(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Parliament should mark Human Rights Day every year by having a special debate on human rights in the country on December 10 or the next available day if Parliament is not in session on that day.
Although the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has been established, and which has yet to make its mark in the past eight months to discharge its statutory responsibility to protect and promote human rights in Malaysia, Parliament must remain the most important and highest forum to scrutinise and focus on human rights developments in the country.
For instance, Parliament should spearhead a national debate and active review as to how restrictive and draconian laws and regulations should be repealed or relaxed so as not to undermine the fundamental liberties such as freedom of speech, assembly and association enshrined in the Constitution.
Only yesterday, the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai, in an interview with Mingguan Malaysia, hid behind the laws passed by Parliament, like the Police Act, to justify the high-handed police handling of "illegal assemblies" on the ground that any gathering of more than five people required police permit.
Although the Constitution provided for Parliament to pass laws to curtail the fundamental liberties "in the interests of the security…public order or morality", the Constitution never permitted the police to use brute force against any peaceable assembly, as happened at Jalan Kebun, Klang on November 5, 2000.
If the Police Standing Operational Procedure (SOP) permitted the use of tear gas, chemically-laced water cannons and brute force to be used against a peaceable assembly, as claimed by Norian Mai, then the police is justifying the use of "force against no force", and the SOP is a gross violation of human rights and the Constitutional guarantees of fundamental liberties which should be condemned by Parliament and Suhakam.
Parliament should conduct an annual debate every year to review whether restrictive and draconian laws like the Police Act which violated the constitutional guarantee of peaceful assembly and the Printing Presses and Publications Act which require annual licensing of publications should be repealed by focusing on their abuses and excesses.
As a responsible Inspector-General of Police, Norian Mai himself should
present a case to Parliament for the repeal of restrictive and draconian
laws which violate the constitutional guarantee of peaceful assembly -
as the Rukunegara principle of maintaining a democratic way of life should
also be one of the higher commitments of the police force.