Last Wednesday, SUARAM (Suara Rakyat Malaysia) launched their Malaysia Human Rights Report 2008. CPPS was one of the civil society organisations invited to attend the launch, so we got a copy of the report, which I’ve been using to write up our latest policy factsheet. Among the great stuff you probably did not know about Malaysia Truly Asia:
- Freedom of speech and expression is curtailed by a myriad of laws (you can ask me for the list). As of 2008, the Ministry of Home Affairs listed 1 434 book titles banned in Malaysia. 57% of the country’s total print advertising is controlled by Media Prima Berhad, which has close links with one of the parties in the ruling coalition. Ownership and control of all mainstream media are also by component parties of the ruling coalition. Journalists and bloggers who portray the government negatively are consistently arrested for sedition.
- The US State Department has blacklisted Malaysia as one of the 17 countries which do not “comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so, despite some progress in enforcing the country’s new anti-trafficking law”.
- The Internal Security Act (ISA) allows for the arrest of any person without the need of trial for an indefinite period of time under the allegation of threatening national security. It has been consistently used against political opponents. Since 1960, 10 662 people have been arrested under the ISA.
- The Royal Police (PDRM) is considered to be the most corrupt institution in Malaysia, according to polls by Transparency International. In 2008, there were 44 deaths by police shootings through media monitoring, while the government disclosed 13 cases of deaths in police custody. In 2009 alone, there have already been two deaths in custody, one of which has been declared a murder.
- The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is selective and discriminatory in its investigation of cases. Besides this, other major allegations against the institution today are (1) that it uses methods of interrogation akin to torture and (2) the death-in-custody of the political secretary to an assemblyman of the opposition party.
After reading stuff like this you really have to wonder: which makes better couch surfing material – the book or the country?