(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The 11-day hunger strike by the six ISA reformasi activists, Mohamad Ezam Mohamad Nor, Hishamuddin Rais, Chua Tian Chang, Saari Sungib, Badrulamin Bahron and Lokman Noor Adam, the solidarity hunger strike by their supporters outside Kamunting Detention Centre, the latest 14 arrests under the Internal Security Act for alleged connections with the Kumpulan Militant Malaysia (KMM) without the government having to furnish any evidence of their complicity in a court of law or at the bar of public opinion, the mainstream media blackout of news of the hunger strike and the four-day ban by the Prime Ministerís Department imposed on all local media from reporting the MCA power struggle are further disturbing evidence of the new-found Barisan Nasional arrogance and contempt for human rights in post-911 Malaysia.
manifestation of such new-found Barisan Nasional arrogance and contempt for
human rights in the final days of the first-term appointment of the Human Rights
Commission (Suhakam) which had been entrusted and empowered with the statutory
responsibility to protect and promote human rights in Malaysia has only
served to accentuate the new crisis of human rights in post-911 Malaysia -
heralding a new dark age for democracy in the
Suhakam secretary Kamaruddin Mohamed Baria said on Wednesday that Suhakam
will conduct an inquiry into the hunger strike by the six ISA reformasi
activists next week.
Suhakam in a statement signed by commissioner Zainah Anwar expressed concern
that the government continues to use the ISA to detain those it deemed to be a
threat to national security and reiterated the Suhakam position that detention
without trial constitutes a human rights violation and urged the police to
charge those detained in an open court.
the positions taken by Kamaruddin and Zainah continue to represent the pledges
and positions of Suhakam next week, when
a new series of appointments of Suhakam Commissioners
would be made, including the appointment of the new Suhakam Chairman?
has been reported that former Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman is the
most likely new Suhakam Chairman.
As Abu Talib is noted for
his over-zealous defence and use of the draconian ISA during
his tenure as Attorney-General, which marked the height of the tyranny of
the ISA during the first decade of the Mahathir rule, is Abu Talib going to
renounce his previous support for the ISA as Chairman of Suhakam or is the
second-term Suhakam going to see a repudiation of its present
stand that the ISA constitutes
a gross human rights violation and should be repealed?
press blackouts, both on the ISA hunger-strike entering into its eleventh day
and the four-day censorship by the Prime Ministerís Department of all local
media reports on the MCA power struggle, are also very ominous coming two weeks
before the World Press Freedom Day on May 3 - which has been proclaimed by the
United Nations General Assembly to mark the fundamental principles of press
freedom and as an occasion to
inform the public of violations of the right to freedom of expression.
the advent of the 2002 World Press Freedom Day, the Barisan Nasional government
is not showing greater respect for press freedom and the fundamental right of
freedom of expression - but the very reverse, committing hitherto unheard-of
violations of the freedoms of expression and the press.!
is probably because of such new-found arrogance of power and contempt for human
rights in post-911 Malaysia that not a single Barisan Nasional Minister or
leader had deigned it important
enough to express concern or interest despite worldwide concerns about the
health and wellbeing of the six ISA reformasi activists with their hunger strike
entering the eleventh day - and why the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister,
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had not even bothered to reply to my two urgent
faxes in the past two days for permission for me to visit the six reformasi
activists in Kamunting.
Malaysians are entitled to ask as to when the leaders of the Barisan Nasional parties, including both the Team A and Team B factions of MCA who are spending every minute of their waking moments to oust the opposite faction from power, will stop being mute, deaf and dumb about the 11-day hunger strike of the six ISA reformasi activists and their supporters and to take a stand on justice and human rights - or whether they are completely indifferent whether the six ISA detainees live or die in the Kamunting detention centre.