Thursday, December 8, 2016

2016 worst year for human rights since Ops Lallang, says activist

Geraldine Tong     Published     Updated

This year was the worst year for human rights in Malaysia since Operation Lallang in 1987, said Suaram adviser Kua Kia Soong.

“The detention without trial of (Bersih chairperson) Maria Chin Abdullah and other human rights defenders brings me memories of Ops Lallang,” Kua said at the launch of Suaram’s 2016 human rights report in Malaysia held in Kuala Lumpur today.

Operation Lallang was a major crackdown in 1987 on those seen to be government dissidents, with over 100 politicians and activists arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

The ISA has since been repealed under Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Kua was one of those arrested under ISA during Ops Lallang.

He further said that such abuses of human rights only happen when the government is beleaguered.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration was beleaguered in 1987, he said, because he was being challenged by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and his Team B.

Now, the government is also beleaguered since the US Department of Justice announced their civil forfeiture lawsuit against several people involved in the 1MDB scandal, such as the Malaysian Official 1 (MO1)

“(MO1) is beleaguered in all the world.

“When he is in a state of siege, he will resort to these measures to stay in power,” Kua said.

Meanwhile, Suaram said their documentation revealed there was a total of 475 people arrested under laws which allow for detention without trial this year.

The three laws whose statistics they documented are Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma), Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota).

Suaram also noted that crackdown on freedom of expression in Malaysia was still prevalent.

While the application of the Sedition Act seems to have eased up, they said the Communication and Multimedia Act (CMA) has been increasingly used against the general public.

Freedom of movement was also an issue this year, they said, especially in the run-up to the Sarawak state elections in April, where a number of opposition politicians and activists were banned from traveling to the state.

Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah and political cartoonist Zunar were also banned from travelling internationally this year, they noted.

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