Malaysia: Tian Chua, Vice-president of the National Justice Party | Letter

Re: Tian Chua, Vice-president of the National Justice Party

To: Minister of Home Affairs & Deputy Prime Minister

From: Brian Donovan of LRWC

Date: 2003-05-14

We are concerned about the detention and treatment in custody of Chua Tian Chang (Tian Chua) and other individuals detained under Malaysia’s Internal Security Act (the ISA). It is reported that Tian Chua was arrested under Section 73(1) of the ISA on April 10, 2001. He was one of a number of political activists detained while organizing a mass rally to be held on April 14, 2001 to commemorate the second anniversary of the imprisonment of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. They were also reportedly planning to present a memorandum to Suhakam, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission.

Tian Chua was held in solitary confinement for the first sixty days of his detention. During this period he was denied access to legal counsel and medical care. He claims that he was never questioned concerning the allegations which ostensibly led to his detention, namely, allegations of “trying to overthrow the government through violent means,” and we are not aware of any cogent evidence to support these allegations.

On June 3, 2001 a two year detention order was issued under the ISA by the Home Minister and Tian Chua has been incarcerated at the Kamunting Detention Centre ever since. It is reported that he has been subjected to brutality, torture and other ill treatment while in custody.

We are very concerned that Tian Chua’s detention has been politically motivated. This concern is exacerbated by the similar treatment reportedly received by other detainees under the ISA in similar circumstances, namely Hishamuddin Rais, Saari Sungib, Dr. Badrul Amin Bahron, and Lokman Noor Adam. The ISA detention orders in respect of these individuals should not be renewed upon their expiration, and, more particularly, we call for their immediate release from custody unless they are charged with recognizably criminal offences and promptly brought to trial with proper access to counsel and the ability to confront the witnesses and evidence against them.

More generally, we respectfully suggest that the ISA, in its present form, does not conform to internationally recognized legal standards in that it permits the detention of individuals without charge, for what may amount indefinite periods of incarceration. As presently constituted, the ISA is subject to political abuse and should be repealed or substantially amended to bring it into conformity with standards of legality generally recognized by the international community.

The courtesy of your early action and reply would be appreciated.