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Archive for August 2009

Malaysia, Stop Whipping and End Corporal Punishment for All Offences

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UPDATE – 24 August 2009
Kartika Spared Caning for Drinking Beer
Kartika’s case raised questions about Malaysia’s modernity worldwide.

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URGENT APPEAL TO ALL MALAYSIANS – URGENT ACTION NEEDED:
MALAYSIA, STOP WHIPPING AND END CORPORAL PUNISHMENT FOR ALL OFFENCES

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno with her son (right) Muhammad Azfar, 7, and daughter Wann Kaitlynn Sari Dewi, 5, at her father's house in Sg Siput. — Reuters pic

On the 20 July 2009, the Syariah High Court in the Malaysian state of Pahang sentenced Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, 32, to six strokes of the cane and fined her RM5,000 (approximately US$ 1,400) after she pleaded guilty to consuming beer two years ago at a hotel in Pahang. On 18 August 2009 the same Shariah Court ordered that Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno be remanded at the Kajang women’s prison in the state of Selangor from Monday, 24 August 2009 and caned within seven days of this date.

To our knowledge, no person in Malaysia, male or female, has thus far been caned under the country’s Shariah laws, making her the first to be punished in this way. Furthermore Kartika will be the first woman to be caned in Malaysia as under the existing Malaysian Criminal Procedure Code, only males are subjected to caning for a range of crimes. Women’s Groups urges the government of Malaysia to review caning as a form of judicial punishment under the Common and Syariah legal systems. In the case of Kartika, it constitutes further discrimination against Muslim women in Malaysia and violates Constitutional guarantees of equality and non-discrimination as whipping of women under Shariah Criminal Offences legislation contradicts civil law where women are not punishable by caning under Section 289 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

There is no consensus among Muslim scholars on the range of crimes for which whipping is prescribed, nor on whether women should be whipped. Nor is whipping for consuming alcohol considered proportionate to the gravity of the offence. Sisters In Islam, a member of JAG in their press statement on 23 July 2009 have said:

“SIS believes that Islam as a religion of compassion calls people to the way of God with wisdom, as expressed in Surah An-Nahl,16:125 , “Invite all to the way of the Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and reason with them in the ways that are best and most gracious.”

“The goal of Islamic authorities is to prevent crime in the first place, not to inflict severe punishment as a first resort. Promoting and protecting the human rights of the ummah, ensuring socio-economic justice, educating the ummah about God’s teachings and laws in order that they become responsible for abiding by them out of faith are prerequisites before any punishment can be implemented. That Kartika has expressed remorse should move the Malauysian authorities to emulate God’s attributes of compassion (rahmah) and mercy (rahim), especially within the holy month of Ramadhan”.

In conclusion, the women’s groups below reiterate that corporal punishment whether for men or women violates human rights principles, in particular the right to be free from cruel, inhumane, degrading treatment or punishment.

The Malaysian government should immediately revoke the sentence to cane Kartika and abolish the practice of corporal punishment.

Signed by:

1. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
P.O. Box 493 Jalan Sultan, 46760 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Tel: +60 3 7957 5636 / 0636 Fax: +60 3 7956 3237
Email: wao@po.jaring.my

2. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (PKKS)
13 Lorong 4/48E, 46050 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Tel: +60 3 77844 9777 Fax: +60 3 7784 4978
Email: empower05@gmail.com

3. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
7 Jalan 6/10, Petaling Jaya, 46000 Selangor, Malaysia.
Tel: +60 3 7785 6121 Fax: +60 3 7785 8737
Email: sisters@sistersinislam.org.my

4. All Women’s Action Society
85 Jalan 21/1, Sea Park, 46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Tel: +60 3 7877 4221 Email : awam@awam.org.my
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Urgent Action Needed:
Please send your letters of protest, appeals and interventions to the government of Malaysia to revoke the sentence on Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno and abolish corporal punishment to:

 

1. Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak,
Prime Minister of Malaysia,
Prime Minister’s Office,
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
62502 Putrajaya, Malaysia
Fax: +60 3 8888 3444
E-Mail: ppm@pmo.gov.my

2. Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail
Attorney-General of Malaysia
Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia
No. 45, Persiaran Perdana, Presint 4,
62100 Putrajaya, Malaysia
Tel : +60 3 8872 2000, Fax : +60 3 8890 5670
E-Mail: ag@agc.gov.my

3. Y.B. Senator Dato’ Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil
Minister of Women, Family and Community Development
Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development
Aras 1-6, Blok E, Kompleks Pejabat Kerajaan Bukit Perdana,
Jalan Dato’ Onn, 50515 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +60 3 2693 0095 Fax: +60 3 2693 8564
E-Mail: shahrizat@kpwkm.gov.my

4. Inspector-General of Police
Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Musa Bin Dato’ Hj. Hassan
Ibu Pejabat Polis Diraja Malaysia,
50560 Bukit Aman,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel: +60 3 2262 6222 Fax: +60 3 2070 7500
Email: musa@rmp.gov.my
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Sample Letter:Dear Madam/Sir,

 

We are writing to you to express our concern that a Malaysian citizen Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno has been sentenced by the Syariah High Court in the Malaysian state of Pahang to receive six (6) strokes of caning for consuming alcohol.

We urge the Malaysian government to revoke this sentence. Executing this sentence will amount to the torture of an individual by the state and contradicts Malaysia’s international commitments to uphold human rights principles.

We further urge the Malaysian government to review existing provisions in the State and Federal laws so as to abolish corporal punishment.

We urge the Government of Malaysia to continue to uphold human rights as guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

Sincerely,

[Name]

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Written by PahlawanVolunteers

August 22, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Accountability

A (H1N1): We Don’t Want to be Reduced to Mere Statistics!

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This is a time Malaysians want to see our politicians and government leaders stop politicking and power-grabbing; but becoming bi-partisan to deal with a national crisis. If a national viral crisis cannot shake the leadership up; we can only wait for the tragic record where Malaysia Boleh will score another first in the world H1N1 statistics.

By Foong Wai Fong, Co-Founder, Pahlawan Volunteers

Click on image to read Chinese Version on Malaysiakini.

The alarm on the AH1N1 flu pandemic is escalating. Worldwide, governments are on high alert. The latest issue of Time magazine asks the question on its cover, “H1N1: How Bad Will It Get?” The answer: “more than 2 billion worldwide will get it. Thousands of schools may shut down. And millions will need to be vaccinated – twice.”

It is also noted that the capacity of the world’s Pharma companies can only produce 800 million vaccines in a year; and there are 6 billion people in the world. We can imagine the consequences when the epidemic rages to its peak.  Besides, the vaccines are only available in October this year; and by the time the effect kicks in, it would be Christmas time!

What is going to happen in between? How many more people are going to fall victim to this global flu pandemic? Do we all want to be reduced to a mere statistics in the global pandemic history? Can you do something? What should we tell our governments?

It does look like we cannot rely on scientific or external too much. The only way to protect ourselves is to count on our own body; everyone needs to be resilient. We need to work on the surveillance system in our own community, our children’s schools and the neighborhood hospitals and clinics.  How do we do that?

What do we know?

Rule No 1: Take no chances, adopt a serious attitude towards the control of H1N1.

One very important response is for everyone to take this matter seriously. When the Spanish flu took 100 million lives in 1918, it too started very mildly and people don’t quite care. Today, two particular communities that are taking the matter with high alert is Hong Kong and China. One of the reasons for their serious response is the tragic SARS experience, which had shaken communities to their core in these two countries.

As a result of the SARS tragedy, it has made both citizen and government dead serious in their response to an impending epidemic. To date, no deaths have been reported in China and Hong Kong, a sign of the effectiveness of their response measures.

Rule No 2: Boost your immune system; make sure you stay healthy.

We must begin with what we know. AH1N1 is an entirely new virus; but it still works the way past flu has – by invading the body cell by cell. We are counting on our own immune system to respond in time to fight the virus.

The other fearful thing about the virus is it can mutate; the challenge is whether new vaccines and treatments can catch up with its rate of mutation; and whether our bodies have strong enough immune systems to boost its defense against the disease.

Rule No 3: Good hygiene and stay away if you are sick.

Yes, the good news about AH1N1, as we know it today is it is not a severe disease for those who are healthy. The groups most vulnerable are those with respiratory diseases such as asthma, children below 9. (Time Magazine shows 41% of all hospitalized are those below 9 years old, versus the normal flu only 19% of the same age group are hospitalized.)

We also know that pregnant women and older people with various ailments are high risks groups as well. The best news about the disease so far is it is not air borne. It only spreads via contact. Hence good hygiene and quarantine are the best mitigation strategy to containing the spread.

Response Strategy

Since there is only so much we can do to stop the spread; in fact, experts are now saying that in the H1N1 pandemic; it has become local in many regions. The response strategy cannot just be controlling its spread but moving on to mitigation of damaging effects.  While all the temperature checks and mandatory quarantine are still essential, time is overdue for us to move to raise the red alert among communities and to strengthen self-mitigation measures.

  1. Government must demonstrate that it is not taking any chances. There ought to be a special ACTION Council in the health ministry; with links to all the medical and health groups in the country; disseminating information and put the entire health care system in preparedness.First of all, all the nation’s health care workers must be adequately prepared and protected so that we don’ lose any capacity to deal with emergencies.Second, the entire medical community in the country must be mobilized; specialists, doctors, paramedics and all community health care groups including native herbal medical shops be mobilized to help citizens cope with treatment as well as prevention. There should be a website, hotline and a 24 hour surveillance team, that can broadcast the latest information and provide help whenever it is needed.Third, publishing the hot spots is a must; and any rising trends in any area must be broadcast immediately.  If one does not exist now; the Health Ministry should waste no time in setting it up. We would like to see the health minister canceling all his other political engagements to focus on getting this national surveillance and emergency-response system set up immediately.
  2. Raising citizen awareness is key to coping with the disease. The death toll today shows that something more needs to be done as soon as possible. It is noted that the disease is not that serious for those who are healthy. So the key here is to make people healthier; and to do that; we begin with diet and exercise.Malaysians ought to examine its diet carefully; avoid greasy and deep fried stuffs; drink lots of liquid and detox, either exercise or have a constant input of detox tonics such as Chinese medicinal herbal drinks.Those families who have the habit of preparing “balanced” meals know the theory of “nurturing life,” getting the body in balance so that your immune system can be strengthened to cope with viral attacks.
  3. Good ventilation and high quality air. Enclosed structures with air conditioning ought to check their air circulation system. Don’t make the air conditioning system the medium of transmission of the virus. Good ventilation at home and at work is key to promoting stronger respiratory immunity.Again the authorities must act on the rampant haze and polluted environment.  There is so much the people can do; it is critical that the enforcement departments get to work to tackle the root of the problem. The Ministry of Housing and Local Government and all the State Governments must be mobilized.
  4. Spread the response capacity as wide as possible. Mobilize all grassroots organizations to have the capacity to respond. For example, the decision to close the schools, offices or buildings must be left to their immediate heads.In the case of schools; the headmaster, sensing the seriousness of the flu situation among students can recommend closure; and so long as the PTA and the Board endorse it; they should be allowed to close immediately. The school need not wait for any confirmed H1N1 case, if the incidence of flu is high enough, the school should take precaution to keep the children home; while coming up with new ways of occupying the children.The worry here is if higher government authorities are involved; they are usually terribly slow and bureaucratic to be effective in dealing with a crisis. Many unnecessary victims die from inaction or delayed action, not from the lack of cure. The government has to come down from the high cathedral of power; and descend to the grass root to work with community groups.
  5. Don’t panic. Many people who are “worried well” may jam the health system and deprived the “seriously ill” timely treatment opportunities. To disperse the crowd, any clinic in the neighborhood should be equipped to deal with treatment, and no one has to wait in the queue of hundreds at government hospitals. Imagine, mixing the healthy with the infected; the sum total would be more infected cases! We should equip everyone with the knowledge to deal with the problem in order not to stress out the already ill-prepared health care system.
  6. Good hygiene and neighborhood cleanliness is key. This we hope to see all the Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen and women leading their communities to strive towards better hygiene habits. In Malaysia, don’t forget we are not just fighting the H1N1; we also have to deal with the increasing fatal cases of dengue fever – all these have something to do with the declining standard of hygiene in our neighborhoods.  Local leaders ought to mobilize community groups to initiate clean up operations as well as to promote good hygiene education. MPs and ADUNS, time to come out to do your real job.

This is a time Malaysians want to see our politicians and government leaders stop politicking and power-grabbing; but becoming bi-partisan to deal with a national crisis. If a national viral crisis cannot shake the leadership up; we can only wait for the tragic record where Malaysia Boleh will score another first in the world H1N1 statistics. Politicians must also remember they and their families are not spared in this crisis as well; the sooner they buck up the better the chances of their survival. Besides, what is that to fight or gripe if your valuable life is threatened!

Many of us are also realistic about systemic inertia of bureaucracy and know that we can only pray for the best. In the meantime, if none of us want to become a statistics in the global pandemic; we must rise to act; be responsible personally, reach out to the community to promote the mitigation response. We must all remember that no one could stay healthy if the community is not.

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Written by PahlawanVolunteers

August 19, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Posted in Accountability

Precautions to take against H1N1

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UPDATE: Fomca urges local authorities to help fight H1N1

PETALING JAYA, Sept 7 – The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) has called on all local authorities in the country to assist the Ministry of Health (MOH) in combating the spread of Influenza A (H1N1).

“It is a national crisis and it is just unfair to leave it just to the MOH to deal with the situation,” its secretary-general Muhammad Shaani Abdullah told Bernama today.

He said local authorities could do their part in ensuring the cleanliness of the surrounding especially the food stalls, restaurants and other eateries.

For example, he said the present “Bazaar Ramadhan” should be properly monitored to ensure that all food handlers observed personal hygiene and that the surrounding was clean.

“It is regrettable that the health departments in local authorities do not take measures to address this basic issue of cleanliness which was one important way to stop the spread of the disease,” he said.

He suggested that the MOH rope in all NGOs, local community, religious, political, social and business organisations and work out a plan with them to spread the word around on the various ways to contain the disease.

Schools should also set up their own “peer groups” to help educate and spread the message of cleanliness among students. “While the mass media was playing its role, it had its limitations and people needed to be reached at the grassroots level,” he said. – Bernama

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The problem is becoming more serious in Malaysia. 64 deaths and climbing. We should all note that China has 2000+ cases and Hong Kong has over 6000+; but no deaths has been reported. Believe this could be attributed to their experience in managing SARS, both the government and the public are on high alert and they are serious about controlling the epidemic.

Those of you who know about traditional Chinese medicine know that it is always important to boost our immunity. At a time like this, we should pay special attention to our living habits, especially our diet ( reduce greasy oily food and less deep fried); drink lots of water and make sure we have enough sleep. The body need to be strengthened to fight the virus.

Perhaps this advisory can be helpful to us all…

Here’s a comment by Malaysian Are Not Stupid

  • “We don’t need the Health Minister & Director General to just updating us on the number of new deaths and giving the same advise everyday ……”stay away if you have flu symptoms”. It’s the highest paid easiest job in the world. We are asking them to come out with a holistic plan to stop the spread of the H1N1 before more people die unnecessarily.”

Learn More

Written by PahlawanVolunteers

August 17, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Posted in Accountability