Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Newsline With Jim Middleton -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) This Program Is Captioned


Hello. Welcome to Newsline. I'm Jim Middleton. Coming up,

Thailand's government lifts the state of emergency in provinces but keeps state of emergency in six

provinces but keeps Bangkok

locked down. The government

obviously wants to keep this

emergency power in its hands because it gives it formidable powers to crack down on any opposition political

activity. Controlling dissent in Thailand later in the program.

But first to Malaysia, where half a century ago, British colonial authorities introduced

detention without trial to curb

a serious Communist The communist threat's long a serious Communist insurgency.

gone but Act is still in force, proving a useful government tool for reining in political

opposition. More than 10,000 people have been the provisions of the Act. Last people have been detaind under

weekend, riot police prevented

activists holding candlelit

vigil s around the country to

mark the 50th anniversary of the Internal Security Act. More than 30 demonstrators were arrested. Premesh Chandran is

co-founder and CEO of Malaysian

Premesh Chandran, welcome to news web site Malaysiakini.

the program. Thanks, Jim. the program. Thanks, Jim. It's

nice to be on ABC again. The Communist insurgency has been over in Malaysia for 50 years. What's the government's

this argument for keeping a law of

this kind on the books for so

long? Well, in the last 20, 30

years the law has really used supposedly on threats of years the law has really been

national security. But

generally, they have been used

against political opponents in many a times. There's been some use of the law against alleged terrorists but those have been in

in the minority. You know, so really the opposition against the Internal Security Act, it's

used against the political

opposition. So what extent though is the Internal Security Act used against terrorists rather than against the

government's political opponents? There have been some arrests of alleged arrests of alleged terrorists

in the last few years but even

in those cases the evidence is

what flimsy. Those who even these alleged terrorists should be brought to a court of law.

law. Some evidence produce ed

that they're implicated in some

sort of act of terrorism, but sort of act

the Act was heavily used in the

the 90s. For example, it was # 0s and 80s. And somewhat in

used against the former Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in Minister Anwar Ibrahim in 1998,

when he was arrested. It was

again used in the last couple

of years against some figures. So the opposition

against the Act is really the

fact that it's being used as a

political tool by a government

which has been in power for the

last 50 years. Apart from the Anwar Ibrahim case, can you

give some other examples of

people the ISA has been used

against to target opposition to the government and also to

limit freedom of speech? In

1987, when Dr Mahatir was Prime

Minister, he detained up to 100 individuals people like a member of Parliament, then

Opposition Leader Kapral Singh

from the democratic party, church activists, trade church leaders, community activists, the whole gamut of activists, trade union

dissent. Is it your estimate

then that the ISA is being used with increasing against the government's with increasing frequency

political currently, the government's political opponents? Well,

really on a back pedal with

regards to use of the ISA. In

admitted that perhaps the ISA fact the government

should be reformed and the use

of the ISA should be curtailed or limited. The of the ISA should be somewhat

Malaysian Human Rights Commission has called for the repeal of the Act or severe

modifications of the Act to not

allow the law to be used as a

political tool. Malaysia does

of course have some experience with Islamist terrorism rather, extremism anyway. Do with Islamist terrorism or

human rights activists accept

that some legislation to deal

with Islamist terrorism is essential? Well, if compare, for example, Malaysia and Indonesia, there were far

more acts of violence in

Indonesia as people in

Australia are very much aware Government has never, you know, of. And the Indonesian

used such a tool like the

Internal Security Act to allow

for detentions without trial. They have investigated and

charged and criminaliseed in

court the culprits of

terrorism. We really find that

giving broad powers of

without bringing them to trial government to arrest people

is no solution to acts of extremism. What impact does presence of the Act and the extremism. What impact does the

fact that the government is prepared to do it have prepared to do it have on

journalists and on the media Malaysia? Very much throughout journalists and on the media in

the 80s and 90s the Internal

Security Act was at the

forefront of the sort of

curbing of dissent and we have

seen very much the media and various political forces being

controlled by true fear of the

use of being detained. Not only for two years, but indefinite detention. But since detention. But since the

Internet has come about and

there's been much more development of media freedom

especially onlirns all the especially onlirns all

traditional media is still

curbed, people are much more courageous and are coming out.

We've seen in the last 10 years a whole group of people who are mobilising on the ground and

protesting against judicial killings during protesting against killings during detention,

protesting against corruption,

protesting against what they see as inability of government to fight corruption and actually improve governance. actually improve governance. So I think that the democracy is

making a lot of headway making a lot of headway and

that Acts such as the ISA will

need to go in the near future.

But I think that despite having

the ISA, the ground swell of the struggle for democracy is really gaining a really gaining a ground swell

in the country. You say there

is a ground swell of protest

against the government and that

the government's under pressure to modify the ISA at to modify the ISA at least.

There were protests on the 50th anniversary of makes of the Act but by international standards international standards the demonstrations were pretty small. Why do you think small. Why do you think the Malaysian public were Malaysian public were not motivated or more motivated express their opposition? You know, for many people, the Internal Security Act is only used against political figures. Or people who show dissent. People are very much against

the Act, but it's not something

that they want to come out and demonstrate for

getting beaten. This is not

something they want to put themselves through. Premesh themselves through. Premesh Chandran, thank you very

much. Thank you very much, Jim. It's just over two months

since Thailand's military crushed anti-government protests which had paralysed

much of Bangkok for weeks. 90 people were killed, mostly demonstrator, but including some

some soldiers. Hundreds were

injured. Last week the

government lifted its state government lifted its state of emergency in six provinces, however, the under emergency rule, even though it's

though it's relatively

peaceful. The next thing I knew, there was a loud

explosion, so I suddenly woke

up and I heard the sound of earth falling on the cars.

Thailand's capital has experienced sporadic violence ever since the red shirt protests finished in May. The

bombing over the weekend came a few days after the Prime Minister announced the emergency rule would be lifted

in six more provinces.

and nine others didn't make the cut. Most are strongholds of

the pro-democracy activists

known as the red shirts. The

government obviously wants to

keep this emergency power in

its hands because it gives its hands because it gives it very are formidable powers to

crack down on any opposition

political activity. One of the is the restriction of is the restriction of public

gatherings of more than five

people. Yet a series of red

shirt demonstrations like this one have been allowed in one have been allowed in the

capital over the past four weeks. They have weeks. They have been

protesting the presence of the

state of emergency. And the legitimacy of Mr Abhisit's

rule. I think more people will

join but they will come

non-violently. We've tried to

tell everyone to come tell everyone to come practice a non-violent approach. a non-violent approach. No matter how hurt red shirts could be, we come

here without using violence here without using violence to let the government know we are truly Public support Public support for the red shirts and their cause has not dwindled.

dwindled. In Bangkok, this was

reflected in the result of a

by-election held two weeks ago

in which the Democrats narrowly

won. This was the first democratic poll since the

crackdown, and the local media paid close attention in lead-up to the day. Are the Democrats running scared? Um ... ... they're not checking anything. They're planning anything. They're planning to

have four major rallies today,

today and they are hoping today and they are hoping that

if he can come back in time, the arcan Secretary-General. It

would be unusual for an ASEAN

man. They are mobilising everyone. The red shirt media

which is a vast network

canvassing print, on-line and

broadcast have found it more

difficult to spread their message. This is another result

of the state of emergency of the state of emergency which

gives the governments power to

censor media. But observers of

the country's politics agree

it's difficult to gauge if

public support for the red

shirts in Thailand has suffered

as a result of as a result of the media black-out. It's hard to allow

freedom of speech when you people crying fire in a crowded theatre. And to some extent, the kind of free speech that

was going on in those media, I mean there were mean there were calls for violence, calls to assassinate

the Prime Minister and things

like that. So I think that was the sort of thing that the

government was more worried about. Thailand's government wants to pursue reconciliation

in a bid to heal the in a bid to heal the deep

divide in the country. Yet once

again, public

split. I think most of Thai people need reconciliation, and

Abhisit government offer many

option. There are at

three commissions to three commissions to operate about reconciliation. Believe it or not people in it or not people in Bangkok,

they are optimistic they are optimistic about reconciliation. They say this is

to the way out to the Thai

currency. But if you talk to the people in other areas, outside Bangkok, and outside Bangkok, and again especially in the north and the

north east, they're totally disagree with the

reconcileaches and they have so

many questions

It's anyone's guess as to when the state of emergency

will be lifted for the rest of

the country. One thing is clear, Thailand's Prime

Minister has ruled out calling

national elections this year. Sunai Phasuk is Thailand researcher for Human Rights Watch in Bangkok. Thanks very much very much for your time. My pleasure. The Thai pleasure. The Thai government argues that national security

remains at risk but is that the

real reason that emergency rule

has yet to be lifted has yet to be lifted in Bangkok? Well, all Bangkok? Well, all the justifications provided by the Thai the legitimacy for the

continuation of emergency decree. Also there are bomb attacks going on, protests

going on here and there. going on here and there. All these incidents these incidents are not up to the scale that's threatened the

survived of the Thai nation of

the Thai state, which will be

the only condition to justify the continuation for the continuation for the enforcement of emergency decree. So in short, the

government has no legitimate

reason to continue with the

enforcement of repressive law.

So why do you think, then, that the emergency decree remains in force in Bangkok at least? Well, from the government perspective, they

fear that once the emergency

decree is lifted, the decree is lifted, the red

shirts would come back shirts would come back to the

surface, and there would be a

new row of challenges to the

government. That seems to be

the primary reason for the

enforcement of the emergency

decree, not only in Bangkok, but the areas surrounding

Bangkok, and the red shirts

stronghold in the north east

and the north.

Thailand has been relatively quiet for the past couple of

months. A state months. A state of emergency

has been lifted in several places, several provinces. Has

the political opposition, have

the red shirts simply gone to

ground? Well, in fact, the ongoing lifting of emergency

decree is in less strategic

areas shows that after the lifting of emergency decree,

there has been no violence in

those places. So it is approved

that the claims made by that the claims made by the

Thai government is not through.

It is not correct. There is It is not correct. There is no serial threat that would undermine the survival of

Thailand as a result of the

lifting of emergency decree. And even if there are violent attacks by radical elements,

those attacks are scattered.

They are not coordinated to the extent that could bring down Thailand. It would crumble

Thailand. None of those threats exist in reality. You mentioned

again those violent incidents.

There have been some bombings in recent days. Has anyone actually taken responsibility

for them? Well, for them? Well, up to this

point, there is no confirmation

as to which group, which

factions were responsible for a

series of attacks in series of attacks in Bangkok.

Just the Justice Ministry made

a number of arrests, but up to this point, been explained to the public.

As to what are the connections of those suspects, how they

were classified as being responsible for the attacks. So

up to this point, we still cannot say which group or which faction were responsible. Hundreds of people Hundreds of people were arrested were detained during

the protests earlier this the protests earlier this year.

How many of those people are

still in detention? They remain a serious a serious concern by Human

Rights Watch as well as all the independent committees appointed by Prime Minister

Abhisit including the

fact-finding committee, the national political

committees about the lack of information of detainees.

People who have been arrested

and detained without charge under emergency decree remain a

mystery. No-one seemed to know

how many of them have been

detained to date, where they

are kept and for how long, so

this is a contradiction to

spirit of Democratisation, the spirit of spirit of political

reconciliation as announced by reconciliation as announced by

the government. So in a way, it is quite an irony for the

government to declare that it has a policy to return Thailand back to normalcy as soon back to normalcy as soon as

possible. Why on the other hand

it continues with the

enforcement of - it

enforcement of - it continued to carry out arbitrary arrest. The Prime Minister has talked

of the need for reconciliation

S there any sign of this occurring at all? Well, there are attempts coming are attempts coming from the civil society, coming from

several committees that Prime

Minister Abhisit appointed such as the committee on political

reform led by former Prime

Minister Annan or Minister Annan or the committee

on the fact finding led by former Attorney-General Kanip.

Both committees propose very

strongly and publicly that

there need to be first of all serious effort from the government to explain, to clarify how emergency powers the effects of those emergency

powers on the state of civil

liberty, on state of human rights in Thailand. That needs

to be charified, as well as what the government and the

military has done to the red

shirts. That need to be spelt

out as well, but so far, both

committees as committees as well as the civil society, we have all been stone

walled by the government, by

the military. They don't share

any information, they don't

give any public information

about how the red shirts have been treated in detention. Thank you very much. You're welcome. The United States The United States says North

Korea could face new financial

sanctions within weeks. The new

US measures would be designed

to prevent Pyongyang bankrolling further development

of its nuclear weapons program or spreading weapons of mass

destruction. The move comes destruction. The move comes hot

on the heels of last week's joint US South Korean air exercises, announced after the sinking of a South the sinking of a South Korean warship earlier this year. South Korean soldiers South Korean soldiers search a riverbed for unexploded

mines. In the past few days,

dozens of land mines have washed ashore here. washed ashore here. Two were picked up by picked up by local fishermen not sure what they'd found,

they carried them home. It was then that one of the mines exploded, killing one men and seriously injuring his

nephew. This mine does not

exist in South Korea and I believe it is North Korean.

More than likely More than likely these mines

were swept onto South Korean

shores by recent torrential rain in the north but at a rain in the north but at a time

of increased tension across the border, Seoul says it border, Seoul says it can't rule out the possibility that the mines had been

Relations have soured on the Korean Peninsula since March

when a South Korean warship sank, killing 46 sailors. Both Seoul and Seoul and Washington accuse Pyongyang of torpedoing the

ship, a charge it denies. In

last week the two allies held last week the two allies held a major military exercise designed to deter cross-border aggression. If the south and

the US had done nothing the US had done nothing apart from diplomatic harsh words that would've made the

situation even more unstable and and more dangerous.

The recent military, naval

and aerial exercises not only sent a strong message to North

Korea but also assured this population of South Korea that United States is still

United States is still the major security

republic of Korea. It's firmly

in the region. And it would

immediately react to any kind immediately react to any kind of provocation which might

threaten the independence and economic success of South Korea. But not everyone in the south supports the Lee administration's more

aggressive approach towards the

north. Or the mans for north. Or the mans for yet

further US financial sanctions against Pyongyang. sanctions is unfair, ineffective and worsens ineffective and worsens the

situation. So we are here to

insist on them insist on them stopping sanctions and solving the problem with die negotiation. --

dialogue and negotiation. The US Secretary of State Hillary

Clinton announced the new measures during a recent visit

to Seoul, and on Monday, the United States envoy in charge

of implementing sanctions flew

in to discuss the new financial penalties with South Korean government officials. They provide strong incentives for

North Korea's leaders to abide by their international obligations, not to pursue any

provocative activities, and to

fulfil completely their commitments to does nuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula. Probably the only

time there has been signs where sanctions actually did pinch

North Korea and lead them to

take a different line in of diplomatic negotiations was back in I think 2005 over Banco

Delta Asia. The key point there was though that China joined

those sanctions in a partial

way. If China doesn't join these financial sanctions, then

it will have probably limited impact on North Korea. The increased tensions have had a mixed effect on South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak's

popularity at home. He won popularity at home. He won the presidential election in 2008

based partly on a platform on

taking a much firmer line on

relations with reversing the sunshine policy that had been the South Korean

approach to the north for 10

years. When he came to power

taking that line, it helped

them and had a pretty big swing in favour of the Conservatives that he supports. But the

sinking of the ship with sinking of the ship with the loss of 46 lives has

strengthened his the Conservatives but made moderates worry moderates worry that if South Korea takes too strong a

reaction to North Korea, this

might create escalation.

It's not easy to gauge just

how much public support the President and his Grand

National Party has. The ruling

party suffered a humiliating defeat in nationwide local

elections in June.

elections in June. But then in a turn of fortune, did extraordinarily well in parliamentary by-elections just a month later. will delay lame-duck status for

President Lee for a while and

the result will give him an opportunity to run State affairs with confidence. It's

not the first Minister has done so, a month ago his first offer was turned down by President Lee. down by President Lee. The Prime Minister says his

resignation is over his fail

failure to scrap a plan to relocate several government ministries out of the capital.

But his departure is being seen

more as a move to help revive

President Lee's government.

That's all for now. For program

program information you can

visit our web site. You will

find a link to send us your

views on our coverage, and you can also watch some of the major stories and interviews

we've had on the program. I

will be back at the same time

tomorrow, with another edition of

of Newsline. I'm Jim Middleton.

Thanks for watching. Bye for

now. Closed Captions by CSI This Program is Captioned Live. Tonight - the Prime Minister trumpets Minister trumpets Labor's

economic credentials as the RBA

leaves rates on hold.

Struggling to stay afloat,

devastation continues in Pakistan with 3 Pakistan with 3 million people now displaced. On track, the US

President pledges to end the Iraq mission on time. And

following those happy feet, new technology monitoring

Antarctic penguins. Good

evening, I'm Scott Bevan. It's evening, I'm Scott Bevan. It's a policy Tony Abbott likes so

much he's launched it twice. The Opposition's The Opposition's officially relaunched its paid parental leave scheme. The program will now start later, more and cost business