(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): MPs
from all political parties should apologise to the nation for their gross
dereliction of duty in failing to provide
strong “back-up” to
Suhakam to “protect and promote” human rights by giving serious
consideration to the Suhakam reports.
April last year, Suhakam submitted its first Annual Report 2000 to Parliament,
as statutorily required by section 21(1) Suhakam Act 1999 which states that the
Human Rights Commission “shall not later than the first meeting of Parliament
of the following year, submit an annual report to Parliament of all its
activities during the year to which the report relates”.
October 2001, Suhakam submitted a special report on “Freedom of Assembly” to
Parliament, with recommendations of
short-term and long-term measures to give meaning to the fundamental right of
freedom of assembly as entrenched in Article 10 of the Malaysian Constitution.
submission of Suhakam reports to Parliament is an important part of the process
to “protect and promote human rights” as it would provide a regular
opportunity for the highest
political and legislative chamber of the land to monitor and review the progress
made by Suhakam in the discharge of its statutory duty to protect and promote
has however failed in its
“oversight” responsibility over Suhakam in not having a special debate on
every Suhakam report or in establishing an all-party Standing Committee on Human
Rights to go through the Suhakam reports, including summoning Suhakam
Commissioners to examine them on their recommendations and activities of the
previous year to protect and promote human rights – to commend them where
Suhakam has done well but to reprimand and admonish where Suhakam has shirked
its statutory duties.
a result, MPs cannot blame Suhakam for failing to truly discharge its statutory
role to protect and promote human rights, when Parliament had itself had
been most remiss in carrying out its “oversight” responsibilities
of Parliament from all political parties should apologise to the nation for such
a serious lapse on their human rights responsibility and give an undertaking
that they would be more diligent and conscientious in their parliamentary duties
with regard to their oversight powers and responsibilities over Suhakam.
One of chief human rights concerns of
Parliament when it reconvenes on June 17 is to uphold and restore the powers of
Suhakam to directly submit its
report to Parliament without any Executive interference –
as the second Suhakam Annual Report 2001 had not been submitted to Parliament as
statutorily required in the last Parliamentary meeting in March/April as it had
been hijacked by the Foreign Ministry.
Parliament must make it very clear next
month that the Foreign Ministry has no business or power to demand that Suhakam
can only submit its annual report to Parliament through Wismaputra, as the Human
Rights Commission Act 1999 did not confer on the Foreign Ministry the special
statutory monopoly of being the postman for Suhakam’s annual reports.
In this connection, I am surprised that
the Suhakam secretary, Kamaruddin Mohamed Baria, had given a completely
different version as to why the Suhakam Annual Report 2001 had not been
submitted to the last meeting of Parliament as required by its parent Act.
Kamaruddin told Nanyang Siang Pau last
Saturday that the failure to comply with the statutory requirement to submit the
Suhakam Annual Report 2001 in the last Parliamentary meeting “could be caused
by Suhakam not being able to
finalise the annual report in
I am shocked by Kamaruddin’s
equivocation, which is most deplorable coming from the Suhakam secretary who
should know better than anyone else the reason why the Suhakam annual report
2001 had not been submitted to Parliament at its last meeting.
Kamaruddin should do amends to the
slurs he has cast on the Suhakam Commissioners and state specifically when the
Suhakam annual report 2001 was approved by the Suhakam Board, and when it was
sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for submission to Parliament.