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Sunday, 29 June 2014


AICHR members together with Asean CSOs at the Bangkok Review Meeting (2014)
By Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, Proham & KITA-UKM Malaysia

During the recent Asean Inter-governmental Human Rights Commission (AICHR), Terms of Reference (TOR) review meeting at Bangkok from June 27 & 28, 2014 I had four opportunities to briefing intervene on matters pertaining to the AICHR TOR.
I was invited in my capacity as Secretary General of Proham and also in my capacity at KITA-UKM. I had to raise my own flights and cover the cost of the accommodation while in Bangkok. It was a very good meeting and felt that AICHR was very open to suggestions and the Review process ensured that all stakeholders were important partners of the review process.

This is indeed commendable and inspiring. It is promising for what can be achieved in the process. The system of seating arrangements and movements over the two days is also indicative of the partnership approach adopted by AICR. This is an approach that must be adopted by all Asean governments to ensure constructive discussion and input.
Civil society and academics participated within the constraints of time. This review was unique as there were representatives from AICHR, International and regional bodies associated with the UN as well as regional and national civil society organisations represented. There were a number of academics from Asean countries especially Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand

I had four such opportunities to intervene ie between 1 minute and five minutes. It is unbelievable what you can pack in within 1 or 2 minutes. This granting of the space for interaction and sharing of ideas is much appreciated in seeking a human rights friendly ASEAN especially with our vision in building a One Asean community by 2015

A number of Asean countries have not ratified the core human rights conventions and while they have jointly set up AICHR a dominant discourse relates to Asean values. Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Myanmar keep reminding the rest of this theme. In addition the principle of non-interference is another hindrance for the protection of human rights in Asean. It seems to make AICHR powerless and voiceless on critical human rights violations in Asean.

While Malaysia has held firmly to Asean non-interference however on a number of cases Malaysia has creatively responded to areas of violations within Asean as in the case of the Rohingya situation in Myanmar or on matters affecting Muslim minorities in both South Thailand and Minadano. Why not make this more transparent within the TOR as is in the case of the UPR process at the UN or convention obligations.
How can we make the TOR more specific and consistent with the UDHR and remove from within the TOR reference to contextual matters which might condone some aspects of human rights violations. These provisions are read is a very restrictive way. However can the TOR be more compliant to UDHR and UN conventions & declaration pertaining to human rights? How can we ensure Asean leaders do not cover up human rights violations under the veil of Asean values and cultural specific

Session 2         AICHR & National Human Rights Institutions
When I served on the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) we received a complaint from an Indonesian NGO on human rights violations committed by a Malaysian plantation company which owed a plantation in Indonesia. I think the Indonesian side could not do anything as it was a foreign company and the Malaysian side was restricted in its investigations by geographical location, being located outside Malaysian shores.

This kind of violations could increase within Asean as many companies are now cross border business. Individual NHRI might not be able to investigate and make appropriate recommendations for action but these are the kind of complains that AICHR could undertake with the support and assistance of both the Human rights commissions.
The TOR 4:8, 4:9 and 4:10 could be read in a way to facilitate this process mentioned. The TOR could be redrafted to give provisions for this intervention at the Asean region especially when human rights matters cut across nations within Asean as illustrated in the Indonesian-Malaysia business & human rights violations.

Session 3         AICHR & CSO
Let me make reference to some ways in which AICHR representative could play an active role at the National levels especially in the countries they represent. They could enlist CSOs at the national level including academics and the NHRI. They could develop a directory which could then be complied across Asean of human rights CSOs as well as best pratices.

In the Malaysian context, Proham hosted a discussion on the Asean human rights declaration when it was in the final stages and the Malaysian representative was the chief guest. This coming July 2 and 3, 2014 Proham together with the Global Movement of Moderates is inviting the AICHR Indonesian representative and the Malaysian represntative to address the theme of Religious Freedom in the Asean region especially a set of guidelines prepared by the Indonesian CSO- HRWG. These are some examples on how AICHR can raise its profile at the national level and also encourage cooperation among AICHR partners.
On the question of AICHR as an extension of Asean governments and that the representatives are first representatives of their government as AICHR is an Inter-governmental human rights commission, there might be some need to review the TOR on this matter especially 5.2 which notes accountable to appointing governments and 5:7 which reads “impartially”. In this context too the Asean Foreign Ministers so as not to undermine the independence of AICHR

 While AICHR representatives are appointed by their governments through some selection and impartial process, they must be people with a good experiences & expertise in human rights matters. human rights maOnce appointed AICHR representatives must be pro human rights working from within the Asean TOR, Asean Human Rights Declaration & UDHR. They must not just be an extension of their Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Paris principles which are applied to NHRI could be the benchmark for AICHR and the Asean states must observe this principle. This principle should be drafted into the AICHR TOR.

Session 4         AICHR & FUTURE
My recommendation is specific to how AICHR representatives could take up a thematic area and even set up working committee or focus groups. AICHR could interpret TOR provisions such as 4:8, 4:9 and even 4:12 to empowerment to take up thematic Asean regional concerns.

AICHR could invite representatives from NHRI and CSO to join in, including academics researching in these areas. Ten themes could be adopted let me highlight four cross cutting regional themes.
First, the theme of religious freedom, we are facing many issues such as majority religions verses minorities in many countries such as Buddhist majority and issues with minorities as in Myanmar among the Rohingyas’ or religious freedom issues in Malaysia such as shariah and civil court jurisdiction concerns.

Second, the issues pertaining to migrant workers especially between sending and receiving Asean countries and issues affecting the rights of workers and their families
Third, issues pertaining to human tariffing and both Malaysian and Thailand have been downgraded by the United States on this matter recently. AICHR could assist or work together with Asean member states to ensure this is reduced in the Asean region

Fourth, issues pertaining to forest based communities and indigenous people group within the Asean region. There are similar issues across Asean especially pertaining to sustainable forest management and this has many cross cutting issues pertaining to business, human rights, sustainable development & environment.
There are many other issues and concerns. Therefore AICHR representative can each take up a regional concern and establish creatively focus groups which can also undertake site visits and report writing. I am sure some of the CSOs and academic institutions could raise some funds to cover the core cost for an Asean focus.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Protecting Religious Freedom for all in the Asean Region: Implications for Malaysia

Asean with ten member countries and with over 600 million people is rich is cultural, linguistic, religious and ethnic diversity. It has great economic potential and is experiencing economic growth and social advancement.

At the same time Asean faces many challenges in addressing poverty and inequality as well as religious and ethnic conflicts especially between majority communities verses the minorities for example among Muslim minorities and Buddhist majorities in Myanmar, Thailand and Christians in Philippines. In counties like Indonesia and Malaysia it is other minorities in the midst of Muslim majorities.
We see within Asean both good examples as well as situations of conflict and potential conflict. There is therefore a need for developing guidelines and benchmarks relevant for Asean.

The Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) together with the Indonesian representative to The Asean Human Rights Commission, HE Rafendi Djamin have developed an Asean level set of community guidelines entitled “How to promote and protect the Freedom of Religion or belief in Asean Region? Overview on Implementation of the Freedom of Thought, conscience, and Religion in Asean Human Rights Declaration (AHRD)”
This is a valuable and useful document which has relevance and application to all of the Asean countries. HRWG hosted a two day an Asean regional level consultation in Jakarta on Feb 19 & 20, 2014. The document was well received and updated. It is now being circulated within Asean countries for review and input so as to receive feedback on relevance and applicability.

It is in this context that the Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) and the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) is hosting a Consultation on Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief in the Asean Region to be held on July 2 & 3, 2014
We have secured the support of the Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and the EU as co organisers for this consultation.

The Opening ceremony of the Consultation & a Buka Puasa function will be held on July 2, 2014  (Wed) evening at East Inn Hotel with Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, National Unity Minister as chief guest.
The full day consultation will take place on July 3, 2014 at the GMM Conference Room.

Academic Prof Dr Harry Harun Behr (from the German Islamic Conference) has confirmed participating and speaking in the final session on Inter religious dialogue and mediation.  

A number of Asean level resource persons have confirmed participating namely Ms Yuyun Wahyuniungrum and Mr Muhammad Hafiz from HRWG Indonesia. Also joining us is Mr Myo Win of the Smile Education & Development Foundation working among the Rohingyas from Myanmar.
Confirmed local speakers include Dr Chandra Muzaffar (JUST), Tan Sri Michael Yeoh (ASLI), Ms Ratna Osman (SIS), Datuk Hj Zainal Abidin (NUCC), Mr Andrew Khoo (Bar Council), Associate Prof Dr Raihanah Abdullah (OIC), Dr Ahmad Farouk(IRF), Ms Zainah Anwar (Musawah), Mr Sadar Jagir Singh (MCCBCHST), Datuk Vaithilingam (Proham), Ms Loh Pai Ling (Buddhist Society), Dr Daniel Ho (DUMC), Yb Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa (NUCC), Datuk Kuthubul Zaman (Proham), Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir (NUCC) & Prof Suresh Kumah (Inter-faith Friendship Group).

Malaysian society today is being torn apart due to the inability of both political and religious leaders to sit down and discuss these issues and concerns in an environment of mutual respect and trust. Different organisations are championing their respective religious positions and are further polarising the situation. This is further complicated with public institutions failing to play a mediating role. Politicians in public positions at the state and federal levels are not able to foster bipartisan  working relationships for the greater good of the nation.
We need bridge- builders both in Asean and Malaysia to build the Asean community. Our prayer is that this Consultation will sow seeds for harmony, peace and community living in Asean with a specific focus on Malaysia.

The Consultation will be moderated jointly by Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah and Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria. This is a closed door event but both GMM and Proham will issue a statement on the emerging issues, concerns and solutions to strengthen Religious Freedom in Asean
Those wanting a copy of the Draft Guidelines can request: Also for updates please review:

Statement issued by:

Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (CEO, GMM) &
Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham Secretary General)
June 22, 2014

Thursday, 12 June 2014


Saifuddin & Marcel at the meeting on June12, 2014
Consultation organised by GMM & PROHAM
in partnership with KITA-UKM, EU & SUHAKAM

Yesterday (June 12, 2014) Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (GMM), Mr Marcel Roijen (EU) and Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham) met at GMM to review the program and arrangements for the Consultation on Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief in the Asean Region to be held on July 2 & 3, 2014

The Opening ceremony of the Consultation will be held on July 2, 2014  (Wed) evening followed by a Buka Puasa function at East Inn Hotel with Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, National Unity Minister as chief guest.

The full day consultation will take place on July 3, 2014 at the GMM Conference Room.

The Asean Human Rights Commission for Indonesia HE Rafendi Djamin will participate and introduce the document “How to promote and protect the Freedom of Religion or belief in Asean Region?” on July 3, 2014 in the first session of the Consultation.

Academic Prof Dr Harry Harun Behr (from the German Islamic Conference) has confirmed participating and speaking in the final session on Inter religious dialogue and mediation

Confirmed speakers include Dr Chandra Muzaffar (JUST), Tan Sri Michael Yeoh (ASLI), Ms Ratna Osman (SIS), Datuk Hj Zainal Abidin (NUCC), Mr Andrew Khoo (Bar Council), Associate Prof Dr Raihanah Abdullah (OIC), Dr Ahmad Farouk(IRF), Mr Sadar Jagir Singh (MCCBCHST), Datuk Vaithilingam (Proham), Ms Loh Pai Ling (Buddhist Society), Dr Daniel Ho (DUMC), Yb Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa (NUCC), Datuk Kuthubul Zaman (Proham), Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir (NUCC) & Prof Suresh Kumah (Inter-faith Friendship Group).

We have invited Mr Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahaman (ACCIN –Allied Coordinating Committee of Islamic NGO) and also Rev Dr Herman Shastri (CCM- Council of Churches Malaysia) but have not received a confirmation.

A number of overseas resource persons have confirmed participating namely Ms Yuyun Wahyuniungrum and Mr Muhammad Hafiz from HRWG Indonesia. Also joining us is Mr Myo Win of the Smile Education & Development Foundation from Myanmar.

The Consultation will be moderated jointly by Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah and Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria. This is a closed door event but both GMM and Proham will issue a statement on the emerging issues, concerns and solutions to strengthen Religious Freedom in Asean
Datuk Saifuddin chairing the meeting on June 12, 2014

One major objective of this Consultation is to review the draft guidelines of the document on Religious Freedom in Asean prepared by the Human Rights Working Group of Indonesia (HRWG).Those wanting a copy of the Draft Guidelines can request: prohamsecretariat

Statement issued by:

Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham Secretary General) on behalf of the organisers.

June 13, 2014

Monday, 9 June 2014


RTD on Harmony Bills hosted by Proham & GMM (June 5, 2014)

The NUCC Working Committee on Law & Policy, headed by YB Dato Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa and its deputy Mr Lim Chee Wee have drafted a set of three harmony bills:-
These are:
1. Racial & Religious Hate Crime Billl;
2. National Harmony & Reconciliation Bill; and
3. National Harmony & Reconciliation Commission Bill.
These draft bills were tabled at the Third NUCC full council meeting held on May 17, 2014. It was agreed that this is still at a draft stage and should be presented to various stakeholders both in government and civil society for feedback and input. It is important to state that these draft bills are not the final version and still is in the working committee stage at the NUCC end. It has not been deliberated and agreed upon at the NUCC full council.
When deliberated by the NUCC full council and if agreed upon it will be part of the NUCC report and NUCC Draft Blue Print for National Unity which will be presented to the Prime Minister.
The NUCC Working Committee has been holding discussion sessions and a third such public discussion was hosted by Proham and Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) on June 5, 2014 where draft copies were circulated and where Mr Lim Chee Wee made a presentation. This discussion was well attended and over the past few days a number of comments and concerns were aired in the media arising from this open discussion.
The NUCC Working committee welcomes the comments and recognises that this is a consultative process and that the work of the working committee is open for review and deliberation.
NUCC as a whole has adopted an open policy and has hosted public dialogues in a town hall approach called Dailog Perpaduan in 18 major towns throughout Malaysia. 5,491 people participated of whom 512 spoke and 1,159 people submitted their views in writing. They represent a cross section of Malaysian society especially the grassroots.
NUCC is therefore not an elitist organisation and continues to engage with all individuals and groups. Circulating the draft bills and holding public discussions even at the drafting stage is illustrative of our participatory and transparent approach.
In this context a number of key questions were raised and the NUCC Working committee on Law and Policy has found it necessary to provide some initial responses.
First, it has been said that the bills have been drafted with no consultation with wider Malaysian society.
Yes, the bills were drafted by NUCC members in the NUCC Working Committee on Law & Policy. But it is not a final document but in draft stage and therefore is circulated for feedback and comment both from agencies, civil society & the general public. It is not a final document and the NUCC full council has not deliberated on this. The public therefore has the opportunity to review the bills and make suggestions.
Second, there could be some confusion on this matter as there were news reports that the draft bill have been presented to Cabinet by Minister Nancy Shukri.
Cabinet is aware of the draft Bills but no decision has been made on the draft Bills.
Third, there was a call for a White Paper to be issues with justifications for why such laws are needed.
We recognise that this is a good suggestion however the responsibility is with the Federal Government and this approach has not been the way the current Federal administration has introduced new bills. This was not the case when the Suhakam bill was introduced, nor when the EAIC was established or when the ISA and EO were replaced by the a new security law.
However NUCC recognises that there is a need for a background paper providing the need and justification on why these bills should be introduced and how these laws will enhance inter racial harmony and address the current issues related to hate speeches and acts by certain parties.
Fourth, some have indicated that the proposed bills have questioned the position of the Malay rulers-Article 37 (1), and some fundamentals in the Federal Constitution such as Article 3, Article 153 as well as erode the position of the judiciary
NUCC Working Committee categorically disagrees with this interpretation and affirms that none of the core fundamentals of the Federal Constitution such as Articles 3, 8, 37, 152 and 153 are questioned, derogated from or interfered with. In fact the proposed bills will enhance these provisions and provide greater protection in the public space for this. The NUCC Working Committee is prepared to have a discussion with the Malay Consultative Council on this matter so as to clarify this position.
Fifth, there have been a number of questions pertaining to the usefulness of the draft bills and its impact on democratic freedoms
Among these questions are, why the need for three new bills to replace the Sedition Act. Is the Penal Code not sufficient in addressing the current problems pertaining to hate speech and action? Concerns were expressed that more laws will adversely affect freedom of speech and curtail civil society advocacy. It was also suggested that the three bills be made into one bill. Others have asked if these new laws will really be able to stop rising polarisation in Malaysia society.
It is important to note that any legislation in its self is not a magic wand and a solution to all our inter-ethnic issues, however legislation can serve to be an instrument to contribute towards greater protection for harmony. NUCC Working Committee in its deliberation found that the Penal Code was insufficient however we will review this point. It must however be complemented by public awareness and education on the one hand and with the political will and leadership in resolving conflict.  
NUCC is open to comments and criticisms and encourage more stakeholder discussion and input. We welcome you to visit the NUCC website to read the draft bills:
Issued by:
YB Dato Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa (Chairman) and Mr Lim Chee Wee (Deputy Chairman)
NUCC Working Committee on Law and Policy
June 10, 2014

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Stop raids & establish a new permanent mechanism for inter-religious conflict resolution

Proham calls for a stop to raids & find a new permanent mechanism for inter-religious conflict resolution in order to foster greater mutual respect and harmony in accordance with the Federal Constitution

The recent raid by Jais at a Hindu Temple has once again put into public discussion the role of this and other Islamic enforcement agencies in Malaysian society. These agencies have in the name of religion acted in a way that has displayed total disrespect to other religions and cultural practices.

These agencies have raided non-Muslim funerals and removed the dead at the point of grief; they have raided a non-Muslim wedding at a point of celebration and taken away the bride. Both funerals and weddings are major cultural and religious events and at the heart of family and community life. Such insensitive acts create great pain, hurts and impact ethnic and religious relations in Malaysian society.

These Islamic agencies have raided places of worship, be it a Church or Christian institution seeking out Muslims or confiscating the Malay language Bibles. Invading a place of worship is a culturally and religious insensitive act which displays total disrespect and disregard for another place of worship and religion.

Undertaking such acts in the name of religion brings great disrepute to Islam, the religion of the Federation. Furthermore, it can also be misunderstood as acts of aggression of a majority community on minorities in matters pertaining to religious and cultural freedoms as protected by the Federal Constitution.  These acts by religious enforcement agencies have created confusion, anger and distrust among the communities and are threating the peace and harmony of Malaysian society.

The methods of investigation of these religious enforcement agencies are now being questioned, as they seem “to raid and then investigate” similar to the notion of “arrest first and then investigate”. The past raids of Damansara Utama Methodist Church and the Bible Society have not result in any charges being filed by the Islamic authorities.

Raiding places of worship, funerals & weddings will require a higher level of justification and these agencies must first meet the religious leaders of the other religions and work in peace, harmony and mutual respect. The authorities must apply caution and display humility and mutual respect and act in accordance to cultural norms and behaviour.  

Proham is of the opinion that mediation might be the best way forward and that the Mediation Act 2012 could serve as a useful piece of legislation. Mediation provides for conflict resolution and this is urgently needed to resolve the inter-cultural, religious and ethnic conflicts. New provisions could be made to mandate affected parties to come before mediation. The Malaysian Mediation Centre provides a useful model and a similar community mediation centre could be established.

Proham is of the opinion that both Federal and State government leaders must in the interest of the nation, meet to resolve these issues and not allow this to further destroy inter-ethnic and inter-religious understanding. We call on the political leaders in public office to put aside their political differences in the interest of the nation and do the honourable thing to resolve this matter.

Proham proposals that both Federal and State government of Selangor establish an inter-religious panel of Muslims and non-Muslims to study the situation especially the SOP of JAIS and formulate conflict resolution mechanisms so as to build trust and confidence, as well as enable all the religious communities to live in peace and harmony.

Issued on behalf of Proham by:-

Datuk Kuthubul Zaman (Proham Chair)

& Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria  (Proham Secretary-General)

Hentikan serbuan dan mencari mekanisme baru dan kekal untuk penyelesaian konflik antara agama - Proham

6 Jun - Serbuan baru-baru ini oleh pihak JAIS di sebuah Kuil Hindu sekali lagi menjadi perbincangan awam tentang peranannya dan agensi-agensi penguatkuasaan Islam yang lain dalam masyarakat Malaysia. Tindakan agensi-agensi ini di atas nama agama telah dipaparkan ketidak-hormatan terhadap agama dan amalan budaya lain.

Agensi-agensi ini telah menyerbu pengebumian bukan Islam dan telah memindahkan si mati dari upacara dalam kehibaan; mereka telah menyerbu sebuah perkahwinan bukan Islam dalam suasana keraian dan diambil pengantin perempuan. Kedua-dua pengkebumian dan majlis perkahwinan adalah peristiwa-peristiwa budaya dan agama yang besar dan di kalangan keluarga dan kehidupan masyarakat. Apa-apa perbuatan tidak sensitif mewujudkan kesakitan, kelukaan dan kesan hubungan etnik dan agama dalam masyarakat Malaysia.

Agensi-agensi ini Islam telah menyerbu tempat-tempat ibadat, sama ada institusi Gereja atau Kristian, mencari orang Islam atau merampas  Alkitab bahasa Melayu. Menceroboh tempat ibadat adalah perbuatan tidak sensitif dari segi budaya dan agama yang memaparkan penghinaan dan tidak menghormati tempat ibadat dan agama lain.

Menjalankan perbuatan demikian atas nama agama membawa nama buruk kepada agama Islam, agama Persekutuan. Tambahan pula, ia juga boleh disalah anggap sebagai tindakan agresif daripada masyarakat majoriti ke atas minoriti dalam hal-hal yang berkaitan dengan kebebasan agama dan budaya sebagaimana dilindungi oleh Perlembagaan Persekutuan. Tindakan oleh agensi-agensi penguatkuasaan agama ini telah menimbulkan kekeliruan, kemarahan dan ketidakyakinanan di kalangan masyarakat dan mengancam keamanan dan keharmonian masyarakat Malaysia.

Kaedah-kaedah penyiasatan agensi-agensi penguatkuasaan agama kini dipersoalkan, kerana mereka seolah-olah "serbu dan menyiasat kemudian" sama dengan konsep "tangkap dulu dan menyiasat kemudian". Serbuan lalu ke atas Gereja Damansara Utama Methodist dan Persatuan Alkitab tidak mengakibatkan pendakwaan difailkan oleh pihak berkuasa Islam.

Menyerbu tempat-tempat ibadat, upacara pengkebumian dan majlis perkahwinan memerlukan justifikasi tahap yang lebih tinggi dan agensi-agensi ini mesti harus bertemu pemimpin agama daripada agama-agama lain dan bekerja dengan aman, harmoni dan saling menghormati. Pihak berkuasa perlu lebih berhati-hati dan saling hormat menghormati serta bertindak mengikut norma-norma budaya dan tingkah laku.

PROHAM berpendapat bahawa proses pengantaraan mungkin cara terbaik ke hadapan dan bahawa Akta Pengantaraan 2012 boleh menjadi asas yang berguna. Pengantaraan membolehkan penyelesaian konflik dan ini amat diperlukan untuk menyelesaikan konflik antara budaya, agama dan etnik. Peruntukan baru boleh dibuat untuk mmensyatakan pihak yang terlibat untuk menggunakan proses pengantaraan. Pusat Pengantaraan Malaysia menyediakan model yang berguna dan pusat pengantaraan masyarakat yang seumpamanya boleh ditubuhkan.

PROHAM berpendapat bahawa pemimpin-pemimpin kerajaan Persekutuan dan kerajaan Negeri demi kepentingan negara, bertemu untuk menyelesaikan isu-isu ini dan tidak membiarkan persefahaman antara kaum dan antara agama dimusnahkan. Kami menyeru kepada pemimpin-pemimpin politik yang memegang jawatan awam untuk mengetepikan perbezaan politik mereka demi kepentingan negara dan melalukan tindakan yang mulia untuk menyelesaikan perkara ini.

Cadangan PROHAM supaya kerajaan Persekutuan dan kerajaan Negeri Selangor menubuhkan sebuah panel antara agama terdiri dari umat Islam dan bukan Islam untuk mengkaji keadaan terutama SOP pihak JAIS dan merangka mekanisme penyelesaian konflik supaya dapat membina kepercayaan dan keyakinan, serta membolehkan semua komuniti agama untuk hidup dengan aman dan harmoni.

* Datuk Kuthubul Zaman merupakan Pengerusi Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia (Proham), Malaysia.

** Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria adalah Setiausaha Agung, Persatuan untuk Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia (Proham), Malaysia

No need for new laws to prosecute hate crimes, say critics at public forum

At the June 5, 2014 RTD
BY ELIZABETH ZACHARIAH Published: 6 June 2014 |(Malaysianinsider)
The National Unity Consultative Council's (NUCC) proposed National Unity Bills came under scrutiny in a forum last night, where many questioned the need for more laws to replace the draconian Sedition Act that is due to be repealed.
In the "Discussion on National Unity Bills" organised by the Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) and the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM), many expressed concern over the proposed three new laws, one of which would replace the Sedition Act.
The first draft of the bills – the Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Bill, the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill and the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission Bill – was presented to the cabinet last week.
Proham chairman Datuk Kuthubul Zaman, who was one of the speakers, said he disagreed with the proposed laws, adding that the Penal Code was more than sufficient to replace the Sedition Act.      "We do not need new laws to substitute the Sedition Act. The Penal Code covers criminal intimidation among others and is more than enough to cover hate crimes," he said at the discussion at the GMM office in Kuala Lumpur.
Earlier, NUCC Working Committee on Law & Policy deputy chairman Lim Chee Wee said that the committee had felt that the Penal Code was not sufficient to deter and punish hate crimes should the Sedition Act be repealed. He said the new bills would be a "better mechanism" for conflict management, adding that it would criminalise incitement of racial and religious hatred. "In the UK, hate speech is also criminalised," he added. However, Kuthubul said in the UK, there was no Penal Code, hence there was a need for its Race Relations Act.
Jerald Joseph, director of Pusat Komas and another speaker at the discussion, said the bills were essentially to put a stop to the "free space" given to hate speeches by all sides of the divide. "This is a start. We have an A-G (attorney-general) who is selective in cases he wants to prosecute, we have a police force who does not know if it should take action... there is enough grounds for the bills," he added.
Kuthubul shot back: "If you say the A-G uses the Sedition Act to prosecute the opposition, then he can also use these new laws to do the same. "If you say the police don't know what to do with the old laws and so we need more laws to get them to act, that is also not true." Stressing that these were wrong intentions to come up with the new laws, he said the people should instead put pressure on the A-G to be fair in prosecuting.
Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) head Wan Saiful Wan Jan also expressed concern about the unity bills, saying that repealing one law does not justify the introduction of three new laws. "It is worrying that we need these laws to replace one. It is not justifiable and I do not agree with it," he said.
Also raising questions about the proposed national unity bills was Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen, who said that the country was more in need of political leadership instead of laws. "I am concerned that we keep looking at laws as a way to resolve things. "But what is more needed is political leadership from our prime minister rather than more laws," he added.
A member of the public Siti Kassim said instead of proposing new laws to deter hate crimes, the NUCC should look into the root causes of such problems, such as education. "Students in schools are being taught to be racist at a young age and teachers are being brainwashed right from training colleges. "It all starts with education and I feel the NUCC should look into tackling this rather than proposing new laws," she said, adding that the country already had enough laws to prosecute hate crimes.
GMM chief executive officer Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah and Proham secretary-general Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, who are both also NUCC members, were the moderators of the discussion, which was attended by more than 40 members of NGOs and the public. – June 6, 2014 -