Din Merican’s blog
THE AUNG SAN SUU KYI VERDICT: ASEAN MUST
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (KEADILAN) condemns the guilty verdict and harsh prison sentence handed down by the Burmese court yesterday in the case against Aung San Suu Kyi and her colleagues, Khin Khin Win and Win Ma Ma.
While the guilty verdict was fully expected, it is nevertheless deeply disappointing, especially as the case had offered a precious opportunity for the military junta to gracefully make some significant steps towards change.
Instead, the junta continues to violate human rights and poses as a threat to regional peace and security (the military regime is suspected of secretly exploring nuclear capabilities).
The court decision came as the grand finale of a carefully orchestrated charade, with political manipulation being unconvincingly dressed up as a judicial process. The junta leaders evidently felt the heat of international outrage to the point that they immediately announced that her 3-year hard labour prison sentence was commuted to 18 months under house arrest.
Despite their reduction of the sentence, we believe the Burmese military regime acted with malicious intent.Their main aim has always been to ensure that Aung San Suu Kyi would not be able to play a role in next year’s general election, and they have not budged an inch on this.
The connection of this case to the elections was further underlined by the government’s justification of her continued detention, saying that true supporters of democracy do not want them to be marred by riots and unrest. It should be remembered that there are still thousands of political opponents languishing in prison, and it is safe to assume that they will remain there for the same purpose.
The world is again outraged, but it is ASEAN which stands to lose in real terms, being guilty by association. Thus, ASEAN must take firm and prompt action to bring their recalcitrant member into line, especially with the human rights principles stated in the ASEAN Charter – a major step which could improve the current poor standing of ASEAN nations in the world.
If ASEAN still wants to save the face of the junta’s leaders, they could do this by initiating a renewed communal effort towards enhancing standards of democracy and human rights in Burma.
WAN AZIZAH WAN ISMAIL
Parti Keadilan Rakyat
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
Villagers protesting the impending demolition of Kampung Buah Pala battle with riot police of the Federal Reserve Unit after heavy machinery was sent to the site today.
PENANG, Aug 13 — The controversial demolition of Kampung Buah Pala has been postponed to Sept 1, after a tense standoff today between villagers, the land owners and police.
George Town OCPD Azam Abd Hamid said today an agreement had been reached with all parties to postpone the court-ordered demolition.
Bulldozers were sent in this morning into the village to demolish the houses whose residents refused to move out of the disputed piece of land.
Police had earlier cordoned off the village as the deadline for the residents to move out ended today.
The residents had earlier refused to take up the developers’ offer of double-storey houses to move out.
Scores of residents and members of non-governmental organisations sat in the rain to form a human barricade to prevent the heavy machinery from destroying their homes.
Police presence was heavy and some villagers claimed that the police were resorting to “violence” to disperse them.
There was much shouting and pushing throughout the morning, with villagers, representatives of NGOs and political parties trying to prevent demolition work from starting.
Kampung Buah Pala residents have argued that they are victims of a land scam perpetrated by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.
The DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state government had negotiated an offer from the developer of double-storey terrace houses in return for the villagers moving out.
But this was rejected by a majority of the villagers.
Last week Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said his administration would wash their hands of the controversy since the offer had been rejected.
The land owners, who want to build apartments on the land, had won a court case against the villagers to have them evicted.
But the villagers, backed by Hindraf leaders who claimed the village of cowherds was an Indian heritage, wanted the state government to sign over the land to them.
The original settlers of the village had been workers in a British-owned plantation. When the planters left the original settlers were allowed to live on the land based on a trust administered by the colonial administration.
After independence the land was converted to temporary occupational licence (TOL) status as the new Penang state government in 1957 was unwilling to act as trustees.
During Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon’s administration, the land, which belonged to the state, was sold.
Hindraf and MIC leaders have attempted to turn the issue into a racial dispute, but the issue has not gained much traction, and public sympathy appears to have swung against the villagers after they rejected the offer of double-storey houses.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
Anwar addressing the crowd in Sungai Besar last night. — Pictures by Choo Choy MayBy Adib Zalkapli
SABAK BERNAM, July 22 — In an attempt to stop certain quarters from turning the death of Teoh Beng Hock into a racial issue, opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim likened it to his black eye incident.
The former deputy prime minister was arrested soon after he was sacked in 1998 and was assaulted while in police custody by the then Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Rahim Noor, resulting in a black eye.
“I was beaten up to a pulp, but thank God I was rescued, but some people died in custody,” said Anwar to some 3,000 people at a public rally in Sungai Besar, near here.
The rally, held near the Selangor-Perak border, appeared to be an attempt by the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) to mobilise the Malays to support the coalition in pressuring the government to form a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate Teoh’s death.
Anwar told the largely Malay crowd that it was hard for him to accept the outcome of police investigations.
“Our ministers said do not politicise the issue, let the investigations be completed, but who is going to investigate? Musa Hassan?” said Anwar.
“Last time they said, ‘Anwar was safe and sound’,” he added, referring to Rahim’s remark soon after his arrest 11 years ago.
Pakatan has been accused of undermining Malay institutions by Umno-controlled newspapers because of their criticism of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over Teoh’s death.
(Malaysian Mirror) – The tragic and horrendous death of Teoh Beng Hock at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Selangor has stirred up national disbelief and outrage overnight. This newly constituted institution set up to replace the old Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) is now in the dock in the court of public opinion.
So far, the MACC account of what happened while Teoh was being interrogated until the time when his body was found had not been well received. To label the circumstances of his death as “mysterious” would be the understatement of the year.
The modus operandi of the MACC has also been criticised. Why was Teoh questioned from 5pm until 3.45 the next morning, a period of over 10 hours? Did the deprivation of sleep constitute the kind of torture frowned upon by the international community? Why was he denied the right to have legal representation during his interview by MACC officers? Was that the way to treat a co-operative witness during any kind of criminal investigation?
After this tragic loss of life of a young man in the prime of his life, who would dare go alone to the MACC office to volunteer statement in relation with any MACC investigation?
MACC has already come under fire from leading Pakatan Rakyat leaders for what they see as being the political tool of the ruling Barisan Nasional in their “selective persecution” of PR officials in PR-held states. Teoh’s death at the MACC building would certainly further the cause of the opposition PR coalition.
The young man’s gruesome death has alarmed even BN leaders and supporters. Even widely respected Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has written on his blog expressing his shock and dismay.
He wrote, “The strange circumstances of Mr Teoh’s death put the credibility of the government and our investigative and law enforcement agencies under a microscope. The public will expect nothing less than a full investigation into how something like this could have happened.”
The police is now investigating into Teoh’s “sudden death”. But the police itself is under a cloud of mistrust from the rakyat following numerous deaths in police detention, especially the case involving Kugan Ananthan.
In this context, the call by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate into Teoh’s death will strike a sympathetic chord across a large swathe of Malaysian population.
But then, many cynical Malaysians may even scoff at this call, citing that recommendations from Royal Commissions of Inquiry on police reform and anti-corruption have not been fully accepted and implemented by the government. They would still demand that any anti-corruption agency in the country should be made answerable to Parliament.
The proper functioning of our public institutions depends on trust from the citizenry. Without that trust, the rakyat will not co-operate with the institutions of state. Any glaring anomaly such as the horrible death suffered by Teoh is the sort of incident that will destroy the trust of the public in MACC, at a time when there is widespread discontent against corruption at all levels of government.
What is worse is that in one fell swoop, Teoh’s death has swung all the emotional energy of the nation towards the opposition side, thus negating the feel-good euphoria following the PM’s first hundred days in office, the Umno resurgence in Manik Urai, and the receding PR influence resulting from their public bickering among one another.
What is certain is that public uproar over Teoh’s death will not die down any time soon. The establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to dig out the truth on the matter would indeed be prudent, not least to assuage public anger against the BN government.
By Wong Choon Mei
Kajang municipal councillor Tan Boon Hwa – one of the last people to see DAP’s Teoh Beng Hock alive – has blown the whistle on the interrogation methods employed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, which included prolonged hours of physical and mental torture to force false confessions.
Tan also said the MACC gave him a stern warning not to reveal what had transpired during their ‘interview’ before releasing him.
“The MACC officer said don’t bring the matter outside. But now, I cannot keep quiet because a life has been lost,” said Tan told a press conference on Friday.
Tan, who was being interrogated in the same MACC office, had bumped into Beng Hock while going to the toilet at around 6am.
“He was in the pantry. I greeted him, but he replied only with an ‘umph’. But when I came out of the toilet, he was gone. He did look a little tired,” said Tan.
Before that encounter, Tan said he did not know Beng Hock was also being interrogated by the MACC and was in the same Shah Alam office. According to the Kajang councillor, he was taken there at around 9pm on Wednesday after the MACC raided his house without a warrant.
During his interrogation, which began soon after he arrived and ended only the next day when he was finally released around 1.30pm, Tan gave a horrifying account of the MACC’s methods of ‘persuasion’.
The councillor told reporters that he was tortured and forced to stand from 10pm to 2am, threatened and verbally assaulted with racial taunts.
“I was shouted at: This is my place, you better believe that I can hit you’. I was then asked to stand and look straight,” said Tan.
“I was not allowed to rest my head. I was made to stand for four hours. They called me a stupid Chinese. Are you from China? You can’t speak Malay?
Prolonged interrogation to extract false confessions?
Tan was pulled in by the MACC to help in its investigation into the alleged misuse of public funds by Seri Kembangan assemblyman and state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah.
Tan, who is also a businessman, had last year supplied flags worth RM2,400 to one of Ean’s community development projects.
One of the reasons why his interrogation lasted so long was also because the MACC was trying to extract a false confession from him, possibly to incriminate Ean.
“They asked whether I supplied flags. I said yes but then I was forced to admit that I did not supply the flags,” said Tan.
“They said that if I don’t ‘tell the truth’, they will take away my wife and there would be no one to care for the children. But I did not give in.”
Like Tan, Beng Hock was also called in by the MACC. The 30-year former Sin Chew journalist was Ean’s personal aide and was interrogated from 5pm on Wednesday to 3.45am on Thursday.
According to the MACC, he asked to stay back because he was tired and wanted to sleep on the couch in the office.
Said MACC investigations director Shukri Abdull: “The man was asked to come to Selangor MACC last night at 5pm for his statement to be recorded and this procedure was completed at 3.45am.
“At 3.45am, he was allowed to leave, he promised to come today to bring some documents to assist in the investigations. At 6am, he was still seen to be sleeping at the couch but we didn’t see him until 1.30pm today when the body was found.
Beng Hock’s body was found at 1.30pm on the roof of an adjoining building to the MACC headquarters. It is not clear whether he jumped, fell or was pushed.
The police have been quick to claim there was no foul play, but his bosses and colleagues are equally certain he did not jump.
They question why he was interrogated for such long hours when the MACC said he was merely a witness and not a suspect.
They also seriously doubt he would opt to stay in the MACC premises once he was released as he had his own transport and could immediately go home to rest.
Beng Hock was due to register his marriage on Friday.
Said Ean: “He was going to get married, why would he want to commit suicide. He looked calm. Before he went to the MACC office, Manoharan and myself talked to him about how to answer the questions.
“If there was any problems, I should be the one to face action. I don’t see any reason for him to commit suicide. Furthermore, there was no reason for him to linger after the interrogation because his car was here.”
Despite mounting calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Beng Hock’s death, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has rejected the idea, insisting that the police was up to the job.
“We cannot accuse anyone or make baseless allegations as it could create unnecessary problems. Let us wait for the police to investigate the incident. Whatever it is, we are not looking to cover-up,” the DPM said.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
Was the nation deemed to be in grave danger?
JULY 17 — As a Christian, I cannot keep to my seat, or shut my mouth and stay neutral over issues of morality.
So I emerge today from my several months of silence and non-involvement to say that what transpired yesterday is immoral, unacceptable and inconscionable.
Why was a witness being held for questioning for 10 hours and only released at 3.45am? What kind of case is it and what is the urgency of the case in question that the witness had to be deprived of sleep and forcibly kept awake till 3.45am? Was the nation deemed to be in grave danger had the witness in question been sent home at a respectable time and asked to report again for questioning the next morning?
The nation could endure long years of waiting over so many other much longer pending cases involving so much more public money and have much greater weight in public interest but this particular case could not wait for the next morning when the witness in question would have been fresher and better rested?
What kind of interrogation was he subjected to on the fateful night without end? Why was it that a witness had to be isolated from his lawyer and forced to be in the sole company of officers with no other neutral person/s present? Because he was in the sole company of officers who were interrogating him, how would his side of the story be ever told? And how would, why should the officers in question be trusted when they tell the nation what actually transpired during that fateful night the witness lost his life?
There were no other witness/es present so how would these officers in question clear their own involvement or clear their own names in this sad story?
Isn’t it true that a medical doctor should carry out the examination of a patient of the opposite sex in the presence of at least one other person? This is a wise procedure so that should any allegation of wrongly conduct be raised against him or her, the doctor would have some neutral testimony to defend him or her.
There have been too many instances of contravention against natural justice in this country involving the agencies and instruments of state. There have been too many victims. The neutrality of these instruments of state is questionable.
This is not about partisan politics. I expect my friends from both sides of the parliamentary divide to speak up. I expect to hear from all political parties and all who hold public office at all levels to speak up. I want especially to hear from Maximus Ongkili, Bernard Dompok, Lee Hwa Beng, Loh Seng Kok who publicly profess the Christian faith to speak up.
I expect the churches and the church leadership to speak up including those I know personally such as Hwa Yung, Ng Moon Hing and many others.
Of course all of the above persons should state their own views and even fault my manner of speaking or reasoning. But silence is not an option. Leaders do not have the option of keeping their opinion to themselves. They must lend their voices to voices which have been silenced.
A young life has been lost on the very eve of his wedding. Siblings, parents, colleagues and a fiancee are in inconsolable grief. Why so? Who will be next? — mysinchew.com
JULY 17 — Each year this blog nominates a few individuals to be crowned the Joker of the Year. It is a bit unique this year. This is only the month of July and nomination is already closed and a winner declared.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz is the grand winner of 2009. He cautioned against pointing the finger at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for Teoh Beng Hock’s death.
I would like to inform Nazri of what I think of the MACC in this incident. The commission is wrong for abusing its investigation and interrogation procedure. Was Teoh a criminal? Would he abscond?
Why must the commission conduct its interrogation after office hours until wee hours in the morning? Why can’t officers of the commission conduct the session during office hours the next day?
I am not suggesting a murder here but clearly the commission has a lot to explain for neglecting the safety of a person under their custody. Worse, this person was not even a suspect.
The commission should be sued for negligence.
Nazri’s insensitivity should be severely criticised. For once I agree with Mahathir that this man is not fit to be in the current cabinet. Recently, he verbally attacked several commissioners of Suhakam who called for a new state election in Perak and called them “crooks”.
It takes one to know one.
Nazri should make real his threats. He is welcome to come after this blogger. I am going to repeat it again; yes, the MACC was responsible for the death of Teoh Beng Hock. It could also be a breach of the commission’s ethics and procedure. — khookaypeng.blogspot.com
Some 500 people gathered outside the Plaza Masalam building in Shah Alam last night for a candlelight vigil held to mourn the death of Teo Beng Hock.
Led by Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, the crowd paid tribute to the 30-year-old former journalist, who was described by friends and former colleagues as a good-hearted and friendly person.
Teo, who was working as the political secretary to Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hean Wah, is said to have plunged to his death from the building.
He was last seen at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Selangor office – located on the 14th floor of the building – where he was brought in for questioning over investigations into alleged misappropriation of funds by his boss.
Addressing the crowd, Ean Yong demanded a detailed explanation from MACC and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak over his aide’s death.
“This is a tragedy that could have been avoided if MACC followed proper procedures,” said the exco, his voice cracking with grief.
“He was only a
witness. I never thought he would not back.”
According to MACC, Teo was called in at 6pm yesterday and was questioned until 3.45am but was allowed to leave after that. However, Teo had instead chose to ‘rest’ on a sofa in the MACC office and was last seen at 6am.
His body was discovered on the roof top of Plaza Masalam, more than seven hours later – at 1.30pm – by a janitor. He had apparently fallen from the MACC tower block which is adjacent to the plaza.
‘Goes in alive, comes out a corpse’
Klang MP Charles Santiago told the crowd that a “good man went to the MACC (to assist them in their investigations) and came out a corpse.”
“How can we expect MACC or the police to protect the common man?” he asked.
The crowd also vented their anger towards Najib and chanted slogans such as ‘MACC murderers’ and ‘BN is cruel’.
Kampung Tunku assemblyperson Lau Weng San claimed that the ongoing MACC probe against Selangor Pakatan Rakyat state reps was nothing short of persecution.
“Najib has declared war on Selangor. He wants to take this state like how he took Perak,” added PKR supreme council member Badrul Hisham Shaharin.
Throughout the vigil, the participants who knew Teo recalled their final encounters with the deceased.
“He parks his car beside mine everyday. Now, I will not be able to see him anymore,” lamented Abdul Razak Ismail, the aide of Selangor exco member Dr Xavier Jeyakumar.
“I had meals with him so many times. I cannot believe that he is gone. MACC must pay for this,” a distraugted DAP party worker from Perak told Malaysiakini.
Fiancee barred from seeing his remains
Earlier in the evening, drama broke out on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam when the police refused to allow Teo’s fiancee to see his body.
“Please… please just let me see him once,” she pleaded, sobbing uncontrollably.
The pair had known each other for five years and were supposed to register their marriage today.
Counsel for Teo’s family Gobind Singh Deo expressed regret that the police only allowed Teo’s elder brother to see the body.
He also criticised the police for only informing the family that they could appoint their own pathologist to inspect the body at the eleventh hour.
Gobind said the family was given only about half an hour to bring a pathologist. He confirmed that three pathologist were already at the scene.
“We have asked for the preliminary findings but they have given naught,” he exclaimed.
Another Selangor exco member Ronnie Liu demanded that the attorney-general take stern action against those responsible for Teo’s death.
“If MACC did not take him, he would still be alive. MACC must be charged for murder or manslaughter,” he said.
Eyebrows were also raised as to why the police forensics team took almost nine hours to remove the body.
At about 9.15pm, the police took Teo’s body out of the building through the loading bay, avoiding the horde of journalists, photographers and vigilers gathered at the main entrances.
The police truck carrying the body sped off from the crowded car park en route to the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang, where a post-mortem will be carried out today.
It is understood that at least two forensics team inspected Teo’s body.
According to DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang, Teo’s mother in Alor Gajah, Malacca, had been crying non-stop since she was informed of the news at 5pm.
“Friends and relatives (are) in shock,” he said in a Tweeter message.
Teo’s mother was consoled by former DAP secretary-general Kerk Kim Hock.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
Khairy appalled and offended by the Al-Islam reporters. – Picture by Danny Lim
By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 — Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin became the first Umno leader to speak out against the two Muslim journalists who went undercover to two Catholic churches, describing their action as “appalling and offensive.”
His latest blog posting blasted the Al Islam journalists for pretending to be Christians and taking part in its rituals — receiving and spitting out the Holy Communion wafer for photographs — saying their action was unacceptable even by a Muslim such as himself.
The pictures of the crushed wafer were published alongside the article in the Al-Islam magazine.
Khairy’s posting makes him the first Malaysian-Muslim politician to speak on the issue which has upset many in the Christian community. The two journalists were investigating reports of mass conversions at the two churches.
“I have no reservations whatsoever in condemning this instance of unethical journalism, grounded in both disrespect and ignorance,” said Khairy.
“The Islamic virtues of empathy, respect and tolerance were obviously absent in both the journalists and the magazine’s editorial team that sanctioned the publishing of the article and the methods employed to gather information,” he added.
Khairy, who is also the MP for Rembau, further said those behind the fracas should imagine what they would feel if Christians were to do the same thing, going to a mosque pretending to worship as Muslims and then making a mockery out of their religious practice.
“I suspect Al-Islam failed to consider the fact that the gravity of their own actions were similar to this hypothetical situation where the sanctity of the Muslim place and act of worship are violated,” commented Khairy.
This incident plus the recent arrest and overnight detention of nine people who were allegedly on a conversion mission at Universiti Putra Malaysia have made many people doubt the sincerity of the 1 Malaysia concept.
Another case which has left many Christians upset is the swift legal action taken against the Catholic Church for using the word “Allah” in their newspaper. “Allah” in Arabic simply means god but many Malaysian Muslims believe that non-Muslims should not be allowed to use the word.
FROM MALAYSIA TODAY
Now that Anwar Ibrahim’s trial has kicked off maybe it is time to recap on what happened about a year ago with regards to the allegation that Anwar had buggered Saiful Bukhari Azlan. Malaysia Today previously published Dr Osman’s medical report and the Statutory Declaration that followed it and the police subsequently raided my house and called me in for interrogation wanting to know how I managed to get my hands on these documents.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
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