Biweekly Human Rights Roundup

Orang Asli Forced to Scavenge, Jawi Signage Challenged, and Drug Laws… Human Rights Round-up (21/02/20)


  1. Australia’s highest court ruled indigenous people cannot be deported
21 Feb 2

In a landmark ruling, Australia’s highest court ruled two Indigenous men, even though born overseas and never applied for citizenship, cannot be deported. Both men had been living in Australia with permanent residency visas, but their visas were revoked due to conviction of crimes with prison sentences of more than a year.

Australia’s conservative government had sought to treat the men as foreigners and deport them to Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. However, in a 4-3 ruling, Australia’s High Court said the men must be treated like citizens and can therefore remain.

The men’s lawyer said this case is not merely about citizenship, it is significant for Aboriginal Australians – “it’s about who belongs here, who is an Australian national and who is a part of the Australian community”.


  1. Rompin Orang Asli forced to scavenge to be given jobs and infrastructures
21 Feb 1
(SC Shekar)


Last Friday, photos of Orang Asli children scavenging on heaps of garbage was published by the Malay Mail. This prompted Senator P Waythamoorthy from the Prime Minister Department to look into the issue. After visiting the site in Rompin, Pahang, he proposed to gazette the land their village is in, Kampung Bukit Biru, as an Orang Asli settlement for the Jakun community.

It is discovered that some Orang Asli had been living near the dumpsite despite the absence of running water or sanitation because they could earn up to RM700 a month through scavenging. To address this, Mr Waythamoorthy said the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) would temporarily provide clean water, and a company will be sought to install a solar power system pending a permanent solution.

In light of the health concerns, the villagers will be prohibited from scavenging. They will be provided with alternative jobs in agriculture, landfill work, fish rearing etc.

2. Suhakam inquiry found missing activist Joshua Hilmy was investigated by religious authorities


#EnforcedDisappearance #SUHAKAM #FreedomofReligion

At the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) public inquiry, witness Peter Pormannan testified that the missing activist previously informed him that he was wanted by an unnamed religious authority. When asked during the inquiry if Joshua was investigated or threatened, Peter elaborated that Joshua did not say he was being threatened, simply being investigated. He recounted that Joshua had told him that the investigation was because he wanted to alter the religious status on his MyKad from Muslim to Christian.

3. Kuantan traders challenge state government & town council over Jawi signage


#Jawi #Art8EqualityClause

Three businessmen sought judicial review against the Kuantan Municipal Council and the Pahang government to revoke the use of Jawi on signboards at premises. The order instructed all business premises and road signs to use Jawi, with the script in the same size to the Roman letters.

The plaintiffs want a declaration that the power of the local authority to subject licences with conditions (Section 107(2) of the Local Government Act 1976) is in breach of the equality clause under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution. They also claimed that forcing the use of Jawi will be against Article 152 of the Federal Constitution (freedom to use languages other than the national language) and Section 9 of National Language Act 1963/67 (script of national language).

4. Government to review drug laws


#DrugsLaw #DeathPenalty

After launching the National Anti-Drug Month, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that the government will review the drugs law in Malaysia, particularly the distribution and abuse of drugs. He said that there were comments on whether the mandatory death penalty for possessing a certain amount of drugs is too harsh and ineffective as a deterrent. The government may amend the law so those found guilty will be sentenced to life imprisonment instead.

Furthermore, he also mentioned that the government will study if the claims are true and are there other ways to prevent the usage and trafficking of drugs. According to his speech, there are approximately 404 drug and substance abusers and addicts for every 100,000 people. There is also an increase of 23.2% of drug abusers and addicts in 2019 compared to 2018.

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