Suhakam should conduct painful reappraisal whether after three years, it has been relegated to an “alibi” institution to legitimize prevalent human rights violations in Malaysia
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Today is the Third Malaysia Human Rights Day celebrated by Suhakam, for which it has organized a two-day conference entitled “Human Rights and the Administration of the Law”.
On its third Malaysia Human Rights Day, which is not even recognised by the Government, the question that must be posed is whether Suhakam had made any appreciable impact and improvement in the protection and promotion of human rights in Malaysia.
In its fourth year of operation, Suhakam is in danger of being dismissed as a “talk-shop” and “warehouse for reports” which are ignored not only by the Government but also by Parliament – as to date, not a single Suhakam report had been debated by Parliament in the past four years.
On the occasion of the Third Malaysia Human Rights Day, Suhakam should conduct an agonizing re-appraisal of its role to ascertain whether it has made any difference in the promotion and protection of human rights since its establishment in April 2000. Most importantly, whether it has been relegated to an “alibi” institution to legitimize prevalent human rights violations in Malaysia.
Is the Suhakam Chairman, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman or any Suhakam Commissioner prepared to attend any public forum to defend itself and argue against the contention that it has been relegated to an “alibi” institution to legitimize prevalent human rights violations in the country?
Malaysians are entitled to ask what is there for Suhakam to celebrate with regard to the third Malaysia Human Rights Day when more and more human rights violations have become the rule rather than the exception in the country, as illustrated by the recent spate of human rights breaches, such as:
The signs are not good that the passing of the baton and the takeover of the reins of government by the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in less than two months will herald a sea-change in human rights where Suhakam can play a meaningful role in the discharge of its statutory duty to protect and promote human rights.
Has the Suhakam Commissioners asked for a meeting with Abdullah to seek an assurance that as the new Prime Minister, he will usher in a new deal for human rights in Malaysia, with Suhakam playing a more meaningful and significant role in the promotion and protection of human rights compared to its “lame-duck” role in the past three-and-a-half years?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman