Gender inequality, discrimination against minorities still rife, Comango reports

Source: The Malay Mail

(From left) Executive director of EMPOWER, Angela M. Kuga Thas, Advocacy and Capacity-building officer EMPOWER, Rizal Rozhan, executive director of Suaram, Sevan Doraisamy, and Migration Working Group (MWG) coordinator, Bina Ramanand, hold copies of the Comango UPR Stakeholder Report. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 — In its report to the United Nations (UN) launched today, a coalition of local NGOs highlighted the continued rampancy of gender inequality and discriminations over religion, race, sexual orientation and gender identity, rights of the Orang Asli, and disabilities here.The report by Comango, which tracks progress in the field of human rights in Malaysia since the last UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), specifically highlighted the country’s dismal performance at the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) review earlier this year.

“The Cedaw Committee’s questions on matters that violate Muslim women’s rights were attacked by government-linked, Malaysian Alliance of Civil Society Organisations in the UPR Process (Macsa) and the Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (Centhra), both of which adhere to the Islamic human rights framework of the Cairo Declaration and therefore, reject gender equality.

“They and government officials claimed that female genital mutilation or cutting, whipping, polygamy, and women’s and girls’ unequal inheritance are non-issues in Malaysia,” said the report launched today. Read more

Comango: Previous administration backed attacks against human rights defenders

Source: The Malay Mail

Advocacy and Capacity-building officer of EMPOWER, Rizal Rozhan, speaks at the launch of the Comango UPR Stakeholder Report in Kuala Lumpur June 7, 2018. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 — Human rights defenders (HRDs) had been attacked by state-sanctioned and private groups under the previous government, a coalition of Malaysian NGOs asserted in a report to the United Nations (UN) launched today.

The report by Comango, which tracks progress in the field of human rights in Malaysia since the last UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), pointed out that the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration’s stance on some issues had resulted in violence, harassment, and hate speech against HRDs.

“The government failed to uphold the principles and values of The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and has tried to politicise the human rights situation on the ground and demonise HRDs,” it said.

“Comango’s involvement in Malaysia’s previous UPR resulted in the Home Ministry declaring Comango ‘illegal’, while Muslim-based groups in The Coalition of Muslim Organisations in the UPR Process (MuslimUPRo) organised hate and smear campaigns against Comango.” Read more

Press Freedom Index: M’sia drops a rank, affected by China media control model

Source: Malaysiakini

Image taken from Mkini

Malaysia has come in at 145th out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, falling one rank from last year.

The country’s score, 47.41, also worsened from last year with an increase of 0.52. According to the index, a higher score indicates deteriorating press freedom.

“Several proposed amendments would reinforce the already draconian Official Secrets Act 1972 and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, posing additional threats to the Malaysian media’s freedom to cover the 2018 general election.

“Bloggers are closely monitored by the authorities, who can prosecute them for spreading ‘false news’, a euphemism for criticism of the government,” read the report on the 2018 World Press Freedom Index. Read more

Malaysians distrust electoral process, report shows

Source: Free Malaysia Today

The report by Suhakam and the Kofi Annan Foundation also says many questions have been raised regarding the transparency and impartiality of the EC.

Malaysian electoral votes being taken for counting — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

PETALING JAYA: A regional report on democracy has revealed Malaysians’ distrust of the electoral process and their belief that the Election Commission (EC) lacks independence.

The report, entitled “Democracy in Southeast Asia: Achievements, Challenges and Prospects” presented by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and the Kofi Annan Foundation, also called for an improved framework and sound regulations for political financing.

It said this would promote greater transparency in the political arena and enhance confidence in the integrity of the electoral process.

Suhakam chairman Razali Ismail, who presented the report at a conference at the Bar Council auditorium here today, said the key role of civil society in promoting systems was to regulate political financing.

“Civil society organisations have a major role to play to educate the public on political corruption, political financing and money politics. And I believe that the regulation of political finance must be a priority in Malaysia,” he added.

Razali also said many questions had been raised regarding the transparency and impartiality of the EC. Read more

Report: Muslims-only, Chinese-only show Malaysia’s growing racism

Source: Free Malaysia Today

The Malaysian Racial Discrimination Report 2017, released today, said the government had reneged on its promises to promote national unity.

“In fact, racism has become more pronounced and is being increasingly used as a tool to divide and rule.”

It added that with the 14th general election (GE14) around the corner, politicians from both sides of the political divide had resorted to race-based politics to win support.

The 46-page report said the rise in racial and religious discrimination was not only worrying but also highlighted the inherent danger due to the overreach of bureaucratic Islamic institutions.

According to the report, 2017 saw an increase in incidence of racial discrimination. Read more

Suhakam: Repeal Sedition Act, review Peaceful Assembly Act

Source: Free Malaysia Today

These are among nearly 30 recommendations for the government to implement to restore human rights conditions in the country.

Suhakam chairman Razali Ismail says the commission will strive to improve Malaysia’s human rights situation. Image from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has urged the government to repeal the Sedition Act and review provisions of the Peaceful Assembly Act.

It said there had been an alarming escalation of arrests and prosecutions under the Sedition Act.

As for the Peaceful Assembly Act, it said intimidation and unjustifiable arrests of assembly participants still occurred during certain public assemblies.

It called for a review of the law in three areas: prohibition of street protests and the organisation of assemblies by persons below 21 years old; strict requirements for 10-day notification prior to the assembly; and specified prohibited places of assembly.

These were among nearly 30 recommendations covered in its latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Stakeholder Report released today. Read more

TI-M: Weak enforcement of corruption laws close to ‘criminal negligence’

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Transparency International-Malaysia chairman Akhbar Satar – The Malaysian Insight pic by Kamal Ariffin, February 22, 2018.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — Authorities can be considered almost “criminally” negligent in their failure to strictly enforce the country’s strong laws against corruption, according to a Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) report released today.

In its inaugural Business Integrity Country Agenda (BICA), the watchdog gave Malaysia 100 across the board for its comprehensive laws to prohibit bribery of public officials, commercial bribery, laundering of crime proceeds, and collusion.

However, the same areas were all given marks of 50 when evaluated in terms of their enforcement.

Each area is scored from 0 to 100 by intervals of 25; 100 indicates that all requirements from the United Nations Convention Against Corruption 2004 were fulfilled while 0 shows that none was met.

Speaking at the launch, TI-M president Datuk Akhbar Satar said the findings made it clear where to concentrate reform efforts

“Malaysia has scored well in part of the indicator on legislations in the public sector in the BICA report.

“However, having laws that were not strictly enforced is like having a medicine chest full of the most wonderful modern drugs and not using them to treat a dangerously sick person on his last leg.

“By any yardstick, this would be considered criminal negligence,” he said in his speech at BICA report launch at the Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur here today. Read more

Global rights group says Malaysia sliding towards conservative Islam

Source: FMT News

PETALING JAYA: A global human rights organisation today urged Malaysian government officials to speak out against the rising tide of religious intolerance rather than contribute to it.

In its 2018 World Report released in New York, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Putrajaya continued to shift toward a more conservative Islam.

It cited PAS’s plans to introduce amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, allowing shariah courts to impose stiffer punishments on Muslim offenders.

The report also noted the arrest of Turkish academic Mustafa Akyol by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department, for giving a talk on Islam without official credentials from religious authorities.

HRW Asia deputy director Phil Robertson said Prime Minister Najib Razak should speak out for all Malaysians.

“In a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country, Najib should defend the rights of everyone in the country to speak freely and practise their religion without fear,” he said.

HRW also questioned the claim by Najib that freedom of speech was “thriving” in Malaysia, saying the reality did not reflect this. Read more

Putrajaya wielding multimedia law to police dissent, says Suaram

Source: The Malaysian Insight

Suaram launched its Human Right Overview 2017 Report at Kuala Lumpur And Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall today. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Nazir Sufari, December 7, 2017

AUTHORITIES are using a multimedia law much more this past year as it has a wider latitude over the sedition act, rights group Suaram said today.

The number of cases filed under Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA) jumped to 249 over nine under the sedition act which was widely used in the Najib government’s first term.

This was the finding of Suaram’s Human Rights Report 2017 Overview, which was launched at Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall today.

According to the report, the use of the Sedition Act reduced significantly with just nine cases in 2017, while there were 269 cases investigated under CMA between January and September 30 this year.

Of this, 146 cases were investigated under Section 233 of CMA with 56 investigation papers submitted to the Attorney-General’s Chamber

The Suaram report cited a Parliamentary reply by Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Jailani Johari dated November 6.

Suaram programme coordinator Dobby Chew said: “The Sedition Act is now used for specific cases. Read more

Rights group criticises US after Malaysia upgraded on human trafficking list

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division. — AP File Pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 — The US State Department’s move to drop Malaysia from its people smuggling watch list yesterday belies the latter’s “mediocre” efforts in the area, according to the Human Rights Watch.

HRW’s deputy director for Asia Phil Robertson complained that Malaysia made no effort to identify the different categories of people smuggling, which allowed debt-bonded foreign workers to escape classification as victims of human trafficking.

Other problems such as overcrowded detention facilities, failure to institute the “moderate” reforms promised, and corruption among enforcement officials made further mockery of Malaysia’s removal from the department’s Tier 2 Watch List in its latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, he added.

“For the second year in a row, it’s no exaggeration to say the section on Malaysia undermines the credibility of TIP report,” he said in a statement. Read more