Sunday, March 18, 2007



The Malaysian Bar at its 17th March 2007 Annual General Meetings unanimously called for the end of RELA, the Volunteer Peoples’ Corp, which have attracted much public outcry in the way that they have been going after both Malaysians and migrants. There have been allegations of torture and even the causing of death by volunteer RELA personnel, who also received payment of RM80-00 for each undocumented migrant they managed to catch.

The Bar’s Resolution called for the repeal of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Act 1979 and all Regulations and Rules made there under, in particular Essential (Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat) Regulations 1966 [P.U. 33/1966], as amended by the Essential (Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat) (Amendment) Regulations 2005, also for the employment and usage of only properly trained professional law enforcement personnel in Malaysia as opposed to the RELA volunteers.

The Resolution also called for inquests be conducted for Ahmad Apik, Edy Sathurrohman and for the other persons who have died as result of alleged RELA actions.

By virtue of the Essential (Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat) (Amendment) Regulations 2005, which came into operation on 1 February 2005, the powers of the Rela, have been dangerously over-extended giving RELA personnel the right to bear and use firearms, stop, search and demand documents, arrest without a warrant, and enter premises without a warrant. and all these powers can be exercised the RELA personnel has reasonable belief that any person is a terrorist, undesirable person, illegal immigrant or an occupier. Illegal immigrant and occupier (which would be Malaysians usually) was added on by this 2005 amendment.

These not-professionally trained volunteers has also now been accorded protection by the new amendments whereby it is stated that "…The Public Authorities Protection Act 1948 shall apply to any action, suit, prosecution or proceedings against the Ketua Pengarah Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat, Timbalan Ketua Pengarah Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat or any member of the Ikatan RELAwan Rakyat in respect of any act, neglect or default done or committed by him in good faith or any omission omitted by him in good faith, in such capacity."

Revoke All 4 Existing Proclamations Of Emergency

Lawyers in Malaysia were also unanimous in their call upon the Yang Di Pertuan Agong to revoke all 4 existing Proclamations of Emergency in Malaysia, for the repeal all legislations and Acts that were enacted and continue to be in force by reason of the now existing unrevoked Proclamations of Emergency including the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 and the Essential (Security Cases) Regulations 1975.

Since independence, five states of emergency have been declared under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution. The first was the only one to have been revoked. The remaining four are still in operation. The second state of emergency was proclaimed in September 1964 when the country was faced with a campaign of violence from Indonesia. Although the threat ceased within less than two years, the state of emergency was never revoked.

The next state of emergency was declared on 14 September 1966 following the dismissal of the Chief Minister of the state of Sarawak. No violence - or threat of violence - resulted from the crisis. The government nevertheless proclaimed an emergency, confined to Sarawak. And although the crisis was soon resolved, the state of emergency has not been revoked.

The fourth proclamation came on 15 May 1969 following large-scale rioting and racial violence in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, during a general election. The violence led to several hundred casualties. As a result, further elections were postponed and parts of the Constitution suspended. Normalcy was restored soon - the legislature was reconvened and normal constitutional government restored in February 1971. However, the state of emergency has yet to be revoked.

On 8 November 1977, the fifth Emergency, limited to the state of Kelantan, was declared following a political crisis.

Humane Treatment for ALL

The Malaysian Bar asked that all persons including undocumented migrants and/or refugees be treated humanely and accorded equal protection of the law.

Malaysia, who is a party to the April 1999 BANGKOK DECLARATION ON IRREGULAR MIGRATION, which clearly states “Irregular [undocumented] migrants should be granted humanitarian treatment, including appropriate health and other services, while the cases of irregular migration are being handled, according to law. Any unfair treatment toward them should be avoided” must adhere to its commitments.

It was also stressed in the Resolution, that all persons, be they citizens or otherwise, are guaranteed by our own Malaysian Federal Constitution to equal protection of the law.

Ratification of International Conventions

The Malaysian Bar also called on the Malaysian government to immediately ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families and also the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Charles Hector

Petaling Jaya

18th March 2007

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