A Suggestion to Malaysiakini: How About Holding a Contest to draft a Malaysian Bill of (Human) Rights?

I have been following with interest the anti ISA vigil from Malaysiakini and also from the blogs – courtesy also from Malaysiakini blog search.

I understand from the Malaysiakini news piece – Anti-ISA vigil dispersed with water cannon, the main issue is about the issuance of a permit:

Yesterday, Dang Wangi OCPD ACP Zulkarnain Abdul Rahman claimed that GMI had “refused” to submit an application form for the gathering when told to do so during a meeting on Wednesday.

GMI however refuted this, claiming that the documents had already been submitted on Dec 26, 2007 which was followed up by a letter on Dec 28.

Zulkarnain had acknowledged the letter and replied on Jan 2, stating that the permit to hold the event was denied among others, on grounds of national security and that GMI was not a formally registered body. [See letter from police]

Can you believe all that haggling over the so called technicalities. And that such an issue got reported in the press !!!

In my opinion this is a shame. I mean all this technicalities and all the red-tape. This is plain nonsense. In my opinion there are very crucial issues with regard to the ISA. These crucial issues sadly have been clouded by all these permit thing…

And then it seems that the whole thing (the GMI vigil) was forgotten. At least in Malaysiakini, there is no follow up. Of course the top news is about the Hindraf affair –The silver lining in Hindraf rally. And there is a litle bit about ISA in that news-piece. Other than that, there nothing about the ISA.

And then I got the feeling that on Monday, the headlines in Malaysiakini revolves around more mundane issues. Now, I won’t say those issues are not important, but sometimes I could not help but think that there is at least something that websites like Malaysiakini and others in the cyberworld can do in relation and as a follow-up to the ISA vigil.

I have a suggestion. But before that a review on the ISA is given:

Yes, ISA is very crucial for national security
Some people would say that ISA (Internal Security Act) is crucial for national security. I understand this line of argument. Rationally speaking, there are merits for maintaining the ISA.

But the ISA should not be in the present form
However, I would like to express my dissatisfaction over the mechanics of implementation (of ISA). Particularly I do not agree that the power to execute the ISA rests on the executive. I always wish that any execution or exercise of the ISA must be subject to judiciary and parliamentary review. In this regard the time frame to detain people under ISA must be limited to an absolute minimum. And after that period expires, the government cannot automatically renew it. An extension must be subjected to judicial approval. Also the ultimate power to exercise ISA must collectively rest in the parliament. In this regard, the Home Minister and the Prime Minister must report their actions on the use of ISA to the parliament. Of course, such a report must and should be made available to the public. In this regard, the executive is seen as to exercise the power that is given by the legislative. Or in other words, the executive, when it comes to the exercise of the ISA, is merely an agent of the legislature.

Also, the detainess have a right to appeal to the judiciary within the detention period, and the judiciary after receiving such appeals can over ride the executive order (on the use of ISA) if the exercise of the ISA is not in accordance with protecting national security.

But more importantly, the rights of individuals must be enshrined and protected !!!
So far, I have suggested some measures to ameliorate the more harsh aspects of the ISA. More importantly for Malaysia is that: we need to have a National Bill of Rights. This Bill of Rights have the purpose of protecting the rights of each and every individual in Malaysia (read carefully – each and every – this means all people irrespective of their national origins, race and religion, creed and ideology).

Ok, so Malaysia does not have a Bill of Rights. I wonder if DAP (Democratic Action Party) or PAS (Partai Islam Se-Malaysia) have a draft of the Bill of Rights. I wonder if any one out there in the internet who is reading this post have a draft of a Bill of Right that can be considered applicable to Malaysia.

Do any of the of the bloggers out there have some suggestions on what the Malaysian Bill of Rights should be?

My suggestion to Malaysiakini – A Contest to Draft the Malaysian Bill of Rights

Allright, so what we can do about it? Of course, I and others can write an e-mail to the Prime Minister’s Department and suggest that Malaysia should have a Bill Rights. Similarly we can write an e-mail to Lim Kit Siang about this issue. And surely to Haji Abdul Hadi bin Awang about this issue. And we can write to Anwar Ibrahim too….

Somehow I have doubts. I doubt that the PM will ever respond to my mail. And I think that the opposition leaders have other more important things to consider – like the impending general elections which is quite possible soon.

However at this stage I have a better solution…

I think I would like to take this opportunity to suggest to Malaysiakini to hold a contest to draft a Malaysian Bill of Rights. Of course, when talking about contests, we always think of the prizes. The prizes should be in the discretion of Malaysiakini editors and management. I am sure that such a competition will in a way further promote and enhance democracy in Malaysia.

At the very least, this contest can send a signal to our Malaysian leaders that such a thing is important to the people of Malaysia.

How should a Bill of Rights sound.. or looks like..??
If readers are interested, there is one example of a Bill of Rights. I will use an Australian example. Australia does not have a Bill of Rights. As has been said by many, Australia is the only western country with no Bill of Rights. However, there are some suggestions to what this Bill of Rights should be.

Readers can read it one such suggestion here, from the Human Rights Act for Australia.

Please do read the draft (pdf, word) and the explanatory information (pdf, word).

Of course, there are other Bill of Rights if we consider other Western countries.

Just to motivate people about the Bill of Rights: If Malaysia does enact a Bill of Rights, it will be one of the few countries in Asia to do so.

So what do you think…. Can Malaysiakini hold a contest a contest to draft a Malaysian Bill of (Human) Rights?. I suppose it will not be that hard…. just make some space in your news portal and advertise the contest. Of course Malaysiakini can use the prizes to entice entries: like a trip to the British Library to view one of the copies of the original Magna Carta.

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