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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

MALAYSIA & UN CONVENTIONS:A GE 13 AGENDA

Dr Lin, Tan Sri Simon & Datuk Kuthubul during the Proham RTD held on April 16, 2013
By Dr Lin Mui Kiang (Prohan Hon Member)

Why should a nation-state ratify united nation human rights conventions & how does this process enhance democracy and good governance?



The United Nations Charter 1945. It embodies the principles of equality and non-discrimination. It underlines respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, colour, sex, language or religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. These principles have been further developed in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in all core international human rights treaties.
Human Rights principles

Human rights are universal and inalienable. They should not be taken away, except in specific situations and according to due process. For example, the right to liberty may be restricted if a person is found guilty of a crime by a court of law.

All human rights are indivisible, whether they are civil and political rights, such as the right to life, equality before the law and freedom of expression; economic, social and cultural rights, such as the rights to work, social security and education, or collective rights, such as the rights to development and self-determination.
Human rights are equal and non-discriminatory. This principle is present in all the major human rights treaties and provides the central theme of some international conventions such as the ICERD and CEDAW.  

Human rights entail both rights and obligations. States assume obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights. At the individual level, while we are entitled to our human rights, we should also respect the human rights of others.

International human rights law lays down obligations which States are bound to respect. By becoming parties to international treaties, States assume obligations and duties to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights and to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses. Through ratification, Governments undertake to put into place domestic measures and legislation compatible with their treaty obligations and duties.
The UPR was created in 2006 and has reviewed the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States by October 2011. It reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.

Human Rights & Good Governance

Human rights is part and parcel of good governance. According to the former Commissioner on Human Rights, Louise Arbour, the key attributes of good governance are: transparency; responsibility; accountability; participation; responsiveness to the needs of the people; commitment to sustainable human development; and providing an enabling environment conducive to the enjoyment of human rights.

It encompasses full respect of human rights, the rule of law, effective participation, political pluralism, transparent and accountable processes and institutions, an efficient and effective public sector, legitimacy, access to knowledge, information and education, political empowerment of people, equity, sustainability, and attitudes and values that foster responsibility, solidarity and tolerance.
Good governance also relates to political and institutional processes and outcomes that are necessary to achieve the goals of development. It is the process whereby public institutions conduct public affairs, manage public resources and guarantee the realization of human rights in a manner free of abuse and corruption, and with due regard for the rule of law.

The true test of "good" governance is the degree to which it delivers on the promise of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. The key question is: are the institutions of governance effectively guaranteeing the right to health, adequate housing, sufficient food, quality education, fair justice and personal security?
The links between good governance and human rights can be organized around four areas:

Democratic institutions - for the public to participate in policy and decision making either through formal institutions or informal consultations.

Service delivery - to provide public goods which are essential for the protection of a number of human rights, such as the right to education, health and food.

Rule of law – should include legal reform, public awareness-raising on the national and international legal framework, and capacity-building or reform of institutions.

Anti-Corruption - initiatives may include anti-corruption commissions, mechanisms of information sharing, and monitoring governments’ use of public funds and implementation of policies.

The interconnection between human rights and good governance has been made by the international community in a number of declarations. The concept of good governance can be linked to principles and rights set out in the UDHR and the main international human rights instruments.
Other declarations such as the Declaration on the Right to Development in 1986 proclaims that every human person and all peoples “are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development”. In the Millennium Declaration 2000, world leaders affirmed their commitment to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law as well as to respect internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development.

Ratification of core human rights Conventions

80% of States have ratified four or more, of the nine core human rights conventions. Malaysia, however, has signed and ratified only three. The first two, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) were ratified by Malaysia in 1995 but both still have important reservations, despite a few having been removed in July last year. And the last was the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was signed and ratified in July 2010.

Malaysia has yet to sign or ratify the other six core UN Human Rights Conventions, namely: the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and the UN Conventions against Torture; Migrant Workers' Rights; and On Enforced Disappearance. In addition, Malaysia is yet to sign or ratify the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees.

Pursuant to the 2009 UPR, Malaysia agreed to examine other international human rights treaties and take steps to accede to the remaining core UN human rights conventions as well as the 1951 Convention on Refugees and its Optional Protocol.  In 2010, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Kohilan Pillay announced that the Government had set up a Technical Committee to look into the ratification of the human rights treaties, but until now there has not been any progress. In 2012, the Legal Division of the PM’s Department initiated the meetings for the drafting of the National Human Rights Action Plan. But that too has not moved forward.

Internationally, Malaysia has demonstrated its continuing commitment to being part of the global human rights community. As you are aware, Malaysia is a member of the UN Human Rights Council for a second term since its formation in 2006, and has pledged to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.

The government has also been promoting its Global Movement of the Moderates and telling the world that Malaysia is a respected and model moderate & progressive Muslim country which will continue to advocate the agenda for global peace & proserity through moderation for international peace, cultural understanding and interfaith harmony. All these need be translated into reality and the government will act swiftly to reform its relevant laws, policies, and practices to allow it to fulfill all of these commitments. This will greatly enhance Malaysia’s credibility and influence in the UN Human Rights Council and also in the international community.

The work of the UN globally

The UN works globally to help people and nations everywhere build and strengthen democratic systems. As the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has stated “Experience has taught us, time and again, that democracy is essential to achieving our fundamental goals of peace, human rights and development. Human rights and the rule of law are best protected in democratic societies. And development is much likelier to take hold if people are given a genuine say in their own governance, and a chance to share in the fruits of progress”. Consistent with these words, the Secretary General both publicly welcomed the Arab Spring in 2011 and indicated that, if constructively consolidated, its gains will truly reflect the best aspirations and ideals of the UN Charter.

Democracy is closely linked with a set of essential rights, liberties, and opportunities. For democratic processes to gain ground and be sustained, such rights, freedoms, and opportunities must necessarily exist. These include freedom of expression, right to political organization, and free and fair elections. The existence of these rights and liberties must also be accompanied by the accountability and responsibility of all players active in the democratic process.

A country cannot aspire to be a developed country without guaranteeing these rights and ensuring these accountabilities. Indeed, developed nation status requires balanced development across a multi-dimensional set of issues, involving multiple indicators. Increases in real gross national income (GNI) per capita is, at best, only one of these indicators.

As the people of Malaysia are committed to nation building and democratic consolidation, the UN has offered to share its experience and expertise to support the government in a range of areas including two important issues in the current Malaysian discourse: electoral reform and long-term institutional building.

The UN has long established a reputation for being globally the most experienced, neutral and credible Organization on electoral reform issues. Since 1991, the UN have provided electoral assistance to 104 Member States, in addition to longer-term support to electoral institutions to build their capacities and strengthen or revise laws, systems and processes. But this offer was not taken up by the PSC for Electoral Reform.

Malaysia is still a limited democracy

Malaysia’s Vision 2020 stated that we must be fully developed in terms of national unity and social cohesion, in terms of our economy, in terms of social justice, political stability, system of government, quality of life, social and spiritual values, national pride and confidence. We are now 23 years into the Vision, with 7 more years to go. Are we close to achieving it or further away?

At this juncture, Malaysia is still a limited democracy. Over the 55 years of independence, the executive has usurped the power of both the legislature and the judiciary. People have been voicing that their biggest concerns are corruption, cronyism, the cost of living, crime, abuse of power, racism, and mismanagement of public funds. They want rule of law, independent judiciary, and justice.
People want free and fair elections. They want their human rights to be recognized, freedom of expression, freedom to assemble and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. They want a neutral police force to safeguard security of citizens. They want a decent education system. People want transparent & good governance and good delivery system.

The UN International Convention on Non-Racial Discrimination allows for affirmative action. However, it must be time-bound and needs-based. People have tolerated for many years and the rumblings have manifested in the Hindraf rally, Bersih rallies and the KL112 rally. But witness how have the authorities cracked down on people who free and fair elections.
Over the past five years, however, Malaysia’s political culture has evolved substantially over the past five years. An increased expectation of good governance, stable political structures, and pro-growth policies combined with pro-equity measures are yardsticks by which all political parties are now judged. This is a reflection of a maturing polity where people will vote for whoever can deliver.

Unfinished Human Rights Agenda
Clearly, there is a significant unfinished human rights agenda in Malaysia as the government itself acknowledged through its acceptance of many of the recommendations in the report which came out of the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2009.

We need to push ahead to raise awareness of both the government and the people that we need to adopt international human rights standards as they embody universal values of respect for human dignity and human well-being as well as for good governance and democracy.

They lay the foundation for a just, humane and progressive society, and provide a normative framework for the formulation of national and international policies and strategies for human development and towards building a Malaysian nation.
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Paper presented at the Proham RTD on GE 13 & Human Rights on April 16, 2013

GE 13, HUMAN RIGHTS & GOOD GOVERNANCE

By Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Proham Chairman)

After a very long wait, finally Parliament was dissolved on 3rd April and the dates for nomination are on 20th April and polling on 5th May, 2013 respectively for the 13th general elections. Christians would have preferred a Saturday rather than a Sunday as the polling day.
In view of communication problems and the lower literacy rate, Sabahans and Sarawakians would prefer a longer campaign period. In any case, political activities immediately intensified and shifted to a higher gear.

Malaysia has chosen a democratic system of government based on and inherited from the British model. One of the main features of a democratic system of government is that the people are given the opportunity to change the government at regular interval, although Malaysians from the Peninsula have only known the same federal government for the last 56 years and those in Sabah and Sarawak for 50 years, a very long time indeed, by any standard. However, elections have been held at regular interval. But democracy goes far beyond this, especially during the period between general elections as well as how they are conducted.
Human rights & Democratic Values

Respect for human rights is very much part of democratic values. Human rights imply treating political opponents in a humane way. It involves human decency and observance of the golden rule, namely ‘do unto others what you would like others do unto you.’ Politicians vying for political office should refrain from mudslinging behavior and activities. They should focus on issues and avoid inventing imaginary events designed to destroy the personal reputation of political opponents. Politicians operate within the framework of established democratic institutions which I regard as part of the guiding framework. To what extent they are followed and respected depends on the people in the position of authority and influence as well as the public at large. Their maturity, literacy standard and awareness of democratic principles are important influencing factors.
Human rights also require the observance of good governance. Human rights, good governance and democracy are complimentary to one another. Governance is the process of decision making and how decisions are implemented or not implemented. The main characteristics of good governance include that it should be participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law. Good governance helps to ensure that corruption is minimized, if not eliminated, minority views are taken into account and the voice of the vulnerable groups are heard and considered in decision making. It is responsive to the present and future needs of society. Democracy requires clean electoral rolls, free and equal access to the media, a level playing field, clean free and fair elections, no abuse of government funds, machinery and assets, absence of money politics, no abuse of power, amongst others.

13th General Elections & Two-party system
The 13th general elections will be the most hotly and tightly contested elections the country has seen so far. It could be referred to as the mother of all general elections. Before the 12th general elections it was fairly easy for the incumbent to win with two-third majority. Things changed drastically during the 12th general elections on 8th March, 2008 in which the BN government failed to obtain the usual two-third majority and the opposition captured five states. Perak was subsequently lost to the BN amidst a lot of controversies.

I feel sad and disappointed to see the federal government always appearing to belittle the good and sincere efforts of the state governments which are under the control of the opposition. At least it should give credit where credit is due.
The 12th general election results indicate a move towards the development of a two-party system in the country. This is a step in the right direction and a refreshing change from the political culture dominated by racial and religious sentiments for far too long. It has polarized the country like never before and not conducive to the creation and maintenance of genuine national unity and integration so vital for a plural society.

Now we see much more multi-racialism in the membership of political parties. We also see PAS, an Islamic party, fielding a non-Malay and non-Muslim as a parliamentary candidate. This was unthinkable before. These are all very healthy political development and present a brighter future for the country and its people. At the same time the people especially in the Peninsula are getting more sophisticated in terms of educational standard and computer literacy and other modern means of communications. Their expectations are also higher. Unlike in the past it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the government to hide the truth. They are now in a better position to assess the performance of the government more objectively. Sabah and Sarawak are slowly catching up.
Therefore the government cannot afford to ignore these changes failing which it will be changed instead. With a much stronger opposition, at least the conduct of a care taker government is now being discussed which was unheard of in the past. This is another indication of positive and welcome development.

I notice people are generally upbeat and feel that for the first time in the country’s political history, there is real possibility of changing of the guard taking place. It is felt that the probability is greater if there is clean, free and fair elections. Generally people wish to see change taking place, not change for its own sake, but change for the better. Human nature is such that too much of the same thing for a very, very long time tends to make people hope for a change. After all, variety is the spice of life. If an actor performs too long on the stage, the audience tends to get bored and look forward to the next performer. It is the same with the government. If the new one is no better than the previous one or worse, it can always be changed at the next elections. This will be truly democracy in action in which the power really is in the hands of the people and this could be a pattern for the future.
Understanding the Role of the Government & Opposition

Now that the 13th general elections are  only days away, it is very important for members of the public to understand and to be aware of the main functions and role of the government as well as the opposition particularly in Sabah and Sarawak where the literacy standard is still very much lower.

People must realize that the government is merely the trustees of the people. It is duty bound to take care and not abuse government fund and assets. That is why there are so many rules and regulations involved in the management and administration of public fund. They are meant to minimize, if not eliminate, abuses and irregularities. It is the duty and responsibility of the government to bring development to all parts of the country, irrespective of whether they are represented by government or opposition representatives.
It is not the duty of the opposition to formulate and implement development projects because it has no access to public fund, only the government has. I often hear politicians from the government side telling people that there is no point electing the opposition because it cannot bring development. To the illiterate rural people this makes sense. Thus, they must be made aware that the function of the opposition is to provide constructive criticisms to keep the government on its toes. It provides the necessary checks and balance. The opposition provides an alternative government for the people. This is the essence of democracy. The opposition has an important role to play in a democratic system of government.

Political Situation in Sabah
Let me briefly say something about the political situation in Sabah. The presence of the unusually large number of illegal immigrants has permanently changed the economic, social, cultural and political landscape of the state. They are now considered the mother of all problems in Sabah and represent a very sensitive issue especially during election time. It is alleged that hundreds of thousands of them have been granted citizenship status as well as the right to vote in return for votes for the BN government.

Ironically, many local Sabahans who possess no proper documents are stateless yet they have never left the place where they were born. This indicates a very cruel and uncaring attitude towards the interest and welfare of genuine Malaysians of Sabah origin. This is very hurting, to say the least. This is the Malaysia I never expected.
The invasion in Lahad Datu was something which was only waiting to happen. I am quite surprised it did not happen earlier. This problem will not go away overnight for the simple reason that there are already hundreds of thousands of Tausugs in the state at the courtesy of the government. There is no way of knowing with certainty where their loyalty lies. Their people have been fighting against the Philippine government for more than 40 years. Fighting is in their blood. Being Muslim did not prevent the invaders from killing members of the Malaysian security force who were all Muslims except one. After killing them they continued to mutilate their bodies. It was an inhuman act of cruelty. It appears that the government was caught off guard. The invasion indicates how vulnerable Sabah is from outside forces.

The actions taken by the security forces consequential to the incident may be perceived as harassment on their community. Such perception could be imagined or real. This being the case the so called fixed deposit may not necessarily be kept in the same bank.
Barring last minute change, it appears that the 13th general elections in Sabah will see a free for all contests among BN, PR, SAPP, STAR, KITA, independents etc. It will be a crowded field. However I still do not rule out the possibility of 1 to 1 contest, at least not until nomination day. I also notice a number of leaders changing party allegiance. Such incidents always appear to take place just before the poll. It is alleged that money is involved associated with party hopping. Another reason could be failure to be nominated as a candidate. Money politics appears to be the order of the day. A friend told me that he knew of someone who attended a BN political gathering and he was given a BN t-shirt and a sum of RM 250.00.

There are also reports of in-fighting within political parties. Some are more intense than others. I believe this is due to the demand to become candidates. There are so many hopefuls compared to the availability of constituencies. Sabah has 25 parliamentary constituencies and Labuan one. It has 60 state seats. Generally the incumbents want to be retained. Those who did not get the opportunity in the past are more than keen to replace them. It is very common for many hopefuls to change political allegiance once their wish is not fulfilled. This is quite typical behavior of so called political leaders.
What the situation indicates is they entered politics with personal and vested interests in mind more than public interest. Publicly they often declare that they entered politics to serve the people as if there is no other way of serving them other than through politics. I have involved in several charitable organizations in my life and I have yet to meet a politician interested in them.

Let me stop here. I will be delighted to respond to questions, views, comments and suggestions during the question and answer session. I thank you for your kind attention.   
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Paper presented at the Proham RTD on GE 13 & Human Rights on April 17, 2013

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

PROHAM’S POSITION ON SUHAKAM TENURE & LAND INQUIRY REPORT

Proham Press Release

Proham calls on the Government to ensure that there is a functioning Human Rights Commission at all times and not to repeat the past mistake in 2010 wherein the Government had failed to appoint new Commissioners upon the expiry of the terms of the then Commissioners appointed pursuant to the provisions of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has a statutory duty to function and the Commission must be allowed to carry on with their duties effectively. A non-functioning SUHAKAM is detrimental to the needs of the nation namely to ensure that there is no infringement of human rights and if any to take immediate steps to remedy the same.
Therefore, Proham urges the caretaker Government to appoint new Commissioners before the expiry of the term of the current Commissioners which falls on April 25, 2013. We recognise that we have a caretaker government at the moment and we are in the general elections period but this matter is of public importance that it should not be neglected.

We recognise that the Federal Government had placed an advertisement in the newspapers in October 2012 which is commendable and which enhances transparency and public participation in appointment of Suhakam Commissioners. We also note that the Selection Committee has met to review the candidate list. We therefore urge the caretaker Prime Minister to seek Royal appointments based on the recommendation of the Selection Committee prior to the expiry of the current term of the commissioners.
The Najib administration will be in danger of being accused of poor governance of administrative procedure and a down planning of human rights concerns in Malaysia if these remedies are not undertaken before April 25, 2013.

Proham is rather concerned that SUHAKAM has not made public the report on the National Inquiry into Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This was a massive undertaking by Suhakam and historical in nature as this is the first ever National inquiry undertaken by Suhakam since its establishment.
Over 892 statements were received from indigenous people on allegations of dispossession of their traditional lands especially among the natives of Sabah, Sarawak and Orang Asli communities. In addition 57 public submissions were received. In this context Suhakam conducted public hearings where 132 cases were reviewed in-depth with indigenous people coming forward to give testimony as well as all relevant agencies came forward to give account of their actions or inaction.

Proham acknowledges and appreciates the hard work of Suhakam in the meticulous way it has undertaken the National Inquiry. However with the impending expiry of the term of Commissioners, it is imperative that Suhakam releases the report for public review and study. Unlike the Suhakam Annual Report which needs to be submitted to Parliament, an inquiry report is an independent review and therefore must be released.
In not releasing the report before the end of the tenure of the current Commission, Suhakam might be in danger of non-disclosure of the facts gathered and the conclusions drawn. In addition there might be a potential loss of public confidence which might be against the human rights interest of disadvantaged indigenous people who came in large numbers before the Commission with a great hope for justice in a matter so badly neglected in the past.

Proham therefore calls on the caretaker Prime Minister to take the right action in ensuring the appointment of the new commission before the expiry date and also appeals to the current Suhakam Chairman to take the bold step by releasing the National Land Inquiry Report before the end of his term.
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Issued on behalf of Proham by Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Chairman), Datuk Kuthubul  Zaman (Exco) and Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham Secretary General). April 17, 2013

Saturday, 13 April 2013

PROHAM RTD ON GE 13 & HUMAN RIGHTS

Proham is hosting a Roundtable Discussion on GE 13 & Human Rights as we belief that Human Rights must be at the heart of good governance and an important duty of elected MPs and state assembly representatives.

Therefore Proham encourages voters to give serious thought to human rights when casting the vote in GE 13. Reflect on candidates and political parties in how they have voiced human rights concerns or how they will champion and be pro human rights if elected to Parliament or state assemblies. We must apply a much higher standard of compliance to human rights for public officials    

Date:                            April 16, 2013 (Tuesday)

Time:                            7.30pm (refreshments) and RTD at 8pm till 10.30pm

Venue:                           Meeting Room, Dignity International, A-2-7 Pusat Perdagangan

Seksyen 8, Jalan Sg Jernih 8/1, 46050 Petaling Jaya (Tel 03-79310741)

Panel Speakers:

·         GE 13 & Human Rights, Guiding Framework - Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Proham Chairman)

      ·         Malaysia & UN Conventions - Dr Lin Mui Kian (Former UN Coordination Specialist for Malaysia & Proham Hon Member

·         Death in Custody & Police Accountability – Mr Thevarajan R (Suram)

       ·         Ouster Clause & Judicial Independence- Datuk Kuthubul Zaman (Proham Exco)

       Panel is moderated by Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham Secretary-General)

PLEDGE TO BE PRO HUMAN RIGHTS IN PARLIAMENT & STATE ASSEMBLIES

Proham has recently called on candidates & political parties to make a public commitment on the following 5 matters in the GE 13 election campaign. That they will pledge to champion following  5 aspects if elected:-
·         To establish a National Human Rights Action Plan which is adopted by the Government after discussion with civil society, government agencies and parliament

·         To ratify all the core human rights conventions such as the International convention on economic, social and cultural rights, the International convention on civil and political rights, International convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, International convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

·         To strengthen Suhakam by ensuring that the Annual Report of Suhakam is debated in Parliament and that a permanent parliamentary select committee on human rights is established to review the options of recommendations by the various government agencies and ministries

·         To establish a special customary land tribunal to review all the land rights cases highlighted in the Suhakam special report on the land rights of indigenous people based on the recently completed national enquiry of indigenous land of the natives of Sabah, Sarawak & Organ Asli

·         To establish an Independent Police Complaints Commission especially to investigate on death in custody, death by shooting and other complaints on the Police force as recommended by the Royal Police Commission in 2005.

·         To review all the current legislation and remove ‘the ouster clauses’ which restricts judicial review. This is especially needed to review section 9A of the Election Act and especially those that impact fundamental liberties.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Proham calls on all politicians not to abuse public funds and facilities but set a higher benchmark of integrity and public accountability

Proham views with concern the explanation given by the Minister of Information on the use of public funds and resources for campaigning purposes during election time. The minister makes a clear demarcation on the use of public resources from nomination day but not during the period of being a caretaker government.

This matter has come to public attention with the exposure in the media of the use of three vehicles belonging to the Information Department to facilitate the opening of BN’s election command centre for the Batu parliamentary constituency in Kuala Lumpur.
In contrast there was also a media report on the return of official car’s by the chief minister of Penang and the state executive councillors and their public commitment to use public facilities for only official State matters. They have decided to use their own cars for all non-official functions which is commendable.

While there may be no explicit laws prohibiting the use of public resources, there is however a moral and public accountability principle based on public opinion today in Malaysia, that there is a difference between political party work and the work of an elected government whether at the federal or state levels.
With greater public awareness of democratic values it is now felt that at no period can the government of the day at whatever level use public officials, facilities and resources for party political ends. The contemporary practice in Malaysia shows that many politicians are abusing public resources to promote their political agenda and their political parties.

This practice must stop so as to ensure that public resources are used for the common good of all citizens irrespective of political affiliations. Therefore during whatever stage of the political process  as an elected public official holding a position in government at the Federal, state or local government levels they cannot use their position in public office, or during the caretaker stage or during the campaign period. Utmost care must be taken not to abuse public resources and funds.
Proham proposes that there should be tighter laws on this including strengthening the monitoring process to ensure these abuses do not continue.

Proham also calls on the civil service at the federal, state and local government levels to maintain their independence and ensure a just and fair treatment to all citizens.
Proham recognises that this discussion on the role of the caretaker government is a step forward for democracy and improvement in the integrity of the electoral process. All politicians and political parties must uphold a high standard in this matter and enhance parliamentary democracy and human rights in Malaysia.

Issued on behalf of Proham by Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Chairman) and Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Secretary-General)
April 10, 2013

Monday, 8 April 2013

PROHAM CALLS ON BN TO PROVIDE A CLEAR ROAD MAP FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Proham recognises that there are two specific references to human rights in the introduction of the BN manifesto which is an indication that the BN did execute a process of liberalization and is now making a commitment towards safeguarding human rights over the past five years. This is indeed positive and most welcomed.

Proham acknowledges that in the BN manifesto there is a clear commitment to social, cultural and economic rights of all communities especially with the introduction of the Government Transformation Program and the Economic Transformation Program. This according to the manifesto will be continued and enlarged.
Proham also notes that there is a reference to the abolishment of ISA, Restricted Residence Act & 3 Emergency Proclamations and the enactment of the Peaceful Assembly Act. This is most welcomed but these democratic freedoms and human rights compliance are stated in the BN Manifesto in the context of enhancing security and public safety which is thrust 9.

This approach to human rights is based on an old school of thought based on national security, public order and public safety. This old approach does not fully appreciate that human rights are inalienable human rights and not what the State or government decides to bestow on its citizens.  The benchmark of human rights compliance is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Fundamental Rights of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.
Proham calls on the Barisan National leaders during the GE 13 election campaign to lay down a clear road map as to how if elected to form the next Federal Government; they will be strongly committed towards safeguarding human rights in the next five years

Proham strongly recommends that enhancing democracy and human rights must be made the 18th thrust agenda in addition to the current 17. This will be in line with Malaysia’s current position as member of the Human Rights Council in Geneva and also a positive indication for the global review through the Universal Periodic Review Process (UPR) which Malaysia will undergo at the UN..
Proham makes the following suggestions for the BN to consider incorporating as its commitment to the Nation if elected over the next Five years :

·         To establish a National Human Rights Action Plan which is adopted by the Government after discussion with civil society, government agencies and parliament

·         To ratify all the core human rights conventions such as the International convention on economic, social and cultural rights, the International convention on civil and political rights, International convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, International convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

·         To strengthen Suhakam by ensuring that the Annual Report of Suhakam is debated in Parliament and that a permanent parliamentary select committee on human rights is established to review the options of recommendations by the various government agencies and ministries

·         To establish a special customary land tribunal to review all the land rights cases highlighted in the Suhakam special report on the land rights of indigenous people based on the recently completed national enquiry of indigenous land of the natives of Sabah, Sarawak & Organ Asli

·         To establish an Independent Police Complaints Commission especially to investigate on death in custody, death by shooting and other complaints on the Police force as recommended by the Royal Police Commission in 2005.

·         To review all the current legislation and remove ‘the ouster clauses’ which restricts judicial review. This is especially needed to review section 9A of the Election Act and especially those that impact fundamental liberties.

Issued on behalf of Proham by Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Chairman) & Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Secretary-General) April 8, 2013

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

PROHAM CALL FOR A REPEAL OF SECTION 9A OF THE ELECTION ACT

Proham views with serious concern the provision in the Election Act which prohibits judicial review of Gazetted electoral roll and restricts the effective functioning of the Election Commission. The ouster cause was introduced to the Election Act after the court decision at the 2001 Likas By- election case
Proham acknowledges that the Election Commission must be able to act independently and immediately on any complaint lodged. If the Electoral Roll consists of phantom voters, the Election Commission must be able to act and remove them despite the Electoral Roll being gazetted.
In this context, Section 9A of the Election Act must be repealed as it makes a mockery of our Election laws and is grossly unfair. It does not make the Election Commission accountable and it does not promote public confidence and faith in the Malaysian Electoral System.
Proham notes that under Regulation 25(2) of the Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulation 2002, the Election Commission could have exercised its powers to make alterations or changes to the principal electoral roll or the supplementary electoral rolls upon receiving the complaint before the dissolution of Parliament or State Legislative Assembly. Such actions could have resolved the problems raised by various quarters in respect of the Electoral Roll.
However since Parliament has been dissolved, Proham urges the Election Commission to ensure that those voters who are not entitled to vote be kept out of our electoral system.
Proham further calls on the Election Commission to take this opportunity to fully explain its stand on this matter to the general public as it is morally obliged to be transparent to show its independence and commitment to serve the public interest and to enhance its own status .
Issued on behalf of Proham by Datuk Kuthbul Zaman Bukhari (Proham Exco member) & Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham Secretary-General)
April 4, 2013

Monday, 1 April 2013

PROHAM DISCUSSIONS IN APRIL, 2013


PROHAM IS HOSTING A DISCUSSION ON THE HUMANE TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS TO AUSTRALIA WITH PROF FRANK BRENNAN

Date:                April 9, 2013 (Tuesday)

Time:                4.30 to 6.30pm

Venue:              Meeting Room at DIGNITY INTERNATIONAL, A-2-7 Pusat Perdagangan Seksyen 8, Jalan Sg Jernih 8/1, 46050 Petaling Jaya. T/F: +603 7931 0741

 

CHEVENING ALUMNI MALAYSIA, INSTITUTE OF ETHNIC STUDIES UKM & PROHAM IS HOSTING A DISCUSSION ON THE KITA-UKM NEW BOOK ENTITLED “RACE RELATIONS IN BRITAIN AND MALAYSIA” (EDITED BY DENISON JAYASOORIA)


Date:               April 11, 2013 (Thursday)

Time:                7.30pm (refreshments) & discussion (at 8pm)

Venue:              Meeting Room at DIGNITY INTERNATIONAL : A-2-7 Pusat Perdagangan Seksyen 8, Jalan Sg Jernih 8/1, 46050 Petaling Jaya. T/F:603 7931 0741

The panel will review the book with a discussion on the theme - British legislation for managing race relations: Equal Opportunities Act and the Equal Opportunities Commission & relevance for Malaysia

 

PROHAM’S SPECIAL DIALOGUE WITH DR LIN MUI KIANG on MALAYSIA & UN
CONVENTIONS - WHY SHOULD A NATION-STATE RATIFY UN HUMAN RIGHTS
CONVENTIONS & HOW DOES THIS PROCESS ENHANCE DEMOCRACRY &
GOOD GOVERNANCE

Date:                              April 16, 2013 (Tuesday)

 Time:                             8.00pm to 10pm (coffee served)

Venue:                          Meeting Room at DIGNITY INTERNATIONAL

A-2-7 Pusat Perdagangan Seksyen 8, Jalan Sg Jernih 8/1, 46050 Petaling Jaya. T/F: +603 7931 0741

 Guest Speaker:             Dr Lin Mui Kian (Former UN Coordination Specialist for Malaysia
                                    & Proham Hon member

Word of Welcome & Proham Position on Ratification: Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Proham Chairman)

Dialogue moderated by Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham Secretary-General)

 

PROHAM’S SPECIAL DIALOGUE WITH DR LIN MUI KIANG - "MALAYSIA & UN CONVENTIONS"

WHY SHOULD A NATION-STATE RATIFY UN HUMAN RIGHTS CONVENTIONS
& HOW DOES THIS PROCESS ENHANCE DEMOCRACRY & GOOD GOVERNANCE
Date:     April 16, 2013 (Tuesday)
Time:     8.00pm to 10pm (coffee served)
Venue:    Meeting Room at DIGNITY INTERNATIONAL, A-2-7 Pusat Perdagangan Seksyen 8, Jalan Sg Jernih 8/1, 46050 Petaling Jaya. T/F: +603 7931 0741
 
Guest Speaker: Dr Lin Mui Kian (Former UN Coordination Specialist for Malaysia & Proham Hon member
Word of welcome & Proham position on ratification : Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Proham Chairman)
Dialogue moderated by Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham Secretary-General)
Dr Lin Mui Kiang was the former United Nations Coordination Specialist for Malaysia. She supported the UN Country Team in policy and strategic planning and joint programmes. She has played a key role in human rights matters.
Prior to her work with the UN, she worked for the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington DC and specialized in needs assessment, identifying, designing and transferring best development practices in Asia and Latin American countries.
She is the founder of Worldview Foundation, which specializes in media and education for sustainable development. She has won international awards for her work.
She also has vast experience in development planning, having served for ten years in the Planning & Development Division of the Ministry of Agriculture; and twelve years in the Economic Planning Unit, Prime Ministers Department, Malaysia, working in Agriculture, Infrastructure, Regional Development, and Environment and Sustainable Development sectors.
She has represented Malaysia in many international forums in forwarding development agenda in various fields.

PROHAM IS HOSTING A DISCUSSION ON THE HUMANE TREATMENTOF ASYLUM SEEKERS TO AUSTRALIA WITH PROF FRANK BRENNAN

Date:                April 9, 2013 (Tuesday)

Time:                4.30 to 6.30pm

Venue:              Meeting Room at DIGNITY INTERNATIONAL, A-2-7 Pusat Perdagangan Seksyen 8, Jalan Sg                           Jernih 8/1, 46050 Petaling Jaya. T/F: +603 7931 0741

Professor Brennan and Mark Fowler are both keenly involved in the field of human rights. Prof Brennan as an academic and Mark is a practising lawyer and chair of a not-for-profit entity promoting human rights in Africa and the developing world. In 2009 Professor Brennan was chosen by the former Rudd Government to chair the Australian National Human Rights Consultation Committee.

The humane treatment of asylum seekers arriving to Australia by boat has been an issue hotly contested within the Australian political landscape. Malaysia remains a key player in the fashioning of a regional and humane approach to address the flow of asylum seekers that also accords with fundamental human rights principles.

Professor Brennan and Mark Fowler are interested to meet those within the PROHAM network who are involved in the promotion of human rights to discuss the key matters of policy concerning asylum seekers.
About Fran Brennan

Professor Frank Brennan is Professor of law at Australian Catholic University and Adjunct Professor at the Australian National University College of Law and National Centre for Indigenous Studies. He is a board member of St Vincents Health Australia and Jesuit Social Services.

He has written extensively on Aboriginal issues, civil liberties and asylum seeker policies. His latest book Acting on Conscience looks at the place of religion in Australian politics and law. At the launch, Kevin Rudd described Frank as “an ethical burr in the nation’s saddle”.

He is an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to Aboriginal Australians, particularly as an advocate in the areas of law, social justice and reconciliation. The National Trust has classified him as a Living National Treasure. In 2009, he chaired the Australian National Human Rights Consultation Committee.

Please register to particpate. Email- denisonproham@gmail.com