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Thursday, 14 November 2013

Proham: Public demos show M'sia lacks human rights

 By Malaysiakini 1:49PM Nov 15, 2013 
The Human Rights Promotion Association (Proham) has urged Malaysia to seriously tackle lagging political and civil rights and not just pay lip service to its economic and social progress which has rewarded only a small group of people.

In a scrutiny of last month's Universal Periodic Review (UPR), where Malaysia defended its human rights record before most of the 193 UN members, Proham chairman Simon Sipaun said that government officials had ignored the rights of the poor minority.


Sarawak sent JC Fong, the former State Attorney-General and now state legal consultant to Geneva represented the state. But he painted "a very rosy picture" of the life of displaced natives, Sipaun said.

If what JC Fong claims are true why are the natives filing cases against the state government in court? Why are they making blockades in protest? Why are they holding demonstrations? These are not the behaviour of happy and satisfied people," he said in a statement.

police abuse suhakam pc 050808 simon sipaunSipaun's (right) views echoed that of Sarawak PKR chairperson Baru Bian, who had called for Fong's removal as state consultant. Baru's legal firm has filed more than 200 Native customary rights (NCR) land claims against the government, not to mention the others filed by other legal firms.

Proham's Sipuan noted that he was speaking out based on his own visits to rural Sarawak and dialogues with the Penan people, who are now protesting the construction of dams which destroyed their homes.

"It should be remembered that human rights are indivisible. Civil and political rights cannot be suppressed in return for more economic, social and cultural rights. It is clear that in Malaysia political and civil rights are lagging far behind," he said.

Sipaun also slammed the "diplomatic hypocrisy" of the US, seen by some as a global champion of human rights.

"President Obama was reported to have said on 11th October, 2013 that ‘Malaysia is a model of diversity, tolerance and progress.

"Either Obama was grossly misinformed which is unlikely or just playing politics," he said.

Sipaun noted that in Asia, Malaysia was believed to be second only to Papua New Guinea in terms of income disparity.

Sabah and Sarawak, even though rich in natural resources, were still among Malaysia's poorest states. He noted that more than 50 percent of the total number of poor people in the country live in Sabah.

"About 39 percent of wealth in Malaysia is in the hands of 10 percent of rich people. In short, the rich are filthy rich and the poor are really poor and destitute," Sipaun said.

As the nation progresses, human rights must march along, he added.

"What is certain at present is that awareness of human rights is far greater than before due to the higher standard of literacy and more and better access to the internet.

As a result, expectation is rising and it is becoming difficult, if not impossible, for the government to hide the truth," he said.

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