February 5, 2007
Malaysia’s Secret Garden
Welcome to Malaysia’s Secret Garden. The well kept, well tended garden, at that. Wonder what lies beneath the rosy bushes and piles of dried leaves. What are the borders to these lovely beauties? Some Acts and Laws, perhaps, that maintain strict boundaries?
A really good article on Human Rights in Malaysia here, by lawyer Tommy Thomas, while I was surfing around. Here is another good article by the United Nations’ Economic & Social Rights Council, special report on Malaysia.
A brief introduction for those who don’t already know:
- Malaysia is still under the state of “Emergency”, which means it can invoke laws pertaining to “ensuring national security” anytime it wants.
- The Acts that are commonly used against citizens when they want to speak up are the ISA, OSA, PPPA:
Internal Security Act:
The most pernicious legislation is the Internal Security Act (“ISA”) which gives sweeping powers to the Executive, (the police and the Minister of Home Affairs) to arrest and detain any person for a period of 60 days; thereafter the Minister can order that person to remain in detention for a further two years, which detention can be renewed indefinitely every two years. Preventive detention is terribly insidious because a person’s liberty is deprived without trial. Other extraordinary powers extend to prohibiting meetings and banning publications, books and periodicals.
The OSA proscribes the collection, possession, or distribution directly or indirectly to a foreign country of official information.
Any public officer can declare any document or other piece of information an official secret, a certification that cannot be questioned in court. The OSA carries a mandatory one year to seven years’ imprisonment.
Printing Presses and Publications Act:
The Printing Presses and Publications Act contains numerous restrictions on the publication of newspapers and periodicals, including the requirement for an annual licence which may be revoked by the Minister at any time.
Finally, some quarters have been calling for a Freedom of Information Act – primarily driven by CIJ (Centre for Independent Journalism), and being echoed by others. Here is a really good article on WHY Freedom of Information is so important! It makes really good sense, and it’s a surprise that Malaysia hasn’t taken heed of its call yet. (Actually, not so much of a surprise really, and plus the Rakyat aren’t all that awake to push the government. So why bother, right?)