Human Rights Watch released its 2009 World Report

Events of 2008

Hopes that Malaysia's human rights climate would improve following elections in March 2008 proved unfounded.

The ruling National Front coalition lost the two-thirds parliamentary majority it had enjoyed since Malaysia became independent in 1957 but was still in power at this writing. National Front leaders continue to insist that Malaysia's multiethnic society is too fragile to sustain genuine freedom of assembly and expression or full due process rights for all suspects.

The government continues to use outdated repressive laws and regulations to silence its critics and extend its rule. One such critic is former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, now leading the opposition coalition People's Alliance. In what was widely viewed as a politically motivated attempt to discredit him, police charged him with consensual sexual relations with a male aide in August 2008.

The People's Volunteer Corps, a largely volunteer paramilitary force, continues to commit abuses against undocumented migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.