The Qur’an guarantees Freedom of Expression, so Free Raja Petra and all ISA detainees

September 25, 2008

We read the statement issued by the Home Minister concerning the detention of Raja Petra Kamaruddin under the dreaded and inhumane Internal Security Act (ISA) with skepticism. According to the Home Minister, Raja Petra was detained because his articles ridiculed Islam. One is now left to wonder whether Islam itself allows such detention without trial in order to protect its sanctity from being ridiculed by people, the likes of Raja Petra.

We would like to stress the fact that there is ample evidence in the Qur’an which guarantees freedom of expression (hurriyat ar-ra’iy) that is generally accepted as a subset of freedom of speech (hurriyat al-qaul). Individuals should be able to accept or reject a particular faith or dogma on the basis of personal conviction, and that no amount of external pressure or compulsion should be permitted. The cardinal Qur’anic doctrine is that: “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith” [2:256]

Every single person has the right, guaranteed by the Qur’an, to freely follow and express his convictions, irrespective of whether he is right or wrong. By emphasizing people’s right to follow their conviction, the Qur’an reiterates a long standing position, which it traces back to one of the earliest known Prophets, Noah: “Said [Noah]: O my people! What do you think? If [it be true that] I am taking my stand on a clear evidence from my Sustainer, who has vouched safe unto me grace from himself – [a revelation] to which you have remained blind-: [if this be true] can we force it on you even though it be hateful to you?”[11:28]

The message of freedom of belief and conviction, and the call to religious tolerance is reiterated time and again through various Prophets,as it is quite apparent in the message of Prophet Shu’ayb to his people: “And if there be some among you who have come to believe in the message which I bear, while the others do not believe, then have patience in adversity till God shall judge between us [and them]: for He is the best of all judges!” [7:87]

Not only does the Qur’an recognise the individual’s right to freedom of conviction, but it also recognises his/her moral freedom to act on the basis of their conviction: “Say: O my [truth-denying] people! Do ye all that may be within your power, [whereas] I, behold, shall labour [in God’s way]: in time you will come to know who it is that shall be visited [in this world] by suffering which will cover him with ignominy, and upon whom long-lasting suffering shall alight [in the life to come]!” [39: 39-40].

Indeed, one cannot find in the Qur’an any support for the internment or incarceration for those who opted to follow their conscience, even though their convictions might be contrary to the mainstream idea, or even up to the level of “heretical” in nature. Using Islam as a “tool” to justify detention without trial is anathema to the basic principles of “adl” (just) and “ihsan” (benevolence) that formed the foundation of Islamic jurisprudence. Such cowardly act of invoking ISA every time when there were dissenting views against the authoritarian government and their despotic ulama’ will not augur well for the future of free and democratic Malaysia.

One is then left to speculate whether such actions were in reality meant to maintain the political hegemony of the ruling elite and that we are actually gravitating towards the creation of a police state instead.

If one were to look back into history,the reason the Islamic world flourished during the earlier period was an early emphasis on “freedom of speech”, as summarized by al-Hasyimi (a cousin of Caliph al-Ma’mun) in the following letter to one of the religious opponents he was attempting to convert through reason:

“Bring forward all the arguments you wish and say whatever you please and speak your mind freely. Now that you are safe and free to say whatever you please, appoint some arbitrator who will impartially judge between us and lean only towards the truth and be free from the slyness of passion and that arbitrator shall be Reason, whereby God makes us responsible for our own rewards and punishments. Herein I have dealt justly with you and have given you full security and am ready to accept whatever decision Reason may give for me or against me. For “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith” [2: 256] and I have only invited you to accept our faith willingly and of your own accord and have pointed out the hideousness of your present belief. Peace be with you and the blessings of God!”

We, from Muslim Professionals Forum, believe that this is the recourse that should be taken by the government in handling issues pertaining to Raja Petra in particular. By resorting to intellectual discourse, any differences in opinions or interpretations could be ironed out in a civilized manner. We therefore call upon the Prime Minister of Malaysia, to release Raja Petra unconditionally, and all the other ISA detainees for that matter. We also call upon the Prime Minister to abolish this draconian Act that clearly violates the basic human rights that were enshrined in the Qur’an ever since.

Dr Farouk Musa

Dr Sheik Johari Bux

Dr Jeffrey Hassan

Dr Musa Nordin

Dr Mazeni Alwi

Haji Ali Ghazali

Muslim Professionals Forum(MPF)

45 thoughts on “The Qur’an guarantees Freedom of Expression, so Free Raja Petra and all ISA detainees

  1. RPK did not, I can safely say, insult his religion. He only poured scorn on the munafik.

    He who resorts to brute force cannot win an argument.

  2. This ISA was introduced for another purpose by its original enforcers, the colonialists. Why is it still in use when the original enforcers themselves have condemned its use? Is the Malaysian govt so backward? This act is barbaric and uncalled for in this modern age of computers, space travel and technology.

  3. I am not a muslim so I cannot debate on this subject.


    If what the above stated are right, then I just wonder whether the PM and the Home Minister really are true muslims or understand anything about this religion???
    Richard, both the Prime Minister Badawi and his Home Minister Al-Blurr are politicians of the perverted kind first and then Islam Hadhari muslims. They contaminate Islam for politics, and confuse the Malays and other Muslims, and have departed from the true teachings of Islam as embodied in the Qu’ran.

    Muslims who are true to their Faith are God respecting, knowledgeable, compassionate and just. How long will these leaders last, given the strong anti UMNO-Barisan mood of our country? I see their end is near and they must face wrath of their countrymen.—Din Merican

  4. MPF has done a very good and thorough study before they came out with this conclusion. Congrats MPF for your effort and great thought. FREE ALL THE ISA DETAINEES NOW AND FOREVER!!! THANK YOU MPF ONCE AGAIN FOR FIGHTING FOR OUR FREEDOM!!!

  5. DSAI echoed the same thoughts as those expressed by MPF!!! Thanks to all of you great people for emancipating the weak and giving us strength, hope and vision for a better future May God bless and keep you all save.

  6. When you read such articles on Islam you certainly feel so inspired and admire Islam – a gift of God to mankind.

    But when you hear our politicians talk of Islam you get so disgusted and cannot help but fear Islam.


    Can the learned and wise, blessed and inspired leaders of Islam please put the final nail onto these politicians who are ruining the beauty of Islam, please. Otherwise you are also equally gulity of desecrating God’s mercy and love for mankind.

  7. Since our Sultans are supposed to be guardians of Islamic religion in their respective states, how is it that none of them have spoken up and made their stance if Raja Petra had infact ridiculed the religion in his writings and if indeed he had, is his ISA detention justified and allowed under the teachings of the Quran which guarantees and protect freedom of expression?

    Raja Petra is from the Selangor’s royal household and a citizen of Selangor but how come the Sultan of Selangor has not spoken one word if Raja Petra had done any wrong?
    Jong, your comment is inappropriate here. We do not know what is happening in the palaces. Our Rulers have a special role in our society. I do believe they are very concerned about what is happening to our country and our people and may have made their views known to the Prime Minister in private. The Council of Rulers is usually the avenue for such a purpose at a more formal level. Otherwise, our Rukers have not interfered in the administration of our country. That is a good thing. But they do have influence (moral suasion). It is us who voted in the present government who must answer for our folly. Basically, most of us are indifferent and selfish. —Din Merican

  8. I’m not buying the fantasy that ‘Islam equals tolerance’. Not at all. Whoever claims that is turning the truth upside down. Just ask Lina Joy about that supposed Islamic tolerance. Islam is inherently Intolerant. Full stop.
    I suggest you keep this sort of opinion to yourself and not display your total ignorance of Islam. You do not even know what jihad is. —Din Merican

  9. With no respect to the HM and UMNO they used this ISA as a weapon to justify a joint vendetta against the RPK it is more personnel than Islam.
    This HM is a real coward he should let the civil human laws take its place.if not the Syariah Law.

    UMNO does play its politic on even ground it is all
    abuse of the Law and civil right.

  10. “According to the Home Minister, Raja Petra was detained because his articles ridiculed Islam.”

    Din, no doubt you have earlier responded that it might be inappropriate to involve the Rulers in this debate.

    But I find that in issuing such a reason for RPK’s detention, the Home Minister has apportioned to himself the power of interpretation of an article. In concluding that interpretation he has decided that it has insulted Islam.

    I have a problem with unqualified and more importantly unauthorised people having the power to interprete writings about any religion at all. Maybe that is the reason why from the early days in Malaysia, the final head of the religion has been the Sultans of the State. When all and sundry are allowed to interprete and act on matters regarding Islam, this travesty is what can be expected to happen.

    RPK has been detained because one man has read his articles and has decided that they are insulting of Islam. Acting on that interpretation he has used the powers granted him by law to detain RPK under the dreaded ISA.

    Now that is the law as it stands at this time, and there is nothing I can do about binning that law, and it would seem like there is no other recourse to free RPK, then I have no choie but to look at the only Archilies heel left open by the Home Minister. That is the reason that he cites for RPK’s detention.

    Considering that the courts might not have the power to even lok at this, then really, I have no choise but to see if the HomeMinister might have transgressed into someone else’s domain. And here I believe he has.

    The Sultans have given powers to selected people within their states to look into matters of Islam and its practice. I cannot recall the Sultans having assigned anything at all on Islam to theHome minister.

    Has the Home minister usurped the powers of the Sultan orhis servants vis a vis Islam in Malaysia? Can the Sultans read for themsleves those articles and decide if indeed RPK has insulted Islam?

    The sultans may not have the power to release RPK from the ISA detention. However, at the very least I think they can comment on Syed Hamid Albar’s interpretation where he conveniently concludes without any kind of debate that RPK is guilty of insulting Islam.

  11. Din Merican,

    I am expressing my freedom of speech and expression here. Many Malaysians like me are feeling the disappointment and frustration that not much is done quick enough to pressure those gobloks in Umno that they are blatantly abusing their power and position in government. Even those component parties within BN are up against the irresponsible use of ISA!

    The Sultans’ silence is most deafening.

    We have all been brought up to respect the rule of law of the country and our Sultans. It is in them that we trust and seek justice with hope their protection, are we not?

    Raja Petra has been unfairly and unjustifiedly hauled in and smacked with ISA detention for weeks now – every hour, every minute and every seconds count, and here I am to be told my comment is ‘unappropriate’ and that the Council of Rulers may also be very concerned and may have private views with the Prime Minister when his govenment has lost integrity and moral authority to rule?

    Can someone out there advise me what are the functions of the “Council of Rulers” and if they should appropriately deem this case with most urgency while the whole nation wait? Any legal eagles around?

  12. Dear Honorable Din,

    After a while, use of Quran to condemn the morally bankrupt is not going too far. Once I had someone even quoted some other scriptures to condemn the authoritarian behavior, also not going too far. Thus, I decided that, use of Holy Books in association with this bunch of morally bankrupt will never change their behavior and even at times, risk causing the holy books we adored to uphold the honor & righteousness to be tainted and corrupted. (recent swearing nonsense)

    I do have some RPK pictures to share.. with strong messages ..

    however, I do have simple request, pls delete my comment entry after you got the pictures because I am not in the habit of advertising my blogs to others, do have them up all over blog space.. only did it in solidarity with freedom of expression and nothing more.

    Salam Ramadhan,

  13. It is heartening that the Muslim Professionals Forum have come out with this their second unequivocal stand. They have got to the heart of the matter vis-a-vis the Quran by quoting what I believe is the single most relevant verse in our Holy Book : “la iqr’a fi’din” (There is no compulsion in religion). Not surprisingly Muslim zealots and other(mostly self -appointed) ulema remain silent when this verse is brought up. If interpreted in a spirit of tolerance and inclusiveness I believe it can solve many current issues including the problems in inter-marriage and apostasy to name two.

    As for “Antijihad” : Din, I suspect he has a Klu Klux Clan mindset so it does not leave too much room for reasoned debate. Unfortunately there are too many such people in every society.

    Mr. Paul Warren : I enjoyed your reasoning and well written views. But Raja Petra has been detained not for his religious views but because nobody in our current leadership seems capable of a reasoned and unemotional response to what he says.

  14. Din

    This is a very good article and the stand of the MPF should be lauded.

    But I was disappointed with your comments in response to theantijehadist – it would be much better for you to explain your view point rather than to tell him to keep his opinion to himself even if he is ill-informed. In fact, since he is ill-informed, it would be a good chance to educate him.

    In fact, with what was written by the MPF, I am frankly baffled that Muslims are not allowed to leave Islam since there should be no coercion in matters of faith.

    Please enlighten – BTW I am a Chinese Christian Singaporean but have Muslim friends whom I rather not put such questions to directly because I am afraid of offending them

  15. MPF’s voice can only be heard loudly, strongly and over a wider region if others support their voice as well. Tey are also calling out to other bodies to share their setiments. Where are all these bodies? What are they doing keeping mum? Why are they too afraid to join in the voice? Please help your fellow Malaysians who are fighting for you and your generation to come. Join us in this jihad to fight ignorance, is all we ask when others are paving the way. Is that too much to ask?

  16. “I suggest you keep this sort of opinion to yourself and not display your total ignorance of Islam.”

    Wait, I thought Islam is all about ‘tolerance’ and that Koran of yours guaranteed ‘freedom of expression’! And here we are, after one brief comment from me, and I’ve already been warned by the blog owner to be silent and dare not show my disagreement again. Now what about that supposed Islamic ‘freedom of expression’ again?

    What better ironic example can one have of Muslim “tolerance” and “freedom”–a request to self-censor with the implied threat of “I’ll silence you if you don’t” to back it up.

    “Islam is ‘tolerance’…now anyone who disagrees with me must be silent,” says this particular Muslim blogger. Of course, this is not freedom or tolerance at all–this is hypocrisy and chutzpah of the highest order. It would be laughable if this sort of cognitive dissonance was not so typical of his kind.

    God Bless Lina Joy and all the countless millions like her, whose quest for freedom and happiness are hindered by followers and practitioners of a certain ideology from the deserts of Arabia. May they be free as God really intends them to be.

  17. theantijihadist,

    There are many ways to ask a question so are many ways to post your comment without jeopardising the position of the blog owner. You stormed in with your offensive comment so do you expect a pleasing response? He may agree or disagree with you but do you think it’s fair to put him at risk for that bloody baldy to conveniently haul him up for allowing such offending remarks against Islam on his blog? I am sure you are aware ‘they’ have been sending they cyber-troopers to upset bloggers and contributors alike with offensive comments in the hope of messing up bloggers. I hope you are not one of them, are you?

    Comeon, be a little sensible. You may put whatever you like on your own blog for all we care but please, this is not a religious blog. We are a mixed group here, made up of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and even free-thinkers. Write whatever you want on your blog, we will visit you from time to time.

  18. AntiJihadist,

    First, I must say that I am sad that you hold such a view of Islam. Your statements reflect your pitiful ignorance rather than the “flaws” in Islam. While I do not intend to go deeply into the Lina Joy case, I would like to point out that Lina Joy’s issue is not about tolerance in Islam. Lina Joy went to the wrong court of law.

    The Registration Department actually recognized her name change from Azlina Jailani to Lina Joy in 1999 in her Identity Card. She also wanted to change her religion in her IC, for which she needed Syariah Court’s approval, but instead she went to the High Court and subsequently to the Federal Court.

    The conversion of religion from Islam to some other religion by Muslims is not unheard of in this country. In Negeri Sembilan alone, the Syariah Court had allowed 16 such cases. As late as 2006, the Seremban Syariah Court recognized the famous case of Nyonya Tahir who converted from Islam to Buddhism in 1936. While we can talk and argue about the efficiencies of the Syariah Court in taking such a long time in recognition of such cases, the point remains that there have been many instances of conversion to other religion from Islam in Malaysia.

    It is simple and basic logic that the behaviors of some Muslims are not necessarily reflective of the teachings of Islam. Similar logic is applicable to other religion. President Bush’s behavior is far from reflective of the teachings of Christianity, and the Burmese Military Junta way of managing Myamnar is far from the doctrines of Buddhism. It is pathetic that AntiJihadist cannot understand such simple and primary school level logics.

    The Home Minister and the UMNO regime have been trying to find good reasons to seize RPK under the draconian ISA. They have to coin a reason that the public would find acceptable, especially the Malays. What better reason than RPK insulted Islam? Whether he actually insulted Islam or not does not really matter to them. It is not important. What is important is to find an acceptable excuse that will not make them too unpopular.

  19. AntiJihadist,

    This blog is for civil people. We discuss and argue and we respect each other. We may disagree with other views, but we are polite. When sometimes some uncouth character comes along, we are upset not because we cannot accept their views, because they have no tolerance and respect for us as human beings. Whether we are Muslims, Christians, Buddhist or free thinkers we believe we can all learn from each other. The different religions taught us to appreciate diversity not ridicule each other

  20. The treatment of RPK by the Home Minister and UMNO is just a reflection of them as bullies. They cannot win logical and fair arguments. They cannot afford fair hearing in courts of laws because whatever they are doing are not fair. The only way out for them is use Islam for their own benefit. This is hardly a reflection of true Muslims.

  21. The fact of the matter is this…Lina Joy should not have had to go to a court in the first place. Religion, or lack thereof, is an entirely personal matter. It does not belong on anyone’s IC or under the jurisdiction of any court.

    The whole nonsense of religious courts, religious laws and religious police (all of which figure prominently in Muslim countries) is an abhorrent idea. It all flies in the face of the UNDHR (U.N. Declaration of Human Rights), of which Malaysia is a signatory. Look up Article 18 of the UNDHR if you’re curious.

    If a Muslim cannot stand criticism of his viewpoints, or of Islam, on his blog, is it any surprise that this intolerance is representative of how Muslims behave in larger situations? Especially when Muslims are in places of governmental authority? To wit, UMNO warns RPK to shut up, and when he refuses, they silence him by throwing him into prison. This happens over and over again to dissidents in the Islamic world. RPK’s sad saga sounds all too much like a Bangladeshi (Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury) whose sole crime was to advocate normalization of relations with Israel and now having spent 18 months in solitary confinement, faces the death penalty for his ‘crimes’.

    I suppose RPK is lucky to be avoiding this sort of penalty, which is all too common for dissidents in Muslim countries. Since RPK is not facing a death sentence, and has ‘only’ been imprisoned without charge or trial, does that confirm Malaysia’s so-called ‘moderate Muslim’ status?

    If Malaysia was some sort of exception to the General Islamic Rule of Intolerance, the arguments presented here by others might carry some weight (i.e. Islam supposedly equals tolerance). But when most every Muslim country silences dissenting voices, takes away freedom, coerces proper ‘religious values’ from its populace, ruthlessly persecutes any unfortunate kufr in the vicinity, have thuggish religious police, ban churches and any other non Muslim houses of worship, what are we infidels–the majority of humanity–supposed to think? That Islam is tolerance?

    Islam’s intolerance is not a bug–it’s a feature.

  22. theantijihadist,

    It’s good, you sound alot nicer now. There is hope! 😀

    Yes, I agree with what you said but can we change that overnight? 51 years of Umno rule has put Malaysia under the tempurung. Openness is seriously lacking and we must change things now that we are in the 21st century and we need to fast forward real soon.

    Support Pakatan Rakyat, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, I am pretty positure. Umno has failed us and it has lost all credibility and the moral authority to rule, not anymore.

  23. Raja Petra was not detained because his articles ridiculed Islam. He was detained because his articles ridiculed the socalled UMNO Muslims. Islam the religion cannot be held responsible for the actions of its followers who have deviated from the true teaching of Islam to serve their own political agenda.

    The Malays/Muslims must understand and accept the difference here. UMNO will continue to use the line “ridiculed Islam” as its defense. Syed AllBlah himself is confused and cannot accept or understand the difference.

  24. I need not argue about blurry SHA’s stated reason for using the draconian bISA on RPK, as I agree with shrek and long discourses already given.
    This whole thing of course stinks of a set-up for putrid political ‘expediency’ to protect ruby-red lips dpm. A can of worms were laid bare…
    RPK had literally cornered him with his SD on the alledged ‘presence’ of Mdm. Lumpiolus @ the bright peaceful hill where the remains of a slain daughter of Genghis were found.
    Although there are numerous law-suites filed on him, RPK wasn’t about to take it easy.
    An extrajudicial weapon had to be foisted on him. Notice that even the ‘articles’ of his detention were changed last minute.
    We know, they know, RPK knows… Is Justice truly blind?

  25. I supposed if the blog master in not a tolerant person, Antijihadist comment would not even be published. Just like Antijihadist, the blog master has the right to state his opinion. The fact that he continue to post Antijihadist’s further comments reflects his tolerance and democratic values !

    The attitude of governments in Muslim countries is not a measurement of tolerance in Islam. Most of Muslim countries are still in developing stage and the styles of governance reflect that of most third world countries. Malaysia is no exception, although we boast of becoming a first world country, we still have a third world government.

    Human rights, democracy, freedom of speech are all examples of good values in Islam. They are also main values propagated by many developed countries. In this regard, there are similarities. Plutocracy and pure capitalism however are decadent values of modern society with Wall Street as its mecca. These values are not in line with Islam because it neglects humane considerations of marginal groups in society.

    To accuse Islam of being intolerant by behavior of “Muslim” countries is wrong because these governments do not practice many important values propagated by Islam. They may claim otherwise, but in many instances they are just using Islam for their own selfish end such as the case of HM using ISA on RPK.

  26. This blog shows its democratic approach to views that PR is standing for. Thanks Bro Din for your support. I don’t think Antijihadist would be able to express himself so whole heartedly in other blogs! No doubt there is some truth in what Antijihadist expresses but as stated by Din Ahmad there are many countries undergoing injustices of the kind mentioned including Myanmar and Sri Lanka mainly Buddhist strongholds. What is happening in Myanmar and Sri Lanka surprises all because it reflects anti Buddhist sentiments and philosophy! Can you blame Buddhism for those atrocities?

  27. Men’s ego and greed for power, wealth and dominance should not be mistaken for religious teachings and philosophy!!! From my analysis on most writings by bloggers of different faiths I have conveniently concluded that it is not one’s religion that should be blamed for mankind’s failure to establish and sustain world peace and harmony. The culprits to be blamed are one’s ego, arrogance, greed and desires for power and materialism, all of which are negative qualities which all religions teach mankind to forego and relinquish. So dear bloggers do not blame any religion but politicians and rulers for most ills and injustices in society!!!

  28. Now my dear friends we have to think of those poor jihadis fighting for democracy behind bars under ISA rather than sit back and accuse religions unfairly!! Down with those bad guys who sent RPK, the Hindraf 5 and many others who are lanquishing within the cold walls of Kamunting!!! FREE RPK AND ALL THE OTHER ISA DETAINEES NOW!!!

  29. All mosques are mosques! The Kiblat is the same! There’s only one God.

    The difference is how much the mosque costs per square foot!

  30. How about Ahmadiyya mosques? They are heavily persecuted by the majority of Muslims (i.e. Sunnis) everywhere. If your Koran is all about tolerance, why do virtually all Muslims exhibit such vehement dislike (officially or otherwise) towards the Shia, Ahmadiyya and other so-called ‘deviant sects’? Well?

  31. This is the result of ignorance, wrong views and extremism. When beliefs are taken to extremes things tend to become violent, even the killing of one’s kind in the name of religion which has always been part of life’s problem, never a solution. When are we going to learn?

  32. antijihadist,

    I don’t have depth in Islamic knowledge so we’ll discuss in general terms.

    All religions have sects and they generally don’t agree but they go on their ways, of course these disagreements take on extreme ways and even persecution. But heck, that’s what life is all about – disagreements or different opinions.

    The “Qur’an” or Koran is about tolerance. Differents sects and their adherents are about disagreements and sometimes extreme intolerance.

    “Antijihadism” so-called, in the US and some EU countries may not be all about God or religion. It may be about Syariah Funds/Assets which the Iranians have a lot of, some US$170bil. The Saudis have something like 60-70bil. The Iranian asstets are locked out by US sanctions and it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out why.

    So leave the Qur’an out of it. You may like to wretch up all the evils of all the different sects, which is not particularly Islamic but can strike across many beliefs (political or non) and religions.

    Some people believe, Ketuanan Melayu is a “religion”. The things they do are less than Islamic or a form of peversion.

  33. Here is a grass-root activity trying to mobilize common men and women to the rescue of RPK, and in the process, trying to strengthen the civil society: We analyze, take consensus, and act. Our last poll shows 47% voted for wearing “Free-RPK” T-shirt to the PM Hari Raya Open House. Join us when you could do so; detail is in the link above.



    Check out you tube, folks!

    Malek: My ISA detention horror

    People often forget incidents of the past but for former ISA detainee Abdul Malek Hussin, one horror event will forever be etched in his mind – his 57 days of living hell in detention.

    Abdul Malek Hussin, 51, was this week awarded RM2.5 million in damages against the government over his arrest and torture in 1998. This was the result of a civil suit he filed in March 1999, naming special branch officer Borhan Daud, the then Inspector General of Police Abdul Rahim Noor and the government as respondents.

    It has been nine years since the chairperson of polls watchdog Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) was detained under the draconian Internal Security Act and he recollects every moment of it in an interview with Malaysiakini.

    Here are some excerpts:

    Can you relate to us what happened then – what did they do to you and how you felt?

    When (former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim) was expelled by the government on allegations of immoral activities, there was widespread dissent among the people against the injustice of (Anwar’s arrest) and as a private citizen, I undertook to support the cause of justice for Anwar. I was among the many who were unhappy with how the government under Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) used and abused powers to expel Anwar, and I decided to show my support.

    I was involved with the reformasi movement from the first day – on Sept 4, 1998. After the arrest of Anwar Ibrahim, I took the initiative to organise another massive gathering to demand the release of Anwar and the resignation of Mahathir and Inspector-General of Police Abdul Rahim Noor then. I led the gathering at Masjid Negara on Sept 25, five days after Anwar was arrested.

    (Later that day) I was arrested at my home. It was about 10-11pm and I was staying in Ampang. I returned (home) in a car driven by a friend who dropped me (off) about 200 metres from my house and the police arrested me at the gate. I was handcuffed and forced to open the gate of my house by the arresting party led by ASP Borhan Daud.

    First, he forced me to open (my house door) and of course I asked him, “Why are you handcuffing me?” and he said I was being arrested under the ISA. I asked, “Why do you need to handcuff me?” he said “ISA”, and I asked him “What’s the reason for my arrest?” (and he said) “ISA”. He mentioned it like some mechanic and robotic answer that everything was (under the) ISA.

    He then said he wanted to conduct a search in my house and I asked him where was the warrant. In fact, I asked for the warrant of arrest under the ISA. He said it was not necessary and I asked him why and he said well, ISA, and he said I should know that.

    He wanted to search my house and I asked him where was the warrant of search and again, he said it was not necessary, and I asked him why, and he said (again) ISA. I called my kids and my family to open the door and the policemen went in with their shoes straightaway to the ground floor and the first floor of my house.

    Then they went to my study room and ransacked and checked all my documents. He entered my master bedroom where my wife and children were sleeping. My wife was shocked and asked me what was happening and I showed her the handcuffs and when she asked me why, I said, “ISA”.

    They confiscated some documents and they also recorded the documents. After 40 minutes in my house, they told me to leave with them. I was then asked where was my car. Borhan forced me to show him my car and I said I was driven by a friend and I was dropped about 200 metres away. I showed Borhan exactly the spot where I was dropped.

    My friend had just left the scene. (Borhan) became so angry and irritated by my response that he slapped me there and then – the pain I can feel until today. There is this drizzling sound I am still hearing it now, until today. I think I have got more than 40-50 percent hearing loss in my left ear. When this was brought up in the courts, Borhan denied it.

    After that, he forced me into the car, it was not a police car, it was an unmarked car. I was told to wear a certain (pair of) spectacles with blurred vision but then I realised that the frame here (on the left) was broken and I told them that it was broken and they told me to (take off) my specs, and one of the officers (took) off his black T-shirt and wrapped my whole head (inside it).

    You can imagine the smell from the T-shirt which he must have worn from early morning and it was then midnight. It was so smelly. They forced me down inside the car. I knelt down and told not to look anywhere because they did not want me to know where I would be taken.

    They drove, and about a few minutes later the car stopped at a location. I didn’t know where. They then carried me up a staircase of a building which later turn out to be the (Kuala Lumpur Police Contingent headquarters).

    They brought me to a room and I was told to sign a certain (piece of) paper which stated that I was arrested under the ISA prepared by Borhan – so Borhan was the arresting officer.

    After that they told me to undress – to take off my shirt and my trousers. I thought that was okay because I knew ISA detainees would be given a special detention uniform – blue in colour – so I thought I would be given a new uniform.

    (After) I undressed myself completely, suddenly an officer handcuffed me very tightly from the back and there were about six to eight officers in front of me in a small room on the first floor. I was handcuffed and they blindfolded me with two (pieces of) black cloth and I was completely disoriented. I did not know who they were so I guess they were all the arresting officers led by Borhan.

    Then Borhan kicked and punched me, and I can hear his voice right in front of me … I can recognise his voice. One officer took a hard object and hit me on the right leg, another officer hit me on the left leg and then they started punching my face. Then I was given a flying kick, a side kick…

    Soon I fell unconscious for the first time, and they poured water and forced me to stand up again and I fell unconscious again – all a total of five times. And I also counted how many times I was hit by using my fingers – altogether it was 63 hits. After that I could not withstand it and I passed out. That was what I could recall consciously.

    In one of those moments, I was hit by a very powerful punch and suddenly my blindfold dropped down and right in front of me was (Abdul) Rahim Noor who was wearing a red (boxing) glove. He was wearing an Indonesian batik (shirt), dark trousers and brown polished shoes. I could remember and I described that in court in detail.

    And because the (blindfold) had fallen, I was shocked and he was also shocked because I could recognise him and he just ran away behind the door, and the officers all fled the scene because they did not want to be recognised. Then they turned me to the wall and blindfolded me again and the beating went on until I passed out.

    When I regained consciousness, it was still before 4am. They told me to go to another room with the air-cond in full blast. I was still stripped naked and my body was aching from the beatings. The air-cond was right in the middle of the room, and for every couple of minutes they poured cold water on my head… I was shivering. They asked me whether I was cold and I said yes, and they poured more cold water until about 4.30 am. Then they stopped, no questions asked.

    During that ordeal, Borhan asked me if I was thirsty after all the beatings and I said “Of course”. Then suddenly one person would be holding me from the back and another opening my mouth wide open with his fingers. They then poured this dirty, rancid tasting liquid into my mouth. It was urine and they told me it was urine. Their urine, not mine. They just peed between them and they forced into my mouth two cans of their urine.

    When they asked if I was hungry or not, I said “Of course, I am hungry”. Borhan told his officers to prepare tahi anjing (dog faeces) for me. It was near to my mouth, I could smell the stench.

    And he threatened me that he wanted to use the syringe which contains HIV virus to be injected into my body because I told him, “You better kill me. What’s the point? What are you trying to prove? What are you doing here? Why are you so cruel?” I asked them. (He said) “Oh you wanna die, oh then we’ll kill you slowly, we’ll put the HIV virus into you”. Of course, they didn’t do that.

    After about 5am, they stopped the beatings. I think they were also tired and went home.

    On Sept 26, by mid-afternoon I was taken to Bukit Aman and placed in solitary confinement only to see sunshine on the 28th day of my detention. So if you ask what’s my feeling about that, (it was) very cruel and inhumane. (The police) are not human. I feel even animals have compassion. Even dogs know their masters and even dogs don’t bite any other people. They are worst than dogs. If people say they are anjing kerajaan (government dogs), I think at that time they were worse then dogs.

    How were you treated there (in Bukit Aman)?

    I wasn’t allow to contact anybody. A couple of days later before the 28th day, they asked if I wanted to see my family. Of course before meeting the family they would arrange a special session for me not to mention anything about what happened to me, not to give any hint that I was tortured and to show to the family that everything was okay and to convince my family (not to file) a habeas corpus (a court application challenging the detention) or else (I) will not be released. So the threat was there.

    And I told my investigating officers in Bukit Aman that I was tortured in IPK (Kuala Lumpur Police Contingent headquarters) and I want to make a police report against Borhan, they said, “No, you don’t need to – we have already taken action against Borhan”. Which was, of course, not true.

    I was not given any opportunity to lodge any report, not given any opportunity to meet my lawyer, no access to my family and I was only given medical attention a couple of days later in Bukit Aman.

    I told the doctor and he checked me and it was confirmed in the medical report about the bruises on the left leg, the right leg, the abdomen… I complained to Dr Vasantha Ponniah about what happened to me and she had testified in court about my condition based on the bruises that I sustained.

    (The) Special Branch (police) methodology is (to) give harsh treatment on the first day as a very strong reminder to the detainees that things are going to be worse if we fail to give our cooperation. It’s more psychological in nature. And of course in Bukit Aman it is already more institutionalised in terms of how they handle the detainees.

    I was under solitary confinement, there was no sunshine, I did not know whether it was the morning, I did not know at all. On the 28th day, on the (day of) family visit when I was taken to IPK from Bukit Aman – I really appreciate the sunlight, it was wow, the beauty of the sunray. I tell you, it was beautiful.

    What was interrogation like?

    I was subjected to interrogation for 17 days on the third floor of the (Bukit Aman) building. They would ask me questions from the morning, afternoon, until evening and then sometimes, late in the night. Once when they were dissatisfied with what was going on outside where people were still gathering on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (and) in Kampung Baru, they were unhappy so they call me very late in the night for further interrogation until early morning.

    During the course of the interrogation by Bukit Aman officers, the questions they asked day in and day out – questions about the reformasi movement, on Anwar Ibrahim, his relationship with this person and that person.

    Then Nurul Izzah was meeting (deposed Philippines president Joseph) Estrada in the Philippines and (former US secretary of state) Madeline Albright. I was inside and the activities were outside, and they were asking me what was this Gerak (reformasi coalition) and that was formed, and about political reform, on PAS, on whether ISA should be abolished or not.

    They denied me of utensils if they found I was not cooperative enough. (They would) pull out the mattress or take away the pillows. After the family visited, they told me I would only be detained for a month and they would release me. (They said) if I do not get the recommendation to release me, then they would extend it until the end, and it went on until the 57th day.

    There were also days when they (did) nothing. They would send the food and at that time, I got food it was like packed rice and fish with maggots. That means it was done on purpose. I mean we were detainees and this food was supposed to be provided by the government … this means the state had provided me with rotten food.

    What happened after your release?

    I was released on Nov 21 and subjected to some kind of monitoring … appointed by the Special Branch to monitor my activities. I have to report to them and they even threatened me that I could even be re-arrested.

    I must cooperate with them and the psychology was that they have the power to re-arrest me. So there was that constant fear in me of being re-arrested. It took me quite some time to gather the strength and courage to lodge a police report, and I arrived at that decision in March (1999).

    What influenced me much more was when the government decided to form the royal commission on (Anwar’s black eye incident) when we read about the testimony of Dr Vasantha Ponniah. Then I remembered “Well, that’s the lady who treated me”. I thought that was some help. I thought that with the formation of the royal commission there will be some space to make a complaint.

    From then on (during the trial), when I was cross-examined in the court, they asked me why I took such a long time. Well, this is not a road accident. This is something you have been tortured, subjected to. You need to rebuild that courage back.

    Were you scared? Did you ever feel like giving up?

    I tried not to look scared although I was very scared. I feel the Special Branch (officers) are almost everywhere. (I felt) intimidated but to regain that, you have to meet people, and you have to talk to people. Slowly, I started to tell people (about) what (had) happened in detention.

    They were really surprised. Then friends convinced me – why not I speak out, and in February I spoke in an event organised by (opposition alliance Malaysian People’s Movement for Justice) Gerak by (the late former PAS president) Fadzil Noor in Kuala Lumpur’s Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in February 1999.

    I regained my courage and you have to make the most of the (police) report. And you have the understanding that you (would) be accused of making a false report. I have to prepare a very lengthy police report and very detailed and an affidavit to file for the civil suit.

    How does your family feel about all this?

    They are used to what I have been doing. They are very supportive of my activities. The fact that my children and wife knew that I’ve already resolved to report (on) activities for the rights of the people, political activities or social activism.

    They’ve been very supportive in the sense that there has been no resentment from my family.

  35. Everything must have a check & balance, nothing must be all powerful & absolute in a democracy.

    With a religion that has special rights & provisions (official status), rules to protect it & give it an unfair advantage & dominance… hence, the need for secularism.

    Tell me, how many Malay Muslims will give that up in this country?

    Well, results always speak louder than words & all those whom deny it, are just good at making excuses & pushing the responsibilities away.

  36. Hilarious take & related (excerpts):

    from “Pastasia Today”

    Pastafarian leaders, denounce the extremists as well as Gee Will Suck!

    Recently, Butch lawmaker Gee Will Suck released a controversial film called ‘Nana’. The film is widely viewed as intentionally insulting and provocative towards Pastafarianism.

    Pastafarians worldwide have protested and denounced the film, including Pastasia’s own Dr. Macaroni and the National MeatBalls Front Youth. Local stores such as MyDick, are boycotting Butch products, at the behest of the Pastafarian Consumers Association of Pastasia. The Right Wing MeatBalls Opposition Party, have also called for a boycott of Butch products. They are saddened by the film’s mis-portrayal of Pastafarianism.

    I too am saddened to note that even as the Pastafarian leaders of the world are outraged at Westerners & Easterners deemed to be mocking Pastafarians, not a peep is uttered about the extremists who call for hate and death against non-Pastafarians – as captured on video in the Butch film.

    These extremists are the same ones who cause Westerners & Easterners to view Pastafarianism as a violent religion. These extremists are the ones hijacking and ‘rebranding’ Pastafarianism as a religion of war and intolerance in the public eye.
    More calls for boycotts and more protests made are made against Will Suck – a man whose image of Pastafarianism is coloured by those very extremists.

    What image does this portray when every single time, the Pastafarian leaders of the world attack the messenger (Will Suck or newspaper cartoons), but not the message (extremists who are successfully using Pastafarianism as a rallying cry for violence and hatred)?

    I’ll make an educated guess on the above question: In this new world of growing Pastafarianisation & it’s follower’s calls for Pasta States & Cheese Laws, Westerners & Easterners will suspect that the Pastafarian moderates secretly support the views of those extremists. If not, then why do the moderates spend so much time denouncing a filmmaker, but spend no time denouncing the extremists?

    In fact, I am certain that Will Suck is counting on such a knee-jerk reaction from Pastafarians, with maybe some riots and spontaneous murders of innocent bystanders thrown in (like what happened with the Jyllands-Posten controversy), in order to prove his point to the world.

    If his aim is to influence public opinion into seeing all Pastafarians as violent extremists, then I’m afraid that the prominent Pastafarian moderates are only aiding his agenda.

    Pastafarians of the world, show the West & East that those who preach hate are not the true stewards of your faith – denounce the extremists along with Gee Will Suck!

  37. Surind is right about ‘respect’ for Islam equaling censorship. Islam is a very jealous ideological system and brooks no rivals. All the talk about supposed Islamic ‘tolerance’ and freedom is just that– talk and empty words. Freedom House, a respected NGO that measures these sort of things, finds that Muslim countries are near the bottom when it comes to openness and political rights.

    Until Muslims back up their claims with quantifiable, verifiable actions, we infidels should remain, at the very least, strongly skeptical.

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