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Cecil Rajendra wins Suhakam award

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Penang-based lawyer and poet Cecil Rajendra, a long-time contributor to Aliran, has received Suhakam’s award under the individual category for his efforts in promoting human rights in Malaysia.

Cecil Rajendra - Photograph: Daniel Lee, Penang Monthly
Cecil Rajendra – Photograph: Daniel Lee, Penang Monthly

The award was presented on Human Rights Day on 10 December.

Cecil set up the first free legal aid centre for the poor in 1976.

Some of his articles and poems, which have received international attention, have been published by Aliran Monthly over the years.

His best known poem, The Animal & Insect Act, has been featured by Amnesty International and published in Aliran as well.

Finally, in order to ensure
absolute national security
they passed the Animal & Insect
Emergency Control & Discipline Act.

Under this new Act, buffaloes
cows and goats were prohibited
from grazing in herds of
more than three.

Neither could birds flock,
nor bees swarm …..
This constituted unlawful assembly.

As they had not obtained prior
planning permission, mud-wasp
sand swallows were issued with
summary Notices to Quit.

Their homes were declared subversive
extensions to private property.

Monkeys and mynahs
were warned to stop
relaying their noisy
morning orisons until an official
Broadcasting Licence was issued
by the appropriate Ministry.

Unmonitored publications &
broadcasts posed the gravest
threats in times of a National Emergency.

Similarly, woodpeckers had
to stop tapping their morse-code
messages from coconut
tree-top to chempaka tree.

All messages were subject
to a thorough pre-scrutiny
by the relevant authorities.

Java sparrows were arrested in
droves for rumour-mongering.

Cats (suspected of conspiracy)
had to be indoors by 9 o’clock

Cicadas and crickets received
notification to turn their amp-lifiers down.

Ducks could not
quack nor turkeys gobble during
restricted hours.

Need I say,
all dogs — alsatians,
dachshunds, terriers,
pointers and even
little chihuahuas — were muzzled.

In the interests of security
penguins and zebras were
ordered to discard their
non-regulation uniforms.

The deer had to surrender
their dangerous antlers.

Tigers and all carnivores
with retracted claws were
sent directly to prison
for concealing lethal weapons.

And by virtue of Article Four,
paragraph 2(b) sub-Subsection sixteen,
under no circumstances
were elephants allowed
to break wind between
the hours of six and six.
Their farts could easily
be interpreted as gunshot.
Might spark off a riot …..

A month after the Act
was properly gazetted
the birds and insects
started migrating south
the animals went north
and an eerie silence
handcuffed the forests.

There was now
Total Security.

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