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Friday, July 1, 2011

Allegations Saudi Ambassador to Germany Enslaved Indonesian Maid

The Jakarta Globe 

A German human rights group has publicly accused a Saudi diplomat in Berlin of treating the Indonesian maid he employed as a slave.

Her struggle is now the focus of an attempt to challenge diplomatic immunity in Germany and could place further pressures on the already strained relationship between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

Dewi Ratnasari, the 30-year-old maid, began working for the Saudi diplomat and his family in April of 2009. For the next year and a half, she worked 18-hour days, seven days a week and never received her monthly wage of 750 euros, the German Institute for Human Rights reported.

She told police she was “humiliated like a serf,” and that she was punched and regularly beaten with a stick by everyone in the diplomat’s family, including the five-year-old son.

The diplomat had confiscated her passport and Dewi (a pseudonym) spoke no German, so she had few options but to remain and work. But in October of 2010 she escaped and sought help from Ban Ying, a Berlin-based human rights association assisting migrant women from Southeast Asia, and the GIHR.

“The worst part is they never called her by her name, but by the Arabic word for ‘shit,’” Ban Ying’s Nivedita Prasad told Deutsche Welle.

Because of diplomatic immunity, which shields embassy employees from criminal prosecution and most civil suits, Dewi had no way to hold her employer accountable.

According to a GIHR report released this week, that protection makes exploitation widespread. Ban Ying said they see 5 to 10 cases of diplomatic domestic staff abuse in Berlin each year.

Earlier this month, Berlin’s Labor Court rejected her lawsuit, a criminal complaint of human trafficking and a claim on 70,000 euros in back wages, overtime, and compensation for suffering.

The Saudi diplomat’s lawyer, Philipp von Berg, denied the allegations, which he said could only be tried in Saudi Arabia.

The GIHR and Hamburg lawyer Klaus Berlsmann are now filing an appeal that would give exploited employees like Dewi, who has since returned to Indonesia, legal recourse by overturning diplomatic immunity in cases of human rights violations.

“Human rights are, also from the perspective of international law, a higher good than diplomatic immunity,” Berlsmann told the Daily Mail.

He is optimistic that the German higher court will follow the model set in France earlier this year, where the French government paid a woman from Oman employed by a UNESCO diplomat the 33,380 euros in back pay that France’s highest administrative court awarded.

It may take up to six months for the German higher court to issue a ruling on Dewi’s case, and the German Foreign Ministry told Deutsche Presse-Agenteur it is seeking a solution in the meantime.

Police act the spoilers at PAS ceramah

(Malaysiakini) A PAS ceramah organised at the eleventh hour in Kepala Batas last night nearly turned unruly when about 100 police personnel suddenly popped up at the scene.
A fraction of the 600 strong crowd at the event responded by immediately forming a barricade and shutting off the iron gate infront of the party's operations centre in Pongsu Seribu.
NONEThe uniformed men comprising about 50 Light Force Strike personnel arrived about 10.15pm, to be greeted with shouts of "here they come, police have come, shut the gate!"
Others were more provocative, teasing "come in and get us" as the police stood by their trucks, parked on the side of the road, causing a bit of a traffic jam.
A group of PAS security officers donning yellow safety jackets tried to calm the crowd by keeping them away from the main road, and at a safe distance from the men in uniform.
NONEThe ceramah's facilitator (announcer) told the crowd not to "panic" as the event was held within PAS' premises, adding "they cannot do anything as this is our own land".
"If they were to come into our premises, they would be considered encroachers," he added.
The Bersih-related ceramah was prompted by sms, facebook and e-mail messages circulating in Penang after Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced that two state government events yesterday have been postponed until July 10.

Heavy handed acts continue
Lim was forced into the decision after Penang police chief Ayub Yaakob otained a court order to halt the events from taking place in Sungai Nibong (Pesta site) and Seberang Jaya (Expo site).
Ayub had also threatened stern action against those who participated in yesterday's intended functions, describing them as "illegal assembly".

Speakers for the events were supposed to have included Pakatan Rakyat heavyweights such as Lim himself, PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, and Bersih 2.0 chief Ambiga Sreenevasan.
NONEHowever, only Bukit Tambun assemblyperson Ong Chee Wen, PKR Youth leader Amizuddin Ahmat, PAS Kepala Batas commissioner Rosdi Hussain and LLG Cultural and Development Centre chief Toh Kin Woon (right) were spotted at last night's do.
On stage, Toh explained Bersih's eight-point agenda to the crowd, saying that he was non-partisan, and was focused on promoting free and fair elections within the country.
He added that he would have spoken at any ceramah - whether BN or Pakatan - as long as invited to do so.
"I would have attended even if MCA invited me to their event but they never did," added the former Penang state exco and Gerakan leader.
At the ceramah's end, Toh was escorted safely to his car by PAS security officers.
The police action is part of a national-wide dragnet to nab Bersih campaigners ahead of the NGOs planned mammoth rally on July 9 in Kuala Lumpur.
Police earn hawkers's ire
The rally, expected to draw thousands from several NGOs and political parties, has been deemed illegal assembly by the police.
So far more than 100 people have either been arrested or questioned for expressing their wish to attend the function, or selling or distributing its paraphernelia.
Meanwhile, the function continued right up to midnight without any untoward incident although some were clearly uneasy with the heavy police presence.
pas ceramah, kepala batasThey made their dissatisfaction known by hurling a snide remark or two at the police who were equipped with headgear and batons.
Despite the police's show of force, PAS supporters dismissed the warning by Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein by selling Bersih's striking yellow t-shirts during the ceramah.

Two men who were spotted wearing the controversial tees had managed to escape the police wrath.
However, traders at the pasar malam within the premises blamed the police for disrupting their businesses by causing massive traffic jams.
"Everything was peaceful until they come to disturb us," said a drink seller in his early 30s, who only wanted to be know as "Man".
NONEAnother business men, A Rahman, said that the police action of lining up infront of the PAS centre was "bad" as this was one of the only venues that the communtity could express themselves.
On whether traders would lose their livelihood if 'Opposition" ceramahs were held in their area, the trader replied in the negative, asking "how much money do these people want?"
"We are usually happy if we can earn enough. This is called rezeki - sometimes we have a little, sometimes more...this time it is our turn (to get money), next time, it is someone else's, " he said.

In a twist, RHB now eyes CIMB

KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — RHB Capital Bhd has turned hunter and is now seeking to take control of CIMB Holdings Bhd to create Southeast Asia’s largest bank, just a week after a mega-merger was called off due to the high prices involved in the deal.

The Singapore Straits Times reported today RHB Capital, the target of a takeover bid by Malayan Banking Berhad and CIMB a few weeks ago, is planning a bid that will create a financial institution with a market value of roughly RM86 billion.

Banking sources confirmed the bid with The Malaysian Insider, saying RHB’s main shareholders — the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Aabar Investments — are more than ready to fund the proposed deal. EPF has some RM440 billion in total assets.

“It will be an all-cash bid. CIMB’s main shareholder Khazanah Nasional Berhad can walk away with nearly RM20 billion if they accept the deal,” a source told The Malaysian Insider, explaining that the CIMB brand name will be used if the deal goes through.

“They are offering 2.5 to 2.7 times the book value,” he added, noting that both EPF and Aabar have deep pockets to fund the buyout.

Another source said the RHB merger plan is to create one of the biggest Islamic banks in the world, considering the interest and also CIMB’s wide network throughout Southeast Asia. It is learnt that over time, the deal will allow EPF to move its loan book to the merged CIMB-RHB banking group.

“This could work as Putrajaya already has a plan to divest government-linked companies (GLCs),” he said.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is to announce another slew of economic reforms and initiatives on July 5 and officials said it includes public finance reforms and details of government-linked investment companies divesting or listing companies in their stable.

It is understood that the RHB offer has the blessings of Putrajaya as it allows them to get direct cash from EPF instead of asking for loans from the country's largest pension fund.

Churchill Capital analyst Justin Tang said the RHB move was surprising.

“This is quite a surprising move seeing that barely a week ago RHB Capital said they will be fine on their own,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Under Nazir, CIMB has established a solid regional financial franchise. — File pic
The Straits Times said RHB, EPF and CIMB executives were not available for comment, but one senior financial executive who was involved in the just-aborted takeover bid for RHB said EPF officials have “floated the idea with the government, and it has some legs”. “The push is still for consolidation of the (banking) sector, and this is one of the options that are being considered,” the Straits Times was told by one senior government official familiar with the situation, who added no timeframe had been set for the proposed deal.

But there are also hurdles, the newspaper said, noting that such a deal would need the sanction of CIMB’s main shareholder, Khazanah Holdings, the country’s premier state-owned strategic investment arm.

CIMB, under the leadership of Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, Najib’s younger brother, has established a solid regional financial franchise. It is Khazanah’s core investment and also its biggest success story, bankers note, and going through with the deal would mean letting go of an asset that still has good potential for growth, the paper said.

“The Nazir-led management at CIMB enjoys strong loyalty among foreign institutional funds, which own nearly 40 per cent of the bank’s shares.

But sources told The Malaysian Insider that Nazir will play a huge role in the new banking group if EPF’s plans pan out.

“Nazir will be heading the world’s biggest Islamic bank. Now it’s just a matter of ego. He is being bought out by new bosses, not the other way round,” a source noted.

But the Singapore paper said there could be hurdles to the deal.

“The potential criticism could be that the deal would be transferring EPF funds to make it more accessible to the government. Otherwise, this deal is doable,” said a Singapore-based investment banker who has close links with Malaysian bankers and government officials.

Malaysia has long pushed for the consolidation of its banking sector, and several rounds of mergers that began in 1998 have helped reduce the number of lenders in the country to 10 currently, from a high of 54 institutions.

CIMB and Maybank scrapped separate plans last week to acquire RHB due to a separate transaction involving a block of RHB shares between two Abu Dhabi state concerns, which complicated the deals.
Apart from its 48 per cent ownership in RHB, EPF also controls a 12 per cent interest in CIMB.

Yellow is royal, ‘hysterical’ Hisham told

An opposition leader slams the home minister, saying his yellow phobia has turned him into another Hosni Mubarak.

TAIPING: Following his arrest yesterday morning, a PKR leader lashed out at Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, saying he is suffering from yellow phobia over the Bersih 2.0 rally scheduled for July 9.

Perak PKR deputy chief Dr Lee Boon Chye added that the home minister had turned into Hosni Mubarak, the former president of Egypt, by making arbitrary decisions.

“Why must he get hysterical and have a phobia when yellow is our royal colour?” he asked.

“He cannot become judge and executioner in proclaiming that Bersih is illegal… after all, he is only a minister and cannot override the supremacy of the Federal Constitution which guarantees the freedom to assemble peacefully,” he added.

“He has become another Hosni Mubarak, deciding arbitrarily what is right and wrong without following the constitution,” he told FMT.

A vexed Lee also challenged Hishammuddin to state the law that denied Malaysians the right to peaceful assembly.

Yesterday, the PKR leader said, he had worn an ordinary yellow T-shirt while his party colleague, Simpang Pulai assemblyperson Chan Ming Kai was clad in a Bersih 2.0T-shirt, when the two had gone to the Gunung Rapat wet market here with other party members to meet residents.

According to Lee, when he alighted from his car, “some 100 policemen” surrounded him and the others.
Without giving the reason for their arrests, they were bundled into a police van and taken to the Ipoh district police headquarters to have their statements recorded.

Later, Lee and the others were told that they were arrested for intending to hold an illegal assembly at the market.

‘Crime rate soars as police work for Umno’

“What is wrong with wearing yellow T- shirts? It is our democratic right to wear what we want! Don’t tell me the police have now come up with a code of dressing for Malaysians ?” he asked.

Lee accused the police of diverting from their duty as protector of the public, and becoming the political tool of Umno to crush public dissent.

“Is the home ministry giving top priority to arresting people who wear yellow instead of going after criminals at large?” he said.

Meanwhile, PKR state vice-chairman Chang Lih Kang defended the Bersih rally.

“The rally is totally constitutional and any attempt to crack down on the participants is an infringement of human rights and we will become the laughing stock of the whole world,” he said.

He claimed that the crime rate in the country was increasing since the police were busy fulfilling political agendas.

On Wednesday, Chang, DAP Jalong assemblyperson Leong Mee Meng and 12 other Pakatan Rakyat supporters were arrested by police for wearing the yellow Bersih T-shirts at the Sungai Siput wet market.
They were released later in the day after the police had recorded their statements.

Tiada situasi menang buat Umno

Detik ini (Himpunan Bersih 2.0) menjadi satu titik tolak yang penting dalam perjuangan kita untuk menuntut kembali kuasa rakyat dan demokrasi.
COMMENT
Ditengah-tengah kegilaan pihak berkuasa menggunakan undang-undang zalim untuk menyekat perhimpunan Bersih yang dijadualkan pada 9 Julai, ramai rakyat Malaysia terpinga-pinga – adakah Malaysia kini ‘tersesat’ dalam hutan rimba yang sudah tidak mengenal undang-undang.

Sebaik sahaja Menteri Dalam Negeri Hishammuddin Hussein memberi amaran bahawa memakai baju T Bersih berwarna kuning adalah haram di segi undang-undang, Ketua Polis Negara (KPN) Tan Sri Ismail Omar memburukkan lagi keadaan.

Beliau (Ismail) mengisytiharkan bahawa malahan “kasut, kereta, bas dan apa sahaja alat yang digunakan untuk mempromosi perhimpunan Bersih adalah haram, kerana ini boleh dianggap sebagai hasutan dan mereka yang terlibat akan ditahan.

Sehingga hari ini, lebih 100 orang telah ditangkap di seluruh negara dalam tempoh empat hari lalu, kebanyakannya kerana memakai baju T Bersih.

Bagi saya, ini seolah-olah seperti seseorang yang bercakap dan bertindak seolah-olah dia adalah seorang raja yang mempunyai kuasa mutlak, boleh menahan sesiapa yang tidak mengikut kehendaknya dan apa yang dicakapkannya menjadi undang-undang.

Namu tidak pula terdapat dalam undang-undang Malaysia yang membenarkan seseorang menteri dan seorang anggota polis boleh mengisytiharkan bahawa item-item ini seperti baju T Bersih adalah haram.
Tidak pula kita terdapat mana-mana bahagian dalam perundangan negara yang menyatakan seseorang itu boleh ditahan sebelum dia melakukan sesuatu jenayah atau disyaki melakukannya.

Perhimpunan Bersih belum pun dianjurkan lagi maka bagaimana jenayah boleh dianggap telah berlaku berhubung dengan perhimpunan Bersih ini?

Makanya, apakah yang menyebabkan Menteri Dalam Negeri dan KPN begitu terdesak untuk bertindak di luar batas undang-undang?

Adakah Bersih sebuah pertubuhan pengganas yang merancang untuk menjatuhkan kerajaan dengan cara kekerasan? Adakah Bersih menghasut orang ramai supaya melanggar undang-undang dan mencetuskan kekacauan?

Apakah bencana buruk yang telah dilakukan oleh Bersih hingga menyebabkan pihak berkuasa bertindak sedemikian rupa, berlaku kejam pada setiap langkah, apa sahaja ‘berbau’ Bersih?
Bersih adalah sebuah badan awam disertai oleh 62 badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) yang berkempen untuk reformasi pilihan raya.

Kedegilan pihak berkuasa


Dan Himpunan Bersih pada 9 Julai nanti dirancang untuk menuntut bagi menangani masalah ini ekoran kedegilan pihak berkuasa untuk melakukan perubahan ke arah sistem pilihan raya yang bersih dan adil.

Meskipun desakan ini telah dibuat berulang kali sejak bertahun-tahun lamanya, namun Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya (SPR) dan kerajaan Barisan Nasional (BN) tidak mahu berganjak walau satu inci ke arah melakukan formasi terhadap sistem pilihan raya; yang penuh dengan penipuan seperti membeli undi, salah guna kuasa dan pencemaran senarai nama pemilih.

Dengan mempunyai niat yang murni, berjuang untuk memulihkan demokrasi dan mengembalikan kuasa politik kepada rakyat, adalah tidak adil untuk melabel Bersih sebagai sebuah pertubuhan yang mahu mengkhianati negara ini.

Adalah jelas sekarang ini bahawa tanpa pilihan raya yang adil dan saksama, kuasa politik hanya berkisar kepada beberapa pemimpin sahaja, bukannya kepada rakyat.

Dan apabila sesebuah pertubuhan (Bersih) yang disegani ini ingin menyeru untuk berhimpun bagi mengetengahkan isu ini kepada para pemimpin negara, bagaimana mungkin perhimpunan ini dianggap sebagai taboo dan apa-apa yang berkaitan dengannya diwartakan sebagai haram?

Sehingga sekarang, hegemoni Umno dan polis masih tidak dapat memberi alasan yang kukuh kenapa perhimpunan Bersih ini dianggap haram sedangkan perhimpunan Bersih mahu diadakan secara aman sepertimana yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

Adalah sesuatu yang menyedihkan apabila kita dapati pihak polis bertindak hanya mengikut arahan tuannya (Umno) bagi memenuhi kepentingan politik mereka yang sekaligus bertentangan dengan kehendak rakyat.
Alasan yang diberi oleh pihak berkuasa setakat ini untuk menghalalkan tindakan mereka terhadap tangkapan-tangkapan yang dilakukan dan untuk melabel perhimpunan itu haram adalah sesuatu yang melucukan dan tidak mempunyai kredibiliti langsung.

Tuduhan-tuduhan palsu seperti plot komunis untuk melancarkan perang terhadap Yang DiPertuan Agong, sebuah pergerakan yang dibantu oleh badan-badan Kristian asing untuk mengkhianati negara, satu acara yang boleh menggugat ketenteraman awam dan keselamatan negara dan boleh menyebabkan kerosakan ekonomi.

Kisah-kisah ugutan dan bala bencana yang bakal menimpa yang direka-reka ini, sukar dipercayai oleh rakyat Malaysia tetapi inilah pembikinan rasional mereka yang bertujuan untuk menyekat perhimpunan ini.

Alasan-alasan yang diberi untuk bertindak terhadap perhimpunan Bersih adalah tidak munasabah.

Sesebuah negara demokrasi itu lebih mementingkan kepada pencapaian kesejahteraan ekonomi dan politik di mana perhimpunan seumpama ini merupakan sebahagian dari cara hidup dalam sistem demokrasi.

Lihat kepada jiran kita Hong Kong.  Perhimpunan-perhimpunan yang melibatkan ratusan ribu rakyatnya terhadap kerajaan China sentiasa diadakan dari semasa ke semasa.

Namun tidak nampak sekilas pun tanda-tanda bahawa ketenteraman awam tergugat atau perniagaan mereka terjejas. Sebaliknya Hong Kong terus stabil, maju dan makmur.

Maka apa yang sebenarnya dibimbangi Umno?

Pada hakikatnya, Umno tidak yakin dapat terus bernyawa sekiranya pilihan raya di adakan dengan adil dan saksama.

Sebab itu, Umno tidak berganjak walau satu inci pun ke arah pilihan raya yang lebih adil dan ia tidak mempunyai niat untuk melaksanakan keadilan dalam masa yang terdekat.

Umno juga menyedari bahawa ia telah banyak melakukan kesalahan dengan mengkhianati kepentingan rakyat dan semakin ramai yang sedar tentang perkara ini melalui media alternatif yang cepat berkembang.

Ini ditambah lagi dengan peningkatan keyakinan terhadap Pakatan Rakyat dan perhimpunan ini akan menjelma sebagai satu bentuk demokrasi yang bertenaga untuk menuntut kembali kekuasaan melalui reformasi pilihan raya.

Oleh itu, kita boleh meramalkan bahawa Umno akan terus menggunakan tekanan terhadap Bersih dengan menyalahgunakan institusi- institusi kerajaan seperti polis dan kehakiman, tanpa memperduli kepada undang-undang dan Perlembagaan, untuk menyekat pergerakan Bersih.

Bagaimanapun Umno tidak berada dalam situasi menang.  Untuk taat kepada Perlembagaan, Umno mesti membenarkan perhimpunan ini diteruskan di mana tidak mungkin Umno akan berbuat demikian apabila melihat perhimpunan ribuan manusia itu boleh melemah semangat mereka yang semakin pudar dan melihat sokongan terhadap mereka semakin mengecut.

Sebaliknya, penindasan yang dilakukan Umno dengan melanggar semua undang-undang boleh menyemarakkan lagi semangat rakyat untuk bangkit hingga membuat kita sukar untuk meramalkan apa yang bakal terjadi nanti.

Walaupun pihak pemerintah berjaya menyekat perhimpunan ini, perasaan lega Umno hanya bersifat sementara.  Kejadian buruk, kezaliman yang menjangkaui batas-batas undang-undang, pencabulan hak asasi manusia semuanya dengan mudah dapat ditonton oleh rakyat.

Melalui teknologi maklumat moden, rakyat dapat melihat dengan jelas apa yang berlaku di Dataran Tahrir, Mesir dan api yang menyemarakan semangat revolusi yang merebak di seluruh dunia Arab.

Apabila sokongan terhadap Umno dan BN semakin terhakis, pada ketika itu nanti, malahan institusi-institusi yang menjadi alat mereka tidak mampu lagi menyelamatkan mereka apabila mereka tewas dalam pilihan raya yang akan datang.

Saya yakin majoriti rakyat Malaysia sudah mencapai tahap kesedaran politik yang tinggi dan kesungguhan rakyat akan terserlah nanti pada 9 Julai.  Detik ini menjadi satu titik tolak yang penting dalam perjuangan kita untuk menuntut kembali kuasa rakyat dan demokrasi.

Religious council throws its weight behind all three rallies

Police should also cooperate and help the organisers on the route each may take on that day, says MCCBCHST.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) has thrown its weight behind all three planned rallies on July 9.

The organisation which propagates religious harmony said that the “supreme law” of the court, the Federal Constitution guarantees the freedom of assembly.

“Article 10 (1)(b) (states) all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms… it is one of the pillars of our Rukun Negara,” read the statement.

“Even the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has stated that the people have the constitutional right to assembly peaceably… and the government should allow it,” it added.

Any pre-emptive banning of the said rallies would only make this fundamental guarantee an “illusion”. The police have a duty and the capacity to control such assemblies.

“They can designate routes and separate the different groups as was done in recent by elections. The should call the groups and make arrangements on the route each may take.”

The MCCBCHST also ridiculed reasons made against the rallies such as that it will cause traffic jams and  inconvenience the people.

It said Malaysians have accepted these inconvenience as many national and religious functions and processions are held on a regular basis.

Bersih announced that it will rally for free and fair election on July 9. Malay right-wing group Perkasa jumped in and said that it will organised a counter protest on the same day.  Soon after, Umno Youth announced that it too, will hold rally on the same day in support of the current electoral system.

Let’s engage

Bersih also found support in the form of community-based NGO,  Permas (Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan).

The NGO which protects urban  poor communities in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, expressed its approval of Bersih’s demands for a clean electoral roll, use of indelible ink, the halt of corruption and dirty politics, and the strengthening of public institutions.

Permas also condemned the government for its strong-arm tactics against Bersih.

“We are disgusted by the actions of the police who seem to be protecting only certain parties but continue to threaten, intimidate and arrest ordinary citizens who only want to exercise their rights,” said Permas’ Tan Jo Hann in a statement.

“Let us engage in open debate and discussions about these issues, and also take seriously the principles of free and fair elections which has not been taken seriously enough by the Election Commission,” he said.

HSS to let members decide 

Meanwhile Indian-based assosiation, Hindu Sevai Sangam, said it supported Bersih’s call for the Election Commission for free and fair elections through electoral reforms.

However the movement said it was not encouraging its supporters to join the Bersih rally on July 9.
“That decision is left to our members to make, (but) the laws of the country must be obeyed.

“When it is declared as an illegal rally, the people must understand there are consequences to go against that order,” said HSS’ secretary general KK Supramaniam in a statement.

He added that the electoral reforms urged by Bersih was genuine and was not an attempt to make the EC a scapegoat.

Supramaniam also urged the authorities to take stern action against Perkasa chairman Ibrahim Ali for his alleged seditious statements.

WIKILEAKS: Malaysia’s sixth annual trafficking in persons report


Malaysia is a destination and, to a far lesser extent, a transit country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Collectively, as many as several thousand women from the People's Republic of China, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam are trafficked to Malaysia for commercial sexual exploitation.  Additionally, some economic migrants from countries in the region who work as domestic servants and as laborers in the construction and agricultural sectors face exploitative conditions in Malaysia that meet the definition of involuntary servitude.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin


UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 13 KUALA LUMPUR 000372
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, PRM, IWI, EAP/RSP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM, KCRM, KWMN, SMIG, KFRD, ASEC, PREF, ELAB, MY
SUBJECT: MALAYSIA SIXTH ANNUAL TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT

REF: A. STATE 3836
     B. 05 KUALA LUMPUR 3792

1. (SBU) SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION:  Malaysia is a destination and, to a lesser extent, a transit country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor.  Women from the People's Republic of China, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam are trafficked to Malaysia for commercial sexual exploitation.  Additionally, some economic migrants from countries in the region who work as domestic servants and as laborers in the construction and agricultural sectors face exploitative conditions in Malaysia that meet the definition of involuntary servitude.
2. (SBU) There are no reliable statistics revealing the total number of women trafficked into Malaysia.  Foreign embassies and NGOs report that in 2005, at least 500 trafficking victims were rescued and repatriated.  During the first nine months of 2005, over 4,600 foreign women were arrested and detained for prostitution, compared with over 5,700 arrested during all of 2004. 
According to the government-funded National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), a significant number of these women were probable TIP victims.
3. (SBU) The government recognizes that trafficking is a problem and has taken significant steps to combat it.  Senior officials have expressed their support for anti-TIP programs, including comprehensive anti-TIP legislation and TIP victim identification training for police and immigration officials.
In November 2004, the government signed an ASEAN declaration calling for greater regional cooperation against trafficking in persons.  In December 2004, the government hosted the signing of a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with eight other ASEAN countries to improve regional cooperation and prosecution of transnational criminal activities including trafficking.  Also in December, the women's affairs minister announced her intent to establish of the first shelter specifically for foreign women who are victims of trafficking.
4. (SBU) Government implementation of these steps has lagged, however.  According to Suhakam, the government has not significantly improved its anti-TIP actions since late-2004. Malaysia lacks comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that would enable officials to identify and shelter victims, and to prosecute traffickers under a single criminal statute.
The government has not taken the legal steps necessary to establish the government-run shelter announced by the women's minister.  While final statistics for 2005 are not yet available, convictions of traffickers under the penal code are down from the previous year.
5. (SBU) The government should draft and enact a comprehensive trafficking law that recognizes trafficked men and women as victims and provides them with shelter, counseling and repatriation assistance.  The government should also systematically screen foreign prostitutes and illegal migrants, in order to identify and provide care for trafficking victims in their midst.  In addition, the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (MWFCD) should fulfill its December 2004 undertaking to establish one or more dedicated shelters for foreign trafficking victims.
6. (SBU) The Embassy has urged the MWFCD to establish one or more shelters and stronger legal protections for victims of trafficking.  We are encouraging the ILO and other international NGOs to be more proactive in TIP programs in Malaysia and are partnering with local NGOs to expand the infrastructure and resources required to respond effectively to the needs of victims.  We have also offered to provide the USG's TIP victim identification expertise to police and immigration officials.  The response from the Malaysian government to these proposed initiatives has been positive and cooperative.
7. (SBU) We believe that the government of Malaysia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.  The Malaysians have made significant efforts in previous years to bring themselves into compliance with minimum standards.  However, they have not provided evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking over the previous year.  We therefore recommend that Malaysia be moved from Tier 2 to Tier 2 Watch List in the 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report. 
The placing of Malaysia on the Watch List should assist us in communicating to the government of this moderate, Muslim-majority democracy the importance with which we regard the need for it to continue to address its trafficking issues.  End Summary and Introduction.
8. (U) Embassy's submission for the 6th Annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report for Malaysia follows.  Responses are keyed to paras 21-25 of ref A.  Embassy's point of contact for TIP is political officer Jeffrey Hilsgen (phone: 603-2168-4831, fax: 603-2168-5165, email: hilsgenjg@state.gov ).  Per the request in para 20 of Reftel, to date the Embassy has spent the following time on the TIP report: FS-1: 12 hours; FS-4: 75 hours; FSN: 10 hours.
9.  CHECKLIST (PARA 21)
A.    A. (SBU) Malaysia is a target destination for crime syndicates trafficking women and girls into the country for the sex trade.  To a much lesser extent, Malaysia is also a country of origin and transit.  While there are no reliable statistics revealing the total number of women trafficked into the country, estimates can be made drawing from different sources.  Foreign embassies and NGOs report that in 2005, at least 500 trafficking victims were rescued and repatriated. 
During the first nine months of 2005, 4,678 foreign women were arrested and detained for suspected involvement in prostitution, compared with 5,783 arrested during all of 2004.  Chinese nationals accounted for the largest percentage of such arrests (more than 40%), followed by nationals of Indonesia (25%), Thailand (17%) and the Philippines (10%).  According to the government-funded National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) and involved NGOs, a significant number of these women were probable TIP victims.
(SBU) While little verifiable information exists regarding the number of Malaysian women trafficked to other countries, the GOM claims that no Malaysian women were trafficked outside the country in 2004 (the latest period they reviewed).  GOM statistics state that 20 Malaysian women were arrested in 2004 for immigration violations in various countries.  According to the GOM, none of the women claimed to be trafficking victims or gave any indications they had been trafficked.  Our conversations with local NGOs indicate that fewer than 100 Malaysian women are trafficked abroad each year, and that the number has declined in recent years.
(SBU) Our sources of information on TIP in Malaysia include the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP), the Attorney General's Chambers, the Immigration Department, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (MWFCD), the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA, an ethnic-Chinese political party in the ruling coalition), Suhakam, several foreign diplomatic missions, and a number of local NGOs, including the Malaysian Bar Council.  These sources were forthcoming with credible information on TIP.
B. (SBU) Malaysia is a destination and, to a far lesser extent, a transit country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Collectively, as many as several thousand women from the People's Republic of China, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam are trafficked to Malaysia for commercial sexual exploitation.  Additionally, some economic migrants from countries in the region who work as domestic servants and as laborers in the construction and agricultural sectors face exploitative conditions in Malaysia that meet the definition of involuntary servitude.
(SBU) A small number of Malaysians are trafficked annually to other countries, though recent data suggest that the number has decreased to negligible levels.  According to NGO sources, young Malaysian ethnic Chinese women are the primary targets of traffickers recruiting prostitutes in Malaysia.
For religious and/or cultural reasons, trafficking of ethnic Malay or ethnic Indian women is infrequent.  According to most reports, Malaysian Chinese women are lured by word of mouth and by personal contacts connected to mainland Chinese criminal syndicates with international connections.  Promises of high-paying jobs and freedom from the restrictions of Malaysia's generally conservative society are the main motivating factors.
(SBU) During meetings with senior USG representatives in 2005, Malaysian government officials expressed strong support for combating trafficking in persons.  While the government views the issue of trafficking both as a stand-alone problem and as part of the larger challenge of border security and illegal migration, Malaysia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
According to the government funded National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), the government has not significantly improved its anti-TIP actions since Suhakam's publication in January 2005 of a national plan of action to combat trafficking.  The government has taken steps to combat trafficking and has a broad array of criminal laws available to it to deter and punish traffickers, but Malaysia lacks comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that would enable officials to identify victims, shelter them, and prosecute traffickers under a single criminal statute.  Compared to 2004, prosecutions and convictions of traffickers under the penal code declined during the first nine months of 2005.
(SBU) The majority of persons trafficked into Malaysia for sexual exploitation come from China, Indonesia and Thailand, with smaller numbers coming from the Philippines, Vietnam, India and Cambodia, Burma and Laos.  Anecdotal evidence indicates that numbers of victims coming from neighboring ASEAN countries have remained relatively constant over the last few years. 
The number and patterns of victims coming from source countries tend to reflect GOM immigration and visa policies.  For example, China has grown as a source country in recent years due to a more liberal Malaysian visa policy that reflects growing economic ties and GOM efforts to encourage tourism and university enrollment from Chinese students.  China has become the largest and fastest-growing source country for prostitutes in Malaysia; many of these Chinese women and girls are likely TIP victims.
(SBU) The Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) compiles statistics on arrests of foreign women with suspected involvement in prostitution, broken down by nationality.  The Immigration Department's enforcement division also collects data on trafficking cases.  Malaysian authorities do not adequately distinguish illegal migrants from trafficking victims.  Law enforcement officials assert that the great majority of the foreign women arrested for prostitution in Malaysia entered the country voluntarily and with valid travel documents.
However, surveys by Suhakam and interviews with Indonesian, Thai and Philippine embassy officials indicate that as many as fifty percent of foreign women arrested for prostitution are possible trafficking victims.  According to the Thai embassy's anti-TIP officer, nearly all of the Thai women arrested for prostitution claim to be TIP victims during interviews conducted by embassy officials.
(SBU) To avoid detection by law enforcement authorities, trafficking victims engaged in prostitution are often confined to the premises of their establishments, whether it is a place of entertainment or a privately owned apartment or home.  Some women are taken out under strict supervision to meet customers at hotels or private residences.  Trafficking victims are kept compliant through involuntary confinement, confiscation of travel documents, debt bondage, and physical abuse or threat of abuse, according to NGO representatives, academics, and foreign consuls.
(SBU) In terms of prevention, in 2002 and 2003 the government took steps to toughen the criteria for young foreigners seeking student visas, to monitor individuals with student visas more carefully to ensure they were actually attending school, and to scrutinize more closely young foreign women entering the country on special two week "social passes."  It has also stepped up border detection for smuggling, illegal migration, and drug and people trafficking.
(SBU) There is no evidence of widespread tolerance or complicity in TIP by government authorities, though accusations of more general corruption, particularly at the local police and immigration levels, exist.  Foreign diplomatic missions report good cooperation on TIP from law enforcement authorities at the federal level, but some NGOs have alleged that outside of Kuala Lumpur they have received less cooperation.  Several NGOs report that that police cooperation with NGOs and other groups against traffickers has improved.
C. (SBU) Government resources are overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of illegal migrants entering the country.  Analysts estimate that over one million illegal migrants live in Malaysia.  Law enforcement agencies lack adequate resources to deal with the influx, and criminal syndicates have been quick to exploit this weakness.  TIP victims are lost in the crowd of illegal migrants from China, Indonesia and Thailand.
The Indonesian embassy estimates that only a small minority of the 70,000 Indonesian workers in Sabah are legally registered with the GOM.  Immigration authorities say they do not have the manpower or language resources to question and distinguish trafficking victims from illegal migrants, or to properly assist them when they are identified.  The NGO community is small, poorly funded, and often does not have the capacity to provide for victims even when the police seek their assistance.
D. (SBU) Suhakam in 2004 conducted a comprehensive review of Malaysia's response to TIP.  A 159-page report published in January 2005 included interviews with victims, police, immigration, prison authorities, ministries involved in TIP, the Attorney General, foreign embassies, NGOs and IOs.  The report called for wide-ranging measures to combat trafficking and a more human rights-centered approach for protecting victims. 
The report was widely publicized in the local media and generated positive commentary from the public, NGOs and government officials.  The state-influenced media gives extensive coverage to law enforcement raids against brothels, massage parlors, and other locales where foreign women and their pimps have been arrested for suspected involvement in prostitution. 
The government does not systematically publish detailed statistics about its arrests, prosecutions and convictions of pimps and traffickers.  The GOM has provided this and related information to the Embassy upon request. The government has also provided a detailed written response to our annual trafficking in persons report.
10. PREVENTION (PARA 22)
A. (SBU) In 2004 the government signed the ASEAN Ministerial Declaration against Trafficking in Persons.  Government officials regularly acknowledge that Malaysia is a destination and transit country and assert that they are committed to combat TIP comprehensively.  They view trafficking as a problem connected to organized crime, prostitution, smuggling and illegal migration, and recognize that many young foreign women involved in prostitution in Malaysia are victims of TIP.  However, some also assert that many prostitutes working in Malaysia are here out of choice and that these women should be prosecuted as such and deported as illegal migrants. 
Government officials have expressed concern that some women willingly involved in vice claim to be TIP victims when arrested.  The government acknowledges that it has difficulty in distinguishing TIP victims from foreign sex workers who entered Malaysia willingly, as many of these women do not speak Bahasa or English and choose not to file charges against their traffickers.
B. (SBU) The RMP, the Immigration Department, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the MWFCD, the MFA, and the Attorney General's office are the government agencies involved in anti-trafficking efforts.  Suhakam, which is funded by the government, and the MCA, the second-largest party in the governing coalition, are also active in anti-TIP efforts.
C. (SBU) MCA publishes warnings in its Chinese-language publications and makes public statements to caution potential victims about overly lucrative job offers abroad.  The MCA reported that the number of Chinese victims seeking assistance from its offices declined to 39 in 2005, compared with 56 in 2004 and 75 in 2003.  The government has not directly sponsored anti-trafficking campaigns.
D. (SBU) The government supports some trafficking prevention programs.  Currently, the MWFCD operates "rehabilitation" homes for women and girls (under 18) who have been determined by the courts or their families to be at risk of engaging in prostitution or other vice activities.
(SBU) Malaysian women comprise more than half of the university student population, account for 44% of the nation's labor force, and hold significant high-profile positions in government, NGOs and the private sector.  In 2004, the Ministry of Women's Affairs and Family Development was merged with the Ministry for Social Welfare to create an expanded Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.
The women's affairs minister secured passage in August 2001 of a constitutional amendment barring sex discrimination.  In 2004, a women NGO activist who maintains a shelter for abused women and TIP victims was appointed to the royal commission on police reform.
(SBU) In 2004, Suhakam drafted a TIP national plan of action with support from the IOM.  Among other things, the plan recommended that the government fund shelters for foreign TIP victims that include reintegration programs.  In December 2004, the women's affairs minister announced the cabinet's approval to open a shelter specifically for "foreign women who are victims of trafficking." 
Prime Minister Abdullah attended the announcement, signaling his support.  The women's minister subsequently informed us that amendments to existing laws, or a new comprehensive anti-TIP law, had to be enacted prior to government establishment of a TIP victim shelter; current laws do not distinguish between TIP victims and illegal migrants engaged in vice activities.  In 2005, the MWFCD discussed launching a nationwide campaign in collaboration with various NGOs to increase public awareness on trafficking through seminars, workshops and dissemination of brochures. 
The campaign is supposed to target youths and school children and serve as a capacity-building program for law enforcement and policy makers to heighten their awareness of the problem.  It has not yet been launched.
F. (SBU) Government and NGO cooperation on trafficking is uneven and ad hoc, both because the government does not have established procedures for handling trafficking victims and because NGOs do not have the resources to care for more than a few victims at any given time.  In some cases victims are released into the custody of their embassies, which maintain limited shelter capabilities.  In other cases, police ask private shelters run by NGOs to accept TIP victims. 
Foreign embassies and several NGOs report good cooperation with police and immigration officials in securing immigration passes and shelter for foreign women workers who are victims of trafficking or physical abuse.  Police officers have been designated as liaisons with the MCA's Social Services and Welfare office and other NGOs on cases involving trafficking and other victims.
(SBU) Using USG funding and with the assistance of the IOM, local NGO Tenaganita plans to establish Malaysia's first dedicated shelter for foreign TIP victims in March 2006. Tenaganita intends to obtain the formal approval of police, immigration and Women's Ministry officials for the shelter, as it ramps up operations.  The Indonesian embassy's shelter in Kuala Lumpur has a capacity of 80 persons, but in mid-February it housed 140 individuals, including a 15-year-old girl recently trafficked into Malaysia from Sumatra for sexual exploitation.  Approximately 80% of the of the shelter's occupants are typically TIP victims, according to the embassy's lead anti-TIP official.  Of that number, about 80% are laborers escaping exploitative conditions, with the remainder are persons trafficked for sexual purposes.
G. (SBU) The Malaysian government views border control as a national security issue because of concerns related to terrorism, narcotics, public health, economic security, and social stability, as well as trafficking.  For all of these reasons, the government is making a strong effort to monitor the country's borders. 
Malaysian passports issued in the country are fitted with a microchip that stores the biographic data and photograph of the passport holder to prevent forged alterations and photo substitution of lost or stolen passports.  As part of its crackdown on vice in 2002, the government instituted tougher criteria for foreigners seeking student visas and increased border scrutiny of young persons, particularly from China, entering Malaysia on special "social passes." 
In 2005 the government began a large-scale program to issue immigration "smart cards" to permanent residents and legal workers in Malaysia.  The smart cards electronically store biographic data, fingerprints and the immigration status of the cardholder.
(SBU) Malaysia's 3000-mile-long coastline creates a tremendous challenge for Malaysia's security forces.  In addition, the long, heavily forested land border that East Malaysia shares with the Indonesian province of Kalimantan cannot be patrolled adequately.  The government nonetheless makes a serious effort to control these borders. 
Reports of organized criminal activity to facilitate the entry of illegal aliens are investigated by local law enforcement authorities, and in some cases suspected perpetrators have been detained under Malaysia's Internal Security Act (ISA), the Emergency Ordinance and the Restricted Residence Act, all of which allow for extended periods of detention without charge. 
In January 2005, the press reported that the police used the ISA to detain nine persons involved in forging Malaysian identity cards.  Seven of the individuals worked for the Malaysian national registration office and the remaining two were members of criminal syndicates.  In both 2003 and 2004, according to government statistics, approximately 4,000 foreign nationals were refused entry into Malaysia due to suspicion of owning fake or falsified travel documents.
H. (SBU) A number of governmental interagency groups address TIP and related issues.  The MFA leads an interagency group on transnational organized crime, which meets monthly and has been charged with addressing the trafficking issue from a regional perspective.  The Home Affairs Ministry supports another interagency group, the Cabinet Committee on Illegal Immigrants, which coordinates efforts against illegal migration, including TIP.  Deputy Prime Minister Najib, who also holds in his portfolio oversight of the National Human Rights Commission, chairs the Cabinet Committee on Illegal Immigrants.
(SBU) The Home Affairs Ministry also maintains a special interagency task force targeting vice that includes officials from the RMP, Immigration, and the Ministries of Home Affairs, Housing, Education, and Tourism.  According to NGOs, this task force meets occasionally, but its anti-vice contributions remain unclear.  An additional border security group, the Land Entry Points Coordinating Committee, reviews and improves the operational aspects of border control.  A similar group also coordinates efforts to improve service, security and efficiency of air-entry points. 
In the state of Sabah, on Borneo, an interagency Federal Special Task Force focuses primarily on illegal migration, but also tries to prevent TIP.  The task force includes representatives from the RMP, Immigration, the national security arm of the Prime Minister's Department, and the armed forces.  A separate agency under the Home Affairs Ministry, the Anti-Corruption Agency, investigates cases of public and private corruption.
A royal commission on police reform conducted a review of police practices, including allegations of police corruption and graft, starting in 2004, issuing 125 recommendations in April 2005.  In early 2006, the Prime Minister ordered the Attorney General to complete the legal groundwork necessary to create a permanent independent commission to hear complaints against the police.
(SBU) On the international level, TIP is a component of the Eight Priority Areas of Cooperation under the Work Program of the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime.  In 2004, Malaysia signed a joint ASEAN Declaration to Combat Trafficking in Persons.  The declaration called for greater regional counter-TIP cooperation and asked member states to undertake actions to respect and safeguard the dignity and human rights of victims of trafficking. 
In 2005, Malaysia convened a meeting of ASEAN attorneys general to sign an ASEAN-wide mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) designed to combat transnational crimes, including TIP, more effectively.
In May 2002, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia signed the "Agreement on Information Exchange and the establishment of Communication Procedures" to establish a framework for cooperation on border and security incidents, transnational crimes (including trafficking in persons), and other illegal activities.  Subsequently, Cambodia, Brunei and Thailand acceded to the agreement.  Malaysia has been an active participant in the "Bali Process" initiated by Australia and Indonesia. 
In 2003, Malaysia hosted two follow-up legislative workshops on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and related Transnational Crime.
(SBU) Malaysia shares intelligence on trafficking syndicates and related dangers with the UK, Australia and Interpol. 
In late 2002, the Sabah state government entered into an agreement with the government of the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan to cooperate on a range of shared cross-border challenges, including finding and arresting human traffickers and dismantling syndicates. 
In 2004, Malaysia ratified the UN Convention against Transnational Crime; it is considering signing the supplementary protocol against trafficking in persons.  Malaysia is expected to conclude an MLAT with the U.S. in 2006.
J. (SBU) In October 2004, Suhakam, with support from the IOM and the Embassy, drafted a national anti-TIP plan of action for consideration by the government.  In preparing the plan, Suhakam consulted with government agencies and NGOs involved with TIP, foreign embassies from source countries for TIP victims found in Malaysia, TIP victims and foreign experts on TIP such as the IOM. 
The national plan of action was submitted to the government for consideration in November 2004.  The government has not yet acted on the anti-TIP plan's proposals, nor has it designated a lead ministry for counter-TIP programs.
11. INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKERS (PARA 23)
A/B/C. (SBU) In 2002, the government amended the criminal code to include extensive anti-trafficking language.
According to one expert on anti-trafficking legislation, it is now "a strong law with solid anti-trafficking provisions with regard to trafficking for sexual exploitation."  Using the provisions, police regularly raid brothels and arrest pimps and enforcers. However, only two such individuals were convicted under the penal code during the first nine months of 2005. 
When the police lack sufficient criminal evidence to arrest suspected pimps and traffickers under the Penal Code, they often utilize the Restricted Residence Act, one of Malaysia's "preventive detention" laws, to incarcerate them. Another such law, the Emergency Ordinance, is regularly used against criminal syndicates that transport, harbor and otherwise facilitate the illegal entry of foreigners into Malaysia.
(SBU) While Malaysia does not have a unitary law specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons, most of the acts involved in trafficking in persons as defined by the UN Protocol are criminal offenses, including recruitment, transportation, transfer, wrongful restraint, harboring, receipt of persons by means of threat or use of force, or other forms of coercion fraud, abuse of power, or forced sexual exploitation, slavery, or servitude.  In 2004, the government began to use new provisions to the 2001 Anti-Money Laundering Act to seize the assets of businesses involved in illicit activities, including trafficking.  Following is a summary of the legal provisions most commonly used in Malaysia against traffickers:
-- Constitution, Articles 6(1) and 6(2): Prohibit slavery and forced labor.
-- Penal Code, Sections 340-348: Address "wrongful confinement" of a person against his/her will.  Punishments include maximum prison terms from one to three years and a fine.
-- Penal Code, Section 372: Amended in 2002 to include stronger anti-trafficking language, addresses exploitation of any person for purposes of prostitution.  Exploitation is defined to include selling, hiring, or otherwise obtaining possession of any person with the intention to employ or use the person for the purpose of prostitution (either inside or outside of Malaysia) or knowing or having reason to believe that the person will be so employed or used. 
Section 372 expands the offense of exploitation to include using false pretense or deceitful means to bring into or take out of Malaysia any person; harboring or receiving any (exploited) person and wrongfully restraining any person in any place. Wrongfully restraining is further defined as withholding clothing or property, threatening the person with legal proceedings to recover any debt or alleged debt and detaining a person's identity card or passport.  Punishment under this section of the Code includes a prison term, which may extend to 15 years, caning and a fine.
-- Penal Code, Section 372A: Provides the same penalties as section 372 for anyone who lives wholly or in part on the earnings of the prostitution of another person.
-- Penal Code, Section 373: Provides the same penalties as section 372 for anyone who keeps, manages or assists in the management of a brothel.
-- Penal Code, Section 374: Addresses unlawful compulsory labor and includes punishment by imprisonment for a maximum one-year term and the possibility of a fine.
-- Immigration Act, Sections 55(A) and Sections 56(1)(d): Covers a wide spectrum of immigration violations related to illegal entry or entry under false pretenses.  The Act also addresses "employing" and "conveying" illegal aliens.  The Act was amended in 2002 to toughen significantly punishments for immigration violators.
Those convicted of illegal entry face a fine of up to RM 10,000 ($3,800) and/or a prison sentence of up to 5 years, and caning of up to a maximum of 6 strokes.  The penalty for employing an illegal alien is a fine of between RM 10,000-50,000 (USD 7,900) for every illegal immigrant employed and/or a prison term of up to 12 months.  An employer employing more than five illegal immigrants will be imprisoned from 6 months to 5 years and caned up to a maximum of 6 strokes. 
The penalty for "conveying" (trafficking) illegal immigrants is a fine of RM 10,000-50,000 for every individual trafficked.  An individual convicted for trafficking more than 5 illegal immigrants will also be imprisoned for between six months and five years, and caned up to a maximum of six strokes.
-- Child Act (2001): Merges provisions from an array of diverse legislation pertaining to children and young persons (the Women and Girls Protection Act, the Juvenile Court Act, and the Child protection Act) into one law.  The Act specifically prohibits trafficking of children and makes it an offense to sell, let to hire, or procure (by threat or intimidation by false pretense, fraud or deceit) any child (defined as anyone under the age of 18) for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
Penalties for these offenses are a maximum prison term of 15 years and a maximum fine of RM 50,000 (USD 13,000).  The Child Act also authorizes the police to provide protection and rehabilitation for children in need.  A child in need is defined to include a child who "is being induced to perform any sexual act, or being in any physical or social environment which may lead to the performance of such act".
-- Passports Act: Criminalizes the forgery or alteration of travel documents (including passports, residence permits and visas).  Also criminalizes false statements or misrepresentation used to gain illegal entry into Malaysia. Penalties range from RM 10,000-100,000 ($2,600-$26,000) fine, 5-10 years in prison, and six strokes of a cane.
-- Internal Security Act (ISA): Provides for detention up to two years without formal charge.  According to the Home Affairs Ministry, the ISA has sometimes been used against individuals for threatening the security of the country by trafficking illegal immigrants or forging travel documents or work permits.
-- The Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance: Used against persons, usually criminal syndicates that are involved in illicit activities (such as violent crime, document forgery and people smuggling), which threaten public order.
-- Restricted Residence Act (RRA): Allows the government to require individuals who are suspected of engaging in criminal activity including trafficking to move to a pre-determined location in the country and remain there under close police supervision.   The RRA does not require a formal charge to be filed against the suspected individual.  According to police data, the RRA was used significantly more often than the penal code to charge and detain suspected pimps and traffickers during 2005.
D. (SBU) Federal law criminalizes prostitution and bans pornography, and the laws are vigorously enforced. Malaysians tend to be conservative on sexual issues.  The 60% of the population that is Muslim is subject to Islamic laws that prohibit even "close proximity" between men and women who are not married to each other. 
The activities of the prostitute, brothel owner/operator, and enforcer are all considered criminal offenses, though clients are not generally prosecuted. The sex trade is largely underground. It is visible only at two extremes: in nightclubs and bars that cater primarily to affluent foreigners; and in poor neighborhoods with large migrant populations.
E. (SBU) Following amendments to different acts in 2001 and 2002, the government began to prosecute people involved in trafficking for the purposes of prostitution.  According to the MFA, in 2002 the first trials and convictions under the amended sections 372, 372A and 372B of the Penal Code began to work their way through the courts, with 9 trials and 7 convictions.
In 2003 there were 85 cases investigated, 31 prosecutions and seven convictions.  According to RMP statistics, 28 persons were prosecuted (and two convicted) under Sections 372 and 373 of the Penal Code from January - September 2005, compared with 38 persons prosecuted (and 17 convicted) during all of 2004.
(SBU) When police lack sufficient evidence to convict a suspected pimp or trafficker, they use the Restricted Residence Act to detain the suspected individual.  The Act allows the government to detain a suspected trafficker indefinitely, without due process of law.  During the first nine months of 2005, 48 suspected traffickers were detained under the Restricted Residence Act, compared with 47 during all of 2004.
(SBU) According to the government, it detained "about 40" members of regional trafficking syndicates from 2000-2004 under the Internal Security Act (ISA).  The suspected traffickers used Malaysia as a transit point for trafficking Chinese nationals to third countries.  The government stated that 13 international trafficking syndicates were eliminated in these operations.
(SBU) Government officials, NGOs and legal analysts acknowledge that prosecution of trafficking perpetrators is complicated by the difficulty in producing credible evidence and by the lack of victim cooperation.  Evidentiary barriers, the prosecution's burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and pressure to produce convictions in a backlogged criminal justice system all work against effective prosecution of trafficking cases.  Given these problems, the government has employed the ISA, the Emergency Ordinance and the Restricted Residence Act to detain or restrict the activities of people suspected of trafficking and alien smuggling activity.
F. (SBU) The RMP reports that a number of large organized criminal syndicates, as well as a few smaller groups, traffic foreign women into Malaysia, using Malaysia either as the women's final destination or as a transit point to a third country.  In 2005, there were numerous reports of prostitution rings broken up by police and syndicate members arrested for involvement in prostitution.  Employment agencies are sometimes used as fronts for people smuggling and trafficking in persons.  Sex tourism is not widespread in Malaysia, nor are there reports of marriage brokers fronting for traffickers.
G. (SBU) As noted in para 8E above, the Malaysian government is actively investigating cases of trafficking.  Police efforts to break criminal syndicates are complicated by layers of middlemen, some of whom reside outside Malaysia.
Often trafficking victims, both Malaysians who have gone abroad and foreigners brought to Malaysia, may only know one middleman, who is probably using a false identity.  In investigating cases of trafficking, police investigators attempt to question repatriated Malaysian victims as soon as they return, but the victims usually cannot or will not provide enough information for further investigation.
H. (SBU) The government lacks the expertise to provide law enforcement officers with specialized training on how to investigate incidences of trafficking.  It continues to take full advantage, however, of TIP training for law enforcement officers and prosecutors at ILEA Bangkok, as well as bilateral training on domestic violence sponsored by the USG in Malaysia. Police, prison and immigration officials also lack TIP victim identification expertise.  In 2005, senior police and immigration officials asked for USG-sponsored TIP victim identification training.  The Embassy continues to seek funding and provision of such training for GOM law enforcement officials.
I. (SBU) The RMP cooperates with law enforcement agencies in neighboring countries whenever cross-border criminal incidents are being investigated.  In May 2002, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines signed an agreement to facilitate cooperation in addressing border and security incidents, as well as transnational criminal activities that include human trafficking. 
In late 2002, the Sabah state government entered into a formal agreement with the government of the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan to cooperate on a range of issues, including combating TIP and investigating trafficking syndicates.  Malaysia actively participated in the Bali Process and has hosted two legislation workshops related to it. 
In early 2005, though a joint operation by the RMP and the British National Crime Squad, a Malaysian "snakehead" was arrested, tried and convicted of smuggling illegal Malaysian workers into the UK.
In April and October 2005, the RMP closely cooperated with an international NGO to raid several brothels in Johor, arrest one internationally active trafficker and rescue dozens of (primarily Thai) women.  Thai police from Songkla visited Kuala Lumpur in February to conduct a joint cross-border TIP investigation with local police.
Representatives from NGOs, as well as the Indonesian, Thai and Philippine embassies in Kuala Lumpur, characterize their cooperation with police as good.  NGO and embassy officials emphasize the timely responses from police to tips about the locations of possible TIP victims.
J. (SBU) There have been no reports of extraditing persons charged with trafficking.  Section 108A of the Penal Code allows Malaysian authorities to prosecute a Malaysian who commits or abets a crime in another country that would be deemed an offense under the Penal Code.  Malaysia is a party to the ASEAN Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, which is designed to facilitate and expedite regional cooperation in fighting transnational crime.  Malaysian law does not prohibit extradition of Malaysian nationals.
K. (SBU) There have been no proven cases of tolerance or complicity in TIP by government authorities.  Pockets of general corruption, particularly at the local police and immigration levels, exist.
L. (SBU) Although some low-level police and immigration officials likely receive bribes from brothel owners, pimps and traffickers, we are aware of no allegations that police officers or other government officials have engaged in trafficking.
(SBU) Most analysts assume that some trafficking-related corruption exists among law enforcement and immigration ranks, since some TIP victims have been known to pass through two or more ports of entry without travel documents. 
In April 2005, a government-sponsored independent police commission noted a rising incidence of police corruption. Included among the appointed commissioners were women activists active in the fight against TIP.  The commission reported that disciplinary actions were initiated against 1,216 police personnel for corruption and other offenses during 2004, compared with 1,138 in 2003. Police offenses noted in the report included accepting bribes, theft, and rape; punishments included suspension, demotion and dismissal. 
The number of these officers involved in facilitating trafficking was not available.  As noted above, the Prime Minister recently ordered the Attorney General to complete the legal groundwork necessary to create a permanent independent commission to hear complaints against the police. If ultimately established, this commission could provide an effective venue for investigations into allegations of police complicity in trafficking.
M. (SBU) Malaysia does not have an identified child sex tourism problem, although the Indonesian, Thai and Philippine embassies occasionally report interviewing victims under 18 years of age what have been trafficked for sexual exploitation.
N. (SBU) Malaysia signed and ratified ILO Convention 29 in 1957, ILO Convention 105 in 1958 (but renounced it in 1990), ILO Convention 182 in September 2000, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in September 1995.  Malaysia signed the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in September 2002 and ratified it in 2004.  The government has not signed the supplemental Protocol on the Sale of Children, or the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women.
12. PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE TO VICTIMS (PARA 24)
A. (SBU) The government provides no shelter facilities dedicated exclusively to TIP victims, as these individuals are not recognized as victims under Malaysian law.  Until Malaysia amends its existing laws or enacts comprehensive anti-TIP legislation, TIP victims will be routinely processed as illegal migrants and held in the country's prisons or illegal migrant detention facilities, prior to deportation.
According to the RMP and foreign consuls, trafficking victims identified by the police are released on an ad hoc basis into the custody of a consular official and sent to a women's shelter instead of being kept in police lock-up.  The Indonesian, Thai and Philippine embassies report that in 2005, RMP officers brought in many of the over 500 victims assisted by the embassies' respective shelter programs during the year.
(SBU) As of February 2006, the Indonesian embassy's shelter held 140 individuals, approximately 80% of whom were deemed TIP victims by embassy officials.  Women's shelters run by other foreign embassies temporarily housed an additional 30-40 TIP victims per year.  NGOs and police report that NGOs currently do not have the capacity to shelter more than 25-50 victims nationally, leaving the police few alternatives to housing victims in detention facilities.  Owing to language barriers and limited police training, foreign trafficking victims are usually not recognized as victims and are treated as immigration offenders.  HIV/AIDS screening is usually provided for individuals arrested for prostitution and for others who are identified as trafficking victims rather than illegal migrants.  When trafficking victims are identified as victims prior to detention, they may be sent to a hospital for examination and released to their embassies for repatriation.
B. (SBU) Although NGOs do not receive government funding specifically to provide services to trafficking victims, the government provides general funding to 75 NGOs dedicated to women's welfare.  These NGOs provide shelter for victims of rape and domestic violence, counseling, legal referrals, and job skills training.  Three foreign embassies maintain shelters in Kuala Lumpur for citizens who have no place to take refuge.  The Thai embassy's shelter is small and held no individuals as of February 2006, while the Indonesian embassy's shelter is by far the largest, with a (typically exceeded) capacity of 80.  Many using the shelters are trafficking victims.
The MWFCD has introduced "women's centers" in each state for impoverished, abused and otherwise vulnerable women who may need shelter, counseling, and job skills training.  The ministry currently operates five such shelters.  The ministry stated in 2005 that one of these shelters could be quickly converted to house trafficking victims who need assistance, once Malaysian law allows the GOM to handle TIP victims as such.
C. (SBU) The government has not yet implemented a formal screening process to identify TIP victims and treat them accordingly.  A Suhakam-designed TIP victim identification questionnaire was used briefly on a trial basis in 2005 at the Kajang women's prison.  Both Suhakam and the prison's director told us recently that it is no longer used, as Malaysian law does not allow special treatment for detained TIP victims.
D. (SBU) Foreign TIP victims are often not recognized as victims and, if they are holding false travel documents or have been arrested for prostitution, are usually detained and deported.  Illegal migrants (including some victims) who are caught by the Malaysian authorities without valid travel documents are held for a few days in police custody before being sent to immigration detention centers or prisons pending deportation.  The period of detention varies widely, from a few days to several months.  According to foreign consular representatives, the usual sentence is one or two months' imprisonment and a fine, followed by deportation.
E. (SBU) The Malaysian government encourages victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking, but reports that most victims are unwilling to testify or do not have sufficient information to assist in a prosecution.
A trafficking victim may file a civil suit against a trafficker under Malaysian law, and there have been many cases of migrant workers filing such suits in cases where they were not paid the salary they were promised or put to work in abusive conditions that were contrary to their contracts.
While there is no specific impediment to the victims' access to such legal redress, they are usually not able to obtain employment while the court considers their case, and so for economic reasons this type of action in not usually pursued.  We are not aware of any victim restitution program.
F. (SBU) Some foreign victims have access to legal counsel through the Legal Aid Center of the Malaysian Bar Council. Police say that most victims are unwilling or unable to provide enough information for criminal prosecution of the trafficker, and many simply want to return to their home country as soon as possible. 
One NGO reported that pimps and traffickers are often present in the courtroom during court proceedings to intimidate the victims, while another NGO reported in October that police allowed a trafficker to visit ten Thai trafficking victims in detention.  The Malaysian government does not have a witness protection program in place for any prosecution witnesses. 
The Abduction and Criminal Intimidation of Witnesses Act of 1947 criminalizes the abduction of any person for the purpose of preventing their testimony and thereby obstructing justice.  The police and Attorney General have advised that this is rarely used in trafficking cases. 
The courts have begun to experiment with video conferencing and videotaped depositions to provide protection to victims who are afraid to testify in court.  As of February 2006, the necessary equipment was installed in several locations, but the program had not yet been initiated.
(SBU) According to an Indonesian embassy official, many Indonesian plantation workers in Sabah are detained on the plantations and forced to work for less than $3 (i.e. RM8-10) per day.  Under Malaysian law, victims of these forms of trafficking are entitled to seek compensation through the legal system and are eligible to remain in Malaysia while their legal suit is pending.  In general, Malaysian courts have ruled in favor of the victims and in some cases imposed harsh prison sentences on the employer.  However, such labor-related lawsuits may take months or even years to be adjudicated.  Meanwhile, the victim is not allowed by the GOM to work and is typically left with insufficient means of financial self-support; they therefore often leave the country, rather than see their case through to completion.
G. (SBU) The government does not currently provide special training for officials on how to identify or assist trafficking victims.  Senior police and immigration officials have acknowledged that additional training and expertise are needed to improve identification and handling of trafficking victims.  Police and immigration officials have asked the USG to provide additional such training to improve their anti-TIP capability, and we have requested funding for the training (ref B).  Outside of citizen services and repatriation training, Malaysian embassy and consulate staff abroad do not receive specialized training on how to assist trafficking victims.  Malaysian police, immigration officials and public prosecutors have received training at ILEA on trafficking in persons, as well as USG-funded bilateral training on domestic violence.
H. (SBU) Repatriated Malaysian victims who do not have the support of family or friends are referred to the MWFCD for public assistance.  Private groups, such as the MCA's welfare wing, also offer services to repatriated victims.
I. (SBU) MCA, the Bar Council, Tenaganita, Women's Aide Organization (WAO), and the International Federation of Women Lawyers (IFWL) are the Malaysian NGOs most active in working with trafficking victims.  In 2004, the IOM provided Assistance to Suhakam to draft a national plan of action to combat TIP. 
In 2005, the IOM and Tenaganita submitted a project proposal to the Embassy to shelter, repatriate and reintegrate TIP victims. Following funding approval, the IOM and Tenaganita signed a MOU regarding establishment of the shelter, and it is scheduled to commence operations in March 2006.  Two NGOs maintain shelters that are available to foreign trafficking victims. 
One of the shelters provides in-house counseling, medical referrals to clinics and legal referrals to the Bar Council's Legal Aid Center.  The shelter also works with foreign missions to arrange for translators and to facilitate repatriation for women trafficked to Malaysia.  Other women's shelters in the country provide refuge, but have few additional resources for the special needs of trafficking victims. 
NGO relations with local authorities vary.  Some frequently receive cooperation from law enforcement officials, but others experience greater difficulty.  The MCA, WAO and Tenaganita provide a full range of services, including counseling, shelter, and repatriation assistance.  The Bar Council and IFWL provide legal assistance.  Foreign embassies and local NGOs report that cooperation with the federal police in Kuala Lumpur has generally been good.  Outside of Kuala Lumpur, with other agencies such as Immigration, cooperation is less consistent.
13. HEROES (PARA 22)
(SBU) For the 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report the Embassy nominates Irene Fernandez, President of local NGO Tenaganita, for honor as an individual who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to fighting TIP.  Over the past several years, her work on behalf of both mistreated migrant workers and sexual trafficking victims in Malaysia has garnered her worldwide respect and support. 
Fernandez was arrested in March 1996 for publishing a report about detainee abuse and very poor sanitation conditions in the country's illegal migrant detention centers.  Found guilty in October 2003 and sentenced to one year in jail, she appealed her case.  Hers has become the longest-running court case in Malaysian history. 
In May 2005, her NGO Tenaganita published a video entitled "Breaking Labor" that included the tragic stories of several foreign victims of labor trafficking and abuse in Malaysia.  During 2005, Tenaganita facilitated legal assistance and shelter for sexual trafficking victims. 
In December 2005, Fernandez traveled to Stockholm to accept the Right Livelihood Award, commonly known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize."  And as of February 2006, in cooperation with the IOM and with USG funding, Tenaganita was poised to establish Malaysia's first dedicated TIP victim shelter and repatriate TIP victims to their home countries. Tenaganita has become the largest and most effective anti-TIP NGO in Malaysia, and this status is largely due to Fernandez' efforts.  She has demonstrated considerable vision, courage and leadership in the face of the Malaysian government lawsuit.  Her efforts have directly benefited hundreds of TIP victims, as well as influenced the GOM to improve its anti-TIP attitudes and actions.
LAFLEUR

Asia and International Law


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Noli me tangere
Law of the sea, law of the jungle

(Asia Sentinel) Two boundary disputes creating tension in Southeast Asia are potential flashpoints for localized and in one case, even global conflict.  While the former is credible and the latter far less so, the two cases reveal both entrenched  and emerging  attitudes within Asia that point to more insidious political risks than a brief naval engagement or sporadic skirmishing in a remote forest.

The re-ignition of Beijing’s claim to sovereignty over much of the South China Sea has largely focused on the potential military risks involved in the dispute moving from heated rhetoric to kinetic action. The multilayered legal, political and economic issues involved in the dispute are complex and almost infinitely debatable, but the core point is that China views the huge maritime area as mare nostrum and has indicated that it has no intention of amending this position.   

The other point of border friction involves Thailand and Cambodia in a dispute over a number of kinks and detours along their frontier that divide ancient Hindu temple sites.  These disputes have led to sporadic clashes and the loss of life over the past few years, often coinciding with heightened domestic tensions and the corresponding advantages of seeking unity through emphasising a traditional external threat.

Thailand, in the throes of what may well be most important general election in a generation, chose to leave UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention, a key international cultural agency, rather than submit to the agency’s ruling regarding the ownership of territory around the Preah Vihear temple. 

What links these two cases is how an interpretation and acceptance of international law and arbitration is at variance to what may be considered as both countries’ wider economic and diplomatic interests. What separates them is that in China’s case this is unlikely to have any significant domestic impact – at least in the medium term – while the opposite may be the case in Thailand.

Beijing’s South China Sea claim, which stretches like a vast tongue from the southern tip of Taiwan in the east and the Sino-Vietnam land border in the west to brush past Palawan, East Malaysia and Brunei in the south, is based on archaeological and documentary evidence reaching back to 200 BCE. The significance of this date is that it corresponds with the reign of China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, and therefore in Beijing’s views the origin of country as a unified and sovereign state.

Very few other countries base their present territorial claims on similar historical metrics – Israel being an obvious exception – and international order would be greatly compromised if they did so.

China’s position as a signatory to the highly technical and closely-argued UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), while declining to accept its basic tenets of defining maritime territoriality, is a puzzle.

The United States, by contrast, has not ratified UNCLOS and follows a general policy in not entering into treaties or conventions that it views as inimical to its wider interests. While such powerful countries can engage or stand back from international efforts to impose order on contentious boundary and territorial disputes, smaller nations have less leeway.

Thailand’s decision to  ignore convention and declaring unilateral rights over a fragment of  border determined by international legal, antiquarian and geographical specialists to fall within Cambodia’s sovereign territory is unlikely to be treated as circumspectly as China’s robust defence of what it insists is within its national realm.

In late June a Thai delegation, seemingly on its own volition, walked out of negotiations at the World Heritage Convention in Paris because it realized its efforts to overturn an earlier decision by the world body that decreed Cambodia was the legitimate custodian of much of the Preah Vihear temple site had failed. 

While the Thai example is complicated by the need of the present government to placate nationalist opinion – and perhaps seek a unifying external threat – ahead of the hotly contested 3 July elections, its actions exhibit a lack of awareness as to how such behavior is perceived beyond Bangkok’s often insular political and cultural elite.

The conduct of China and Thailand also stand out in marked contrast to how other countries in the region have responded to contentious and often highly emotive boundary disputes. For example, when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) awarded Malaysia the contested Ligitan and Sipadan islands that lie off the coast of Sabah and Indonesia’s East Kalimantan in 2002, Jakarta seethed at the outcome but accepted the legal basis on which the verdict was made.

Similarly, when the ICJ ruled in 2008 that the islet of Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh and some associated rocks were within Singapore’s sovereign jurisdiction, Putrajaya and many Malaysian politicians fulminated over the ruling but took the dispute no further.

One explanation for this apparent dichotomy is that neither Thailand nor China has any direct historical exposure to the Common or Roman law principals imposed by the British, Dutch and French colonial powers on their various regional conquests or acquisitions. These ‘European’ laws were readily maintained after independence by many of the new leaders, not least because a great many were lawyers and recognised the value - and legitimacy - such instruments offered the emerging elites. This is notably the case in commerce, where contractual obligations and remedies are crucial to attract and retain foreign capital.  

While China can, with confidence, choose to pursue its own agenda without conceding any core interests to outsiders, Thailand is on far less certain ground. China’s influence is waxing, supported by its ability to spread vast amounts of money around the world where it believes it will reap commercial and political gains. Thailand’s naturally far lesser influence is waning as seemingly interminable domestic divisions and the prospect of further volatility - and perhaps even violence – begin to erode the commitment of  even the most patient and steadfast foreign patrons and investors to the country.

Thailand’s departure from the WHC – and probable return within a decent interval – is certain to be viewed by many foreign observers as demonstrating a combination of petulance, a lack of respect for international norms and a refusal to deal with problems and issues pragmatically. More importantly for Thailand’s longer-term interests, at least outside Asia, is that  the walkout may well serve to remind foreign investors and corporations of  how often hard- won legal obligations and understandings may be readily jettisoned in the interests of domestic advantage. 

(Gavin M. Greenwood is a consultant with the Hong Kong-based Allan & Associates security and crisis management firm.)

Open Letter – Cabinet should end the “madness” unleashed in past week

The Prime Minister,
Deputy Prime Minister,
Cabinet Ministers.

Cabinet should end the “madness” unleashed in past week with police required to arrest those wearing the Bersih 2.0 T-shirt, yellow virtually becoming a colour of crime and “Bersih” a dirty word

I am writing this short Open Letter to the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and all Ministers to ask the Cabinet at its meeting this morning to end the “madness” unleashed in the past week with the police required to act unlawfully to arrest those wearing the Bersih 2.0 T-shirt, yellow virtually becoming a colour of crime and “Bersih” a dirty word.

The statements firstly by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Ismail Omar warning that lives might be lost despite firm assurances and commitment by Bersih 2.0 organisers and supporters of a peaceful and orderly rally while ignoring the inflammatory incitements and provocations of UMNO Youth and Perkasa and secondly by the Deputy Election Commission Chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar castigating Berish as stooges and “catspaw” of Pakatan Rakyat have raised serious questions in Malaysia and internationally that the two national institutions of the police and the Election Commission could be independent, impartial and professional in dealing with Bersih 2.0 call for free, fair and clean elections in Malaysia.

This is the last opportunity for the Cabinet to end the “madness” where the police are required to act unlawfully to arrest those wearing the Berish 2.0 T-shirt as well as other related Bersih 2.0 paraphernalia,virtually criminalising yellow as a colour as well as rendering “Bersih” as a dirty word.
The slogan used at the beginning of the Mahathir premiership, which went on for 22 long years, was “Berish, Cekap, Amanah”. How low Malaysia has sunk that exactly 30 years later, the word “Bersih” is justification to trigger police repressions!

Malaysians and the world are watching. Let not July 9 come to symbolise the degeneration of the Prime Minister’s Government Transformation Programme into a repressive regime even worse than the worst of the Mahathir administration with Operation Lalang as its notorious trademark.

Bersih Chairman Datuk S. Ambiga has undertaken “to do everything we can to make sure it is peaceful”, inviting the police to suggest the route for Bersih 2.0 and “we will follow their directions”.

The police should extract similar pledges of peaceful and orderly rallies from the Umno Youth and Perkasa counter-protests firmly holding their organisers to their commitments.

Let us show the world that Malaysia is capable of holding peaceful and orderly assemblies and rallies without creating any law-and-order problem to demonstrate that under the Prime Minister’s GTP, Malaysian democracy has come of age as other developed democracies. - Lim Kit Siang