The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) will question Putrajaya over the decision to drastically cut its budget allocation for 2016, as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak recently.
Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said the commission was very concerned as it would mean that certain programmes planned earlier cannot be carried out.
Suhakam’s budget for next year has been cut by almost 50%, from RM10,986,200 for 2015 to RM5,509,400 for 2016.
“We are obviously very concerned about the drastic budget cut as it will adversely affect our planned programmes and activities,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
“We will be taking up the matter with the government as early as tomorrow. We will keep the public informed of developments on the matter.”
Suhakam is the national human rights institution, which is given the mandate by Parliament to promote education on human rights, provide advice on policy and legislation matters and carry out investigations.
It has been vocal against several government policies and laws that are deemed to be abusive and unfair.
Suhakam has in the past urged Putrajaya to repeal the draconian Sedition Act and has criticised the government for using it to quell dissent among the opposition, activists and journalists, among others.
Earlier, rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) slammed Najib for reducing Suhakam’s budget for 2016, saying it would be difficult for the commission to conducts its operations and public campaigns.
“After 15 years of struggle, Suhakam has obtained some degree of recognition by Malaysians. While their success was not without flaws, the impact they have in the human rights discourse in Malaysia cannot be dismissed easily,” said Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy.
“Despite their success (or perhaps because of their success), the Malaysian government have decided to curtail and reduce the budget for Suhakam for 2016.”
He said Suhakam’s budget cut only showed Putrajaya’s lack of political will to empower the commission.
“The Malaysian government cannot, in good conscience, claim that they hold human rights and civil liberties in high regard when it is not reflected in the budget allocation for Suhakam,” he added.
Sevan urged Putrajaya to review Suhakam’s budget allocation as well as provide the commission with more power of intervention to conduct its operations and campaigns.
“Failure to do so would ensure that the government’s failure in complying with the Paris Principles and eventually result in the downgrade of Suhakam from its current ‘A’ status,” he said, referring to requirements adopted by the United Nations.
“This downgrade would only add to the ever growing list of human rights violations by the Malaysian government and further shame Malaysia in its commitment to uphold and human rights and democracy.” – November 10, 2015.