Statement of Support
DEFEND OUR DEMOCRATIC AND CIVIL LIBERTY AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION
The CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) expresses its support and solidarity for Andrew Ambrose (aka Atama Katama), who is currently the Asia regional representative of the platform.
The Sabah-based indigenous musician-activist is facing possible detention for defamation against Dr. Herman James Luping, former Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah, Malaysia. The lawsuit was in response to Atama’s comments made on behalf of Bersih Sabah regarding Dr. Luping’s controversial appointment to the Royal Commission of Inquiry. Bersih Sabah is the Sabah Chapter of Bersih 2.0, a coalition for free and fair elections endorsed by over 60 Malaysian NGOs seeking electoral reforms and promotion of democratic rights in Malaysia. Atama, then spokesperson of Bersih Sabah and it’s National Steering Committee Member, questioned Dr. Luping’s (former state attorney-general) credibility and integrity to hold government position. The activist cited Dr. Luping’s involvement in a highly publicized corruption case in the 1980s, soliciting RM1 million from timber tycoon Victor Wong Chet.
In 2014, the Sessions Court in Sabah demanded Atama to pay a huge sum of money amounting to 340,000 USD (approximately 1.4 million RM) for “damages” to Dr. Luping. The High Court of Sabah dismissed Atama’s appeal against the judgment of the Sessions Court.
We strongly condemn this act of threatening democratic space for dissent and expression. An operational and enabling environment for civic society freedoms are critical to a democratic society. This form of harassment does not happen in Malaysia alone. CPDE opposes the alarming trend of shrinking democratic spaces for civil society worldwide. Despite their commitments, governments in the region continue to introduce various forms of legal and regulatory policy restrictions varying from restrictive NGO laws to curtailment of the fundamental rights of the people to expression and association.
As civil society, we call on the Malaysian government to stop any form of political persecution and harassment, and to drop all charges against Atama and other activists. It is the duty of the State to protect, defend, and serve the interest of its people, regardless of political persuasion.
We call for international solidarity among our fellow civil society activists, human rights advocates and United Nations agencies to put pressure on the High Court of Sabah & Sarawak to defend our democratic and civil liberties including our rights to freedom of speech and information.
ASSERT OUR DEMOCRATIC AND CIVIL LIBERTY!
STOP LEGAL HARASSMENT! DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST ATAMA!
PROTECT OUR RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION!
SUPPORT ENABLING ENVIRONMENT FOR CIVIL SOCIETY!
CPDE ASIA SECRETARIAT
CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness – Asia
3rd Floor, 114 Timog Avenue, Quezon City 1103, Philippines