MALAYSIA: Commissioner-less SUHAKAM: human rights clearly not a priority for UN Human Rights Council Member Malaysia 

SUARAM expresses its gravest concern over the Prime Minister’s long delay in appointing the new Commissioners of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), which has resulted in a Commissioner-less SUHAKAM following the end of the respective terms of the previous batch of Commissioners on 23 April 2010, more than three weeks ago.

Since 23 April 2010, SUHAKAM has received some 136 complaints with regard to allegations of human rights violations. Regrettably, no investigation or further action has been made after receiving them because of the absence of Commissioners.

The Prime Minister’s long delay in the appointment of new SUHAKAM Commissioners despite having a selection committee to advise him clearly shows that human rights is not a priority for the Prime Minister and the Malaysian government.

While the Malaysian government has sidelined the issue of human rights domestically, it has projected a completely different image at the international level. In Malaysia’s recent bid to contest for a place in the UN Human Rights Council for the term 2010-2013, the Malaysian government pledged that it will provide “increasing support for the roles and functioning of SUHAKAM”. The stark inconsistencies between pledges on human rights at the international level and the domestic realties are obvious: Malaysia was elected into the UN Human Rights Council on 13 May 2010, but up to this day, SUHAKAM still does not have Commissioners.

The other issue of concern is that the ongoing selection process of the new SUHAKAM Commissioners has not been at all transparent, open, inclusive and consultative. While a five-member selection committee was set up under the amended enabling law of SUHAKAM to advise the Prime Minister in the selection of Commissioners, the entire selection process has been largely shrouded in secrecy. Even the names of the three appointed “civil society” members of the five-member selection committee have not been officially made public by the government up to this day! Further, civil society groups were not consulted both in the appointment of members of the selection committee as well as the selection of new Commissioners.

Yet again, in complete contrast, the Malaysian government, in its candidature to the UN Human Rights Council in May 2010, pledged that it will “[continue to foster] meaningful and productive engagement between the government machinery and civil society”.

SUARAM reminds the Malaysian government that SUHAKAM will once again be reviewed by the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC) in November 2010. The ICC’s review of SUHAKAM’s status in November 2010 is due to the fact that previous recommendations of the ICC have yet to be fully addressed by the Malaysian government and SUHAKAM. With such flawed selection process, SUHAKAM may once more face the threat of downgrading when it is reviewed again later this year.

SUARAM strongly urges the Prime Minister to immediately announce the appointment without further delay, only because SUHAKAM must fully function immediately in view of the complaints which are piling up in the SUHAKAM office and the numerous serious human rights abuses which are occurring in the country. Notwithstanding this call, SUARAM protests strongly against the flawed selection process which has been done without any semblance of transparency, openness, inclusiveness and consultation with civil society.

Released by,

John Liu

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Document Type : Forwarded Statement
Document ID : AHRC-FST-036-2010
Countries :