Tan Jo Hann finds the harassment and intimidation of NGOs to be uncalled for and highly disrespectful of basic rights.
On the morning of 22 July 2013, at about 10.30am, Komas director Tan Jo Hann, who was served notice by the KDN (Home Ministry) Film Censorship Control and Enforcement Division, presented himself together with Komas legal counsel New Sin Yew and Komas staff with other NGO representatives at the premises to record his statement.
The session was videotaped and conducted by enforcement officers Akilah Bakri and Royston. Tan Jo Hann was with legal counsel New Sin Yew. The session lasted about two hours with the officers asking questions which were responded to by Tan.
It was very noticeable that the trend of questioning in the beginning was focused on the set up, structure and objectives of Pusat Komas rather than the film screening, which was the main topic of their investigation.
Tan and his lawyer then insisted that the line of questioning should focus on the topic at hand – the film screening event which was raided by 30 enforcement officers and police on the night of 3 July 2013. That incident ended with the KDN officers and police arresting three Komas staff members and director, and Tan Jo Hann stood bail for them then.
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It was also revealed to us by the director of the division before the interrogation session that there was an intention to extend the bail period for another month after its expiry on 5 August. Komas is of the notion that this is highly unnecessary and obviously a harassment of the civil society members and basic human rights of the three arrested namely Anna Har, Arul Prakkash and Lena Hendry.
We strongly urge and recommend the Attorney General Chambers to immediately drop the case against them and cease all investigations into the incident as well as Pusat Komas. We feel that there is no basis for such overreactions by the authorities over a peaceful and educational event: the film screening of the documentary feature “No Fire Zone”.
Instead the Home Ministry’s Film Censorship Control and Enforcement Division and whoever the higher-ups pulling the strings on this case and witch-hunting for persons to blame should focus on more pressing and urgent matters in our country today. One such urgent issue is the need to intensify their operations on the continued and unhealthy practices of illegal pornographic VCDs being sold in many night markets (pasar malam), shopping centres, and commercial areas often very accessible to schoolchildren.
We find that this form of harassment tactics employed to intimidate civil society organisations and social bodies are uncalled for and highly disrespectful of the basic rights accorded to all Malaysian under Article 10 of the Malaysian constitution which ensures the right to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of association.
We also denounce and condemn certain mainstream or online media that have labelled the three arrested and Pusat Komas of being terrorist supporters. We intend to file legal proceedings against these publications unless they make written public apologies and give written assurances that this sort of wild allegations would not be repeated.
Tan Jo Hann is director of Pusat Komas