Proham hosted a public lecture on the theme of “Community Mediation and Human Rights” on Friday May 29, 2015 at the Birckfield Asia College, PJ Campus. The lecture was delivered by Datuk Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari and during the discussion time we received feedback from Datuk M Shankar, Mr Asrul Daniel of GMM, Mr Andrew Khoo of the Malaysian Bar and Mr Ho Khek Hua of the National Unity Training and Research Institute.
We do recognise that many community disputes pertaining to ethnicity and religion is being publically debated and disputed in media which is causing disharmony in society. We also note that the informal mechanisms of community leaders sitting down and mediating disputes has failed due to the politicisation of many issues pertaining to ethnicity and religion in contemporary Malaysian society.
We recognise that there is now in Malaysia no formal mechanism for community resolution as the only grievance mechanism available is the courts. While the judicial mechanism is the best safe guard for a citizens protection against human rights violation, however on community related matters a non-judicial system might be preferred.
Datuk Kuthubul Zaman highlighted the alternative dispute resolution schemes or non-adjudicative mechanisms such as Mediation, where an impartial and independent mediator helps the parties negotiate a resolution to the dispute.
He drew lessons from effective models in New Zealand and Singapore which we could learn from. He further highlighted the Malaysian Mediation Act 2012 which was a voluntary process being utilised by the business community but the current Act lacked a provision for community mediation and the enforcement of the act.
Proham therefore calls on the Federal Government to recognise the need for a formal mechanism to resolve community disputes in a way that promotes social cohesion in society and address the root grievances of these conflicts. We note that siting down and talking about this in a safe environment with a trusted, professional and well trained mediator is the current best option.
We call on the Government to study the New Zealand example where the Human Rights Commission has the power to mediate disputes and could consider this provision in the Suhakam Act if suitable.
We also call on the Government to study the Singapore example where a special act provides for community mediation and resolution. If the second model is adopted one way forward is for the Government to amend the current Mediation Act 2012 and provide for a special section on Community mediation.
Our appeal is for the Federal Government to treat this matter with some urgency and do the needful intervention for a Malaysian provision for an alternative community dispute resolution mechanism which enhances human dignity, human rights and ensures peace and harmony in Malaysia society.
Issues on behalf of Proham by Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, Secretary General Proham
June 4, 2015