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

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(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.

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:

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