The Unfinished Business of Merdeka August 30, 2007Posted by elizabethwong in Current Affairs, Democracy, Event, Human Rights, Malaysia, Politics, Southeast Asia.
… Suaram calls on the people to seize back power to determine the future of our country and continue the spirit of Merdeka, fighting for the full realization of fundamental rights and an accountable and responsible government.
(This is our statement for Merdeka – a call to action and not just talk.)
30 August 2007
Our predecessors had one clear goal when fighting for Independence – the right to self-determination – To free themselves from the absolute dictate of others and strive to be able to determine their own fate and destiny in this land.
It was a struggle to be free from oppression, exploitation, unfair treatments and injustices under the colonial rule.
Newspapers, magazines and books flourished in numbers in support of the struggle. Rallies, marches, demonstrations and public assemblies were organized. Associations, trade unions and political parties mushroomed to carry the struggle.
Undeniable, fundamental freedoms and human rights such as the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association had played a pivotal role in raising awareness and mobilizing the people to struggle for independence. Without these rights, independence would have not been possible in 1957.
Today, there is still unfinished business.
Fundamental freedoms and human rights that had been instrumental in the struggle for independence and codified in the Federal Constitution are increasingly eroded over the past 50 years since the independence. These examples are ample, to name a few:
* The Official Secret Act (OSA) was amended in 1986 to do away the discretionary power of the court and make the punishment for convicted offender mandatory imprisonment of minimum of one year.
* The Police Act 1967 was amended to further restrict the right to freedom of assembly with three persons constitutes an illegal assembly if without a police permit.
* The Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984 was amended in 1987 and made it mandatory for all printing media to re-apply publication permit every year instead of renewing the permit.
* The Society Act 1966 has been amended and vested absolute powers in the minister in determining application to form political parties and associations.
The act which epitomizes our dire straits is the continue existence and use of Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960. The colonial law adopted from the British was amended in 1988 by the government allowing only legal challenge on procedural grounds in habeas corpus application, effectively preventing the challenge of the ground of arrest and detention made by police and minister.
Merdeka means nothing if the people are not free – to express themselves, to organize peaceful assembly and to form organizations against corruption, abuse of power and mismanagement of the country.
We are not masters of our own country if the people are unable to hold the government accountable to its wrong doings.
“The People Are the Bosses” should be our clarion call!
On the 50th anniversary of Merdeka, Suaram calls on the government to reverse the eroding trends of fundamental rights of the people:
* All laws that provide for indefinite detention without trial must end.
* All emergency legislations must be repealed immediately.
* All other laws that are in contradiction with human rights must be reviewed for repeal or reform.
Most importantly, Suaram calls on the people to seize back power to determine the future of our country and continue the spirit of Merdeka, fighting for the full realization of fundamental rights and an accountable and responsible government.
This is the only meaningful way of celebration by giving the Merdeka its original and true meanings.