Official Statement: KPUM condemns the detention of Maria Chin Abdullah

*This statement was initially published on our Facebook page on 22nd November 2016*
The United Kingdom and Eire Malaysian Law Students’ Union (KPUM) condemns the detention of BERSIH 2.0 chairperson, Maria Chin Abdullah through the Special Offences (Security Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) for allegedly being involved in attempting to commit activities that are detrimental to parliamentary democracy, a special offence under Section 124C of the Penal Code [1].
According to lawyer Eric Paulsen, her detention will be extended to 28 days, the maximum number of days permitted under SOSMA, in addition to her initial 24 hours of detention since the afternoon of November 18, a day before the Bersih 5 rally. [2]
Pursuant to the purposes listed under subsection one of Article 149 of the Federal Constitution summarily that of “maintaining public order” and “security”, SOSMA may only be lawfully applied in relation to security offences and not against mere dissenters of government action or policy.
A detention solely for a person’s ‘political belief or political activity’ is unlawful as stated under Section 4 (3) of the Special Offences (Security Measures) Act 2012.
Under Section 12, ‘political belief or political activity’ means engaging in a lawful activity through:

a) the expression of an opinion or the pursuit of a course of action made according to the tenets of a political party that is at the relevant time registered under the Societies Act 1966 [Act 355] as evidenced by-
(i) membership of or contribution to that party ; or(ii) open and active participation in the affairs of that party;
(b) the expression of a opinion directed towards any Government in the Federation; or
(c) the pursuit of a course of action directed towards any Government in the Federation

It is clear that the recent activities by Maria Chin Abdullah, namely in having an active role in organising the Bersih 5 rally falls under Section 12 (b) and (c) as it is a lawful activity (read this if you are not convinced) expressing an opinion directed towards any Government and is in the pursuit of a course of action directed towards such a Government.
Therefore, her recent activities involving Bersih 5 should qualify as a ‘political belief or political activity’ for the purposes of Section 4 (3).
The wording of Section 4(3) is noted to mean that unless there are other reasons for the detention of a person other than their ‘political belief or political activity’ such a detention would be unlawful.
In the current situation, the other reason or purpose alleged is an attempt to commit activities that are detrimental to parliamentary democracy as stated under Section 124C.
The Union notes that such other reason(s) or purpose(s) could not be found from the recent activities of Maria Chin.
If anything, the Bersih 5 rally, which is a lawful [3] exercise of the right to freedom of assembly and association enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution and guaranteed under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, only serves to strengthen parliamentary democracy with its 5 demands which are [4] :

1. Clean Elections
2. Clean Government
3. Strengthen parliamentary democracy
4. Right to dissent
5. Empowering Sabah and Sarawak

It is alleged that the act of receiving funds from the Open Society Foundation could also constitute the reasons for her detention but as addressed by the Malaysian Bar in their statement, such an action does not constitute as an activity against parliamentary democracy as defined by the provisions of the Section 130A of the penal code.
We are confident that such activities are not detrimental to parliamentary democracy and any attempts to commit such an activity should not fall within Section 124C of the Penal Code.
Our confidence in the matter is also supported by our arrival at the conclusion that the extension of her detention to 28 days is disproportionate for the purposes of investigation under Section 4(5).
It is also unlawful as we observe that her activities are solely for her ‘political belief or political activity’ as defined under Section 12 of SOSMA.
Moreover, according to lawyer R. Sivarasa, Maria Chin is currently being held in solitary confinement in a windowless cell at an undisclosed location. [5] These are inhumane and oppressive conditions of detention that are extremely unwarranted.
We are in support of a habeas corpus application to court [6] through the enforcement of her right under Article 5(2) of the Federal Constitution, ’where the courts shall inquire into any complaints of unlawful detention and unless satisfied that the detention is lawful, shall order the person to be produced before the court and release him/her’.
As such, we stand in solidarity with Maria Chin and her family and outright condemn the unlawful detention of Maria Chin under SOSMA due to the reasons stated above.
*We might update our statement in light of any new and accurate information regarding the reasons for Maria Chin’s detention.
Uniting Law Students, Empowering Future Lawyers, Furthering the Rule of Law.
On behalf of the Union,

Tan Ian

President 2016/17,

Goh Cia Yee

Human Rights Officer 2016/17,

Kesatuan Penuntut Undang-Undang Malaysia di UK & Eire (KPUM).

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