(Petaling Jaya, Friday): DAP condemns the latest human rights violations in the government ban of weekly tabloid Eksklusif and monthly teen magazine Al-Wasilah.
When the government first announced the formation of the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) and its composition, I had said that its first task should be to protect and promote one of the most important clusters of human rights - freedom of speech and the press in Malaysia.
I had urged the Human Rights Commission to get down to work on its four-fold human rights functions and powers as spelt out in Section 4(1) of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 with specific reference to the freedom of expression and the press, namely
The reason of "imbalanced reporting" given by the Home Ministry for its ban of Eksklusif is most laughable and even hilarious, as on this ground alone, a powerful case can be made for the banning of all the mainstream printed media which are guilty of the most "imbalanced reporting" in the country.
What makes the ban of Eksklusif and Al-Wasilah most significant is that these are the first publications to be banned since the formation of Suhakam and Malaysians expect a proper response from Suhakam in keeping with its statutory mandate to protect and promote human rights.
As the Human Rights Commission need not wait for anyone to lodge a complaint before it could take action to protect and promote human rights, the Barisan Alternative calls on Suhakam to convene an emergency meeting to issue its first public statement on gross human rights violations on the ban of Eksklusif and Al-Wasilah and to urge the government to lift the ban.
Suhakam should act under Section 4(2)(e) of the Human Rights Commission Act which empowers it "to issue public statements on human rights as and when necessary" and the time has come for Suhakam to issue its first public statement on the gross and unacceptable violation of the human rights of freedom of expression and the press in the ban on Eksklusif and monthly teen magazine Al-Wasilah.
Suhakam should follow up on its first public statement by sending a strong recommendation under Section 4(1) of the Human Rights Commission "to advise and assist the Government" that the Government should lift the ban to allow Eksklusif and Al-Wasilah to resume publication.