Malaysia needs greater maturity in its view of human rights, which should not be seen as a hindrance to society, retired Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said today.
Human rights should not be seen as an impediment, he added, when speaking at a forum on “Whither the Federal Constitution – Do fundamental and minority rights matter?” organised by the Bar Council in Kuala Lumpur.
“The country should be matured enough to respect minority rights, fundamental rights and human rights. We had a good run on human rights, why do we want to shoot ourselves in the foot.
“When someone throws a balloon you should laugh it off and not prosecute the person. We need to be mature,” he added, referring to charging of dancer Bilqis Hijjas who had dropped yellow balloons bearing the words “democracy”, “free media” and “justice” at an event in a mall in August with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak attended with his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor in attendance.
Bilqis was subsequently charged under the Minor Offences Act 1955 for “insulting behaviour and behaviour likely to provoke a breach of the peace”.
If found guilty, she faces a maximum fine of RM100.
But Ariff said countries that respected human rights were also the ones that were strong in terms of cultural and economic development because their citizens felt safe.
He said he was drawing a correlation between economic progress and respect for fundamental rights, adding that Malaysia was not doing well in the latter.
“People need to be happy, safe and secure. Progress comes this way.
“The countries with good records in terms of cultural, economic development and so on are the countries with the highest respect for human rights,” he said.– December 19, 2015.