THE Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) today asked the government what happened to the national human rights action plan after it submitted a proposal years ago.
“We gave our feedback to the proposal years ago and today, we are still waiting (for it),” commission chairman Razali Ismail told reporters at a get-together in Kuching.
Razali was in Kuching to chair the commission’s meeting.
“The last I was told only the final draft (of the plan) was ready,” Razali said.
But he said he is still waiting with no assurance when the draft would be made public.
The plan was approved by the cabinet on October 12, 2012.
It was to draw up a systematic action plan or standard operating procedure (SOP) for government enforcement agencies to protect and uphold an individual’s human rights when discharging their duties.
The draft, to have been drawn up by Legal Affairs Department of the Prime Minister’s Office, was to be “tailored for the country”.The focus, on which the cabinet agreed, was on civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, the rights of vulnerable group, rights of the indigenous natives and on its international obligations.
In its international obligations, the government was to ratify the international human rights treaties it had yet to sign.
“We are also slow there,” Razali said.
“Of the eight or nine treaties waiting to be ratified, we did only three. Our neighbours have ratified five or more.”
Razali’s query came as reports by Human Rights Watch and the US State Department on the country’s human rights situation make grim reading.
The Human Rights Watch’s 2016 report stated that the human rights situation in the Malaysia continued to deteriorate, “with human rights defenders, activists, political opposition figures, and journalists facing harassment and politically motivated prosecution”.
The reported stated those criticising the administration of Prime Minister Najib Razak or commenting on the government’s handling of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption scandal have been particular targets, with the Sedition Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) most frequently used against critics.
While Razali disputed some content of the reports, he said “they are not completely wrong”.
“We don’t have a culture of fear in Malaysia. There are (however) good reasons for people to come to the conclusion.”