Suhakam should be innovative, creative and courageous to make a difference in the protection and promotion of human rights in Malaysia - as in publishing a monthly bulletin on the human rights situation in the country to spark constant national debate and pressure
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday):
Suhakam chairman, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman said yesterday that the people,
not just their elected representatives, have the right to express views that
are opposed to the Government; that no one should have a monopoly over
information and that "a healthy public and private debate on issues could
help to develop sound policies for the country". (The Star)
Abu Talib's paper yesterday on the political outlook in post-Mahathir era Malaysia organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) is also quite meaningless, as he seems to be unaware that it is not just the people, but even elected representatives with dissenting or contrary opinions who have been denied the right to express views in the public domain, especially in the mass media, whether printed or electronic, buttressed by draconian laws like the Official Secrets Act, the Sedition Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Internal Security Act, the Police Act, etc. which he, when he was Attorney-General, had no hesitation in invoking and prosecuting without regard to human rights considerations.
Furthermore, the problem of monopoly of information is today in the worst position ever in the 45-year history of the nation, despite the establishment of Suhakam, the advent of ICT and the information age as illustrated by the absence of professional and independent journalism and reporting of vibrant diversity of views on important public issues and developments, whether the RM10 billion Valuecap operation to use public funds to prop up the share market or the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history which claimed over 72 lives and reported over 30,000 cases last year.
While fully conscious of the
constraints and limitations faced by Suhakam, the country and people have
high expectations of Suhakam that it could be innovative, creative and
courageous to make a difference in the protection and promotion of human
rights in Malaysia.
One way Suhakam can make a difference in human rights in Malaysia is to publish a monthly bulletin on the human rights situation in the country to spark constant national debate and pressure, taking positions on the current human rights issues of the month. For instance, the current human rights issues which Suhakam should take a position include:
What is Suhakam's position on these three issues to make a difference for human rights in Malaysia?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman