Eight amendments to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Bill
to ensure that the Commission is independent, effective and credible and
not an alibi institution to legitimise violations of human rights
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): DAP will
move eight amendments to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Bill during
the committee stage of the debate on the Bill on Monday to ensure that
the National Human Rights Commission is independent, effective and credible
and not an alibi institution to legitimise violations of human rights.
by Lim Kit Siang
The amendments to the Bill include:
to expand the definition of "human rights" in the Bill to embrace
not only fundamental liberties as guaranteed in Part II of the Federal
Constitution but also human rights embodied in the International Covenants,
Conventions and Treaties to which Malaysia is a party.
to provide statutory authority to the Commission to protect and promote
human rights by taking into regard the Univeral Declaration of Human
Rights 1948 as well as fundamental liberties embodied in the International
Covenants, Conventions and Treaties to which Malaysia is a party.
to provide for the appointment of up to 12 and not 20 Commissioners as
proposed by the Bill.
to spell out the criteria for the appointment of Human Rights Commissioners
to ensure that they be appointed from amongst prominent personalities including
those from various religious and racial backgrounds as well as persons
"of proven integrity and competence and have been involved in human rights
protection and promotion activities and must not have been candidates for
any elective position in the immediately preceding elections".
to provide for a five-year tenure in the appointment Human Rights
Commissioners instead of the proposed two-year period to provide for greater
security of tenure which is conducive to greater independence and therefore
credibility of the Commission.
to provide that the Commission will not be precluded from inquiring into
any complaint of infringement of human rights where it is only incidentally
or collaterally part of a cause of action in any court of law or where
the decision of any court affecting the complaint is based not on
the merits but on procedural or technical grounds.
to provide for greater accountability and transparency of the Commission
by requiring it to immediately inform the complainant of its findings.
In moving the Bill in Parliament on Thursday, the Foreign Minister,
Datuk Syed Hamid Albar said that the government had been guided by the
Paris Principles in the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission.
One of the fundamental tenets of the Paris Principles for the
establishment of national human rights institutions is the full involvement
of the civil society in the formulation of the necessary legislation for
the Commission as well as in its operations.
As the proposed amendments reflect the representations which have been
made by the civil society in Malaysia through many NGOs as to how
to make the Human Rights Commission independent, credible and effective,
I hope the Foreign Minister will be open-minded enough to accept these
amendments to the Bill on Monday.
The refusal of the government to accept constructive amendments to the
Bill which can only enhance public confidence in the independence and credibility
of the Commission can only reinforce public reservations that there is
simply no political culture or will in Malaysia which could allow
a Commission of Human Rights to operate effectively and meaningfully.
*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary
Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member
of Parliament for Tanjong