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[Report] State of Disruption: Assessing the Impact of Malaysia’s COVID-19 Laws on Civic Space

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This report, titled “State of Disruption: Assessing the Impact of Malaysia’s COVID-19 Laws on Civic Space,” is a collaborative effort between FORUM-ASIA, SUARAM and Pusat KOMAS. Following the footsteps of neighbouring governments, Malaysia’s Perikatan Nasional (PN) government enforced stringent measures in 2020 to combat the spread of COVID-19. These measures included targeted Movement Control Orders (MCO), followed by the declaration of a National State of Emergency on 12th January 2021, initially set to last until 1st August 2021. Regrettably, this period witnessed an aggravation of human rights violations and the suspension of parliamentary democracy, as the government aimed to retain its authority.

Throughout this period, the Emergency Ordinance introduced legal provisions that were excessively wide-ranging and failed to meet international human rights standards. These provisions were widely utilised against individuals who criticised the government’s management of the pandemic, resulting in police interrogations and significant penalties under the government’s repressive methods. The purpose of this report is to evaluate the impact of Malaysia’s COVID-19 laws not only on civic space but also on marginalised and vulnerable communities, as well as civil society organisations. It aims to shed light on the consequences of these laws and their implications for the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms in Malaysia.

Read the full report here