As we celebrate our 57th Merdeka Day (on August 31, 2014) and 51st Malaysia Day (on Sept 16, 2014) there is much sadness over the loss of lives through the two national airlines tragedies we have experienced. However we can recollect that during these sad days we have also experienced the outpouring of solidarity and sympathy for the suffering among us.
As we move on as a nation we must be focused on the realisation of VISION 2020 which is only six years away. It was 23 years ago on Feb 28, 1991 that the then Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Muhammad unveiled the Nine Challenges. Then we envisioned not just economic progress but a holistic one, moving beyond economic and business.
PROHAM likes to remind the nation that among the nine challenges are two significant ones pertaining to human rights and fostering an appreciation of our ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious diversity.
These two are:-
Challenge 3: Fostering and developing a mature democratic society.
Challenge 5: Establishing a matured liberal and tolerant society.
In this context PROHAM calls on the Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak to keep his reform agenda in focus by strengthening human rights compliance as well as building the mechanisms in Malaysian society for greater appreciation of our diversity.
Some prominent individuals and groups in Malaysia have expressed their objections and unhappiness with the Prime Minister over the repeal of the ISA and his promise to review the Sedition Act.
PROHAM is of the opinion that the Prime Minister and the Federal government had made promises during the 2013 general elections in adopting a strong human rights agenda in governance. They must therefore keep the course in fulfilling the promises made.
Malaysia plays an active human rights defender role on the rights of Palestinians and Rohingyas. Malaysia will have a major credibility gap if at the global level, we articulate these from an international human rights position but at the domestic we neglect these. Therefore Malaysia must ratify major human rights conventions and ensure local laws, policies and programs give adherence to global human rights standards and benchmarks.
PROHAM also recognises the rise of insensitive cultural, religious, ethnic and linguistic comments and actions. There are no effective remedies to address these currently other than filling Police reports leading to Police investigations and the court process. Therefore there might be a need to create another vehicle for conflict resolutions and mediation.
POHAM feels where there is no violence or threat of violence, a non-criminalisation process might be more effective. The current 2012 Mediation Act could be amended and new provisions made for compulsory participation in the mediation process.
In addition participation in a compulsory anger-hate management session by a trained counsellor could also be required. These alternative conflict resolution and mediating mechanism could be one way forward towards realising Vision 2020 in fostering a matured and tolerant society where there is mutual respect for all in Malaysian society.
Issued on behalf of Proham by:-Datuk Kuthbul Zaman Bukhari (Proham Chairman) & Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham Secretary General), August 24, 2014