Nirmala, mother of two SOSMA detainees reminds the Prime Minister, “Prime Minister kita Datuk Sri Anwar Ibrahim, kita perchaya dan kita undi sebab kita nak dapatkan KEADILAN untuk semua orang dekat sini. We need justice for SOSMA and we dont want all our detainees anak-anak kita dekat dalam merana without any bukti.“
While SOSMA may be less onerous than the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA), the Malaysian Human Rights body, Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia (SUHAKAM) has identified four provisions in Security Offences (Special Measure) Act 2012 (SOSMA) that violate human rights:
Section 4 does not provide for judicial oversight when the detention period is extended up to 28 days.
Section 5 allows the police to deny immediate access to legal representation for a period up to 48 hours.
Section 6 permits the interception of communication which may infringe personal liberty and right to privacy.
Section 30 compels the court, upon application by the Prosecutor to commit an acquitted person pending exhaustion of all appeals.
The alleged manifesto commitment to repeal SOSMA was dernied by Mahathir Mohamad’s PH government of GE14. Lets hope Anwar Ibrahim’s Unity Government of GE15 will be able to fulfill this goal in the cause of natural justice and human rights..
Sivakumar Varatharaju Naidu is the Minister of Human Resources and the only Indian in Anwar Ibrahim’s cabinet. Gone are the glory days of the Pakatan Harapan government that followed GE 14 when there were 4 Indian ministers in a cabinet of 25 ministerial portfolios. Waytha Moorthy Ponnusamy was Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department responsible for National Unity and Social Well-being, Xavier Jayakumar Arulanandam was Minister of Water, Land, and Natural Resources, Kulasegaran Murugeson was Minister of Human Resources and Gobind Singh Deo was Minister of Communication and Multimedia. Today, in Anwar’s Unity Government there is only 1 Indian minister from a cabinet of 28 portfolios. Indeed, the ratio has gone down dramatically, and there is a lot of discussion in the media, about the implications for the place of Malaysian Indians in the political paradigm of Malaysia.
Malaysia is a nation founded in the wake of colonial immigration and postcolonial communalism. Race and religion are determinants of status and rights in our constitution and the majority of the political parties in our constitutional democracy are defined in terms of ethnic and religious interests. As East Malaysian parties figure more prominently in the political leadership of our nation (as they should in the cause of strengthening the Federation) the space for Indians in the leadership of the nation will naturally diminish in time.
In any event, while some Indians have risen to power based on communalist politics, Samy Vellu being the exemplar, this order has not really served the Indian community very well in the post Independent period. So, while I acknowledge the communal nature of the Indian Malaysian stake in the nation, I believe the time has come to pursue our community interests less directly, by perpetuating general principles of justice and citizenship for all. As the power dynamic shifts in Malaysian politics, Indians need to assert their needs and rights as citizens, rather than as a members of a community. They need to entrench themselves within the multiethnic political parties and contribute to the deepening of trans-communal ethos that may be emerging, in the Malaysian political landscape, albeit, with difficulty.
Our community is clearly on the way to losing its 3rd place in the triumvirate of Malaysian races – Malay/Chinese/XXX, we need to be at the forefront of the effort to transcend communalism in Malaysian life. This might be a losing battle in the face of the rising wave of Malay ethnoreligious sentiments, but I believe it is still the only way forward, and the best chance for Indians to have a say in a future Malaysia. We should stop worrying about the number of Indians in the Cabinet, and focus on deepening our role and influence at the back end of governance. Indian Malaysians have everything to gain from thinking and acting as Malaysians per se, and much to lose by being entrenched in the Indianness of our national identity. I believe that Indians can best serve our community by striving to raise the living conditions and opportunities for all Malaysians who have been left behind in the post-independence period.
Anwar Ibrahim was the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, when the Asian financial crisis struck in 1997. Although he seemed to be on the way to becoming the 5th Prime Minister of Malaysia, he got into a conflict with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed and, by 1998, he was sacked from his post, arrested and charged with the offences of corruption and sodomy. In 1999 he was convicted and jailed. Today, 24 years after he was foiled in his early prime ministerial ambitions, and following Malaysia’s GE15 resulting in a hung parliament, Anwar has been asked by the Agong to form the next government. At last, in 2022, fragile though his tenure might be, Anwar Ibrahim has finally become the 10th.Prime Minister of Malaysia.
This image is about the associations in Malaysian life that transcend race and religion. Be it in the realm of politics or that of business, and even in crime and corruption, Malaysians come together across these primordial divides. One might say, every Mahathir has his Ananda or every Anwar has his Nalla, or even, every Najib has his Jo low. This image celebrates my own Malaysian cabal. Particularly, it commemorates my own friendship with the late Suflan Shamsuddin. My other close friends in this photograph are Lim Chee Min and Thomas Vanniasingam. Here is an extract from a letter I wrote to Suflan posthumously as a way of remembering him.
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