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Thursday, 24 January 2013

RCI ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS IN SABAH - REFLECTIONS BY TAN SRI SIMON SIPAUN

Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Proham Chairman)
More than 20 years ago when I was still a civil servant, a gentleman came to see me. At the time he had just retired. He was a Sabahan and the substantive holder of the post of Director of the National Registration Department in Sabah. However he was never given the opportunity to function as a director. Instead he was posted to Semenanjung. He was neither a Malay nor a Muslim. He told me that genuine identity cards were prepared in the headquarters and brought to Sabah to be given  to Muslim illegal immigrants. There was a special unit to handle this.

It is people like him who should be of interest to the on-going RCI in its effort to establish the real truth concerning the illegal immigrant issue. Genuine Sabahans are keen to know the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

It is appropriate that the RCI has requested ex-civil servants who had first-hand experience and knowledge from inside the relevant government departments and agencies to appear before it. I hope that people from Sabah who have done research, written books and articles on the issues and problems associated with illegal immigrants will also be invited to testify. Some of them have also been detained under the ISA. The information disclosed by witnesses so far is quite shocking but not surprising.
It is shocking because the government appears to be uncaring towards Malaysians living in Sabah preferring non-citizens over citizens. It is not surprising because it is what the people of Sabah had suspected all along. I note some of the ex-civil servants who had testified had been detained under the ISA yet they were only carrying out the directives of their political masters. Why were they detained unless, of course, they were made the unfortunate scapegoats?

The Minister of Home Affairs allegedly made a statement that the government has neither issued citizenship nor given voting rights to illegal immigrants in Sabah. He wanted proof from people who thought otherwise. On 1 October, 2011, the Deputy Home Minister Lee Chee Leong was reported to have denied that Sabah is a victim of ‘projek IC’ – a planned illegal immigrant population explosion engineered by the federal government for citizenships in exchange for votes to help the present government retain political power. YB Datuk Wilfred Bumburing took up the challenge of the Home Minister. YB Datuk Wilfred can relate the rest of the story as he knows best.

In the early 70s a lot of Vietnamese refugees landed in Semenanjung. They were confined to Pulau Bidong and within 2 years they were all moved to other countries. They were not Muslims. There appears to be double standard. One standard for the non-Muslim Vietnamese and one for the Muslim illegal immigrants in Sabah.
Malaysia is neither a state party to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 nor the 1967 Protocol. This being the case, all refugees in Malaysia are treated as illegal immigrants. They are subjected to penalties, detention and deportation under the Immigration Act 1959/63. This Act does not recognize refugees.

To indicate that the Federal Government is seen to be doing something to resolve the mother of all problems in Sabah, a Federal Task Force was established more than 25 years ago. But it took one year just to create the post of the head of the task force. Today, the task force is still in existence, but so is the problem, only bigger and more complicated.
I do not blame the illegal immigrants for being in Sabah. As human beings they are just looking for a better life. They have human rights like any Malaysian, no more no less. Human rights have no borders. However, I question the authorities for allowing them into Sabah without proper documents and move around in Sabah with impunity.

The rapidly increasing number of illegal immigrants is fast changing the economic, social, cultural and political landscape of the state. The reverse take-over has long started. It appears that the government has no intention of resolving the problems once and for all because government appears to be part of the problem rather than the solution. This is indicated by the terms of reference of the RCI which are by and large investigative in nature. The terms of reference should include identifying who are the real culprits followed by prosecution. I hope the RCI will interpret its mandate liberally.
Foreigners who were not qualified to be given citizenship status or given the right to vote illegally should have their citizenship revoked and deported to their country of origin. However, I fear that there will not be any political will to resolve the issue as it appears that it is part of the present government agenda. If not, this problem should not arise today.

The demand by genuine Sabahans for the formation of an RCI is not new. Much earlier 100,000 signatures had been collected requesting government to establish an RCI. It was followed by a long period of silence. It was not until 8 February,2012 that a decision was made for the formation of the RCI. At the time its terms of reference were not known. To arrive at a decision on its establishment without the terms of reference is like putting the cart before the horse. Many people are of the view that if it was not for the impending 13th general election, it is very conceivable that the RCI would not have been established.
Malaysians living in Sabah feel very uneasy, threatened and insecure as the number of foreigners keeps increasing. You may remember the demonstrations that took place in March, 1986. My office at the time was over-looking the state mosque and I could see hundreds of them gathering outside the mosque before they took to the streets. The only Sabahans I noticed were a few prominent political leaders from berjaya and usno leading them. The illegal immigrants were being made use of. I heard explosions all over town. A number of vehicles were either over-turned or burnt. It was very frightening. If my memory does not fail me, I think at least five people lost their lives. Sabah people will not do this sort of thing. I could not believe that such incidents could take place in Sabah. It was sad and reflected very badly on the mindset and maturity of the leaders who had a hand in instigating the illegal immigrants to demonstrate and causing unnecessary fear among the peace loving public.

When kg. Ice-box in Tawau was burnt about 25 years ago 5000 people lost their houses. Of the 5000, only 500 were Malaysians. The late general Zulkifli told me he saw many of them coming out with M16 in their possession.
In 1970, Sarawak population was about 1 million. In 2004, 34 years later, it was about 2 million. In 1970, Sabah’s population was about 698,000. In 2004, it was estimated to be between 3.3 and 3.5 million. Based on Sarawak’s population growth rate Sabah’s population in 2004 should be around 1.4 million. There is a ‘surplus’ of 1.9 million.

As of June 2005 the district of Kinabatangan had a population of about 85,000 and only about 25,000 were Malaysians. As at 23 December, 2005 Sabah’s prison population was 3052. About 70% were foreigners. In KK we have a Filipino market. In kg. Boronuon behind Telipok town you can see thousands of them. Next to it is a completed housing development. The last time I saw the place, not a single unit has been taken up. The Minister of Health was reported in the Daily Express in its 9 July, 2006 edition that hospitals in Sabah were receiving the most number of foreigners amounting to about 30%. According to the Minister, some of them used forged identity cards to gain admission and leave without paying. They also account for many cases of contagious and communicable diseases. It was reported in the Daily Express on 18 November, 2007 that 80% of the Likas maternity hospital beds were occupied by illegal immigrants.
It is ironical that whilst thousands of illegal immigrants have become citizens and voters, many locals especially those living in remote areas have no valid documents such as birth certificates and mykad. Technically they are stateless and yet they have never left the place of their birth. It has been said that what is impossible elsewhere is possible in Sabah. Some of you may recall a news report in 2002 regarding an immigration raid in Keningau. 34 foreigners were found to be in possession of mykad. At the time mykad had not yet been introduced in Sabah. The National Registration Department confirmed that the cards were indeed genuine. How could this happen without the complicity of the relevant authorities?

It is common knowledge that the electoral roll in Sabah is highly tainted. The new Sabah Times in its 9 June, 2001 edition reported that the High Court ordered former CM Datuk Yong Teck Lee to vacate his Likas seat because he won it in 1999 with the help of phantom voters. Justice Datuk Muhammad Kamil Awang said that the 1998 electoral roll for the constituency was illegal and the election held in March 1999 was null and void. The judge, amongst others, stated that the evidence adduced was tip of an iceberg and fantastic evidence.
The next logical step would have been to clean the electoral roll. Instead, Parliament amended the Election Act, whereby the electoral roll once gazetted cannot be challenged in any court of law. This is just not right. A clean electoral roll represents a universal democratic value. Immediate action should be taken to clean the tainted electoral roll before the 13 general election. If the Election Commission is unable to do it for some reasons it could be farmed out to a suitably qualified, experienced and independent organization.
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Views shared by Tan Sri Simon Sipaun at the DAP Public Forum on the RCI on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah held on Thursday 24 January, 2013, 2.30 pm – 4.30 pm at the Star City, Kota Kinabalu.

The Silent Riot or “Rusuhan Tersembunyi with Tan Sri Simon Sipaun as Special Guest

The documentary, The Silent Riot or “Rusuhan Tersembunyi”, about an incident in Sabah's political history that is rarely talked about was released online on 21 Jan 2013.

This film won the Most Outstanding Human Rights Film award of FreedomFilmFest 2012.

This film contains interviews and first hand accounts of the incidents that occurred after the 1985 election whereby the Barisan Nasional led Parti Berjaya was unexpectedly toppled by Parti Bersatu Sabah(PBS) with the cooperation of United Sabah National Organisation (USNO).

The riot that unsued claimed 5 lives and led to a 39 day curfew in major towns in Sabah.

According to director Nadira Illana, “Sabah is a mystery not only to West Malaysia but East Malaysians themselves. Sabahan youths especially know very little about their own history.” 

She adds that, “This documentary has so far provided an introduction into Sabah's recent political climate. This knowledge is especially critical now that we're in the middle of the RCI into Sabah's illegal immigrants.”

The documentary will be available on Pusat KOMAS' YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/VcBUCY.

The public can also send in questions to Nadira throughout the week and she will be answering them this Friday at 9pm (25th January 2013) via Google Hangout with friends and a special guest, former SUHAKAM Deputy Chairman & current Proham Chairman , Tan Sri Simon Sipaun.

Questions can be sent to freedomfilmfest@komas.org or posted online during the live hangout session on http://www.youtube.com/user/KOMASVIDEOS

The documentary also has a Facebook page: http://facebook.com/SilentRiotDocumentary.

Released by, Anna Har, FreedomFilmFest, KOMAS (Jan 21, 2013)

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

PROHAM DISCUSSION ON NURTURING THINKING UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

The recent social media highlight of a talk by a guest speaker and questioning by a student reveals some disturbing trends in higher education today. For some time now, there have been complains and concerns over such claims of brain washing, indoctrination, propaganda type gathering where young people have to endure these sessions.

These approaches to engage with young people and university students will not help foster a thinking culture which is so urgently needed in today’s society. Thinking skills - to be able to gather all the information and data on a topic, analyse all the facts and come to a logical conclusion is most essential.

However many young people are being robbed of this opportunity and this action by officials can be viewed as a violation of human rights as the freedom of expression, the freedom of thought and freedom to associate is being deprived. These rights are protected in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and Malaysia is a party to CRC and therefore must ensure that these rights are promoted and protected not just for children below 18 years of age but also to all young people in their prime years in higher education too.
Among academics, philosophers and economist there have been many writings on this theme of rational thinking and public space to articulate national concerns. The German philosopher Habemas develops the ideas on the ‘public sphere’, John Rawls develops his thesis of ‘justice as fairness’ in the context of public discourse and Amarty Sen states that ‘democracy is assessed in terms of public reasoning’

It is therefore of high importance that institutions of higher learning provide the space as well as foster the revenant  knowledge and competencies for engagement and dialogue in a conducive environment which nurtures open discussions and reasoning.
It is in this context that Proham is hosting a discussion to hear young voice of their experiences, challenges and their suggestions on how they can play a constructive role in nation building as thinking citizens.

DISCUSSION DETAILS

Date:              Feb 6, 2013 (Wed)

Time:              8pm to 10.30pm (Coffee served)

Venue:            Conference Room at Dignity International, A-2-7 Pusat Perdagangan Seksyen 8,
                       Jalan Sg. Jernih 8/1, 46050 Petaling Jaya, Tel/Fax :03 7931 0741
PANEL
 
The discussion will be moderated in Bahasa Malaysia by Mr Ruhan Shahrir, Research Fellow & PhD candidate (KITA-UKM). Panel speakers are being finalised for among university students and recent graduates.
We are seeking to invite Muhammad Ismail (UKM), Ms Bavani (UUM), Mr Ong Jin Cheng (USM) & Mr Adam Adli (UPSI) to share their views & experiences. We are waiting for confirmation.
Participants could also make comments in English or BM but the session will mostly be conducted in the national language.
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Participation is by invitation only and if you are interested to participate and share your view please email to : denisonproham@gmail.com or sms at 019 381 0914

Please be free to contact Mr Helmy for more details too: mobile 014-8611355 or email him at lockomotive.moskhva21@gmail.com

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Proham supports Civil Society’s Joint Statement on Azrul Azwar


Bank Islam acts unprofessionally and unjustly in suspending Azrul Azwar
We, the undersigned 51 organisations and 105 individuals (academics and activists), call on Bank Islam to reinstate its Chief Economist, Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajudin, who has been suspended for presenting an analysis based on computer simulation which projects a probability weighted base-case scenario of Pakatan Rakyat’s victory in the 13th general elections.

 We hold that Bank Islam has acted unprofessionally, unjustly and without any basis by reportedly punishing Mr Azrul Azwar for his professional opinion, presented at the Regional Outlook Forum on January 10, 2013.
We understand that the economist had also generated a best-case scenario of a Barisan Nasional’s narrow win and a worst-case scenario of the ruling coalition’s big loss. For the record, no party has produced any methodical rebuttal to his analysis.

Consistent with the view of financial regulators and academics worldwide, we stress that information freedom is pertinent to the resource allocation mechanism of the financial markets. Freedom of expression and freedom of information are the best way to expose and correct any falsehood or misinformation. Analyses on elections and their economic and financial consequences are clearly of paramount importance for the markets and the country.

Hence, biased information results in unjust allocation and distorts the integrity of the markets.

By allegedly suppressing Mr Azrul Azwar’s professional opinion that was unfavourable to Barisan Nasional, maliciously labelled as “political comments”, Bank Islam is admitting that the Bank has a policy of reporting only Barisan Nasional favourable news.
It cannot be argued that Mr Azrul Azwar’s behaviour is reckless as his analysis has had no market impact and the FBMKLCI has barely moved – closed at 1684.57 on 10 January 2013 and 1682.95 on 16 January 2013. Besides, the basic tenet of banking and finance is assessing risks (be it political, economics), and that was what Mr Azrul Azwar did.
We call upon Bank Islam to immediately reinstate Mr Azrul Azwar to his position and manage its business professionally.

We also urge the BN government to join our call for Bank Islam to reinstate him. This will prove beyond doubt that the BN government has not pressured Bank Islam to suspend Mr Azrul Azwar and PM Najib Razak is genuinely committed to reform.

ENDORSING ORGANISATIONS

1.       Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran)
2.       All Women's Action Society (AWAM)

3.       Anak Muda Sarawak (AMS)
4.       Bersih 3.0 Bangkok

5.       Bersih London
6.       Bersih Singapore

7.       Bersihkan Malaysia Perth
8.       Borneo Youth Revolution (BYR)

9.       Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
10.   Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI)

11.   Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (Bersih 2.0)
12.   Community Action Network (CAN)

13.   Gabungan Profesional Malaysia Timur Tengah (GPMTT)
14.   Himpunan Hijau (HH)

15.   Humanity Library Kuala Lumpur
16.   Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)

17.   Japan Graduates' Association of Malaysia
18.   Johor Yellow Flame (JYF)

19.   Kill The Bill (KTB)
20.   Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces (KRYSS)

21.   Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
22.   Kuen Cheng Alumni Association

23.   Lawyers for Liberty (LfL)
24.   LLG Cultural Development Centre

25.   Malaysia Youth & Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)
26.   Malaysian Youth against Public Hazards

27.   Malaysians for Beng Hock (M4BH)
28.   Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (MAFREL)

29.   Mama Bersih
30.   Muslim Professional Forum (MPF)

31.   National Indian Rights Action Team (NIAT)

32.   Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall (NSCAH)
33.   Northern Green Youth

34.   Penang Forum
35.   People’s Green Coalition

36.   Persatuan Alumni PBTUSM KL & Selangor
37.   Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)

38.   Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
39.   Persatuan Sains Sosial Malaysia (PSSM)

40.   Pertubuhan Gabungan NGO Kelantan (Coalition of  Kelantan NGOs)
41.   Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia

42.   Projek Dialog
43.   Pusat Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)

44.   Pusat Komas
45.   Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)

46.   Sisters in Islam (SIS)
47.   Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham)

48.   Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)

49.   Sunflower Electoral Education (SEED)

50.   Tenaganita

51.   Writer Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)

ENDORSING INDIVIDUALS (Disclaimer: The institutional/organizational affiliation of individuals is for identification purpose only and should not be taken to imply endorsement by their institutions/organisations).

1.       Prof Abdul Rahman Embong, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

2.       Prof Diana Wong, University of Science Malaysia (USM)

3.       Prof Edmund Terence Gomez, University of Malaya (UM)

4.       Prof Francis Loh Kok Wah, Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran)

5.       Prof James Chin, Sarawak

6.       Prof Lim Teck Ghee, Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI)

7.       Prof Norani Othman, Sisters in Islam (SIS)

8.       Prof Rajah Rasiah, University of Malaya (UM)

9.       Prof Wan Manan, Malaysian Academic Movement (MOVE)

10.   Prof Woo Wing Thye, Penang Institute (PI)

11.   Prof Zaharom Nain, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

12.   Assoc. Prof Abdul Halim Yusof, University of Science Malaysia (USM)

13.   Assoc. Prof Bridget Welsh, Singapore Management University (SMU)

14.   Assoc. Prof Mustafa K. Anuar, University of Science Malaysia (USM)

15.   Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)

16.   Dr Ang Sze Wei, University of Hong Kong

17.   Dr Azly Rahman, WorldWise Frontiers

18.   Dr Charis Quay Huei Li, Universit√© Paris-Sud (Orsay)

19.   Dr Cheong Kee Cheok, University of Malaya (UM)

20.   Dr Helen Ting, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

21.   Dr Johan Saravanamuttu, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)

22.   Dr Khoo Boo Teik, Aliran

23.   Dr Khoo Gaik Cheng, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

24.   Dr Lee Hock Guan, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)

25.   Dr Lim Kim Hwa, Penang Institute (PI)

26.   Dr Lim Mah Hui, Penang Institute (PI)

27.   Dr Ong Kian Ming, UCSI University

28.   Dr Subatra Jayaraj, Bersih Bangkok

29.   Dr Subramaniam Pillay, Aliran

30.   Dr. Thillainathan Ramasamy, University of Malaya (UM)

31.   Dr Toh Kin Woon, Penang Institute (PI)

32.   Dr Wong Chin Huat, Penang Institute (PI)

33.   Dr Wong Yee Tuan, Penang Institute (PI)

34.   Dr Yeoh Seng Guan, Monash University Sunway Campus

35.   Dr Yolanda Augustin, University of London

36.   Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan, Bersih 2.0

37.   Dato’ Dr Musa bin Mohd Nordin, Damansara Specialist Hospital

38.   Dato’ Yeo Yang Poh, Bersih 2.0

39.   Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, Proham

40.   Adibah Jodi, Sisters in Islam (SIS)

41.   Alan Tee Boon Tsong, Johor Yellow Flame  (JYF)

42.   Altaf Deviyati Ismail, Penang Institute (PI)

43.   Andrew Cheng Yang Chong, Johor Yellow Flame  (JYF)

44.   Andrew Khoo, Bersih 2.0

45.   Angela M. Kuga Thas, DCI Candidate, Queensland University of Technology

46.   Anil Netto, Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran)

47.   Azareena Abdul Aziz, Sisters in Islam (SIS)

48.   Azrine Razak, Sisters in Islam (SIS)

49.   Chan Wei See, Sunflower Paper

50.   Chaw Teck Long, Johor Yellow Flame (JYF)

51.   Che Afandy Che Yusof, Penang Institute (PI)

52.   Chin Pok Yap, Bersihkan Malaysia Perth

53.   Chom Lee, Bersihkan Malaysia Perth

54.   Colin Rajah, Bersih San Francisco

55.   Dahlia Martin, Flinders University

56.   David Teoh, Bersih Melbourne

57.   Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, Suaram

58.   Greg Lopez, Australian National University (ANU)

59.   Ho Yock Lin, All Women’s Action Society Malaysia (AWAM)

60.   Jordan Sugunasingam, Bersihkan Malaysia Perth

61.   K. Arumugam, Suaram

62.   Kartina Mohd Sobri, Sisters in Islam (SIS)

63.   Kean Wong, Bersih Washington DC

64.   Koay Seng Beng, Penang Institute (PI)

65.   Koay Su Lyn, Penang Institute (PI)

66.   Koh Wee Sun, Mama Bersih

67.   Lau Chee Boon, Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall (NSCAH)

68.   Lee Chyi, Penang Institute (PI)

69.   Liau Koh Fah, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)

70.   Lim Chee Han, Hannover Medical School, Germany

71.   Lim Hong Siang, Sunflower Paper

72.   Mandeep Singh Karpall Singh, Pusat Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)

73.   Maria Chin Abdullah, Pusat Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)

74.   Masjaliza Hamzah, Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)

75.   Maxine Carr, Penang Institute (PI)

76.   Mohideen Abdul Kader, Consumer Association of Penang (CAP)

77.   Nazreen Nizam, Pusat Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)

78.   Ng Yap Hwa, Malaysians for Beng Hock (M4BH)

79.   Ngeow Chow Ying, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)

80.   Noorulhuda Mohd. Noor, Sisters in Islam (SIS)

81.   Ooi Heng, Political Studies for Change (KPRU)

82.   Ooi Pei Qi, Penang Institute (PI)

83.   Pam Wong, Bersih Auckland

84.   Ratna Osman, Sisters in Islam (SIS)

85.   Raymond Cheong, Bersihkan Malaysia Perth

86.   Rozana Isa, Sisters in Islam (SIS)

87.   Sarajun Hoda Abdul Hassan, Aliran

88.   Ser Choon Ing, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)

89.   Soon Yee Yap, Bersihkan Malaysia Perth

90.   Stephenie Aloysius, Pusat Komas

91.   Steven Sim Chee Keong, Penang Institute (PI)

92.   Stuart MacDonald, Penang Institute (PI)

93.   Suriani Kempe, Sisters in Islam (SIS)

94.   Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia

95.   T. Rajamoorthy, Regional Council for Human Rights in Asia

96.   Tan Hui Chun, Humanity Library Kuala Lumpur

97.   Tan Woen Tian, Kill The Bill

98.   Tang Ah Chai, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)

99.   Teoh Lee Lan, Malaysians for Beng Hock (M4BH)

100. Th’ng Bee Fu, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR)

101. Tricia Yeoh, Pakatan Rakyat

102.  Wang Lay Kim, University of Science Malaysia (USM)

103. William de Cruz, Bersih Sydney

104. Wong Tack, Himpunan Hijau (HH)

105. Zairil Khir Johari, Penang Institute (PI)

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

SUBSTANTIVE EQUALITY KEY TO PROGRESSIVENESS

Participants at the Proham discussion on Jan 14, 2013 at MIM,PJ
BUILDING an inclusive society free of championing only single perspective agenda will ensure a healthy future for the nation, academics, activists, think-tanks and politicians pointed out yesterday.

The Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) delved into these talking points during a discussion titled, Malaysian Agenda 2013 and Beyond: Building An Inclusive Society On The Foundation Of Human Rights and Responsibilities at the Malaysian Institute of Management, here, on Monday.

Moderated by Proham secretary-general Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, the discussion was held in conjunction with the launch of his book, Malaysia: The Need for Inclusiveness, published by the Institute of Ethnic Studies.
The book was compilation of 22 articles from his Meeting Halfway column published in The Malay Mail.

Proham chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun opened the discussion by rekindling his childhood days in pre-Merdeka Sabah, then called North Borneo, which had been a more inclusive society than the current “fractured” modern community.
“There never was trouble back then when non-Muslims said the word Allah,” he said.

Assoc Prof Dr Ramy Bulan from Universiti Malaya’s Centre of Malaysian Indigenous Studies stressed on the importance of substantive equality and equality of open access to opportunities to create inclusiveness.
She urged academics to understand the need for minority groups to be judged based on their own merits.

Women’s Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah said Jayasooria’s book should be translated to Malay, Chinese and Tamil.
“In fact, this open discussion should be aired on national television,” Josiah said, rejecting the notion that Malaysian society was not ready for open discussions.

She said as a progressive country, no subject should be too sensitive to discussed.
The final speaker of the day, Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah praised Jayasooria’s articles saying they were key elements able to drive the country’s progressiveness forward.

He noted the importance of freedom of expression in the media to create an inclusive society, praising certain newspapers, including The Malay Mail.
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Source:Wednesday, January 16, 2013, Malay Mail