(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): Suhakam’s
first Chairman, Tan Sri Musa Hitam yesterday rated the performance of Suhakam in
its first two years under his chairmanship as B++ as the acronym Suhakam has
become a household word within two years and "We have
managed to sensitise those in power with the need to care for the human
rights aspects in their jobs”. (AFP).
do not think anyone of the 33 NGOs which submitted a “Memorandum on the
National Human Rights Commission” to the government after its announcement in
April 1999 to establish Suhakam would grade Suhakam’s performance in its first
two years as B++ and it would be interesting if the NGO human rights community,
collectively and individually, should grade the performance of the first two-year term of Suhakam.
NGOs, including Hakam, Suhakam and Aliran,
will hold a meeting in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow to discuss the latest
appointments to Suhakam, especially the choice of former Attorney-General Tan
Sri Abu Talib Othman as the new
Suhakam Chairman. Would Hakam,
Suaram and Aliran award B++ to Suhakam for its performance to protect and
promote human rights in the past two years?
tentative grading for Suhakam for the past two years is at most C+ (subject to
the second Suhakam annual report) and I am told that I am already being
grading of C+ for Suhakam’s performance in its first two years is thanks
largely to two Suhakam reports, the 32-page
report on freedom of assembly and the
66-page inquiry report
on the November 5, 2000 Kesas Highway Incident, both made public in
August last year.
report on freedom of assembly by
the Suhakam Law Reform Working Group headed by Puan Mehrun Siraj made
short-term and long-term recommendations based on the findings and best
practices in other countries and through discussion with the Police and other
interested parties like political parties and NGOs.
For the short-term, it recommended
the simplification and automatic approval of police permits for static
assemblies, while for the long-term, it recommended the amendments of various
laws like the Police Act to remove undue restrictions on the right to freedom
Suhakam report on its inquiry into the Kesas Highway Incident, by its
Complaints and Inquiries Working Group headed by Tan Sri Anuar Zainal
Abidin and Mehrun Siraj, contained detailed and specific findings on the use of
excessive and unnecessary force and the widespread violation of human rights by
the police, together with recommendations to ensure that the police, in
discharging their police roles, are
always mindful of their duty to
would deserve a higher grading to B if the these two Suhakam reports had brought
about positive changes strengthening the human rights culture in the country.
In actual fact, these two Suhakam reports had been completely ignored by
the government and the police, with worse violations to human rights, including the right to free and peaceful assembly as in the blanket ban
on political ceramahs, as well resulting in the axing of the two most
outstanding Suhakam Commissioners when Anwar
and Mehrun were dropped from
re-appointment to the second
axing of Anuar and Mehrun is a gross violation of the Paris
Principles adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 to provide a
framework with the requisite standards to best ensure an effective national
human rights institution as the present appointment process undermines
and compromises the independence, credibility, integrity and authority of
the government give reasons why Anuar and Mehrun have been
dropped from Suhakam when they were the two most distinguished and outstanding
Suhakam Commissioners in the past two years to discharge
Suhakam’s statutory duty to protect and promote human rights?
appointment of the five new Commissioners, four former civil
servants and one current civil servant, is most unsatisfactory as it will foster
a subservient government
mentality in Suhakam.
also contravenes the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 which provides
that commissioners should be appointed from “prominent personalities…from
various religious backgrounds”, which has not been observed.
the NGO human rights community and Malaysians concerned about human rights are
most alarmed at the victimisation of Anuar and Mehrun for their conscientious
and outstanding contributions as Suhakam commissioners to protect and promote
human rights, DAP calls on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
to reappoint them as Commissioners as there are still seven vacancies in the
present 13-member Suhakam, which is allowed to have 20 Commissioners.