Letter – Joint petition to the Prime Minister for the immediate release of the six Sabahans detained under the International Security Act

Democratic Action Party

To all MPs 15th November 1991

Yang Berhormat,

Joint petition to the Prime Minister for the immediate release of the six Sabahans detained under the International Security Act

The detention of six Sabahans without trial under the International Security Act is receiving increasing international attention as the latest example of violation of human rights in Malaysia.

The six Sabahans under detention in Kamunting Detention Centre are accused of involvement in a conspiracy to take Sabah out of Malaysia but this serious allegation had not been backed up with one iota of evidence, whether in the courts or at the bar of public opinion or in Parliament by way of a Government White Paper.

Amnesty International, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its fight for prisoners of conscience throughout the world, issued an eight-page report in October 1991 entitled: “ Malaysia: Administrative Detention of Sabahans” where it said:

“The federal authorities have not presented any evidence to substantiate its public accusation that the seven ISA detainees were engaged in a plot ‘to take Sabah out of the Federation of Malaysia’. None of them have been charged or tried.

“Amnesty International believe that the seven may have been detained solely for their non-violent and lawful work within the Sabah-based political party, the PBS, and as a consequence of political conflicts between the PBS and the federal government. The detainees may be held indefinitely without charge or trial under the Internal Security Act, in violation of their right to defend themselves against the accusations made before a court of law in accordance with internationally accepted legal procedures. The government has made allegations in public against the seven while not allowing the accused the right to defend themselves in a fair and public trial”.

The seventh Sabah detainee, Maximus Ongkali, was released at the end of the initial 60 day custody under the ISA.

The Amnesty International special document on the Sabah detentions concluded: “In the present case, the opportunities open to the Sabah detainees to seek redress from the courts and to seek an independent appeal or review of their case is extremely limited.

“Administrative detention is the practice of some countries, including Malaysia, of detaining persons by the decision of an administrative authority rather than as a result of a judicial process. Any system of administrative or preventive detention which invests and executive authority with the power to detain individuals without charge or trial risks being used to circumvent the due process of law and the authority of the courts. In such situations, individual may be arbitrarily detained for purposes of harassment or intimidation, as a means of facilitating oppressive and illegal interrogation, or to silence non-violent basis human rights such as the right to freedom of expression and belief and to freedom of association. These dangers are especially present where the system of administrative detention fails to provide detainees with any opportunity for effective remedy of violation of their fundamental right through a form of judicial appeal.”

ASIA WATCH also issued a special report on October 18, 1991 on the Sabah detentions entitled “Malaysia: Detainees in Sabah” which said: “ASIA WATCH believes they were arrested for the peaceful expression of their political views and association with a political party that had run afoul of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir.”

The six Sabahans detained under the ISA are Damit Undikai, 54, Benedict Tooin 37 and Albunus Yunus, 41, Abdul Rahman Ahmad, 51, Vincent Chung, 48 and Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, 43.

As Parliamentarians, MPs should be in the forefront in the national concern for human rights and cannot abdicate from their responsibility by giving a blank cheque under the ISA to the Executive. Having enacted the ISA, Malaysian MPs have a greater responsibility to speak and act against arbitrary detentions without trial.

I am therefore writing to you to ask you to support a Joint Petition by Malaysian MPs, regardless of party, to the Prime Minister, Datuk Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to express grave concern at the continued detention of the six Sabah detainees when the Government had not been able to give one iota of evidence to substantiate its serious allegations against them; and to urge the Prime Minister to immediately and unconditionally release the six Sabahans or charge them in a court of law which would give them a chance to clear their name.

If you are prepared to support this Joint Petition, please sign and return the attached Petiton to me, c/o Parliament, Malaysia by 6th December 1991.

Thanking you in anticipation.
Your sincerely,

(Lim Kit Siang)
MP for Tanjung
YAB Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed,
Prime Minister,

YAB Datuk Seri,

Joint Petition by Malaysian MPs urging the immediate and unconditional release of six Sabahans detained under the Internal Security Act.
There is increasing national and international concern about the detention of six Sabahans under the Internal Security Act, who had been detained for an alleged plot for the secession of Sabah from Malaysia.

However, no evidence has been produces in connection with the plot to take Sabah out of Malaysia, either in the courts, the bar of public opinion or by way of a Government White Paper.

As Malaysian MPs concerned about human rights and the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Malaysian Constitutional, we urge YAB Prime Minister to immediately and unconditionally release the six Sabahans, namely Damit Undikai, Benedict Topin, Albinus Yudah, Abdul Rahman Ahmad, Vincent Chung and Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan from detention or they should be charged in a court of law to give them a chance to answer charges against them and to clear their name.

Your Sincerely,
MP for