One Morning in Bukit Aman


The story is simple. The story is not new. The only thing new is that some of the protagonists are new. Selvach Santhiran Krishnan is a witness in a death in custody case of R.Gunasegaran.

Gunasegaran died on the same day Teoh Beng Hock died last year, but because of the public outcry over Beng Hock’s suspicious death, Guna’s death was overlooked by everybody, except his sister.

Here she tells her story.

Earlier this week, the inquest into his death concluded in an open verdict, despite Selvach Santhiran’s testimony that he saw a policeman kick Gunasegaran in the lock up. Gunasegaran was later found dead.

His body was kept in horrid conditions and by the time a second autopsy was ordered, his remains were so decomposed that nothing conclusive could be derived.

But that story is not over. Selvach Santhiran, the witness, was allegedly beaten viciously in front of his family by a bunch of policemen before being taken away.

The public, outraged by this gross abuse of power by the police, turned up today at the police headquarters in Bukit Aman to demand his whereabouts and release. Here’s the story.

Below are the pictures of the morning gathering.

Today, after waiting awhile and being given the runaround, we were told that Selvach Santhiran was held under the Sec 39 B Dangerous Drugs Act (Special Preventive Measures).

human rights lawyer N. Surendran.

Selvach Santhiran’s wife, crying for her husband, while the police told us to disperse.

Lawyer Latheefa Koya demanded to know the cop in charge’s name and was told it is one ACP Kang or Khang.

Several MPs also turned up, including PAS’s Khalid Samad (Shah Alam), Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (Kuala Selangor) , PKR’s Sivarasa Rasiah (Subang) and Charles Santiago (Klang).

Film maker Fahmi Reza with his own placard.

A hundred odd people turned up in support of the memorandum to the police today. Thanks guys, for turning up. It was a multi coloured turnout, and that alone gives me hope that someday, we will be Malaysians first and turn up whenever a brother Malaysian is facing injustice.

Quo Vadis Malaysia?


So, let us not be blind to our differences – - but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal. – John F Kennedy, 10 June 1963.

The above paragraph was part of a speech by the late American president at a university, exhorting the Soviet Union then to join the US in a nuclear test treaty ban.

Tomorrow is Malaysia Day. For the first time since the coming together of the Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak under the name Malaysia on 16 Sept 1963, this historic day is given its proper recognition.

Long overdue, but better than nothing.

We Malaysians come from different walks of life, different faiths and ethnicity  and a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. Yet we would do well to examine Kennedy’s words above, for it is relevant to us.

He used the words in the context of global peace and order. We can apply it in the Malaysian context too, with the aim of ensuring the harmony of the nation. That is for our collective good, isn’t it?

After all, we all live, love, work, make a living and one day will die, on this same piece of earth we call Malaysia.

We differ in many ways.  We may even look different. I am dark brown, my housemate is a fair-skinned girl, my neighbour is what you would call “sawo matang”, yet under these skin runs the same red blood.

At the end of the day, we have similar hopes and dreams too, if you think about it. We’re not that different.

Malaysia is on the cusp of major change. The change in the path the country is taking began a few years ago. You may have noticed it in the shocking election results of 2008.

Malaysians are more aware now, and some I suspect, have woken up to fact that in a democracy, one man’s vote still matters. That is a good thing.

It means the makcik selling karipap at the street corner, the estate-dwelling plantation worker, the 9 to 5 civil servant as well as the mechanic who repairs my car now knowthat they can have a hand in shaping the destiny of this nation.

This we arrived at because of the past decade’s  democratisation of information. Because of the Internet. Because the people are hearing news and views they were hitherto unexposed to.

Information can make you think, and the more info you have, the better able you are to make decisions that benefit you, or your cause. And that is a wonderful thing. Cos it empowers you, the common man.

There are fears that increased discourse on things formerly considered taboo, like rights, privileges, race relations and religious intolerance, could give rise to anarchy.

But let me tell you this. I think the Malaysian society at large is growing up. If not, the Ibrahim Alis, the Siti Inshah’s, the Namewees and the Nasir Safars of this world could have provoked you into attacking your neighbour.

We don’t do that. Because at heart, we are sane, decent people who subscribe to the basic tenets of justice, fairness and equity. And thank God for this.

In the last week, our country has been rocked by a particularly vicious quadruple murder that brings back sordid reminders of gruesome crimes such as Bakaruddin Busu, Canny Ong and Altantuya Shariibuu.

The brutal killing of cosmetics magnate Sosilawati Lawiya, her driver Kamaruddin Shamsuddin, her lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim and CIMB Bank officer Noorhisham Mohammad is not something likely to forgotten for a while.

The suspects are in custody now as police continue to gather more and more incriminating evidence against the alleged killers. I say alleged because the two lawyers are yet to be tried and convicted.

The horror, disgust, furious anger and sadness of the public is understandable. Even I found myself unable to sleep after reading of the grisly murder.

But what disturbs me is the increasing racial-slurs leveled just because the suspects happen to be Indian. “Bangsa bangsat” and “keling pembunuh” are just some of the epithets I’ve seen so far.

Never mind that the alleged killers are also suspected of killing other Indian victims. It is quite obvious that in the case of Sosilawati, the motive was money.

So why this racial profiling? Murderers are murderers. They exist in all shapes and sizes, races and religion and from all kinds of backgrounds.

For those who are quick to bring up the racial card, let me remind you of the Canny Ong kidnap/murder, the C4 killing of Altantuya Shariibuu and way back in the 90s, the slaughter of  Batu Talam assemblyman Datuk Mazlan Idris. Who were convicted?

I think at this point we should let the law deal with the suspects and let this be a lesson to the police not to take any missing persons report lightly.

Let justice not only be done, but be seen to be done. Only that will bring a measure of solace to the grief-stricken families of the 4 victims.

Let the rest of us Malaysians pray that justice prevails. Let us close our eyes to narrow parochial ideas, and open them to more inclusive fair ideas.

Let us throw our mutual suspicion and distrust away, because we cannot afford to live like this anymore. Those tired cliches have no place in the future Malaysia, and its time we all recognise that.

Happy Malaysia Day!

Sosilawati Lawiya brutally murdered?


Bakri Zinin confirms deaths. Update from Bernama.

——————————————————————————

Woken up by a phone call today, alerting me to this sad news.

Early reports from the Malaysian media (mainstream, non-mainstream and social) today seem to indicate that the police had arrested up to 7 people in connection with the deaths of four people that could be Sosilawati and her three associates.

Sosilawati, a cosmetics entrepreneur, was reported missing more than a week ago, along with her lawyer, driver and ostensibly a financial adviser.

The mystery of the Nouvelle Visage brand founder’s disappearance  maybe the stuff of front pages for the weeks if not months to come.

Latest from Bernama is this report.  More updates from The Star here.

Gist: Police have recovered some personal belongings of Sosilawati at a farm in Tanjung Sepat. They believe that Sosilawati and the three men with her were murdered, their remains burned and the ashes strewn into the nearby sea.

Tanjung Sepat will now be thronged by those fascinated by the macabre, i’m sure. Interestingly though, the lawyer “Datuk” apparently arrested in relation to this case has yet to be named.

It has been nearly 4 years since the gruesome murder of Altantuya Sharibuu rocked Malayisa, and questions still abound.

And now this.

Now, consider the temerity of the party that could order the killing of four individuals, one of them well known, and just make the bodies disappear.

Some clout there. Or should we assume that practice makes perfect. Rumours are rife…but let’s not go there just yet. Whatever said, I think the police did its job…and this is pretty fast.

The families of the dead must be quite distraught right now. My condolences go to them.

Rest in Peace, Sosilawati, Kamarudin Shamsudin, Abdul Kamil Karim and Noorhisham Mohammad.

Of Manohara and Maling-sia


One night a few years ago, I was dining out when I received a disturbing call from a friend.

She was at a police station with her battered and terrified sister. They wanted to lodge a report against the sister’s husband, who did the deed. The reason my friend called me was the shoddy treatment they received at the police station. The battered girl was “advised” to take her domestic dispute home.

I asked her to insist on her right to report the incident. After the call ended, I asked my dinner companion his views on the matter. He said, “Don’t get involved.” That got me thinking…just how many cases of abuse, especially ones that happen within the marital home, get swept under the carpet because we are a society that doesn’t interfere with “hal rumahtangga orang”.
Manohara Odelia Pinot_17

Now here’s another domestic violence episode that looks set to have diplomatic repercussions. The kind of publicity we really don’t need now.

When the curious case of Manohara Odelia Pinot, who is known in the Kelantan circles as Cik Puan Temenggung Kelantan, first hit the news, I was struck by the contrasting reporting. The slant of the media in Malaysia (quiet, downplayed stories) and the opposite way the Indonesian press and blogs approached the matter, was food for thought.

It looked like there even existed some attempts to make Manohara’s mom Daisy look foolish when she went to the Indonesian press with allegations that her daughter was abused. To be fair to the Malaysian police, there was no report lodged, but

But today we find Daisy vindicated. Here’s Manohara at the press conference. She says she is abused and injected with drugs, treated like a toy, and the Indonesian Embassy in both Malaysia and Singapore failed to help her. On their part the Indonesian embassy said they had done what they could.

This was an Indonesian national, who alleges abuse in our country, and she managed to escape only when she hit Singapore, with the help of the US Embassy and the Singapore police.

I am disgusted. I guess our unwritten policy of non-interference with palace matters extends to alleged crimes as well. To be fair to the Malaysian police, there was no report lodged on this matter, but then again, Manohara alleges she was confined.

To begin with, Indonesians don’t like us all that much, as we abuse their maids and workers. Now this high profile tale of love gone awry fans the anger further.

The Australian has rather naughty story here about a little known encroachment episode in Ambalat last weekend. Apparently the Indons call us Maling-sia…Thieving Malaysians.

Maybe it’s just domestic dispute, but if the girl offers proof of abuse, then what? Are our authorities going to take action?

Can racist rabble-rousing still work post March 8?


It just occured to me that two consecutive May 13s have taken place since the political map-changing Malaysian General elections of 2008.

Despite a record number of Parliament and State seats falling to the Opposition, there was a telling absence of widespread insecurity on the part of this country’s majority voters: the Malays.

Life was still the same in the streets. The makcik who sells nasi lemak in my predominantly Chinese neighbourhood still enjoys roaring business, her only troubles coming from the City Hall enforcement who wants to put an end to her illegal makeshift stall.

I have yet to lose any friends because of politics, Malay, Chinese, Dayak, Indian, Ceylonese, Kadazan or otherwise. The major disgruntlement was over how the establishment screwed the people over. But that was a complaint even I have.

You see readers, in the matters of civil rights, common interest, nation-building, economics and other sober goals, I ceased to see myself along the lines of ethnicity, if I ever did to begin with.

52 years after Independence, I guess Malaysians of different ethicities have ceased to be suspicious of each other on grounds of skin/race/religion. Except for the politicians and their likes.

Which is why it is baffling why a certain newspaper editorial still continues to fan the embers of racial sentiment.

Awang…oh Awang, you cannot be as dumb as to write this sort of drivel.

I take offence at the insinuation that my life here is at the behest of the kind people of Umno. I’m a child of this tanah air too. I was born here. I’d die rather than betray my country.

But if people don’t care for Umno, that should not be equated as anti-Malay. To say that is just plain stupid.

Why do people (Malays and non-Malays alike) hate Umno? You don’t have to be rocket scientists to know.

The excesses we have seen over the years just makes the bile rise. Again and again. The corruption, the crimes, the violation of trust, the abuse of power….I could go on.

It’s not that the Pakatan Rakyat is clean as a whistle. It’s just that the scale of excesses on the BN side of the fence is far more dirty, so dirty that anything looks white by comparison.

Look at this PKFZ scandal. RM10 billion ringgit! I can’t even fathom how much one billion ringgit looks like. And that much money is squandered through shady deals, inept governance, lackadaisical attitude to the taxpayers’ money and sheer negligence.

That’s what we are opposed to. The status quo is a horrible state of being, for this country, Awang! And this is what many Malaysians feel. I think I can quite safely assert that we have moved beyond seeing people along racial lines.

Zaid Ibrahim is a Malay too, last I checked. And yet he too finds it disturbing to read yesterday’s editorial.

Yes, I agree that thousands of the immigrants were granted citizenship in those early days after Independence. But post-1970 it was another story wasn’t it?

The system was such that the likes of Khir Toyo, whose father wasn’t a citizen here, could go as far as to become the MB of Selangor, but a friend of mine who has lived here since 1953, still can’t get his citizenship.

Why? With Indonesians, it is always “kita serumpun” isn’t it? You buta sejarah fellas actually forgot the Konfrontasi period? Remember Ganyang Malaysia?

And since you embraced the Indons and they started turning up here in droves to work and to settle down like Khir Toyo’s father, the numbers grew.

But today, you don’t treat them any better these days, do you?

In fact, Malaysia can be positively evil on immigrant workers and refugees. Yes, there are bad apples here and there but imagine without those immigrant workers, who would work your construction sites?

The poor blokes who died last week in Jaya Supermarket collapse are cases in point. Now they mati katak. I hope the government has the decency to send their bodies back to their homeland to be buried.

Another thing,  the part about kindness and generosity you guys at Utusan so readily associate with Malays certainly does not extend to the monsters that are in authority today. Monsters like those who tortured Kugan to death. Monsters like those who bombed Altantuya to pieces.

This government allowed for these heinous crimes to happen. This government screwed its own people by  allowing the folks in resource-rich state like Terengganu and Sabah to remain poor.

This is what we object to. Not Malays, not bumiputeras. Imagine guys, maybe RM10 billion could have built roads to Bario.

RM10 billion could have built several universities and funded hundreds of scholars, so our kids and sisters and brothers who aced their exams need not fight over university places or scholarships.

This is one of the real costs of corruption and of absolute power. And we all suffer in the end.

While the likes of Awang Selamat lament about the loss of status quo with such narrow, parochial views, the country is slowly sinking into the abyss. But of course Utusan doesn’t care. After all, it didn’t even bother running the story about the PKFZ fiasco.

Sorak la Awang. Jangan tak sorak. Kampung dah tergadai dah.

The Great Malaysian Cover-Up…


..is almost complete.

Look at this picture. (borrowed without permission from The Star)

siruok

The High Court today sentenced the two Special Ops cops from Unit Tindakan Khas (UTK) to hang for the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shariibuu,The Star reports.

Does it surprise you? No? Same here. But this is a case that has shaken the nation. Even as the two cops are sentenced, there are many burning questions that remain unanswered.

Firstly, motive.

Azilah who started his testimony on Jan 15 stated that he had no motive to kill or destroy the woman and instead he only met Altantuya to advise her politely not to harass Abdul Razak or create a ruckus outside the latter’s home.

Azilah also told the court that he was ordered by a superior, DSP Musa Safri to help Abdul Razak and thus he would not have done something stupid like killing and what more when he was a policeman.

While defending himself Sirul Azhar broke down a few times and related to the court that he has been made the ‘sacrificial lamb’ in the murder. – The Star.

So, the prosecution used both the guys testimony to tie a noose long enough to hang them both. But what was the motive? This is not serial killing.

Certainly not a crime of passion. Because Altantuya’s entry records and the two cops’ travel records would help to preclude that they even knew the victim. Entry records erased, you say? Oops…but that’s another story.

I reiterate, why is the most obvious question not answered? Motive?

You can narrow it down to two things.

1) Following a direct order from a superior.

2) Money.

Where is the money? I’ve said this again and again. These two convicted killers probably was approached for a reason, and the reason was not their typing skills, that’s for sure.

The chain that’s supposed to link Azilah/Sirul to Altantuya has another link. Without this link, the whole case is questionable. Yet, in Malaysia it happens. Kudos to Bolehland.

What about the private investigator Bala who made two Satutory Declarations that contradicted each other, and then disappeared? The judge didn’t think there was anything here?

Another thing, you guys think these two cops are really gonna hang for their crimes? I’m skeptical.Why?

1) In Malaysia we don’t have public hangings, so we can’t witness it happen.

2) Does anyone know how these fellas looked like? Since they were arrested until today, they have turned up with their faces covered.

How’s this story. They are properly sentenced and all today. They await the hangman. Justice is seen to be done. Then months down the line, they are spirited from the prison, given new IDs and packed to some foreign soil, with some money for their trouble.

Come hanging day, they will just announce that so and so were hanged for their crime. They bodies buried in such and such place. Whose bodies? Your guess is as good as mine.

Too much spy novels, you say. You forget that art imitates life actually.

After all, a Mongolian national being shot twice by cops and then blown up with C4, a military grade explosive does sound like a something straight out of a spy thriller, don’t you think?

So, pardon my 10 cent-conspiracy-theory. That’s what most cynical, jaded, lie-weary Malaysians are thinking these days.

And why not? This is a country where the custodians of law, public order, governance, justice and freedom can be summed up as “Harapkan Pagar, Pagar Makan Padi”.

Our cops are bent,  trigger happy murderers.

Our prosecutors are mostly evil puppets of the Attorney General, who in turn has been shown to be both inept and a puppet himself.

Our judges have mostly been castrated or they too are bent. The few who are principled, their days are numbered under One Malaysia, believe me.

Our media has been gagged too long that, their collective balls shrank and that fine thing called investigative reporting has died.

Our laws are meant to suppress the people.

And our only hope is through the ballot.

If we don’t change this, you and I have a good chance of becoming another Altantuya, Kugan, or the Kulim six.

PS. DSP Musa Safri….You can sleep easy tonight. And Razak Baginda, good luck at Oxford.

DNA Bill: Why Malaysians Should Be Alarmed


The DNA Identification Bill 2008 has been a contentious one since it was introduced in Parliament on August 17. Lots of Malaysians would not have remarked much on it since everyone’s attention was focused on the Permatang Pauh by-election.

It was passed in principle barely 11 days later, after the second reading, on Aug 28, 2008. The Opposition MPs in Parliament even staged a walkout to protest the move.

Why?

A DNA Databank is good, don’t you think? I think so too. However, this is an area covering liberty and freedom. And in Malaysia, more often than not these days, your freedom depends on whether the Police and the Home Minister think you are a threat or not.

Not whether you have been convicted of a crime.

At a time when the public confidence in the Police and the Home Ministry is at an all time low, provisions in the DNA Bill is worded to give them carte blanche.

This is the gist of the arguments against the passing of this Bill by the Opposition. Also, the manner in which it was rushed in Parliament (cutting queue) over the Universities and Colleges Bill also raises concern, especially since Anwar Ibrahim’s trial was due to start on September 12.

You may think the manoeuvres are just political, for a political end. But consider this, whatever law passed by Parliament will have repercussions in the future well beyond what you and I can fathom at this moment. Hence the worry.

Let’s examine some of the clauses, provisions and other stuff.

Function of DNA Databank

5. The function of the DNA Databank is to store DNA profiles and any information in relation thereto from any forensic DNA analysis carried out by the Chemistry Department of Malaysia or Forensic Laboratory of the Royal Malaysia Police, or any agency or body as may be designated by the Minister from time to time by order published in the Gazette.

Power of Minister to designate agency or body to carry out forensic DNA analysis

6. (1) The power of the Minister to designate any agency or body to carry out forensic DNA analysis under section 5 shall only be exercised in the event the Chemistry Department of Malaysia or Forensic Laboratory of the Royal
Malaysia Police is unable to carry out any forensic DNA analysis.

(2) The Minister may, in the order referred to in section 5, specify that the forensic DNA analysis to be carried out by the agency or body so designated shall only be for the purposes mentioned in subsection 4(2) subject to such terms and conditions as he may impose.

Wow! Home Minister is really directing things here.

Appointment of Head of DNA Databank, Deputy Head and other officers

7. (1) The Minister shall appoint a police officer not below the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police as Head of the Forensic DNA Databank Malaysia for such period and on such terms and conditions as may be specified in the instrument of appointment.

The Head has to be a POLICE OFFICER! And wait, it gets better and better.

Sec 13 (7) A police officer may use all means necessary for the purpose of taking or assisting the taking of a non-intimate sample from a person.

ALL means necessary. You figure out the permutations of that implication. To make it more vivid, imagine yourself accused of a crime.

Sec 15 talks about the administration of samples given voluntarily. But it is somewhat schizophrenic when you consider that in Sec 14 there is this clause.

Refusal to give sample

14. If a person from whom a non-intimate sample is to be taken under this Act

(a) refuses to give such sample;

(b) refuses to allow such sample to be taken from him; or

(c) obstructs the taking of such sample from him,

commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both.

I’m sure most of you English-literate readers have heard of of the term Catch 22. This section encapsulates that Joseph Heller-coined phrase. You’re screwed, whatever you do.

Information from the DNA Databank to be conclusive

24. Notwithstanding any written law to the contrary, any information from the DNA Databank shall be admissible as a conclusive proof of the DNA identification in any proceedings in any court.

Now this gets really scary. What this section is telling you is that if your DNA is found at a scene, it places u there. Suppose you cry on some guy’s shoulder and he later on goes somewhere and gets killed, you are a suspect, based on the DNA from your tearstains.

And how can this be conclusive? DNA evidence around the world are meant to be corroborative and has to work with other evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, in determining guilt or innocence of the accused. DNA fingerprinting itself is not foolproof, as numerous instances how.

Check out this news.

Remember that the earlier sections authorised a police officer to employ “all means of getting your DNA”. Now tell me, shouldn’t you worry?

Protection against actions and legal proceedings

25. No action, suit, prosecution or other proceedings shall lie or be brought,

instituted or maintained in any court against―

(a) the Minister;

(b) the Head of DNA Databank;

(c) the Deputy Head of DNA Databank;

(d) DNA Databank officers;

(e) a government medical officer; or

(f) a chemist,

in respect of any act, neglect, default or omission done by him in good faith in carrying out his powers, functions and responsibilities under this Act in such capacity.

So, say you are innocent and yet was made to suffer as a suspect, you can’t even seek redress in a court of law. So tell me, under the full might of the government, you are worth nothing. So you’re innocent of the crime? Oops, too bad.

Savings and transitional

27. Any existing DNA profile and any information in relation thereto kept and maintained by the Chemistry Department of Malaysia or Royal Malaysia Police, immediately before the coming into operation of this Act shall, on the coming into operation of this Act, be deemed to have been kept and maintained in and to form part of the DNA Databank established under this Act in accordance with
indices applying.

That just means this law is retroactive. That means all those who had been examined and had their samples taken before by the police, will come under this rule.

Even when you watch CSI you would see a lot of instances of evidence deemed inadmissible in court because improper procedure and not following the safeguards that the law put in place so that the innocent is not persecuted and procsecuted.

This Bill, in its current form, has not taken into account all the safeguards necessary. We do need a DNA Bill. It has to be looked at and debated and thoroughly examined so that it does not compromise that one important thing. JUSTICE.

To that end, I implore you readers to reject this bill in its current form. Let’s get the AG’s chambers to work harder for a comprehensively researched work that will stand the test to time. After the way they botched the Batu Putih case, I am sorry my confidence in them is nonexistent.

To record your disagreement with the bill, go here.

I am no lawyer, but this bill already looks dodgy to me. Do you wonder why the Penguins are up in arms?

This Bill gives too much powers to the police at a time when they stand accused of brutality and heavy handedness with the public. They are behaving like thugs and you wanna put this time bomb in their hands?