1. HAKAM welcomes Prime Minister Tun Mahathir’s commitment to “ratify all remaining core UN instruments related to the protection of human rights” at his speech in the 73rd UN General Assembly yesterday.
2. Tun Mahathir has also promised that the new Malaysia “will firmly espouse the principles promoted by the UN in our international engagements”, which include “the principles of truth, human rights, the rule of law, justice, fairness, responsibility and accountability, as well as sustainability.”
3. HAKAM highly commends the new Malaysia’s principled commitment to human rights at the international stage. In a world threatened by the rise of right-wing nationalism & erosion of civil liberties, the new Malaysia yesterday showed leadership & hope to the other nations on the future of human rights.
4. Nonetheless, HAKAM also takes note of Tun Mahathir’s concern that it “will not be easy for us because Malaysia is multi-ethnic, multireligious, multicultural and multilingual” and that the Government will “accord space and time for all to deliberate and to decide freely based on democracy.”
5. Whilst consultation with all stakeholders is a must, HAKAM takes the view that the presence of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious & multi-cultural society should not be a barrier to a country’s responsibility to uphold human rights. Human rights are innate, inalienable & universal in nature. Religion, race & culture should never be used as a justification for condoning discrimination, injustice & suffering. Everyone deserves to be shielded by & to thrive underneath the over-arching umbrella of human rights.
6. In this respect, HAKAM urges the new Malaysian Government to take immediate steps to do the following:
6.1. Ratify, without reservations, all key international human rights conventions, which include:
(i) The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);
(ii) The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR);
(iii) The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;
(iv) The UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment;
(v) The International Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families;
(vi) The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; and
(vii) The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
6.2. Remove all reservations in the international human rights conventions which it has ratified, which include:
(i) The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC);
(ii) The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); and
(iii) The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
7. The Malaysian Government is not alone in this journey. As long as Malaysia is consistent with its recent stance in the 73rd UN General Assembly, HAKAM believes that civil society organisations will wholeheartedly support this endeavor and provide all the assistance they can.
Lim Wei Jiet
On behalf of the HAKAM Executive Committee