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Monday, 31 December 2012

Proham Discussion - Building an inclusive Malaysian society


 Date:                Jan 14, 2013 (Monday)
Time:                4pm to 6.30pm

Venue:              Conference Room, Malaysian Institute of Management (MIM), Jaya 33, Tower 1, Level 11,  No 3, Jalan Semangat, Petaling Jaya. Tel: +603-7711 2892

There is a strong conviction in public policy formulation and advocacy that building a nation from a
broader and inclusive agenda for development will enhance national unity and inter-ethnic relations
among communities.

Far too often development agenda concerns have been championed from ‘an ethnic deprivation’
Position and each community seek to champion its own agenda. However if a human rights and
sustainability framework is adopted, there is a strong conviction that this will neutralizes issues of race
and religion.

The focus can rightly shift to real life concerns on the basis of human needs that cuts across all ethnic
and religious communities especially those that impact the bottom 40% of the socio-economic divide.

In early Jan 2013, the Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA) at University Kebangsaan Malaysia published
Twenty- two short articles written by Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria as a booklet is the UKM Ethnic
Studies Paper Series entitled “Malaysia: The Need for Inclusiveness”. These were originally published
in the Malay Mail column –Meeting Half Way.

In conjunction with the launch of this booklet together with two others in the UKM Ethnic Studies
Paper Series, a discussion is organised in the on growing discussion to foster closer relationship
among various communities and in enhancing social cohesion in Malaysian society.

Panel of Speakers
Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Proham Chairman)

Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam (Chairman ASLI_CPPS & Proham member)
Tan Sri Michael Yeoh (ASLI & Proham member)

Assoc Prof Dr Ramy Bulan (Faculty of Law, & Director of Centre for Malaysian Indigenous Studies, CMIS, University Malaya)
Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin (Distinguished Prof & Founding Director, KITA-UKM)

Moderator: Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham & KITA-UKM)

Panel members will briefly share within 10 minutes their reflections and there will be opportunity for participants too also make short interventions. Please join us by registering this program by Jan 10, 2013. Email at:

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Proham's contribution in enhancing human rights in Malaysia in 2012


Proham had an active year in 2012 promoting human rights through 7 organised discussions, issuance of 36 press statements and participated in a number of joints programs with other organisations
Proham’s main focus as a new human rights civil society organisation is to make a contribution in the formulation of public opinion and public policies which have a greater commitment to human rights as expounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Malaysian Federal Constitution.
For a small organisation we have done well with the support and cooperation of all the members especially the encouragement of Proham Chairman, Tan Sri Simon Sipaun. In addition Proham member Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam has played a very active role in the drafting and release of the Proham press statments.
On the whole as Secretary General I have received good support from Proham members and also human rights partners in our endeavour to create a better Malaysian society.
Denison Jayasooria (Dec 25, 2012)

DISCUSSIONS ( 7 discussions organised)
Roundtable Discussion on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration on Feb 14, 2012 from 8pm – 10.30pm at the Conference Room, Dignity International, PJ

Proham Celebrations on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination entitled Young Voices Say – No to Racism on March 20, 2012 at 9pm at the Lotus Restaurant, PJ
Roundtable Discussion on Education Reform & Process of Consultation held on April 16, 2012 from 8pm to 10.30pm at PJ Hilton. Jointly organised with ASLI-CPPS & KITA-UKM

Roundtable Discussion on Addressing Citizenship Issues in Sabah held on May 19, 2012 at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Roundtable Discussion on Parliamentary Select Committee Report & the Bersih Demands: The way forward before GE 13 held on May 21, 2012 from 8pm to 10.30pm at Dignity International Conference Room, PJ

Proham Human Rights Day Tea & Discussion held on Dec 10, 2012 from 4.30pm till 7pm at Dignity International office, PJ
Proham Roundtable Discussion on Human Rights & Undocumented Person in Malaysia on Dec 20, 2012 at Dignity International Conference Room, PJ

(36 press statements issued in 2012)

Proham on affirmative action for poor Malaysians – Jan 30, 2012
Proham calls for the restoration of Judicial power- Feb 14, 2012

Proham urges Malaysia to Ratify the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination - March 21, 2012
Citizens & Berish 3 Freedom Assembly- April 26, 2012

Post Bersih 3 Reflections for free & fair elections – April 30, 2012
Proham urges the Federal government to establish a Royal commission of inquiry on Bersih3- May 2, 2012

Proham calls on the Police to review Suhakam’s inquiry findings – May 5, 2012
Proham appeals for certain quarters to end this vendetta against Datuk S Ambiga- May 8, 2012

Proham expresses disappointed on the establishment of a panel without the legal powers of inquiry- May 10, 2012
Proham rejects unruly conduct & disrespect shown to our Prime Minister – May 16, 2012

Proham appeals to end ‘acts of intimidation’ on Dato S Ambiga – May 16, 2012
Sabah citizenship issues need urgent review through Royal commission of inquiry –May 20, 2012

Proham urges Suhakam to undertake a public inquiry on the April 28- Bersih 3 incident – May 21, 2012
Parliamentary Select Committee Report & the Bersih demands: The way forward – May 23, 2012

Proham welcome National Human Rights Action Plan – May 25, 2012
Proham presents the RTD findings on Election Reform to Election Commission – June 1, 2012

Proham congratulates the Federal government but also urges for greater diversity & expertise in the appointment of members to the Special Commission on Civil Service Review – June 4, 2012

Proham welcomes government announcement for equal air time – June 6, 2012
Proham calls the NRD to explain & restore public confidence in the voters list – June 7, 2012

Proham supports the UN Human Rights experts call – June 8, 2012
Independent domestic election observers & GE 13- July 19, 2012

Proham calls on ASEAN to take a tougher human rights position in favour of the Rohingya community in Myanmar – August 9, 2012
Proham welcomes the establishment of the RCI into the illegal immigrant problem in Sabah -August 12, 2012

Proham strongly supports Suhakam’s call for annual report to be debated in Parliament – August 14, 2012
Proham congratulates PM Najib for position taken in OIC & calls on Malaysia to also ‘walk the talk’ by ratifying all the core UN Conventions – August 17, 2012

Proham calls on the Federal government to review all privatization projects – August 21, 2012
Proham urges the Federal Government to Repeal, Section 114A of the Evidence Act – August 22, 2012

High Court’s decision on Bersih: Refreshing & Reaffirming – August 26, 2012
Building public confidence in Police action through independent oversight mechanisms – August 29, 2012

Malaysians have displayed that peaceful assembly is possible – August 31, 2012
Proham backs Suaram as a credible human rights defender and calls on the Federal government agancies to stop intimidating them- Sept 11, 2012

Proham calls on Federal Government to fund all streams of education – Oct 18, 2012
Proham calls on Federal Government to abolish the death penalty- Nov 3, 2012

Proham congratulates PM for his support on Human Rights at the Asean meeting & calls him to lead in human rights – Nov 20, 2012
Proham’s Reflection on 2012 Human Rights Day - Dec 11, 2012

Proham calls on the Malaysian government to give more serious attention to the human rights violations on undocumented& stateless persons in Malaysia – Dec 21, 2012

Participation at the International conference on principal Policing: Rule of law, public order & sustainable development organised by ASLI & PDRM on Feb 13-14, 2012 at Sunway Resort Hotel

Meeting with Election Commission with NGOs on Election Observation –May 28, 2012 at 10.30am at SPRM, Putrajaya
Meeting with Mr Laurent Meillan, from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights based in Bangkok during his visit to Malaysia on July 15, 2012

Meeting with Election Commission Chairman held on July 19, 2012 at 4pm at SPRM, Putrajaya, attended by Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, Tan Sri Ramon Navartnam and Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria
Participation at the Seminar on National Human Rights Action Plan at IDFR on May 24 – 25, 2012

Participated in United Nations Consultative Meeting with Malaysian NGOS in the UPR process at the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) on 13 September 2012, 9.00-13.00 Proham submitted a paper on Oct 15, 2012 entitled Human Rights situation in Malaysia written by Tan Sri Simon Sipaun as input to the UPR process
Participated in a dinner discussion with Dr Mutuma Rutere, Special UN Rapporteur on Racism during his visit to Malaysia on Nov 17, 2012 evening in PJ hosted by KOMAS

Discussion with Mr Phil Robertson Deputy Director, Asia of the Human Rights Watch on Dec 8, 2012 in PJ

Supported the Global campaign to end immigration detention of children on April 2, 2012

Supported the NGO petition on Statutory Rape sentencing coordinated by EMPOWER, Oct 28, 2012
Supported the National Campaign to Reverse the Decline of Tasik Chini launched by Transparency International-Malaysia together with the people of Tasik Chini and civil society partners on August 12, 2012 (Sunday). Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria participated at the program in Tasik Chini

Supporting organisation to the 2nd National Conference: Malaysia on the path of non-discrimination-making it possible organised by KOMAS & KITA-UKM on Nob 19, 2012 at Dewan Chersonese, Maju Junction, KL
Suhakam National Inquiry into the Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples of Malaysia – Tan Sri Simon Sipaun and Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria were appointed as independent consultants to the inquiry

Proham Members Meetings
Proham members meeting held on Jan 17 at 8.30pm at Ravi’s Banana Leaf, PJ

Proham AGM was held on March 20, 2012 at 8.30pm at Lotus Restaurant, PJ
Proham members meeting on July 16, 2012 at 6.30pm at Lotus, PJ

Proham members meeting on Sept 24, 2012 at 5pm at Lotus, PJ

Friday, 21 December 2012



Proham Press Release

About 23 people participated at the Proham Roundtable discussion on Human Rights & Undocumented person in Malaysia on Dec 20, 2012. 
Among the participants were representatives from Suhakam, UNHCR, UNICEF, World Vision, Jewel, Malaysian Indian Business Association (MIBA)  & Voice of Children (VOC).
The RTD was moderated by Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam and the speakers included Dato Siva Subramanium of Special Implementation Taskforce (SITF), PM Dept, Ms Nathini Ramalo of DHRRA Malaysia, Mr Eric Paulsen of Lawyers for Liberty & Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria of Proham

The discussion was very lively and dwelled on many critical issues and concerns affecting undocumented persons in Malaysia. The discussion raised the following matters & recommendations:-
First, we recognise the issue of documentation affects certain sections of Malaysian society especially among disadvantaged and displaced plantation workers like the Indian community, interior communities especially forest based like the Penans in Sarawak and also the people of Siamese origin on the Malaysian-Thai boarders. There are also documented cases among Malays, Orang Aslis and Malaysians of Chinese origin

Therefore this issue of documentation is not an ethnic issue which is peculiar to one community or sub community but a national concern requiring urgent attention by the Federal government.
In this context Proham recognises that a single common denominator among the undocumented people is poverty and being in a situation of being disadvantaged and ignorant of public policies and requirements including their difficulties to access public sector service. A large section of these people have been cheated or exploited in this process of application by middle men and community leaders in the pretext of assisting the undocumented person.

Second, the various speakers and participants at the RTD highlighted numerous hurdles and hardships faced by undocumented Malaysian especially their denial of basic human rights due to non-possession of documents. The ground stories depicts human tragedy and misery faced especially children below the age of 18 who have major problems with regards to acces to education and health care which is also being noted as non-compliance to the Convention on the Rights of the Child which Malaysia is a party too.

Third, we do note that the size of the problem is being disputed by different parties. The figures being highlighted range from about 9,000 to as high as 300,000. In this context it is pointed out that it is of utmost importance that the Federal government determine the size and extent of the problem in Malaysia.

 It is important to note that the issue of undocumented Malaysians is a very serious issue and requires urgent Federal government leadership and stronger political will to resolve many inter-generational cases which have not been resolved since Merdeka. Such cases have been highlighted by NGOs and the media.
There is the urgent need for the Department of Statistics and relevant agencies to  create a data base of all unresolved cases and bring to closure many individuals and families being impacted by being undocumented in Malaysian society

Fourth, we note that since 2010 the Prime Minister through the Special Implementation Taskforce and the full cooperation of the National Registration Department has undertaken a comprehensive  ‘My daftar campaign’ which has dawn 14, 385 Malaysian Indians of whom 9,529 had made applications and to date a total of 6,590 have been successful.
This campaign is commendable and Proham recommends that a second My Daftar campaign be launched in early 2013 in order to address the needs and concerns of many others who were not able to participate in the first campaign. The setting up of mobile units and a more pro-active approach is also recommend in partnership and cooperation with civil society and community and religious groups.

Fifth, Proham recognises that out of the 14, 385 Malaysian Indians registered in ‘My daftar campaign’, some 4,856 were unable to make an application as they did not have the necessary supporting documents and also another 2,472 applications were rejected as it was incomplete and 467 who were out rightly rejected.
Proham strongly recommends that these 7,795 cases be reviewed as a pilot study and the data analysed in great detail to determine the pattern of the issues and hurdles as these applications are not from recent arrivals to Malaysia but are undocumented Malaysians. This review will seek to identify ways and means to resource not just the documentation but also determine their nationality and citizenship consistent to Federal Constitutions and human rights principles

Sixth, it was noted with tremendous concern the numerous administrative and procedural requirements imposed by the National Registration Department  as supporting documents required to verify citizenship which can be viewed as being inconsistent  with the provisions of the Federal Constitution (Art 14, 16, 19 and Second schedule Part I & Par II). Some participants indicated that many of demands were unreasonable and inconsistent to the Federal constitution amounting to denial of fundamental human rights.
Proham calls for a in-depth legal review of all the forms, procedures & requirements to be consistent to the spirit and direction of the Federal Constitution and human rights standards

Seventh, while the discussion noted exemplary examples of NRD officers in their service, however .it was noted that the officials lacked compassion and empathy in general. In addition the mono ethnic representation of the NRD and KDN as a whole is not reflective of the PM’s 1 Malaysian commitments.
In this context Proham recommends a more people friendly approach to assist the applicants as well as ensuring a fair ethnic, cultural and linguistic mix among the NRD officers to be better reflective of Malaysian society. The ‘people first approach’ has to be realised with the NRD staffing and structure of service to the people especially among the disadvantaged and poor in Malaysian society.

Eight, Proham also notes that while Malaysia is a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Malaysia has imposed a reservation to article 7 which ensures the right to every child below 18 to a name, nationality and not being categorised as stateless.
Having this reservation could be construded as the unwillingness of the Malaysian government to resolve these concerns based on human rights and consistent to UN laws and instruments.  It does contradicts Malaysians position as member of the Human Rights Council in Geneva

Proham strongly urges the Malaysian government to lift this reservation on Article 7 and ensure that every child below 18 in Malaysia is accorded with basic human rights and human dignity. Also that Malaysia as party to CRC will do what is necessary to fulfil these obligations
In the light of the discussion on undocumented Malaysians, Proham calls upon the Federal Government especially the Prime Minister & the Minister of Home Affairs to establish an independent panel to undertake an exercise to review all undocumented cases Malaysians. This must be a priority prior to GE 13 - to ensure that every Malaysian has the basic human rights. The panel must incorporate both relevant federal agencies and all relevant civil society organisations especially those working on documentation concerns. The scope must review all current laws, procedures and forms used to ensure all these are consistent with the Federal Constitution and human rights. It will be also be appropriate to undertake a review of NRD in this process so as to ensure it reflects the PM's 1 Malaysia and People First agenda

 Issued on behalf of Proham by:-
Tan Sri Ramon Navartnam, Proham RTD Moderator and
Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, Proham Secretary General.

 Dec 21, 2012

Wednesday, 12 December 2012




Date:                Dec 20, 2012 (Thursday)

Time:                4.00 to 6.30pm (Tea served)

Venue:              Conference Room at Dignity International, A-2-7 Pusat Perdagangan Seksyen 8, Jalan Sg Jernih 8/1, 46050 Petaling Jaya, Tel/Fax :03 7931 0741

The issues and concerns of undocumented Malaysians has been a focus of attention for some time both at the policy advocacy level and at the service dimension in assisting people meet the necessary requirements.  This issues impacts sections of the indigenous people like the Penans, former Indian plantation workers and those of Siamese origin residing closer to the Malaysian-Thai border

The Federal Government has undertaken a comprehensive effort through the ‘My daftar’ program to identify the undocumented people especially those without birth certificates, identification cards and citizenship dimensions including red IC holders

In recent political discussions these concerns have surfaced again and have become a major area for political advocacy. While there has been success in documentation there has been numerous complaints and rejections due to the inability to provide the needed documentation.

Among the issues raised are:-

-       The differing views pertaining to the number of people facing documentation problems. Various figures have been floated from 9,000 to 300,000 with no officially declared figures

-       The complex nature of issues confronting the person or family to prove his or her legitimate claim for citizenship

-       The enormous negative impact on quality of life due to non-possession of documents such as inability to access education, employment, welfare benefit, exercise political rights

-       The human suffering and discrimination faced

Proham discussion will focus on:-

-       Noting the size, extend and seriousness of the problem.

-       Document the human rights violations especially the  challenges & suffering faced by affected people

-       Review the current application and verification process

-       Explore how this application process can be simplified. Review if any procedures, requirements or even laws that need changes so as to become people friendly


Dato Siva Subramanium, (Consultant, Special Implementation Taskforce on the Indian Community, Prime Minister’s Department & Proham Treasurer) – Update on the documentation campaign and efforts by the Federal government

Ms Nanthini Ramalo, (Director for Women’s Program, DHRRA Malaysia) – Experiences of non-documented persons & the challenges encountered

Mr Eric Paulsen,( Co-Founder & Advisor, Lawyers for Liberty)- Review of legal & procedure requirements

Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, Proham member & Chairman of ASLI-CPPS – Review of policy implications & charting an Action Plan

 Moderator: Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


In conjunction with Human Rights Day on Dec 10, 2012, Proham hosted a ‘Tea – Discussion’ which was attended by about 30 people including five Proham members namely Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng, Datuk KV Vorah, Dato Siva Subramanium & Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria

Invited guests as panel speakers included Mr Alan Vernon of the UNHCR, Mr Ahmad Fuad Rahmat of Projeck Dialog & Islamic Renaissance Front, Dr Daniel Ho of Community Excel Services and Ms Mary Pereira former project officer with Tenaganita.
Other guest included Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Deputy Higher Education Minister, Datuk Vaithalingam former Hindu Sangam President, Mr Andrew Khoo & Mr Yogeswaran Subramanium of the Bar Council, Ms Tijah Yok Chopil of JKOASM, Ms Josie Fernandez of TI, Ms Elsie Lee of the Malaysian Association of Social Workers, Mr Jerald Joseph of Dignity International, Ms Lena Hendry of Komas, Mr Kon Onn Sein of YKPM & Mr Tan Kong Beng of the Christian Federation of Malaysia.

In the course of the discussion a number of key themes pertaining to human rights were highlighted and discussed. These included:-
Firstly, that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which was adopted on Dec 10, 1948 is the most widely translated human rights document into 400 different languages and which serves as the foundation or base or reference for all subsequent human rights conventions, declaration, laws and instruments. Therefore both regional and national status must be reviewed and interpreted on the basis of the UDHR.

Secondly, the Asean Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) which was passed recently can be viewed as an important mile stone in Asean development as there is now a common document and stand among Asean members. However a number of concerns were expressed due to the contextual interpretation and restrictions based on phrases like “in accordance with national laws” and reference to “national security, public order, public health, public safety, public morality” which is in contrast to the UDHR. Furthermore, the rights of ‘indigenous people’ could have been incorporated into article 4 of AHRD as they form a sizable part of the Asean community like other vulnerable and marginalised groups.
Thirdly, Malaysia is recognised as playing a very active role in promoting human rights overseas especially in advocacy for the Palestine people, Rohingyans and in the role Malaysia played in the peace accord in Mindanao. These with the efforts are commendable, however they falls short at the domestic level in spite of recent legislative reform efforts as they do not meet international standards and domestic expectations of the citizenry.

Fourthly, the research report entitled the “Washing the Tigers, Addressing discrimination & inequality in Malaysia” produced by the Equal Rights Trust in partnership with Tenaganita is an extensive research work which must be studies further and the recommendation reviewed as its can be a useful resource in addressing discrimination and inequality in Malaysian society from human rights and social justice framework. 
Fifthly, there is an urgent need for Malaysia to improve its human rights track record domestically and there is a need for a stronger political will to ensure this realisation.

In this context Proham makes the following recommendations to the Federal government in order to consolidate and institutionalised human rights in Malaysia society especially in 2013 and beyond:-

-       Establish a Parliamentary standing committee on human rights

-       Ratify core human rights conventions especially the Convention on civil & political rights and the Convention of economic & social rights. Also the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

-       Establish a Cabinet Committee on Human Rights chaired by PM or DPM

-       Establish a special taskforce at the Secretary to Government (KSN) level to ensure compliance. Ensure Suhakam is a member of this taskforce as well as incorporate some leading human rights NGOs to also assist the federal government

-       Make federal funds available to civil society for human rights awareness & education, advocacy & research, training & capability building

-       Formulate a Malaysia Human Rights Action Plan which will chart an action plan and time frame

Released on behalf of Proham by Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, (Proham Secretary General)
December 11, 2012