Although the Foreign Minister, Datuk Syed Hamid Albar had promised that the National Human Rights Commission would be established and be operational by the end of the year, this promise had not be kept - and nothing seems to have been done yet to appoint members of the Commission.
However, there is now another more pressing matter which would put Malaysia’s international commitments to protect and promote human rights to a great test.
The United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) on East Timor which on Monday released its findings and recommendations, concluded that Indonesia's armed forces participated in "patterns of gross violations of human rights and breaches of humanitarian law" and asked the United Nations to set up an international mechanism to investigate and try those responsible for gross human rights violations in East Timor.
The UN COI findings tallied with those of Indonesia’s National Commission to Investigate Human Rights Violations in East Timor (KPP-HAM). It recommended that 33 people, including six generals headed by General Wiranto, should be further investigated for their role in the mass violence in East Timor - a well-planned and orchestrated campaign of mass killing, torture, forced deportation and rape.
Malaysia, as a member of the United Nations Security Council, should be the first ASEAN country to provide the political and financial backing to support rapid and effective implementation of the United Nations International Commission’s recommendations.
All those responsible for the killing, mass destruction and forced expulsions that wracked East Timor last September should be brought to justice.
The Malaysian Government should express its grave concern at the political stand-off in Indonesia arising from Wiranto’s defiance of President Abdurrahman Wahid’s "direct request" to resign, pending an Attorney-General's investigation into his responsibility for last year's East Timor violence. This has kindled fears of a military coup against Wahid, who had said last week that 10 per cent of the army did not support his presidency.
Malaysia should make clear its support for the recommendations of the UN International Commission of Inquiry into East Timor as well as President Wahid’s valiant efforts to restore the rule of law and end massive human rights violations in Indonesia.