Monday, June 29, 2020

Respect for Human Rights includes ending racism and xenophobia in Covid-19 response

Media Statement – 30/6/2020

End discrimination against foreigners and migrants in Covid-19 responses

Respect for Human Rights includes ending racism and xenophobia

We, the 41 undersigned groups and organizations urge Malaysia to end discrimination and ethnophobia against migrant workers and foreigners including in responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In the beginning of May, it was reported that all migrant/foreign workers will be required to be screened for Covid-19, before they be allowed to return to work in all sectors. 

Recently, there was a report that foreigners will not be allowed to use mosque/suraus.(Malay Mail, 11/6/2020)

These are practices against Human Rights, and also that the Federal Constitution. Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, which states, ‘(1) All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.’ is clear that this guarantee of equality applies to all persons, citizens or otherwise in Malaysia.

Employment Act 1955 is also against discrimination amongst workers based on nationality, whereby section 60L(1) also states  ‘(1) The Director General may inquire into any complaint from a local employee that he is being discriminated against in relation to a foreign employee, or from a foreign employee that he is being discriminated against in relation to a local employee, by his employer in respect of the terms and conditions of his employment…’. This provision clearly captures our principle against discrimination based on nationalities of workers, and as such the Malaysian government’s current requirement that ONLY migrant workers, and not local workers have to be screened and tested before being allowed to return to work is discriminatory.

There is no rational or reasonableness for such requirements that discriminate a certain class of workers, as Covid-19 does not discriminate. 

It is also goes against the often mentioned Malaysian policy for testing and screening in response to the Covid-19, which has been reiterated many times by the Director General of Health in his daily televised reports.  

On 10th June, Malaysia reportedly had a daily testing capacity of 34,951 samples (NST, 10/6/2020), and there are over 2 million just documented migrant workers in Malaysia, and for just all the 2 million plus to be tested, it will take about two months plus. The reality is that so many others, not just foreigners, that have to be screened everyday. 

The Malaysian approach, as far as screening and testing was concerned was before a rationale ‘targeted approach’. Persons who could have come in contact with the infected, and those showing positive symptoms and other high risk groups like returnees from infected countries were the focus. 

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also did say that ‘…if you test everyone and then you isolate them, that’s fine…’, but the fact of the matter, is that migrants and everyone tested, is thereafter never isolated from the rest of the un-tested community and there is always a risk of contact with persons who may not be Covid-19 free, which in the case of workers, will also include the other untested local workers who work with them,‘…So that’s the next question, how often do you want to test them?...’(Malay Mail, 14/5/2020)

Malaysia’s xenophobic response to foreigners in Malaysia, also may negatively impact Malaysia’s moral standing to condemn similar discriminatory practices against Malaysians now in foreign countries – hence the ability to keep Malaysians overseas safe from Covid-19 is affected. 

Malaysia needs to act in accordance to values, principles and human rights, especially in its response to Covid-19 and its consequences.

Whilst today, the Federal Constitution guarantees equality, Article 8(2), that imposes only on government and public authorities specified anti-discrimination obligations seem to not impose the same obligations on the private sector and other employers. In short, others including private sector employers, may still discriminate workers and/or people simply ‘…on the ground only of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender…’.

Calls for laws to impose these anti-discrimination obligations on all, including private sector employers have gone unheeded for far too long.

Therefore, we call on
- Malaysia to end all xenophobic and/or discriminatory policies and practices against migrant workers and foreigners in its responses to Covid-19 pandemic;

- Malaysia to amend laws and/or the Federal Constitution to extend the obligation to specifically not discriminate ‘…on the ground only of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender…’ to all, including private sector employers;

- Malaysia to provide needed basic assistance to cope with the loss of income or employment to all persons affected by the Covid-19, including migrant workers, foreigners and the self-employed.
Charles Hector

Adrian Pereira

For and on behalf the 41 listed below


WH4C (Workers Hub For Change)

North South Initiative (NSI)



Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)

People's Service Organization (PSO), Malaysia

Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

NAMM (Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia)

National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (NUFAM)

Parti Sosialis Malaysia(PSM)

Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign

Gagasan Insan Progresif

Timber Industry Employees Union of Sarawak

Sabah Timber Industry Employees Union(STIEU)

Labour Behind the Label

International Black Women for Wages for Housework

International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF)

Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) Asia Pacific Region

Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) South East Asian Coalition

Odhikar, Bangladesh

Migrant Care, Indonesia

Persatuan Pekerja Rumah Tangga Indonesia (PERTIMIG) di Malaysia

All Arakan Students' and Youths' Congress (AASYC), Burma/Myanmar

Rights Defenders and Promoters-HRDP in Myanmar

Radanar Ayar Association from Myanmar

Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha(MASUM), India

Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity(PACTI), India

AMMPO-SENTRO- Association of Filipino Nationalist Workers in Malaysia

Workers Assistance Center, Inc, Philippines

China Labour Bulletin

Women of Color - Global Women’s Strike, United Kingdom

Payday Men’s Network UK

Collectif Ehique sur l’étiquette (France)

Campagna Abiti Puliti – Italy

Women Against Rape

Payday Men’s Network US

Clean Clothes Campaign International Office

Jaringan Solidariti Pekerja

Datuk Dr Ronald McCoy

See related post - that contains relevant news reports:-

DISCRIMINATION against foreigners in Mosque and Workplace - Covid-19? All PERSONS are equal before the law

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Prosecution Must Appeal High Court Judge’s decision to Acquit Musa Aman of all charges

Media Statement – 9/6/2020

Prosecution Must Appeal High Court Judge’s decision
to Acquit Musa Aman of all charges

-The Perception of the Administration of Justice in Malaysia Is at Risk -

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is appalled to hear that the former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman has been acquitted, and not given a DNAA(Discharge Not Amounting To Acquittal) of all 46 criminal charges against him involving corruption and money laundering relating to timbers concessions, all of which involving a total of about RM4OO million.

High Court judge Justice Muhammad Jamil Hussin acquitted after Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid told the court that the prosecution intended to withdraw all the charges during case management here on Tuesday (June 9)(Star, 9/6/2020)

An acquittal means that Musa Aman cannot again be charged for the same offence, even if new evidence surface later proving that he was guilty beyond reasonable doubt. That is the reason, why in a criminal trial, it is unwise to acquit and usually only a DNAA is given.

Once Acquitted – Cannot Ever Be Charged for the Same Offence even if strong evidence emerges

Article 7(2) of the Federal Constitution states that, ‘(2) A person who has been acquitted or convicted of an offence shall not be tried again for the same offence except where the conviction or acquittal has been quashed and a retrial ordered by a court superior to that by which he was acquitted or convicted.’

Section 302(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code states that, ‘A person who has been tried by a Court of competent jurisdiction for an offence and convicted or acquitted of that offence shall, while the conviction or acquittal remains in force, not be liable to be tried again for the same offence nor on the same facts for any other offence for which a different charge from the one made against him might have been made under section 166 or for which he might have been convicted under section 167.’

Whilst the Public Prosecutor do have the power to discontinue proceedings in a criminal trial, this will justly follow with the granting of a Discharge Not Amounting To An Acquittal (DNAA), which means that the accused may or may not be charged again at a later date.

If later there emerges new evidence, sufficient in the mind of the prosecution for them to succeed in proving the charges beyond reasonable doubt, the prosecution do have the ability to charge again the person who had been Discharged Not Amounting To An Acquittal(DNAA). Not the case, if a person have previously been acquitted for the same offence.

Justice demands the maintenance of this right and ability for prosecution to charge again, if need be, in the future, for no one wants the prosecution to be denied this choice anymore. This will mean criminals can escape justice.

An acquittal, on the other hand, means that the alleged perpetrator can never again be charged for the SAME offence, even if very strong evidence emerges later proving that he/she is most likely guilty. This is absurd.

If discontinued mid-stream, before end of trial, only DNAA not acquital

Thus, justly, in most criminal cases, if discontinued midway, the courts ought only order a DNAA – never an acquittal.

An acquittal is usually granted after the prosecution has closed its case, or at the end of the trial after the Judge had the full opportunity to consider all evidence submitted during trial. In this Musa Aman case, the trial is yet to even begin with the calling of the first witness.

It must be pointed out that even if an application to strike out the charge in a criminal trial is successful, the court should never grant an acquittal. Such applications usually in based on technicalities, not really on evidence as to guilt or innocence.

In the Musa Aman’s case now, the trial is yet to even begin, and we are still at the stage of case management. The judge is yet to hear or receive any evidence from any witness, and as such the Acquittal for not just one, but all the 46 different charges, is simply wrong.

So, the judge’s decision to acquit at this stage, without even having the opportunity of considering all the available evidence, that would have been submitted through witnesses during trial, is flawed. How can any judge decide to acquit without first hearing all the evidence, from witnesses and/or otherwise.

Only Judge can Acquit – not the Public Prosecutor.

It must be pointed out that all that the Attorney General(or Public Prosecutor) can do is to discontinue proceedings, and not acquit anyone.

Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution provides that ‘(3) The Attorney General shall have power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a Syariah court, a native court or a court-martial.’ 

The Attorney General (also the Public Prosecutor) clearly has no power to ACQUIT anyone – hence keeping anyone safe from the possibility of being charged again for the same offence in the future.

Section 254(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code states, ‘(1) At any stage of any trial, before the delivery of judgment, the Public Prosecutor may, if he thinks fit, inform the Court that he will not further prosecute the accused upon the charge and thereupon all proceedings on the charge against the accused shall be stayed and the accused shall be discharged of and from the same.’

Section 254(3) clarifies that ‘(3) Such discharge shall not amount to an acquittal unless the Court so directs.’

Hence, it is only the Judge who can order an acquittal, and as such MADPET is of the opinion that High Court judge Justice Muhammad Jamil Hussin erred in his decision to acquit Musa Aman, and the prosecution, rightly and justly, should immediately appeal this decision to the Court of Appeal.

Judge erred, and Prosecution Must Appeal

The failure of the prosecution to appeal would negatively impact the public perception of the administration of criminal justice in Malaysia. More so, when this case involves a politician, who is now seen to aligned with the government of the day, who was charged when the Pakatan Harapan government ruled.

People may now question the independence of the Public Prosecutor and/or prosecution. One may wonder whether their actions are determined by the government of the day or some other wrong reasons, when they really ought to act independently in upholding the cause of justice, even if means having to charge and try a sitting Prime Minister or Minister.

Like judges, the Public Prosecutor and prosecutors, must not just be independent but must also be seen to be independent.

The crimes alleged are very serious crimes concerning corruption and money laundering involving a former Chief Minister, allegedly done whilst he was in power. Public interest demands justice be done.

A DNAA, after all, puts the accused at the same position as any ordinary person, in that he can at any time be charged for any offence, if he breaks the law. There seems to be no justification for an outright acquittal in this case.

If Musa Aman, believes that the prosecution had wrongly charged him, he can also always commence a civil suit and claim damages. Prosecution must, after all, never charge anyone without first acquiring sufficient evidence, which they believe is sufficient to convince the court beyond reasonable doubt that the person accused is guilty. To do otherwise, would be wrong and may even be an abuse of power.

Justly no one ought to be acquitted before the end of a fair trial, let alone before even the trial has commenced. A DNAA should be the only thing granted before the completion of a trial, if and when the prosecution elects to discontinue proceedings. The prosecution must appeal, and hopefully the Court of Appeal will remedy the error, and grant Musa Aman a Discharge Not Amounting to an Acquittal (DNAA).

The option for Musa Aman ‘…to be tried again for the same offence or on the same facts for any other offence for which a different charge from the one made against him..’ must always justly be there.

Charles Hector
For and on behalf of MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)


Former Sabah CM Musa Aman acquitted of all 46 charges of corruption, money laundering (updated)

Tuesday, 09 Jun 2020 10:12 AM MYT


KUALA LUMPUR: Former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman has been acquitted of all 46 criminal charges against him involving corruption and money laundering relating to timbers concessions.

High Court judge Justice Muhammad Jamil Hussin granted the order after Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid told the court that the prosecution intended to withdraw all the charges during case management here on Tuesday (June 9).

Musa’s lawyer Francis Ng then asked for the court to grant a full acquittal to avoid the charges hanging over Musa’s head.

Justice Jamil allowed the application and ordered for a discharge amounting to an acquittal on all charges.

In a statement Tuesday, Musa thanked the prosecution and the judiciary for its objectivity, professionalism, impartiality and conduct without prejudice in evaluating the facts of the case since two years ago.

“The application to strike out the prosecution was filed early this year and was done in a meticulous manner and supported with statements and documents that were clear and undeniable proofs, ” he said.

Musa said what has happened to him was due to “political differences” and took it as a test from God for him and his family.

Musa was first charged in November, 2018, with 35 counts of under Section 11(a) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 for accepting gratification by an agent where he allegedly received a total of US$63mil (around RM243mil) in Hong Kong and Singapore as an inducement for offering timber concessions in Sabah.

In March 2019, Musa was brought to court for the second time to face 16 charges of money laundering involving US$37.8mil and S$2.5mil, amounting to about RM160mil in total.

In October 2019, the prosecution dropped five out of the 35 charges of graft against Musa and made amendments to the existing 30 charges then relating to the dates, transactions and names of contractors.- Star, 9/6/2020