One of the fault-lines of the nation-building process which forced its way into national consciousness was the Kampung Medan tragedy in March this year when the worst ethnic attacks in the nation’s history in 32 years erupted in Petaling Selatan, Selangor, resulting in six people being killed and 78 others severely injured.
The Petaling Selatan tragedy represented the quadruple failures in nation-building, development planning, law enforcement and mass communications - but the greatest tragedy of all is the lack of will to conduct a full and impartial investigation into the blatant and brutal violation of human rights of a completely innocent, oppressed and marginalised community so as to ensure no recurrence.
It is a matter of grave disappointment and distress that five months after the Kampung Medan tragedy, the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) had not decided whether or how to discharge its statutory duty to protect and promote human rights and “inquire into complaints” and “study and verify” any infringement of human rights.
Although the Petaling Selatan clashes were sparked off by deep-seated socio-economic problems, which must be addressed urgently if other urban poverty time-bombs are not to explode with similar Taman Medan ethnic attacks in the country, Suhakam must deal with the human rights abuses in keeping with its statutory responsibility to protect and promote human rights - unless Suhakam could declare that no human rights abuses and violations had occurred in the tragedy.
This is also an occasion for Suhakam to sensitise the various government authorities to the need to be ever-conscious of the human rights dimension in all aspects of the discharge of their duties.
Suhakam should stop dragging its feet and conduct a public inquiry into the tragedy of the Kampung Medan ethnic attacks or it should come out with a clear and satisfactory statement as to why it could not do so and what it had done on the numerous complaints of human rights violations on this issue in the past five months.
Suhakam should realise that its inability or failure to act on the numerous complaints of human rights violations in the Kampung Medan tragedy will be a major blot on its record to protect and promote human rights.