Malaysia. According to COUNTRYAAH, Malaysia has a population of 31.53 million (2018). A number of Christian churches were subjected to arson and vandalism at the beginning of the year, after a court issued a government ban for Christians to use the word Allah about God. A Sikh temple was also attacked and pig heads were thrown into mosque areas, in what was believed to be “counterattacks”. Muslims regard pigs as unclean. Both Muslim and Christian religious leaders and King Mizan Zainal Abidin appealed for calm and respect for all shrines. Religious violence is very rare in Malaysia.
The trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim began in February. He had been indicted for sodomy in 2008, when another man claimed that Anwar forced him into sexual intercourse. Homosexuality is a criminal offense in Malaysia. Anwar announced that he intended to call Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife to testify in court. He accused them of being part of a conspiracy to destroy his political career. Human rights organizations also believe that the charge against Anwar is politically motivated. Anwar previously served six years in prison for sodomy before being released in 2004. Several pauses were made in the trial.
In February, the Minister of the Interior announced that three women convicted of adultery had been punished with a whip in a prison. It was the first time that criminal punishment was sentenced against women under Sharia law, which is used in family law contexts among Malaysian Muslims.
However, the punishment against a female photo model convicted of drinking beer at a nightclub in 2009 was not executed. In April, the Sultan of the Penang state converted the sentence to three weeks of community service at an orphanage. It is forbidden for the country’s Muslims to drink alcohol, but the case attracted much attention in Western media. Many feared it would disrupt the image of Malaysia as a moderate Muslim country. Violence is normally used primarily against men convicted of crimes, such as rape or corruption.
In March 2016, independent news portal The Malaysian Insider was shut down for commercial reasons, after being blocked by the government. The backdrop was the portal’s critical coverage of the 1MDB scandal.
The state censorship law – the Communications and Multimedia Act – was increasingly used to strike government critics and dissidents. In June 2016, activist Fahmi Reza was twice indicted for caricaturing the Prime Minister as a clown. Muhammad Amirul Zakwan pleaded guilty to making abusive remarks about the Prince of Johor on Facebook and was sentenced to a 2-year stay at a reform school. At least 3 others were also charged, arrested or investigated for making posts criticizing the prince. Three government critics were charged with exit bans. Including the cartoonist and political activist Zunar. In May, political activist Hishamuddin Rais was found guilty of a riot and appealed a $ 1,400 fine. He had called for political reform. Student activist Adam Adli received a similar fine for the same charge. Youth activist Mohd Fakhrulrazi was sentenced to 8 months in prison for rioting after calling for the release of Anwar Ibrahim.
In November, Rafizi Ramli, Vice President of Opposition Party Parti Keadlian Rakyat, was convicted of violating confidentiality laws. He had published a page from the state attorney’s report on the 1MDB scandal, which remained classified as secret, despite being sent to parliament in April. Ramli was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and this sentence excludes him from parliamentary activity for 5 years after his release.
Authorities are still adopting tougher laws that violate human rights. The Security Offenses Measures Act (SOSMA) allowed it to detain suspects for up to 28 days before being charged or brought before a judge. Even tougher laws extended this deadline to 60 days. This legislation was routinely applied and the retention period was routinely used for torture. In August 2016, the new National Security Council Act came into force. It provided extended rights to arrest, search without a warrant, state of emergency, and authority to suspend investigations into killings committed by security forces.
Despite the regime’s close relations with the United States and the EU, at the end of 2016 there was concern both from over the deterioration in the human rights situation in the country.