Press Statement 
by DAP Political Education Director and DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) National Secretary, Hew Kuan Yau 
in Petaling Jaya 
on Wednesday, 24th April 2002

The New Suhakam Chairman Must Immediately Execute 5 Urgent Tasks

The post-911 scenario has laid down the condition and environment and given excuses to many oppressive regimes in the world to further clamp down on democracy and human rights in their respective countries. The ruling government in Malaysia, the Barisan Nasional, has made full use of the 911-terror card to its advantage as witnessed during the Sarawak State Legislative Election and in the last two by-elections. The threat of terrorism has been used as a pretext to justify the use of the draconian Internal Security Act, which clearly violates fundamental human rights by refusing detainees the right to be tried in an open court.

The National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has the national responsibility to protect and promote human rights in Malaysia and it must act without fear or favor to avert further deterioration of human rights in an already fragile democracy in Malaysia. The new Suhakam Chairman, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman must convince and demonstrate to Malaysians and the world that he has the capability and credibility to carry out his role effectively as Suhakam Chairman as he does not have a “good record” during his 14-year tenure as Attorney-General.

DAPSY strongly advocates that Abu Talib should immediately execute 5 tasks to procure the confidence of the Malaysian public. The 5 immediate tasks are:

1)      To pressure the government and the police to immediately take action in response to the findings and recommendations of the Suhakam inquiry report on the Kesas Highway incident, which was an indictment of police abuses.

2)      To immediately conduct an in-depth inquiry into the Kampung Medan racial clashes in March 2001 and table it in Parliament before the end of the year.

3)      To immediately make a visit and conduct an inquiry into the conditions of the six “reformasi” activists who are undergoing detention under the Internal Security Act as committed to by SUHAKAM last week.

4)      To initiate a study on local prison conditions and treatment of prisoners in order to ascertain whether they are in line with international standards and practices and to make recommendations on prison reform.

5)      To make public his position on ISA and other oppressive laws in Malaysia to inform Malaysians whether there are to be any changes in Suhakam’s stance with regard to legislations that constitute gross human right violations. 

DAPSY hopes that the new appointment will bring renewed hope in improving the condition of human rights in Malaysia, not as a tool to compliment the government to further clamp down on human rights and tighten its grip on democracy in Malaysia.