KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — Critics should not measure local court decisions using “Western” human rights standards that may not always match Malaysian values, Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria said today.
Arifin noted that civil society has criticised some court decisions as “violating individual freedoms and curtailing freedom of speech and association”, but insisted that Western values and human rights norms cannot be the “ultimate yardstick” in Malaysia.
“In making these criticism, the standards applied by way of comparison are those of mature, Western orientated democracies.
“With respect, the application of Western norms which are not always in accordance with the values and culture of Malaysian society do not allow for a direct comparison of standards emanating from the West,” he said in his speech at the ceremonial opening of Malaysia’s Legal Year 2016.
Citing the Human Rights Commission Act 1999, Arifin pointed out that human rights in Malaysia is defined as fundamental liberties that are enshrined in Part 2 of the Federal Constitution.
He also said the Malaysian value system is found in the Rukun Negara, specifically the pledge by Malaysians to abide by the core values of “Belief in God, Loyalty to King and Country, Upholding the Constitution, Rule of Law and Good Behavior and Morality”.
“Therefore, the standards for measuring our adherence to human rights ought to be measured against these benchmarks,” he said.
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