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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah on GMM, Human Rights, UPR & Malaysia

Datuk Saifuddin sharing his views at the Proham Discussion on Oct 22, 2013
GMM's role internationally and domestically

The GMM is a foundation formed by Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Najib Razak  to promote moderation as an idea and principle in international relations, used as Malaysia’s offerings to UN members, as part of a lobby to secure one of the non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council (UNSC) in 2015. 

GMM is not just about international relations, and even it is so, Malaysia has to clean up its own backyard. GMM is formed as part of transition in Malaysia’s role on the international stage, not just because Malaysia wants to be part of the UNSC and to assume chairmanship of Asean in 2015, the PM wants a more active role on international front as it is normally expected when a country starts to become a developed country. 

Human rights is one of the issue being questioned at the international stage and people would ask how is it that Malaysia is not acceding to many of the core human rights conventions.

Malaysia's standing among member nations of world, being party to some human rights convention is not very interesting.  Malaysia has successfully scored very low in all of the rankings, eight out of 10 in Asean, bottom of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries (55/55),  second last place in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and 187 out of 195 in member states after 2009.  It's not numbers that Malaysia could be proud of. 
Malaysia Progressive Human Rights Role Internationally
When it comes to certain human rights issues, Malaysia tend to play a positive role like supporting the Rohingyas, refugees from the Southern Philippines and southern Thailand, playing a part in humanitarian aid during the ethnic cleansing incidents in Bosnia.  Uncertain why among diplomatic network, they say when they inform their capital, that they were concerned with human rights issues, the capital replies, “I thought Malaysia is doing quite well.” 
Malaysia seems to be able to show a progressive front but at the same time, Malaysia seems to practise as a very low denominator in human rights areas. This paradox has become more glaring, especially at a time when the PM on the one hand wants to be progressive. But at the same time, not withstanding the UMNO elections as Ministers make all types of statements, if these get out to the public it's not going to help Malaysia's profile in human rights affairs.

Human Rights in Domestic aspects

Malaysia needs to encourage the Malaysian leaderships, government and officers, to motivate them to do more when it comes to human rights.  At one level, Malaysia needs to address one or two Ministers, especially those in charge of important portfolios and several Barisan Nasional MPs.  Malaysia needs a good strategy to identify the Mps to work with and encourage the formation of human rights caucuses and other related groups.   Consultation is not something government officers understand very well, they probably understand it by the definition, “So long I meet you it's consultation.” As and when the government say they consult, it must be asked, what is the meaning of consultation. It could be a meeting to inform people and not as most human rights advocates understand it. 
Future of Human Rights in Malaysia

Malaysia needs to strategies how to get support for some of the proposals here by Suhakam and the CSOs, on the National Human Rights Plan and the Parliamentary Select Committee.  Getting the Suhakam report debated in the Parliament, it would take time before the government takes it on as an agenda. Perhaps the human rights network could strategise if people could debate this report in some way or another, may not be as fulfilling as being discussed in the Parliament, but it is a start.  T
he Law Reform Commission should be revisited, on whether the new appointees of the human rights portfolios in the government were as enthusiastic as the last.  A timeline is needed to monitor the government's commitments to the UPR outcomes.  More CSOs should come on board in the future UPR processes.
Thoughts documented by Ms Susan Tan for Proham. Views shared by Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (GMM, CEO) at the Proham discussion on the UPR on Oct 22, 2013

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