UN rights body ‘gravely concerned’ by new Malaysian security law that grants govt search, seizure powers

Source: The Straits Times

The UN human rights body said it was “gravely concerned” by a new Malaysian security law that grants the government extraordinary emergency powers. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – The United Nations’ human rights body said on Friday (July 29)it was “gravely concerned” by a new Malaysian security law coming into force next week that grants the government extraordinary emergency powers.

“We are gravely concerned that… the act may encourage human rights violations,” Mr Laurent Meillan, acting head of the UN Human Rights Office for South-east Asia, said in a statement. He also expressed concern that the act could lead to “unjust restrictions” on free speech and assembly.

“We call on the government to revise the act to bring it in line with international human rights norms and standards,” he said.

The government rammed the National Security Council Act through Parliament last December, giving it powers to declare virtual martial law in areas of the country determined to be under security threat.

But critics of Prime Minister Najib Razak say he enacted the law as ammunition against any moves to oust him over a huge financial scandal.

The law, which comes into force next Monday (Aug 1), allows a National Security Council headed by the prime minister to suspend civil liberties in certain areas, giving government forces sweeping powers of search, seizure and arrest. Read more

Proham: Strengthen institutional governance for check and balance

Source: Malaysiakini

Our parliamentary democracy is built on the principle of ‘check and balance’ of the executive who have been elected by the people. Independent institutions have the role of preventing abuse of power in public office and taking appropriate action on wrongdoers. Public accountability and good governance are an integral part of human rights and citizens’ action which are guaranteed by our Federal Constitution.

Malaysian policies and legislation has established independent mechanisms which have a public duty to safeguard and protect public interest. These institutions include the attorney-general, the auditor-general, the inspector-general of police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) and the Parliamentary Accounts Committee.

They are to undertake independent monitoring, investigation, inquiry, and assessment and identify wrongdoers who then must be prosecuted.

The Society for the Promotion of Human Rights, Malaysia (Proham) recognises that action or in action by the executive is weakening both parliamentary democracy and good governance in Malaysian society. Collective action is urgently needed to reverse this trend in the public interest.

As we reflect on three current issues in Malaysian society, Proham is deeply concerned for the state of democracy, human rights and public accountability in Malaysia society. Read more