Call on Abdu Talib to  explain whether Suhakam  had contravened its parent Act in improperly and unlawfully repudiating its April 11 decision last year that ISA arrests of the reformasi six were violations of fundamental human rights and demand  for their immediate release

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Friday) Suhakam Chairman Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman should explain whether Suhakam under him had contravened its parent Act in improperly and unlawfully  repudiating its April 11 decision last year that the Internal Security Act (ISA) arrests of the reformasi six, Mohamad Ezam Mohamad Nor, Hishamuddin Rais, Chua Tian Chang, Saari Sungib, Badrulamin Bahron, were violations of fundamental human rights and demand for their immediate release.  

I visited the Suhakam website and found that on its press statement page ( its  press statement of April 11, 2001 (“4-11” statement) has been taken down.  There was the Suhakam press statement on “Medical Treatment of Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim” dated 31 May 2001 and the press statement on “Equal Rights For Women” dated 24 July 2001 but the most important press statement which had been issued by Suhakam in the past two years, viz. that the ISA is a violation of fundamental human rights,  is conspicuously absent.  

The  absence of the “4-11” statement of Suhakam on the Suhakam website is a matter of grave concern and the question must be asked whether it is tantamount to a repudiation - or repudiation-to-come - of the “4-11” decision that the Internal Security Act is “a fundamental  human rights violation” with its  detention-without-trial provisions.   

I would urge Abu Talib to clarify whether he would  adhere to the “4-11” Suhakam decision or is he trying to get  two-thirds of the Suhakam Commissioners to rescind the   “4-11” decision and give Suhakam’s blessings to the ISA. 

Section 7 (4) of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act  1999 provides that members of the Commission “shall use their best endeavours to arrive at all decisions of the meeting by consensus failing which the decision by a two-thirds majority of the members present shall be required”.   

In a statement after a special Suhakam meeting on April 11, 2001  following the arrests of the reformas activists, Suhakam said that the arrests under the Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial, violated fundamental human rights and called for their immediate release. It said that if the detainees had committed any offence, they should be charged and  tried in an open court.   

In the statement, Suhakam said there were initially signals that the government was "slowly  but surely being sensitized to human rights issues and is taking concrete  steps to ensure that its concern for human rights is translated into action."  It said the formation of Suhakam a  year earlier was proof of the trend, adding that it was against this backdrop that it “expressed deep concern over the present arrests”.   


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman