“IRC Report: Why the Secrecy?” was the first HAKAM forum of 2020, held on 18 January 2020 at the KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall. The well-attended forum started at 10:00 am and was led by a panel of distinguished guests, who all had been involved and well-informed of the IRC process; Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (IRC member and former President of HAKAM), Ms. Siti Kasim (Maju), and Mr. Sevan Doraisamy (Suaram) and the panel was moderated by Dato’ Dr. Gurdial Singh Nijar (HAKAM President). The presentations of the forum speakers were followed by a Q&A session, and the forum ended at 12:00 pm.
In October last year, prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the confidential report by the IRC and its seven recommendations that have been passed to the quasi-official Council of Eminent Persons can only be made public once all Pakatan Harapan (PH) component parties agree to it.
Key points from the forum on the issue of the release of the IRC Report to the public included:
Dato’ Ambiga suggested a pilot pilot project by “releasing just one set of recommendations [by IRC] and see whether the government falls down the next day.”
Dato’ Ambiga said she does not know the real reason why PH did not want it to be released but she would “charitably” assume that it is because of public and voters’ perception towards the already much-criticised administration.
By withholding the report, the government has denied the public and their own supporters the opportunity to be involved in making the country a better place, something that was promised by PH when they rolled out their election manifesto before 2018 election.
Siti Kasim pointed out that transparency is the cornerstone of good governance, hence the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government should make public the Institutional Reforms Committee (IRC) report.
Sevan suggested that all CSO and NGOs who have contributed to the making of the report, can release their own recommendations to the IRC, which in effect is a major part of what the IRC has referred to in its process, and this way the public can have access to the institutional problems pointed out and recommended reforms.
Dato’ Dr. Gurdial mentioned that HAKAM has been following up the release of the Report with the PM, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and will continue to do so until the people can know the content of the report.
HAKAM wishes to thank everyone who came to the forum and the media for covering the event. See you all next time!
The Institutional Reform Committee (IRC) finalised their report in June 2018, with seven recommendations for revamping the structure of judiciary appointments; limiting the concentration of executive power on a single individual; abolition of oppressive legislation, namely the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 and the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012; reform in enforcement and government agencies; parliamentary reforms; and vetting processes for key public appointments with the aim of achieving a corruption-free society, according to IRC member and former HAKAM President, Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasaan.
The IRC, which falls under the Council of Eminent Persons, comprises retired Court of Appeal judges Datuk KC Vohrah, Mah, Ambiga, National Patriots Association president Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji, and constitutional law expert Prof Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi.
The report then was submitted to the Council of Eminent Persons. However, the report has not yer been released to the public. You can read further on the secrecy surrounding the report and why it is important for the public to know the findings of the IRC in the piece written by HAKAM President, Dato’ Dr. Gurdial Singh Nijar. The importance of the findings has prompted HAKAM to hold a forum discussion on the secrecy of the IRC report, with eminent speakers to discuss aspects of the IRC, the reasons given for keeping the findings and recommendations from the public, and how to push for reform in Malaysia.
The speakers on the forum include, lawyer, activist and Founder of Malaysians for Justice and Unity (MAJU), Ms. Siti Kasim, former HAKAM President and member of IRC, Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasaan, and Executive Director of SUARAM, Sevan Doraisamy. The session will be moderated by HAKAM President, Dato’ Dr. Gurdial Singh Nijar.
Home Affairs Minister Muhyiddin Yassin – Bernama file photo
PETALING JAYA: Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has directed the Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun to submit a comprehensive report on the arrest of lawyer and activist Siti Kasim who was accused of kidnapping her client and preventing police officers from discharging their duties.
Muhyiddin said he had asked for the report to be submitted before any action is taken on the matter.
He said he had taken cognisance of the public outcry over the matter but as the home minister, he had to balance public interest with the private interests of those directly affected without impeding police investigations.
“I have also noted lawyer Siti Kasim’s response that she was at all times acting as legal counsel for the victim.
“I am fully aware of the right of the individual to legal counsel, and the right of counsel to act without being subjected to threats and harrassment by any parties,” he said in a statement. Read more →
PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty has called on the authorities to take immediate action against perpetrators behind a threat to inflict violence on lawyer and civil rights activist Siti Zabedah Kasim, saying the matter can be investigated under the Penal Code.
Its legal and campaign coordinator Melissa Sasidaran said the NGO was appalled by news reports that Siti had received online threats to rape, behead and attack her with acid, apparently over her alleged views on Islam and LGBT issues.
“It is unacceptable and shocking why the authorities are not taking such threatening and bullying behaviour against women with the seriousness it deserves,” Melissa said. Read more →
PETALING JAYA: Prominent lawyer and activist Siti Zabedah Kasim, better known as Siti Kasim, today lodged a police report against a man for calling on Muslims to behead her.
According to the New Straits Times, the first threat was posted online on July 3.
The man had attached an article quoting her stand on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, as reported by an online portal but which she claimed had misquoted her.
On July 19, the same man wrote another post, attaching yet another article from the same online portal, stating that Siti Kasim had allegedly said, “Not to follow Arabic Islam, but follow the real Islam”. Read more →
The Lawyers for Liberty executive director says the charge against lawyer Siti Kasim is a serious attack on the independence of the Bar Council. Pic from FMT News.
PETALING JAYA: Human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen is demanding that the authorities stop “harassing” lawyers in the course of their duties.
This comes after prominent lawyer Siti Kasim was charged with the alleged obstruction of a public servant in carrying out her functions.
Paulsen, who is the Lawyers for Liberty’s executive director, said instead of investigating and charging lawyers for performing their roles, the authorities should ensure that international standards such as the United Nations (UN) Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers are compiled with.
Article 16 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, among others, states that governments must ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference and that they should not be threatened with prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with their duties. Read more →
Screenshot of the Police report as shared by Siti Kasim on her Facebook page.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 — Lawyer Siti Kasim has lodged a police report against Facebook users who threatened to decapitate her over her alleged remarks on God.
The human rights lawyer said the death threats came after a fundamentalist Malay-language portal, Menara.my, published an article titled “Melalui getaran, kita menghasilkan Tuhan — Siti Kasim” (Through vibrations, we create God — Siti Kasim) that she said had “manipulated” her interview with Chinese-language portal pocketimes.my.
“Many comments calling for my death. This guy messaged me and warned me,” Siti told Malay Mail Online today, referring to a Facebook user who said that she “deserved to be killed”.
She sent Malay Mail Online screenshots of other Facebook users who said things like, “If it were up to me, I would have chopped off this CT Kasim’s head already…traitor to the religion and destroyer of the faith of Muslims in these times”.
Siti said she lodged a police report here last Saturday. Read more →
Siti Kasim says Washington’s annual human rights report is an outdated view of Orang Asli land rights issue, adding that the report bases its argument on a simplistic interpretation of the statute law. Pic from FMT News.
PETALING JAYA: Washington’s annual human rights report does not adequately address issues surrounding Orang Asli rights in the country, several Orang Asli activists have said.
Activist-cum-lawyer Siti Kasim pointed out that the US State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016 was too shallow as it merely interpreted the Orang Asli land rights issue in a “simplistic manner”.
“It’s partially correct if one were to solely focus on written law. But it’s an outdated view on Orang Asli land rights, based on a simplistic interpretation of the statute law,” she told FMT when contacted. Read more →