An outlawed NGOs and the Penans in Ulu Barawa of Sarawak were jointly awardes Suaram’s Human Rights Award 2008 on Tuesday.

The Star said:

According to the judges, Hindraf had “captivated, mobilised and empowered vast numbers of Malaysians of Indian ethnic origin to struggle against very powerful interests and forces” in a short space of time”

The national daily added Suaram said Hindraf’s success could perhaps be seen “in the fear it has caused in the eyes of the Government, to the extent it detained five of its leaders under the ISA and outlawed the organisation.”

On the Penan – The judges said the Penans had been defending their traditional lands from encroachment since the early 1980s.

“They faced threats, killings, rapes, disappearances and hardship in their daily survival, and have struggled against very powerful forces.”

Suaram executive director Yap Swee Seng told reporters it was no surprise Malaysia fell from 124 place in 2007 to 132 place this year out of 195 countries in the ranking of press freedom.

The award will certainly irked the authorities.