Proham Press Release
“Malaysia 50 years since formation” was the theme of a panel discussion held on Saturday Sept 14, 2013 at University Malaysia Sabah (UMS). This discussion was hosted by Proham in partnership with the International Relations Program and the Kadazan-Dusun Chair. About 50 people participated and a majority of them were students from the UMS International relations program.
The panel comprised of four speakers namely Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Proham Chairman), Prof Dr Jacqueline Pugh-Kitingan (Kadazan- Dusun Chair), Mr Suzalie Mohamad (Head of the International relations program and Prof Dato Dr Hj Mohd Hamdan Hj Adnam, (Dean of the School of Social Science, UMS and also deputy chair of Proham). The panel was moderated by Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Secretary-General, Proham & Fellow, Institute of Ethnic Studies, UKM).
Tan Sri Simon Sipaun provided a comprehensive reflection of the various issues over the past 50 years pertaining to inclusive development, nation building and human rights. He emphasized that no nation which builds its self on race based policies would survive over time and therefore emphasized the need for inclusive development policies irrespective of race for the common good based on principles of good governance.
Prof Jacqueline focused attention on the issues related to illegal immigrants especially those who are stateless over two to three generations. In addition customary land rights and ownership requires speedy resolution. These issues impact tremendous the indigenous people of Sabah.
In addition Prof Jacqueline also highlighted the importance of mother tongue education in the formative years and the need to promote sub ethnic languages of Sabah as part of the community rights. This needs to be fostered along with the national language, Bahasa Melayu and English.
Mr Suzalie highlighted the need to be sensitive to religious and cultural feelings of others especially in adopting a moderate position. He recognized that the Happiness Index is a useful indicator to view ethnic relations over the past 50 years which has revealed process among all the various communities. He noted that compliance or non compliance to human rights standards have implications for international relations.
Prof Hamdan challenged the notion that some things were too sensitive to be discussed and called for greater openness in discussions without labeling any one as pro administration or anti. Open reviews and discussions are an important dimension of democratic freedoms. He noted that in the past 50 years the states have developed together, however the states of both Sabah and Sarawak which are rich in natural resources are but poor states in reality
The participants including lecturers and students raised some interesting comments and questions. There were thoughts pertaining to understanding and interpretation of history especially in the formation of Malaysia, the expectation then and fulfillments now over the past 50 years.
In the context of the 50th Malaysia Day, Proham has five wishes:-
Wish One: For Federal Government to formulate Inclusive socio-economic development policies, programmes and delivery institutions that are based on meeting human needs irrespective of ethnic, gender, geographical or religious differences and which is firmly rooted in human rights. This will ensure that the needy within all the communities will benefit from the initiatives and this will also prevent abuses and leakages.
Wish Two, For Federal Government to ratify all the core UN human rights conventions such as Convention on economic, social and cultural rights; Convention on civil and political rights; Convention of the elimination of all forms of discrimination & the Convention against Torture. This institutional committed to global and universal benchmarks are essential for Malaysia as we move into our next 50 years journey.
Wish Three, For the Federal Government to take specific steps to strengthen the independence of Suhakam and by ensuring greater public sector accountability and compliance to human rights by amending the Suhakam Act to make it mandatory for Parliament to debate its Annual Report and other inquiry reports.
Wish Four, For the Federal Government to accept the Suhakam findings on the Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples and take the appropriate steps in implementing the recommendations. Restudying and reviewing the findings of an independent commission of inquiry which is mandated an Act of parliament is unnecessary and could lead to undermining the findings of an independent panel.
The Indigenous People of Sabah, Sarawak and the Orang Asli’s participated in large numbers at the Suhakam’s National Inquiry. This issue of land ownership is a major area of concern and therefore must be treated with a great sense of urgency especially the establishment of an Indigenous Land Tribunal or Commission which is empowered to decide on these complaints and issues, including settlement or redress related to a case”
Wish five, For the Federal Government to transform Biro Tata Negara of the Prime Minister’s Department into a department which promotes inclusive understanding of Malaysian history and strengthen nation building from a clear framework of a diverse ethnic, religious, socio-economic Malaysia taking all the different segments of Malaysian society including undergirded by human rights and constitutional balance.
Released on behalf of Proham by Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Proham Chairman), Prof Dato Hamdan Adnan (Deputy Chairman) & Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham Secretary-General)
Kota Kinabalu, Sept 15, 2013