We are heartened by the tens of thousands of Malaysians who carried on with Bersih 5 on 19 Nov 2016 despite the arrest and detention of their leader, Maria Chin Abdullah and several others under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA) the day before.
We are very disappointed that the Malaysian government had chosen to detain Maria Chin Abdullah under SOSMA. When the Malaysian government revealed its intention to repeal the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) in 2012, we in Singapore were elated. We looked forward to our government emulating the fine example of the Malaysian government and repealing our own Internal Security Act. But, Malaysia capitulated when it enacted SOSMA at the same time as it repealed the ISA. SOSMA is no different from the ISA. It allows detention without trial.
The enactment of SOSMA which claims to safeguard the security of the country has led to its current abuse. The arrest and detention of Maria Chin Abdullah since 18 Nov 2016 is a clear example of a blatant misuse of this harsh law. The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has reported that Maria Chin Abdullah has been kept in solitary confinement since the day of her arrest. Solitary confinement amounts to cruel punishment. Detention without trial for any period of time is also torture.
The Malaysian government knows for many years now, that Bersih is a peaceful protest. Maria Chin Abdullah and her team had planned the protest simply to seek a guarantee for a free and fair election and clean and transparent government. These demands are legitimate and reasonable. Any country which believes in democracy and the rule of law must surely ensure that these objectives be achieved. Maria Chin Abdullah is therefore not a threat to Malaysia. She should never be detained under SOSMA.
We stand in solidarity with Maria Chin Abdullah and Bersih. We urge the Malaysian government to release her immediately.
24 Nov 2016