Cabinet should present a White Paper on the Suhakam report and recommendations
to form the basis for a special parliamentary debate in the current meeting
(Penang, Saturday): The Cabinet should
present a White paper in Parliament responding to the first annual
report of Suhakam, in particular its three main recommendations on (I)
ratification of international human rights instruments and related actions
(ii) right to equality (iii) legislative process and its interim recommendations
on freedom of assembly.
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
The Suhakam report and the government’s White Paper response should
then form the basis for a special parliamentary debate on Suhakam first
annual report on human rights in the country, which must be for at
least two days, before the end of the current meeting.
Malaysians find the reaction of the Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri
Syed Hamid Albar to the Suhakam report most extraordinary and mere nit-picking
when he questioned its contents, claiming that Suhakam had used the wrong
channel to make recommendations to the government.
Syed Hamid wanted Suhakam to submit “specific recommendations complete
with details, proper analysis and arguments” to his Ministry to “review,
repeal or abolish certain laws and practices or to ratify international
statutes or covenants on Human Rights” and not just put them in the
Suhakam report to Parliament.
The Foreign Minister should stop nit-picking and focus on the Suhakam
report and recommendations, such as:
That Malaysia ratifies as soon as possible the following international
Amendment to Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution to include
"sex" as a prohibited ground for discrimination.
Legislative reforms -
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The Convention Against Torture
Freedom of assembly
bills should be referred to a select committee of parliament and state
assemblies after the first reading to allow experts, public interest
groups and other concerned individuals with the opportunity to give their
views and inputs into Bills that will have a direct impact on their lives.
the authorities cease the common practice of declaring draft legislation
as official secret before it is tabled in the legislative bodies.
major legislation should be drafted in consultation with public interest
groups with the benefit of a well-informed public debate.
Application for permits to hold static assemblies (as opposed to processions)
in premises such as private properties, be approved as a general rule,
without restrictions on freedom of expression. The organisers are to ensure
that no disturbance to public order occurs.
Other specific outdoor areas /compounds/spaces be determined by the authorities
for the holding of peaceful assemblies. These should include locations
and public spaces in major urban centres, including Kuala Lumpur.
The procedure for applying permits be simplified by using a standard form
to be issued to organisers.
The Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday should overrule Syed Hamid’s
obstructive position that the government can ignore the Suhakam recommendations
by merely “take note” of them unless Suhakam makes formal recommendations
to the government through his Ministry.
Malaysians do not want nit-pickers or empire-builders as Cabinet
Ministers, but people who will act on urgent national issues - and the
first annual report of Suhakam to Parliament should be sufficient weight
for the Cabinet to act and respond without any unreasonable government
foot-dragging as in demanding that Suhakam reformulate its recommendations
in a specific communication to the government.
I have read the Suhakam annual report and although I can understand
the praises which have been heaped on it, I am personally rather disappointed
by it which reasons I will give in the coming weeks.
*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman