Today marks day 588 of Anwar Ibrahim’s incarceration.
Considering their political differences and history between the two, it was humility and grace in its highest form for Anwar.
National Security Council Act (NSC) 2016
While the ruling government claims that the NSC act is crucial in their effort to combat terrorism and radicalization, critics are claiming that the act gives the prime minister and security forces unfettered power. The act allows the prime minister to declare security zone for up to 6 months where arrests and seizures can be made without warrants and total control of all departments including the military and police. The opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan has expressed their opposition to it with a statement calling it “bringing Malaysia to the brink of dictatorship”
“Subject to his whims and fancies, Najib can now declare any area a “security area” for six months at a time, a period of which he is authorized to renew indefinitely. The NSC Act empowers security force with arbitrary powers of violence and deadly force, warrantless arrest, search and seizure, and imposition of curfews. Despite disenfranchising Malaysians to such new lows, the NSC Act also decrees a ban that disallows any action, suit or proceedings to be brought against the NSC Council.” It’s presidential council said.[i]
Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific, Josef Benedict raised his concern stating, “With this new law, the government now has spurned checks and assumed potentially abusive powers”.
“There is good reason to fear that the Act will be yet another tool in the hands of the government to crack down on peaceful protests under the guise of national security,” Josef Benedict further added[ii]
Anwar is currently challenging the constitutional legality of the act by filing a suit from prison claiming that the act came into force without royal assent as the regent council had earlier requested the law to be further refined[iii]. It’s clear that the fighting spirit is still alive in Anwar as he is still leading the charge in challenging the ruling government even behind bars.
Birthday Celebration Of Anwar Ibrahim
On 10th Aug 2016, some 500 supporters of Anwar congregated outside the Sg Buloh Prison to celebrate his 69th birthday. A large birthday cake was brought on to the makeshift stage where Anwar’s family members, friends and supporters were already gathered as early as 8pm.
Many political and activist leaders spoke on stage demanding the release of Anwar. They also rallied all Malaysians to remain united to bring down the curtains for Barisan Nasional, the ruling party.
Subsequent to the gathering, two elected opposition representatives were called in for questioning by the police force for their involvement in the gathering outside Sungai Buloh prison. Peoples Justice Party’s Vice-President and Member or Parliament, Rafizi Ramli and assemblyman Lee Chean Chung was brought in for questioning for supposingly speaking and singing during the gathering[iv][v].
Tangkap MO1 Rally
After the US justice department coined the term Malaysian Official Number 1(MO1), a rally was called by student activists to put further pressure on the person known to be MO1, Prime Minister Najib.
Leading up to the rally slated to be on the 27th of August, three student activists were detained for promoting the rally under the Peaceful Assembly Act[vi]. This prompted Amnesty International to again come out with a statement urging to stop penalizing peaceful assembly and dissent[vii]. The rally went on and a few thousands turned up for it. What made it significant was the rally was organized and attended primarily by student activists clearly frustrated by the current political climate plaguing the country[viii].
Sedition Blitz Continues
Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) Youth vice-chief Mohd Fakhrulrazi Mohd Mokhtar was sentenced to 8 months in jail for the crime of sedition. The “crime” was allegedly made during the #KitaLawan rally February last year which was held to call for the release of Anwar after the start of his sentencing.
The Sessions Court judge when passing his judgment said “..the remark brought about hatred, excite dissatisfaction against the government and the administration of justice in the judiciary..and serves as a deterrent to others.[ix]
Again we see the blatant use of a draconian act to impede the most basic of human rights, freedom of speech. It continues to be used by the government as a tool to intimidate and stifle dissent against opposition activists.
Next month I will share the latest setback faced by the opposition coalition where the Election Commission (EC) recently announce a new redelineation of electoral boundaries that will increase gerrymendering and mallaportionment and benefit greatly the current ruling government.
From my recent family visit with Anwar, he sends his regards to all his friends. He is resolute in his fight but certainly hopes that the imprisonment will end soon. Please continue with your prayers and thoughts, pass the message of his struggle so that his pain and suffering will not remain unknown.
Thank you and till next month.
On behalf the family of Anwar Ibrahim