakam Commissioner Datuk Khalid Ibrahim is in Inquiries confirm that there are many more children between the age 12 to 17 in detention camps. We dread thinking of the 40,000 Indian children in the State of Selangor alone without birth certificates. Why does this happen only to the Indians? It doesn’t happen to the Malays, Chinese, Orang Asli, Kadazan and Iban. Why? Because only the Indians are excluded from the Mainstream development in Malaysia.
In Rajeswary’s case an apology and a RM 500,000.00 compensation is in order.

Thank you,

Yours faithfully,

P. Waytha Moorthy
[Chairman- Currently in London]

PS from JPM office on PM Raya Open House

Venue : Pejabat Perdana Menteri
Date : 29/09/2008
Pejabat Perdana Menteri

YAB Perdana Menteri Dato` Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dan Ahli Jemaah Menteri dengan sukacitanya ingin menjemput semua rakyat Malaysia ke Majlis Rumah Terbuka Sempena Hari Raya Aidilfitri pada

1 Syawal 1429H (Hari Raya Pertama)
di Dewan Tun Razak, Tingkat 4, Pusat Dagangan Dunia Putra, Kuala Lumpur
bermula pada jam 12.30 tengahari hingga jam 4.30 petang.

YAB Perdana Menteri turut menjemput semua rakyat Malaysia ke Majlis Rumah Terbukanya Sempena Hari Raya Aidilfitri pada

Sabtu, 04 Oktober 2008
di Dewan Milenium, Kepala Batas, Pulau Pinang
bermula pada jam 11.00 pagi hingga jam 5.00 petang.


Dikeluarkan oleh Unit Komunikasi
Pejabat Perdana Menteri
29 September 2008

Posted by : Kannan Ramasamy, Hindraf National Event Coordinator

TheStar -Tempers rage over Hindu temples issue- by Baradan K

TheStar -Tempers rage over Hindu temples issue

Tuesday September 30, 2008

THE Opposition won and formed the government in Selangor, Penang and Perak some seven months ago €“ but the highly emotional issue of temples and Tamil schools remains unresolved.
Indians in the three states had overwhelmingly backed the opposition Pakatan Rakyat and the key issue that rallied them against the Barisan Nasional government was the demolition of a 100-year-old temple in Shah Alam on the eve of Deepavali last year.
Both the MIC and the Barisan government suffered massively in the subsequent backlash from angry Indians.
But increasingly, the community is also getting disenchanted with the new state governments over their handling of the two issues the Indians hold sacred €“ temples and the future of Tamil schools.
The threat by Kapar MP S. Manikavasagam, a vocal defender of Indian rights, to resign as the deputy liaison chairman of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in Selangor is a case of deep-seated frustration breaking out into the open.

Manikavasagam, or Mike as he is popularly called, has announced that he wants an apology from the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council for the demolition last week of the Sri Maha Kaliamman temple there.

It is a small temple by size but its demolition is having a major emotional impact in the Indian community, with even Hindraf chairman P. Waythamoorthy issuing a stinging e-mail from self-imposed exile in London, lashing out at the Pakatan governments.
MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu is also milking the community anger, lashing out at the Opposition-ruled state governments for failing to keep to their promise not to demolish Hindu temples.

All three Tamil dailies had headline stories yesterday that Manikavasagam had resigned as Selangor PKR deputy chief.
They said he wanted an apology from the council €“ a move that puts the state government in a spot.
A posting on Manikavasagam’s website had a breaking news item (www.mpkapar.com/manikavasagam/posts/breaking-news-manikavasagam-resigning) confirming that he had resigned in protest and wanted an apology.

He is unhappy that the state government was unable to enforce a ban on temple destruction, despite promising Indians it would safeguard their heritage.
Manikavasagam’s relationship with Selangor exco member Dr Xavier Jeyakumar has also become rocky after the temple demolition and other issues.
He accused Dr Xavier of failure to “defend the temples.”
Dr Xavier had said last week the temple that was demolished was unregistered, but stopped short of saying this was the reason it was demolished.
He also blamed the council for not getting the permission of the state government to pull down the temple and has asked for a report.

He also reportedly said the episode was a “small issue” and urged Indians to look at the larger picture of what the Pakatan government was doing for the community.
There’s a problem with that because for Hindus, temples are no small issue and there is no picture larger than the pillars of Tamil society €“ temples, Tamil language and Tamil schools.
It was Indian anger over the perceived failure by the Barisan government on these cardinal matters that sparked the Hindraf tsunami, which the Opposition political parties rode to victory.
There are rumblings in the Pakatan-ruled states over the failure to solve key issues like saving the so-called “illegal” temples from demolition, land for more temples and Tamil schools, and the right to build new Tamil schools.

Up to now, no new Tamil school has been built, and land for temples and schools are scarce although Pakatan leaders have made promises to look into the matter.
The bulk of the resentment in the Indian community over these “failures” comes from the Tamil working class that usually frequents the smaller temples, mostly sitting “illegally” on state land.
It is their temples that are constantly under threat and up to now, neither the Barisan or Pakatan governments have offered a lasting and comprehensive solution.
The many larger temples that dot every major town in the country are owned and managed by upper-class Indians and except for a few instances, are generally avoided by the ordinary people.

The reasons the poor avoid the bigger temples range from natural suspicion of the rich to issues of caste and class differences.
Besides this, for Hindus, there is no such thing as “enough temples” in a area because a person who builds temples is deemed especially close to and favoured by the gods.
Therefore, there exists a strong urge to build and keep building more temples €“ from roadside shrines to large temples €“ wherever Hindus live.
There is therefore an urgent need for the Pakatan governments to understand the complete socio-economic and cultural background to the temple issue.
It is therefore more than a purely legal issue of who owns the land. That’s how the Barisan government handled the issue and got into a lot of problems.
The Pakatan governments can do better by authorising a complete study and survey of the temples in the states they rule, and offer a comprehensive and lasting solution acceptable to the Tamil working class.

It has to be a solution that satisfies not only the religious but also cultural, emotional and psychological needs of the poorest among the Indians.

Mkini- Detained non-Muslim trio in anti-ISA fast in KEMTA

Mkini- Detained non-Muslim trio in anti-ISA fast in KEMTA
Athi Veeranggan Sep 29, 08 12:52pm

Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leader P Uthayakumar and two Buddhists are said to be fasting in solidarity with Muslim fellow-detainees at the Kamunting detention centre in Perak

Muslims each year fast from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadan, which began on Sept 1 this year.“This is the fourth week my brother Uthayakumar and the other two detainees have joined their Muslim friends to fast. This is also to protest their detention without trial,” said London-based Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy.He said Uthayakumar wants the prime minister to release the detainees, some of whom have been held for nearly eight years under the Internal Security Act (ISA), so that they can return to their families for upcoming festivals.

Waythamoorthy also claimed that, despite ‘zero’ racial or inter-religious conflict among the detainees, “the authorities are attempting to break their solidarity”. He alleged that the non-Muslim trio, for instance, do not get food for buka puasa (break of fast), unlike Muslim detainees.However, he said all the detainees are aware that they are equal before the law, as stipulated under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.“No detainee receives special privileges and none of them has attempted to exert supremacy based on religion, race or the social contract,” he said.“The majority of the Muslim detainees support the Hindraf struggle for equal opportunities for the minority Indian Malaysians, who have been excluded from mainstream development since Independence.”

Inspiration for Hindraf

He further said that a Muslim detainee had told Uthayakumar that he and his children had been educated abroad on government scholarships, but that his Indian neighbours in Kluang, Johor, have remained in poverty.The detainee, said to be a member of Jemaah Islamiah (JI), is said to have welcomed Uthayakumar “with an open heart” and to have told him not lose hope and keep up the struggle.“His inspired words have helped Uthayakumar (left) and Hindraf to keep going,” said Waythamoorthy.
Many of the detained JI and Darul Islamiah members support Hindraf’s 18-point demand submitted to Premier Abdullah Ahmad on Aug 12 last year, Waythamoorthy claimed, based on information from his brother.On a lighter note, he suggested that Barisan Nasional backbenchers should have visited Kamunting rather than Taiwan on Sept 8.“At least the MPs could have learnt about racial unity and multi-religionism,’ he said.
Uthayakumar, 47, T Vasanthakumar, 35, M Manoharan, 47, R Kenghadharan, 41, and V Ganabatirau, 35, have been in custody since Dec 13 following their role in the Hindraf rally last November.

PM Open House invites to all democracy loving citizens

29th Sept 2008
HINDRAF would like to inform the public that the Prime Minister’s department had acknowledged receipt of our request to lead a delegation of 10,000 HINDRAF supporters and that the Prime Minister had been advised accordingly. HINDRAF call upon all HINDRAF supporters and all Malaysians to visit the Prime Minister on the 1st day open house at PWTC to make it a memorable day whereby each one of us as a citizen of this democratic Malaysia can actually see him eye to eye and wish him a Selamat Hari Raya and demand that the ISA to be abolished and release our leaders along with the others in the spirit of humanity and mankind.
This is an occasion on an auspicious day for all HINDRAF supporters and all Malaysians to come forward and voice your feeling without any red tape bureaucracy directly to the premier so that the moral and spiritual truth in each one of us as a rakyat can be heard by him directly in the spirit that is coherent with the creation of the original constitution by our forefathers.
HINDRAF urges all its supporters to come it their orange t-shirts and assembly at the main entrance of ;-
1. 1st Oct 2008 (Wed) at 11 am near main enterance of PWTC on the 1st day of Hari Raya at
2. 4th Oct 2008 (Sat.) 11 am at Dewan Millenium, Kepala Batas, Penang ( for the northern region)

Your presence will show that HINDRAF is about everyone for the goodness of Malaysia to live a fair, equal and just life in this multicultural society.
Thank You
Hindu Rights Action Force
Currently in London