(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The
government disregard of internationally-recognised principles concerning the
status, powers and functioning of national human rights commissions embodied in
the Paris Principles endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 has
plunged the two-year-old Suhakam into a crisis of confidence.
of the fundamental features of the Paris Principles calls for an independent
appointments procedure which is transparent and consultative with civil society
groups in the country to maximize the likelihood of committed and active
appointees to the commission.
axing of two commissioners, Tan Sri Anuar Zainal Abidin and Mehrun Siraj, are
most scandalous when it is an open secret that they have been in the forefront
in discharging the most important mandate of Suhakam - the protection of human rights.
human rights education and promotion work is very important,
they will be quite hollow if Suhakam cannot make a significant impact in
its ability to address human rights protection activities by investigating human
rights violations and seek recourse or redress for victims, such as the Kesas
Highway police brutality, the Kampong Medan racial attacks, the ISA detention of
the six reformasi activists and those suspected of involvement with Kumpulan
Militant Malaysia (KMM) and the government blanket ban on ceramahs.
and Mehrun had been the two most outstanding and distinguished Suhakam
Commissioners in the past two years focussing on its remit on human rights
protection - although there were important failings in this area.
axing of Anuar and Mehrun is a gross violation of the Paris Principles precipitating a crisis of confidence in
Suhakam by compromising the independence, credibility, integrity and authority
government has not been able to give convincing or credible
reasons as to why Anuar and Mehrun have
been dropped from Suhakam, when they should be role models for other
Suhakam Commissioners in their commitment to uphold human rights!
April, Anuar was appointed by the
United Nations Human Rights Commission to its international working group on
“Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance” as the sole representative from the
Asian region. This was regarded as
a great honour and recognition to
Suhakam and Malaysia at the time. With
Anuar’s ignominous axing from Suhakam, is this another example
of “a prophet not without honour, save in his own country”?
appointment of the five new Commissioners, four former
civil servants and one current civil servant, to replace among others, a
former Chief Justice, a former Court of Appeal judge and a legal
academician, is a matter of grave
concern as the government is trying
a subservient government
mentality in Suhakam with such appointments.
It should be noted that two of the Commissioners dropped, namely Anuar
and Datuk Mahadev Shankar were on
the three-man Royal Commission of Inquiry which, assisted by former
Attorney-General and the new Suhakam Chairman, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman,
identified the culprit responsible for Anwar
Ibrahim’s “black eye”.
the NGO human rights community and Malaysians concerned about human rights are
most alarmed at the victimisation of Anuar and Mehrun for their conscientious
and outstanding contributions as Suhakam commissioners to protect and promote
human rights, DAP calls on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
to reappoint them as Commissioners as there are still seven vacancies in the
present 13-member Suhakam, which is allowed to have 20 Commissioners.
I can agree with the first Suhakam Chairman, Tan Sri Musa Hitam that Suhakam has chalked up considerable progress in promoting human rights in Malaysia. But the more important question for Suhakam is whether it had contributed towards the protection of human rights in its first two-year term - and the answer is not very positive at all!
The Prime Minister
should fill the seven
Suhakam vacancies with nominees from the NGO human rights community to resolve
the present Suhakam crisis of confidence - including the re-appointment of Anuar
and Mehrun. - so that Suhakam can start on its second two-year term with a more
balanced and acceptable composition as not to forfeit national and international