“Jewish plots” , “Jewish conspiracies.”, stalled investigations into billions of dollars in funds allegedly stolen from 1MDB: U.S Government not mincing its words about Najib’s 1MDB theft.
Actually, presented without comment,the US Government’s perception of the 1MDB issue.
The country’s Jewish population was estimated to be between 100 and 200 persons. Anti-Semitism was a serious problem across the political spectrum and attracted wide support among segments of the population. A 2015 Anti-Defamation League survey found 61 percent of citizens held anti-Jewish attitudes. Government-owned newspapers and statements by current and former political officeholders sometimes blamed civil society activity on “Jewish plots” or “Jewish conspiracies.”
In March Deputy Minister of Agriculture Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, a leader of the ruling UMNO party, accused government critics of working with “media controlled by Jews” to bring down PM Najib
BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND LABOR
2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
March 3, 2017
Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy. It has a parliamentary system of government selected through regular, multiparty elections and is headed by a prime minister. The king is the head of state and serves a largely ceremonial role; he serves a five-year term, and the kingship rotates among the sultans of the nine states with hereditary rulers. The United Malays National Organization (UMNO), together with a coalition of political parties known as the National Front (BN), has held power since independence in 1957. In the 2013 general election, the BN lost the popular vote to the opposition coalition but was re-elected in the country’s first-past-the-post system. The opposition and civil society organizations alleged electoral irregularities and systemic disadvantages for opposition groups due to lack of media access and gerrymandered districts favoring the ruling coalition.
Civilian authorities at times did not maintain effective control over security forces.
The most significant human rights problems included government restrictions on freedoms of speech and expression, press and media, assembly, and association. In the wake of a government financial scandal dating back to 2014, whistleblowers and critics faced censorship, police intimidation, investigation, and criminal charges. Print and broadcast media outlets self-censored news coverage of the scandal. Online media offered more independent and critical perspectives, but were often the target of legal action and harassment, leading one site to shut down. Restrictions on freedom of religion were also a significant concern–including bans on religious groups, restrictions on proselytizing, and prohibitions on the freedom to change one’s religion.
Other human rights problems included deaths during police apprehension and while in custody; laws allowing detention without trial; caning as a form of punishment imposed by criminal and “sharia” (Islamic law) courts; restrictions on the rights of migrants, including migrant workers, refugees, and victims of human trafficking; official corruption; violence and discrimination against women; and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons. Longstanding government policies gave preference to ethnic Malays in many areas. The government restricted union and collective-bargaining activity, and government policies created vulnerabilities for child labor and forced labor problems, especially for migrant workers.
The government arrested and prosecuted some officials engaged in corruption, malfeasance, and human rights abuses, although civil society groups alleged continued impunity.
SECTION 1. RESPECT FOR THE INTEGRITY OF THE PERSON, INCLUDING FREEDOM FROM:
a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings
There were reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. In June the government disclosed there were 50 deaths in police custody from the beginning of 2013 through April, with only one death allegedly caused by the police. Civil society activists disputed this, claiming police were responsible for more of the deaths in custody.
In April a government commission found police culpable for the 2013 death of N. Dharmendran, and detailed efforts by police to cover up the case and alter evidence. In June a court acquitted the four police officers charged with the murder. Human rights organizations criticized the decision, and noted the rarity of successful prosecutions in death-in-custody cases.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
No law specifically prohibits torture; however, laws that prohibit “committing grievous hurt” encompass torture. More than 60 offenses are subject to caning, and judges routinely mandated caning in response to crimes including kidnapping, rape, robbery, narcotics possession, criminal breach of trust, migrant smuggling, and immigration offenses.
Civil and criminal law exempt men older than 50 years, unless convicted of rape, and all women from caning. Male children between 10 and 18 years may receive a maximum of 10 strokes of a “light cane” in a public courtroom. The government revealed in a letter to a member of parliament that authorities caned 8,451 prisoners (5,968 foreigners and 2,483 citizens) in 2013.
Some states’ sharia laws–those governing family issues and certain crimes under Islam and that apply to all Muslims–also prescribe caning for certain offenses. Women are not exempt from caning under sharia, and national courts have not resolved issues involving conflicts among the constitution, the penal code, and sharia.
In January a human rights nongovernmental organization (NGO) released handwritten accounts by seven suspected terrorists held under investigatory detention alleging maltreatment, including beatings, sexual humiliation, and forced confessions. In July, R. Sri Sanjeevan, an activist working on police corruption and whom police arrested on extortion charges, said police blindfolded and beat him while denying him medical treatment.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Conditions in prisons and detention centers operated by the government’s Immigration Department were harsh.
Physical Conditions: Overcrowding in prisons and immigration detention centers, particularly in facilities near major cities, remained a serious problem.
Some prisoners and detainees died, including while in police holding cells. In May the government revealed that from the beginning of 2013 through April, 721 prisoners died in the country’s prisons, an average of 18 deaths per month. International media reported allegations of deaths in immigration detention centers, but official statistics were not available.
Administration: Authorities used caning in combination with imprisonment for some nonviolent offenders. Prisoners and detainees had freedom of religious observance provided religious practices did not derive from one of the sects of Islam the government bans as “deviant.” The law does not provide a process for prisoners to submit complaints to judicial authorities, but it allows judges to visit prisons to examine conditions and ask prisoners and prison officials about prison conditions. Authorities generally treated attorney-client communications as private and confidential.
Independent Monitoring: Authorities generally did not permit NGOs and media to monitor prison conditions. The government provided regular prison access to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and SUHAKAM, the government human rights commission, on a case-by-case basis. In 2015 the ICRC conducted 27 visits to seven prisons, seven immigration detention centers, and one temporary detention center, visiting 24,845 detainees.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) generally had access to registered refugees, asylum seekers, and unregistered persons of concern who may have claims to asylum and refugee status and who authorities held in immigration detention centers and prisons. This access, however, was not always timely.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
Police may detain persons suspected of terrorism, organized crime, gang activity, and trafficking in drugs or persons without a warrant or judicial review for two-year terms, renewable indefinitely. Within seven days of the initial detention, however, police must present the case for detention to a public prosecutor. If the prosecutor agrees “sufficient evidence exists to justify” continued detention and further investigation, a fact-finding inquiry officer appointed by the minister of home affairs must report within 59 days to a detention board appointed by the king. The board may renew the detention order or impose an order to restrict–without trial or judicial review–a suspect’s place of residence, travel, access to communications facilities, and use of the internet for a maximum of five years. Details on the numbers of those detained or under restriction orders were not generally available.
The law allows investigative detention to prevent a criminal suspect from fleeing or destroying evidence during an investigation. Immigration law allows authorities to arrest and detain noncitizens for 30 days pending a deportation decision.
Some observers criticized other legal provisions that allow the identity of witnesses to be kept secret (inhibiting cross-examination of witnesses) and allow authorities to detain the accused after an acquittal in case the prosecution decides to appeal.
Investigation into use of deadly force by a police officer occurs only if the attorney general initiates the investigation or if he approves an application for an investigation by family members of the deceased. When the attorney general orders an official inquiry, a coroner’s court convenes, and the hearing is open to the public. In such cases the court generally issues an open verdict, which means there was no verdict and it would take no further action against police.
ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS
The Royal Malaysia Police force, with approximately 102,000 members, reports to the home affairs minister. The inspector general of police is responsible for organizing and administering the police force. The Ministry of Home Affairs also oversees immigration and border enforcement. State-level Islamic religious enforcement officers have authority to accompany police on raids or conduct their own raids of private premises and public establishments to enforce sharia, including bans on indecent dress, alcohol consumption, sale of restricted books, or close proximity to members of the opposite sex. Religious authorities at the state level administer sharia for civil and family law through Islamic courts and have jurisdiction for all Muslims. The Ministry of Home Affairs also oversees the People’s Volunteer Corps (RELA), a paramilitary civilian volunteer corps. NGOs remained concerned inadequate training left RELA members poorly equipped to perform their duties.
The government has some mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption, and SUHAKAM played a role in investigating alleged abuses committed by the security forces. NGOs and media reported that despite investigation into some incidents, security forces often acted with impunity.
Police officers are subject to trial by criminal and civil courts. Police representatives reported there were disciplinary actions against police officers, and punishments included suspension, dismissal, and demotion. Civil society groups and NGOs continued to call for establishment of an independent police complaints and misconduct commission. Government officials and police opposed the idea. Police training included human rights awareness in its courses. SUHAKAM also conducted human rights training and workshops for police and prison officials.
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
The law permits police to arrest and detain individuals for some offenses without a warrant. Although police generally observed legal provisions regarding arrest, NGOs reported the police practice of releasing suspects and then quickly re-arresting and holding them in continued investigative custody. Some NGOs asserted a police approach of “arrest first, investigate later” was prevalent, particularly in cases involving allegations of terrorism. By law an arrested person has the right to be informed of the grounds for arrest by the arresting police officer. To facilitate investigations police can remand an arrested person for 24 hours, which can be extended for up to 14 days by a court order under general criminal law provisions.
In June police arrested and re-arrested activist and police critic R. Sri Sanjeevan eight times during a two-month period under different allegations before finally detaining him under an anti-organized crime provision that allows for a 21-day detention period. He successfully challenged his remand order in court, and authorities freed him a few days later.
Bail is usually available for persons accused of crimes not punishable by life imprisonment or death. The amount and availability of bail is at the judge’s discretion. Persons granted bail usually must surrender their passports to the court.
Police must inform detainees of the right to contact family members and consult a lawyer of their choice. Nonetheless, police often denied detainees access to legal counsel and questioned suspects without allowing a lawyer to be present. Police justified this practice as necessary to prevent interference in investigations in progress, and the courts generally upheld the practice. On occasion police did not allow prompt access to family members.
The law allows the detention of a material witness in a criminal case if that person is likely to flee.
Arbitrary Arrest: Authorities sometimes used their powers to intimidate and punish opponents of the government. In April police arrested and charged opposition Member of Parliament Rafizi Ramli with leaking state secrets after he released part of an audit report he claimed linked a continued government financial scandal to late payments to military veterans. Human rights organizations and the political opposition criticized the arrest as breaching parliamentary privileges and intimidating other elected representatives to silence. In November authorities sentenced Rafizi to 18 months in prison, although he remained free pending an appeal. Unless the sentence is overturned or reduced to less than 12 months, Rafizi will be disqualified from seeking re-election.
Pretrial Detention: Crowded and understaffed courts often resulted in lengthy pretrial detention, sometimes lasting several years. The International Center for Prison Studies reported that pretrial detainees made up approximately 26 percent of the prisoner population as of mid-2015.
Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: Detainees have the right to challenge their detention by filing a habeas corpus application. In July a lower court freed anticorruption campaigner R. Sri Sanjeevan, declaring his remand under an anti-organized crime law null and void.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Three constitutional articles provide the basis for an independent judiciary; however, other constitutional provisions, legislation restricting judicial review, and additional factors limited judicial independence and strengthened executive influence over the judiciary.
Members of the bar, NGO representatives, and other observers expressed serious concern about significant limitations on judicial independence, citing a number of high-profile instances of arbitrary verdicts, selective prosecution, and preferential treatment of some litigants and lawyers.
In June, NGOs criticized the attorney general’s decision to lead the prosecution of opposition leader and Penang State Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, claiming a conflict of interest between the attorney-general’s role as legal adviser to the government and a public prosecutor would create the perception of a politically motivated trial.
English common law is the basis for the civil legal system. The constitution states all persons are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection under the law. The law allows defendants a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Judges conduct trials and render verdicts. Trials are public, although judges may order restrictions on press coverage. Defendants have the right to counsel at public expense if they face charges that carry the death penalty and may apply for a public defender in certain other cases.
According to the Malaysian Bar Council, defendants generally have adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense if they have the means to engage private counsel. Otherwise, defendants must rely on legal aid and the amount of time to prepare for trial is at the discretion of the judge. Authorities provide defendants free interpretation in Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, and some other commonly used dialects from the moment charged through all appeals. Strict rules of evidence apply in court; however, the government did not consistently make evidence available to defense counsel.
Defendants have the right to be present at their own trial, to confront witnesses against them, and present witnesses and evidence on their behalf, although judges sometimes disallowed witness testimony. Defendants may make statements for the record to an investigative agency prior to trial. Limited pretrial discovery in criminal cases impeded defendants’ ability to defend themselves. Attorneys must apply for a court order to obtain documents covered under the official secrecy laws.
Defendants may appeal court decisions to higher courts, but only if the appeal raises a question of law or if material circumstances raise a reasonable doubt regarding conviction or sentencing. The Bar Council claimed these restrictions were excessive.
Many NGOs complained women did not receive fair treatment from sharia courts, especially in cases of divorce and child custody (see section 6).
POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim remained in prison, serving a five-year sentence for consensual sodomy, a charge many international observers and human rights organizations viewed as politically motivated. In December the federal court rejected his appeal to set aside his conviction and sentence.
CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES
Individuals or organizations may sue the government and officials in court for alleged violations of human rights. The structure of the civil judiciary mirrors that of the criminal courts. A large case backlog often resulted in delayed court-ordered relief for civil plaintiffs. The courts have increasingly encouraged the use of mediation and arbitration to speed settlements.
f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
Laws prohibit arbitrary interference with privacy rights; nevertheless, authorities sometimes infringed on citizens’ privacy rights. Certain provisions allow police to enter and search without a warrant the homes of persons suspected of threatening national security. Police also may confiscate evidence under these provisions. Police used this legal authority to search homes and offices; seize computers, books, and newspapers; monitor conversations; and take persons into custody without a warrant. The government monitored the internet and threatened to detain anyone sending or posting content the government deemed a threat to public order or security (see section 2.a.).
Islamic authorities may enter private premises without a warrant if they deem swift action necessary to catch Muslims suspected of engaging in offenses such as gambling, consumption of alcohol, and sexual relations outside marriage.
The government bans membership in unregistered political parties and organizations.
The government does not recognize marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims and considers children born of such unions illegitimate.
SECTION 2. RESPECT FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES, INCLUDING:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, although it also provides for restrictions “in the interest of the security of the Federation…[or] public order.” The government regularly enforced restrictions on freedom of expression by media, citing upholding Islam and the special status of ethnic Malays, protection of national security, public order, and friendly relations with other countries as reasons.
Freedom of Speech and Expression: The law prohibits sedition and public comment on issues defined as sensitive, including racial and religious matters or criticism of the king or ruling sultans. Sedition charges often stemmed from comments by vocal civil society or opposition leaders. Civil society groups claimed the government generally failed to investigate and prosecute similar “seditious” statements made by progovernment or pro-Malay persons.
In August judicial authorities sentenced an opposition leader to eight months in prison for a 2015 speech in which he called for the release of Anwar Ibrahim while suggesting politicians controlled the judiciary. The case was pending an appeal. Also in August a court found the president of a pro-Malay NGO guilty of sedition and fined him 2,000 Malaysian ringgit (RM) ($450) for an article he wrote calling the country’s ethnic Chinese citizens “intruders.”
Press and Media Freedoms: Political parties and individuals linked to the ruling coalition owned or controlled a majority of shares in almost all print and broadcast media, many of which were actively progovernment in their reporting. Online media outlets were more independent in their ownership and reporting but were often the target of legal action and harassment.
The government exerted control over news content, both in print and broadcast media; punished publishers of “malicious news,” and banned, restricted, or limited circulation of publications believed a threat to public order, morality, or national security. The government has the power to suspend publication for these reasons, and retained effective control over the licensing process. In February the government blocked popular online news outlet The Malaysian Insider for “violating national laws,” allegedly related to its reporting on a government financial scandal. The site closed a month later.
Authorities sometimes barred online media from covering government press conferences.
Violence and Harassment: Journalists were subject to harassment and intimidation due to their reporting. In April online news portal Malaysiakini recalled its journalist from covering state elections in Sarawak after she received online threats over an article she wrote reporting an elected official urged voters to choose the ruling coalition to ensure a Muslim continued to lead the religiously diverse state. Critics also lodged multiple police reports against the reporter and circulated her photo on social media, leading to concerns for her safety. In November a group of progovernment “Red Shirts” protesters gathered in front of Malaysiakini’s offices and threatened to “tear down parts of the building.”
Censorship or Content Restrictions: The government censored media, primarily print and broadcast media. In addition to controlling news content by banning or restricting publications believed to threaten public order, morality, or national security, the government prosecuted journalists for “malicious news,” took little or no action against persons or organizations that abused journalists, and limited circulation of some publications. The law requires a permit to own a printing press, and printers often were reluctant to print publications critical of the government due to fear of reprisal. The government refused to issue printing permits to some online media outlets that were critical of the government. Such policies, together with antidefamation laws, inhibited independent or investigative journalism and resulted in extensive self-censorship in the print and broadcast media.
Despite these restrictions publications of opposition parties, social action groups, unions, internet news sites, and other private groups actively covered opposition parties and frequently printed views critical of government policies. Online media and blogs provided views and reported stories not featured in the mainstream press.
The government occasionally censored foreign magazines, foreign newspapers, and foreign-sourced television programming, most often due to sexual content.
The government’s restrictions on radio and television stations mirrored those on print media, and all also predominantly supported the government. News about the opposition in those fora remained restricted and biased. Television stations censored programming to follow government guidelines.
The government generally restricted remarks or publications, including books, it judged might incite racial or religious disharmony. The Ministry of Home Affairs maintained a list of 1,593 banned books. In September the government announced four new banned publications “prejudicial to public order,” including a report on torture in Malaysian prisons and a book criticizing the influence of Islam in the government.
Libel/Slander Laws: The law includes sections on civil and criminal defamation. Criminal defamation is punishable by a maximum of two years in jail, a fine, or both. True statements can be considered defamatory if they contravene the public good. The government used these laws, along with provisions against sedition, to punish and suppress publication of material critical of government officials and policies.
National Security: Authorities frequently cited laws protecting national security to restrict media distribution of material critical of government policies and public officials. In January the government blocked access to publishing platform Medium after it refused to remove an article hosted on its site about a financial corruption scandal involving the prime minister.
The country’s internet regulator claimed the article would “undermine Malaysia’s social stability.”
Nongovernmental Impact: Progovernment NGOs sought to limit freedom of expression through criminal complaints of allegedly seditious speech. Progovernment NGOs also sometimes attempted to intimidate opposition groups through demonstrations. In September police detained the leader of a progovernment NGO that threatened counterdemonstrations and physical violence against the leader of free and fair election NGO coalition Bersih, after Bersih announced a November mass protest against Prime Minister (PM) Najib Razak.
The government generally maintained a policy of open and free access to the internet, but authorities monitored the internet for e-mail messages and blog postings deemed a threat to public security or order.
The government warned internet users to avoid offensive or indecent content and sensitive matters such as religion and race, and aggressively pursued charges against those criticizing Islam or the country’s royalty. In June a court sentenced a man to one year in prison after he pleaded guilty to insulting the Sultan of Johor on Facebook. In September an appeals court extended the man’s sentence to three years, to be served in a “reform school.”
Authorities also restricted internet freedom to combat dissenting views online. In January the government blocked two websites publishing documents alleging financial corruption at a state-owned development company, claiming the sites had published “false news,” which threatened national security. Local and international human rights groups claimed the law does not allow the government to block websites unilaterally and it must instead seek a court finding.
Sedition and criminal defamation laws led to some self-censorship by local internet content sources such as bloggers, news providers, and NGO activists.
The law requires certain internet and other network service providers to obtain a license, and permits punishment of the owner of a website or blog for allowing offensive racial, religious, or political content. By regarding users who post content as publishers, the government places the burden of proof on the user in these cases. NGOs and members of the public criticized the law, noting it could cause self-censorship due to liability concerns.
According to the World Bank, approximately 17 million persons (67 percent of the population) had access to the internet.