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Monday, 25 April 2016


PROHAM respects and promotes the right of freedom of speech, subject to the limits permitted by international human rights norms. However, the Government must not permit hate speech i.e. speech that incites discrimination hostility or violence against other people because of their race or religion.  

The Government having allowed Dr Zakir Naik the freedom of speech, must similarly grant the same right to all. Hence, the Government should not restrict the rights of Malaysians by using the archaic Sedition Act to curb freedom of speech.

In the case of controversial Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik, there are many competing rights and freedoms at play.

There is, of course, the right of Dr Naik to speak and to proselytize, though that may be subject to question since he is a visitor to our shores.

The right to propagate religion is one recognized by international human rights law. In Malaysia, however, that right is somewhat restricted by our Federal Constitution where State law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine amongst persons professing Islam.

There is also the right of those attending his talks to hear what he has to say, also a manifestation of freedom of speech which allows people to speak but also the right of others to receive information.

Free speech can only be restricted on certain very specific grounds. Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides the international standard on free speech, though regrettably Malaysia is not yet a party to this Convention.

The ICCPR provides that free speech can only be restricted in circumstances that are specified by law and by means that are necessary
“(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;”
“(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals”
On the other hand, under Article 20 of the ICCPR, countries are obliged to make laws to protect against “hate speech”. Article 20 provides as follows:
“Article 20
“1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
“2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”
PROHAM therefore urges the Government to look at the Rabat Plan of Action 2013 promoted by the United Nations which emphasizes the interdependence of human rights and the critical role Human Rights play in creating an environment in which a constructive discussion about religious matters could be held. 

The Rabat Plan of Action provides recommendations for states in terms of legislation, jurisprudence and policy to achieve the desired space for future and open discussion that promote inclusion and respect diversity.

In the above context, PROHAM urges the Government to seriously reconsider whether Dr Zakir Naik fits the criteria laid down in the Rabat Plan of Action and the ICCPR before allowing him to speak on similar issues considering that two Commonwealth nations, the United Kingdom and Canada do not allow him into their jurisdiction.

As a secular democracy with a majority of its populations professing Islam, Malaysia is in a unique and enviable position with its long history of racial and religious harmony. PROHAM urges the Government to judiciously ensure that such racial and religious harmony is not jeopardized.

Issued on behalf of PROHAM by Datuk Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari (PROHAM Chairman)

Monday, 18 April 2016


HAKAM | National Human Rights Society

1. HAKAM is gravely concerned with the seemingly increasing disregard for the fundamentals of democracy by the Federal Government and key institutions of the nation.
2. That the situation is critical is evident given the increasingly strident and combative tone that the Government and institutions have adopted in dealing with, and rejecting, widespread criticism over the manner in which matters of national importance and public interest have been dealt with. Without intending to define or limit the nature of these matters, HAKAM views with concern the manner in which the following matters have, or have not, been addressed:
2.1 Race relations and increasingly contentious and divisive ethno-religious issues. The direct impact on the social and economic environment can no longer be ignored. It is no coincidence that an increasing number of Malaysians are looking for more fulfilling lives elsewhere;
2.2 The administration of justice. It is no longer possible to brush aside the obvious signs of a significant loss of public confidence in institutions involved in this vital aspect of the democratic framework of this nation. Internationally recognised indexes conclusively show that Malaysia is no longer perceived as a country that upholds the Rule of Law. The efficacy of these public institutions is made possible only by the fact that stakeholders continue to have confidence in them;
2.3 Free and fair elections. This needs no explanation; and
2.4 Corruption and illicit capital out-flow. This has hurt and continues to hurt all Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion and background.
3. The dismissiveness of the Government and its reliance on a legal framework that it has harnessed to suppress legitimate dissent on matters that affect all Malaysians, regardless of their backgrounds and political leanings, clearly point to the interest of the nation having been made subservient to political interests.
4. HAKAM is however is alarmed at the manner in which the constitutional framework has been exploited to allow for this outcome.
5. It is for this reason that HAKAM has, from its registration as a society in 1991, consistently championed the Rule of Law and the protection of the administration of justice. It notes with pride that amongst its founding members were not only legal luminaries such as the late YM Raja Aziz Addruse, but also two former Prime Ministers of this country, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman and the late Tun Hussein Onn.
6. Significantly, HAKAM was mooted in December 1988 as a response to the assault on the Rule of Law, centred on the assault on democracy inherent in Operasi Lalang in 1987, the assault on the Judiciary and the amendment to the Federal Constitution suborning the Judiciary to Parliament in 1988, and the enacting of anti-democratic statutory provisions aimed at suppressing legitimate dissent.
7. Recently various acts have undermined public confidence in the integrity of institutions. HAKAM notes with regret the steps taken by the Executive in this regards – including the sudden removal of the former Attorney General, the expulsion of the former Deputy Prime Minister and replacement of one other Minister who had raised concerns in the public interest, the dismantling and subsequent reconstituting of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament mid-stream and action against members of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
8. It is for this reason that HAKAM has always striven for institutional reform.
9. HAKAM notes that present on-going efforts of a wide spectrum of our citizenry in this laudable endeavour, and lends its support to these efforts; they must be given their due public space as they are grounded on the freedoms guaranteed  by the Federal Constitution, the supreme law of the land.
10. HAKAM supports in particular the call for urgent action by all stakeholders across boundaries as regards the following matters:
10.1 Reforming the constitutional prosecutorial framework to make separate the role of the Public Prosecutor from that of the Attorney General. In that regard, the power to prosecute must be vested in an independent and accountable body charged with the role of instituting prosecutions of a general nature;
10.2 Establishing the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as an independent and accountable constitutional body with the power to institute prosecutions in its own right;
10.3 Establishing the Malaysian Judicial Appointments Commission as an independent and accountable body that is not connected to the Judiciary or the Executive. The power of the Prime Minister to recommend appointments to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong must be limited to making recommendations proposed by this Commission;
10.4 Establishing the office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) an independent and accountable body that is answerable to the Malaysian public and not the Executive. In tandem, the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) must be established as recommended by the Royal Commission of Enquiry;
10.5 Reforming the process of general elections so as to firmly establish a foundation for clean and fair elections; and
10.6 Repealing all laws that suppress legitimate dissent and violate the rule of law.
11. In that context:
11.1 HAKAM also supports calls for an independent and accountable public enquiry into the subject of 1MDB. Those consequently implicated – directly or indirectly – in any wrongdoing must be proceeded against.
11.2 HAKAM deprecates the efforts to dismiss the growing revelations relating to 1MDB without such an enquiry. These machinations are damaging the interests of the nation. Political interests have also led to a ramping up of ethno-religious rhetoric to levels that are potentially destructive.
 Issued on behalf of HAKAM Executive Committee
Robyn Choi, Secretary-General, HAKAM

Saturday, 16 April 2016


KITA-UKM has recently (March 2016) published in the Ethnic Studies Papers, booklet 48 entitled HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS & REMEDIES: THE ROHINGYA CASE, which documents the issues and concerns of the Rohingya people based on the key findings of the three RTDs organised by PROHAM in 2014 and 2015.

The Rohingya concerns are articulated from the basis as a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as well as violation of UN Human Rights Conventions such as the civil and political rights as well as the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The discussion on the Rohingya community enhances our understanding on how to analyse ethnic and religious concerns of minorities from a human rights framework. This enables a holistic approach in ensuring that all communities, however diverse from the dominant community, continue to have rights and freedoms which need to be respected, recognised and protected.

PROHAM’s discussion on May 19, 2016 at 5.30pm is to review this new publication and provide an update of the contemporary situation of the Rohingya community. This is our ongoing advocacy role to ensure that both Malaysia and ASEAN plays an active role in effectively addressing the issues and concerns of ethnic and religious minorities including the concerns of the Rohingya community.

Date                May 19, 2016 (Thursday)

Time                5.30pm – 7pm

Venue              Brickfields Asia College, PJ Campus

Panel Speakers
Ms Deepa Nambiar, Director of Asylum Access Malaysia
Mr Andrew Khoo, Co Chair, Bar Council Human Rights Committee
Special Guest:            Mr Brian Gorlick, Deputy, UNHCR

Panel Moderator:        Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham Secretary General)

Participation by registration -

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Citizen’s Declaration: Is it a Fantasy or Reality?

By Henry Koh, (PROHAM Volunteer)

On 7 April 2016, Kesatuan Mahasiswa Malaysia organized a Dialog Anak Muda (Youth’s Dialogue) at the UM Alumni Clubhouse to discuss on the tagline of the event; “Citizen’s Declaration: Is it a Fantasy or Reality?”. In March 2016, a movement called the Citizen’s Declaration (named Save Malaysia campaign later on) was led by former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad; comprising Barisan Nasional (BN) veterans, opposition leaders and human rights activists.

The movement focuses on the deteriorating political, economic and social conditions in the country and calls for the resignation of the premiership of Dato Seri Najib Abdullah.

During this event, Tun Dr Mahathir, Former Bersih Chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan and Bersih 2.0 Chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah were present on the panel of guest speakers.
Among the highlights of the dialogue, the president of Kesatuan Mahasiswa Malaysia, Asheeq Ali questioned on the vagueness of the movement. He opined that there is no existence of a solid structured plan after the removal of the Prime Minister, as stipulated in the movement. This would then cause a huge prejudice in our country.

The suggestions KMM has made in questioning the statements of the declaration includes:

1.    The removal of all those who have acted in concert with the Prime Minister.
Who will be identifying all those who have acted in concert with him? There was no any vote of no confident against the Prime Minister made by any one of the members of the parliament. Thus, everyone in the parliament should be held responsible and accountable for the current condition of Malaysia.

2.    A repeal of all recent laws and agreements that violate the fundamental rights guaranteed by the federal constitution and undermine policy choices.
I am really off the opinion that only old laws are violating human rights. Tun, what happened to the laws enacted during your time? Are we supposed to ignore that? I am dare to say that the people n Malaysia had enough excess to substantial freedom during the British Colonisation era. People were free to express opinions on Malayan Union, Public rallies prior to the first Federal elections held in July 1955 for a new Federal Legislative Council and an independent Commonwealth Constitutional Commission chaired by Lord Reid is appointed in March 1956. Since we got independence, and since UMNO came into power, Malaysians access to human rights has been denied a little by a little.

For example, The Sedition Act, The Official Secrets Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act. It controls everyone. It controls the media from revealing the true story. It controls an individual from revealing a secret, although the secret is about laundering millions of money. These are not new laws Tun.

Akta University dan kolej university AUKU is another major concern of us, the students. We are not aallowed to express anything in the compound of the university. It can be said that university is a place to learn, but Tun, politics is also a process of learning.

In the period of 2 years, we have 71 cases all  together under AUKU. Ladies and gentleman, we, the students, fought for Wifi supply, we fought for water supply for almost a month. Aren’t these our rights? And yet we are sentenced under AUKU. This is completely violating human rights.

3.    A restoration of the integrity of the institutions that have been undermined, such as the police, the MACC, Bank Negara and the PAC.

Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya, Attorney General chambers and SPRM have to be restored too. Precisely, the institution need to be reformed fully. Removing the Prime Minister is not going to change anything, because another person will be taking over his position and the same cycle will be going on. We need the institution to be reformed fully so that we can have a better future for Malaysia.

So today, as the representative from Kesatuan Mahasiswa Malaysia, I would like to declare few claims from us. This is our stand, this is our vision and we will strongly hold on it.

1.    Establishment of an independent panel to review and audit the entire account of Government of Malaysia. This is to ensure that not only 1MDB skandal is revealed, but also every other money laundering scandal that is happening behind the wall of Putrajaya. This panel must consist of both local and international experienced auditors.

2.    Establishment of an independent panel to review all the laws in Malaysia and this panel must be consist of local representatives such as SUHAKAM and also international representative.

3.    Establishment of a “coalition government after the removal of our PM. This government will consist of representatives from all party and this government will be in power till the next election is being held.

4.    A clean and transparent polls.

5.    Restore all the human rights of the Malaysians by abolishing all the draconian laws that violates human rights.

Let us work together and live the real meaning of “SAVE MALAYSIA”.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Shahrol not only one to blame for 1MDB failures, says NGO

Human rights group Proham today said that allegations of criminal breach of trust surrounding state-owned fund 1MDB is not the sole responsibility of its former chief executive officer.

Responding to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on 1MDB, Proham expressed shock over the disclosure of weak governance structure and monitoring instituted for such huge sums of public funds.

“We express deep concern over the failure of the board of directors, the advisory council and the Finance Ministry to institute adequate checks and balances.

“We are not in agreement that the criminal breach of trust lies solely on the CEO of 1MDB and therefore the speedy release of the auditor-general’s report is imperative,” said Proham chairperson Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari and secretary-general Denison Jayasooria in a statement.

Proham noted that a delay in releasing the report has negatively impacted public perception on the full disclosure and transparency of the investigations.

The 106-page report, among others, had identified a number of weaknesses in the governance and decision-making of 1MDB.

The PAC report released in the Dewan Rakyat on April 7 had, among others, urged authorities to probe 1MDB former chief executive officer Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi and others in the management.

“Particularly, PAC was of the view that 1MDB ex-CEO Shahrol should take the responsibility for the weaknesses and constraints.

“As such, the enforcement agency was urged to probe Shahrol and other management,” said the PAC’s report on 1MDB.

Shahrol Azral, however, had stressed that there was no wrongdoing or illegal activity at the company under his watch.

He also pledged to continue extending his full cooperation with any further investigation, after having appeared before the members of the PAC and giving them a full and honest account of his time as CEO of 1MDB.

‘Institutional reforms necessary’

Commenting further, Proham said adequate constitutional safeguards are necessary to prevent any further abuse by the executive.

It urges institutional reforms to be implemented to ensure all responsible for “neglect of their public duty” can be prosecuted.

“There is a need for further public discussion on whether government should be involved in business and financial investments as well as what effective monitoring mechanisms are necessary to prevent abuse of power.

“Furthermore there is also a need for a public discussion on whether the same person should hold the office of the prime minister and office of the finance minister,” said Proham.

Having the same person in the two office is an “uncommon practice” in parliamentary democracies as the roles are distinctive and public officials are accountable to the public for their decisions, Proham added.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, as well as other Barisan Nasional ministers and leaders, had described findings of the PAC report as proof of “false allegations” made by their critics in an attempt to topple the government.

Read more:

Saturday, 9 April 2016


PROHAM welcomes the IMDB Report by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC). This is timely and most essential. There is a need for public discussion on the findings of the PAC and the implications of their recommendations.
PROHAM is shocked by the PAC disclosure of the weak governance structure and monitoring instituted for such huge sums of public funds. We express deep concern over the failure of the Board of Directors, the Advisory council and the Ministry of Finance to institute adequate checks and balances.

We are not in agreement that the criminal breach of trust lies solely on the CEO of 1MDB and therefore the speedy release of the Auditor General’s Audit Report is imperative. This delay has impacted negatively public perception on the full disclosure and transparency of the investigations.

Transparency and public accountability is of utmost importance and therefore an  open inquiry system and full disclosure is of utmost importance to restore public trust especially in the office of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finances and regulatory bodies established by the Federal government.

PROHAM calls for institutional reforms which are necessary to ensure all responsible for this neglect of their public duty be prosecuted. There is a need for further public discussion on whether government should be involved in business and financial investments as well as what effective monitoring mechanisms are necessary to prevent abuse of power.

Furthermore there is also a need for a public discussion on whether the same person should hold the office of the Prime Minister and office of the Minister of Finance. A practice uncommon in parliamentary democracies where the two role are distinctive and the public officials are publically accountable. Adequate constitutional safe guards is necessary to prevent any further abuse by the executive.

Released on behalf of PROHAM by Datuk Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari (PROHAM Chair) & Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (PROHAM Secretary General).

April 10, 2016

Tuesday, 5 April 2016


At the APFSD Bangkok discussion on CSO Engagement
Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development 2016 (UNESCAP)
Panel Discussion (April 5, 2016; UN Centre, Bangkok)

Reflections from Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Malaysia: KITA-UKM;PROHAM & ASEC/Ripess-Asia)


One major thrust of SDGs is the involvement of the stakeholders in the sustainable development process. As the major theme is “leaving no one behind” the policy thrust for involving all stakeholders is very significant. There is a need to build trust and a conducive environment for engagement. Recognising that SDGs is a joint responsibility, although the State is the primary mandate holder. Therefore States must facilitate and make resources available for meaningful engagement.

Malaysian Experience

On Oct 27, 2015 a number of CSO organisations hosted a discussion on SDGs and application to Malaysian society. We had a good cross section of CSOs participating. We drew together CSOs working in the service and development areas including youth and women based CSOs, also those involved in human rights issues and those addressing environment concerns. We had a representative of the Malaysian government on this panel who related the SDGs to Malaysian policies such as the Eleventh Malaysia Plan (2016-2020). A CSO report was published by KITA-UKM and a joint statement was handed over to the Minister in charge of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) in Malaysia. The Minister responded positively and acknowledged this pro-active role and assured of CSO engagement in the SDG process.

The Malaysian government organised a National Symposium on SDGs on Feb 23, 2016 when they also released a review report on the MDGs noting the achievements and gaps. CSOs were invited as participants and a number were speakers on the panel. This is a healthy start however the Malaysian government is to announce the formal mechanism soon. We are hopeful that CSOs will be included at all levels such as planning, delivery, monitoring, impact assessment and evaluation.

Trends in the ASEAN region

At a sub-regional level there are two trends observed on challenges facing CSOs. While the ASEAN countries are open to CSO participation at the global UN process however at the sub regional level there are differences both at the national and sub regional process. Governments tend to be open to service and development based CSOs whom they see as complementing the social development mandate. However on human rights and environment issues especially when CSOs adopt a structural analysis approach which is viewed as critical, confrontational and political many countries close the access. Advocacy based on a rights framework is often not appreciated by certain state officials who see these as political action questioning their legitimacy. Therefore we must recognise this problem and ensure there is access to all types of CSOs working from the UDHR framework including civil and political rights.

In the Malaysian experience the CSOs involved in the Universal Periodical Review Process (UPR) were declared illegal by the Malaysian Ministry for Home Affairs. However the CSOs who did the shadow report had access to the UN UPR review process. In the SDG partnership and CSO engagement there must be a more open process so that member states must adopt the UN ECOSOC accreditation criteria for engagement at both sub regional and national engagements. This approach could resolve the Malaysian UPR experience where the Home Affairs took a very restrictive view of CSO engagement in the UN process.

ASEAN has formal processes but they seem to differ on CSO engagements such as the Asean Peoples Forum. Some ASEAN chairs are open, while others are not and in the case of some they would not want a CSO gathering during the ASEAN Summit while similar gathering with the private sector are well organised, coordinated and even participated by national leaders and senior officials. In 2015 Malaysia provided good space and funding for the CSO process  such as the CSO forum, however this was more restrictive in Myanmar (2014) and in 2016 not permitted in Laos. SDG consultations at both national and sub regional levels must be more engaging and open. UN ESCAP through the APFSD process could engage more formal spaces and monitor this as one specific indicator of engagement.

A second trend observed is the rise of right wing CSOs (religious, racial & ideological) using the democratic space to intimidate CSOs using the UDHR framework through verbal threats and acts of violence. These CSOs do not respect diversity of thought nor rights based approachon universal principles. Very often these groups seem to have the support of the political elites and enforcement seems to look the other side or act late in ensuring peace and order. The International community especially UN organisations play a role in monitoring these and ensure compliance to UN policies and statues on CSO engagement.

Engagement possibilities

Four possibilities could be explored at the national level which will have a positive impact at the sub regional and global levels.

One, there needs to be by-partisan parliamentary working group on SDGs at the national level. The SDG agenda could ensure close partnership and collaboration across the political divide. This parliamentary open process could also provide the space to CSOs for participation including presenting reports and reviews for policy analysis and formulation of new polices and allocation of resources.

Two, national governments could establish SDG Councils or Taskforce which must include CSOs along with representative from private sector, professional bodies and academicians. They could establish working groups that could be involved in planning, delivery, monitoring, impact assessment and evaluation.

Three, establishment of grievance mechanism at both national and sub regional levels like ASEAN. The role of National Human Rights Commission is most important adopting the Paris principles for independence and compliance to human rights norms. This provides the inquiry approach however other community mediation mechanism must also be established so that community in conflict and dispute could resolve them through non judicial process too. 

In the context of sub regional issues such as the plight of Rohingya boat people needed a more dynamic role of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Human Rights Commission. Now its TOR does not provide them the powers to receive complaints, undertake fact finding visits or conduct a sub-regional inquiry especially it involved cross boarder issues. Many such issues now impact migrant workers and indigenous people. CSO can play a major role in this especially in ensuring early excluded groups have access to the services and programs for their social mobility and empowerment.

Four, data gathering from the grassroots is a very important role. While governments undertake macro data gathering including the generation of disaggregated data, CSOs can provide a complementary qualitative data for example using a case study approach which is ethnographic. Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) based programs at the grassroots can best capture SDGs as they already undertake programs based on a number of key principles such as commitment to people development, profit generation for sustainability, care for the environment, good participatory governance, compliance to human rights and also adopting of good values such as dignity. Micro studies at the community based both rural and urban can complement statistical analysis. 

Currently ASEC/Ripess Asian partners are already undertaking such projects throughout Asia. Formulating a template based on SDG indicators could capture the salient pointers including success stories, barriers to inclusion and can serve as a reality check from the grassroots. A grounded research approach and methodology could be adopted and CSOs can play a major role in this regard.


CSOs today are highly motivated and have the vision for SDGs. They are a key player and therefore if formal spaces and resources are made available, this will be in the best interest of B40 communities who feel excluded and isolated. CSOs can be instrumental for the quick realisation of the SDG targets and indicators.

Saturday, 2 April 2016


By AP CSO Forum on SDG
Your excellences, honorable delegates, UN agencies, civil society colleagues and friends;
We bring a message from the Asia Pacific Civil Society Forum on Sustainable Development 2016 on behalf of 135 Civil Society Organisations. We request you to annex our full written statement and more detailed recommendations to the Outcome document.
The Asia Pacific region faces uniform as well as diverse set of challenges spanning all three pillars of sustainable development. We as civil society want to highlight some overarching trends that will make the SDGs impossible to realize and advance our recommendations on the same.
The dominant macroeconomic policy regime in the Asia Pacific region has resulted in increasing privatization, liberalization and deregulation across sectors. Anti-poor and inequitable macro policies have led to increasing suppression of interests of the people at large, especially of those who are economically and socially weaker and unable to participate in the process of policy-making. This inequity is reflected in how the poor, small farmers, workers, women, migrants, indigenous peoples, dalits, the disabled, the elderly and other marginalized communities face a denial of social protection and human rights. Moreover food security and sovereignty is challenged by the expansion of corporate led agriculture that has not only made food costly but also unhealthy, destroyed natural ecosystems and bio-diversity, thus triggering widespread hunger and malnutrition in the region.
Moreover, trade and investment agreements including the WTO and FTAs, have created major challenges for the developing and least developed countries in the region and challenged access to food, land, livelihoods, critical services and resources, and challenged development policy space in general.
Governments have increasingly withdrawn from public provision of essential and quality social services such as health care and education, as well as access to clean and safe water, housing, energy and land. Access to progressive sexual health and education services, in particular SRHR has seen severe opposition in several countries. Limited access has again been skewed against socially weaker groups including children and in particular girls. Universal access to health care and education has been far from realized in the region and specific needs of specific groups such as the disabled, the girl child etc.
Displacements and evictions due to land grab, climate disasters, loss of livelihood, and debt are common phenomenon across economically and socially weaker communities including among farming and indigenous communities. Asia Pacific has been particularly plagued by environmental degradation and climate change. This tendency is heightened by current production practices, both in agriculture and industry, which become environmentally unsustainable with adverse impacts on the ecosystem, and the health and lives of the people. The operation of the extractive industries have destroyed natural ecosystems, displaced communities, undermined human rights, and contributed to health hazards.
We reiterate that discrimination and marginalisation must be eliminated if the SDGs are to be realized. Underlying structures of inequality and marginalization (i.e. caste, patriarchy, sexual orientation, ageism, racism, sexism, among others) remain deeply embedded in historical processes of discrimination and inequitable development in the region. Indeed, many groups,  women, persons with disabilities, older people, indigenous peoples, dalits, LGBTIQ, single and widow, ethnic minorities, migrants, PLHIV, young people, people in the remote area, sex workers, informal workers and others, today still find themselves socially, politically and economically excluded and marginalized from national development and governance processes, with few opportunities for redress. Furthermore, the crosscutting issues of marginalized populations have not yet been fully explored, understood and incorporated in the sustainable development framework.
In spite of its limitations, the comprehensive nature of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers us the opportunity to retrospect and reorient ourselves. Civil society in the Asia-Pacific advocates for a complete reorientation of economic, social and environmental policies (including those for climate change adaptation and mitigation) and a bottom-up approach with participation of grass-root communities and civil society, with shared ownership by the people. Pro-poor and equitable economic and social policies must; provide jobs, incomes and social provisioning, not based on exploitation but rather protection of all; especially women, children, elderly and the youth; workers and migrants; indigenous peoples, the disabled, and those with different sexual orientation. At the same time, trade and investments agreement negotiations must be transparent, participatory and necessarily subjected to independent human rights impact assessments before they are signed. The traditional or significant roles of communities and regions (such as the Pacific) in conservation, nurturing, management of natural resources, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and in preventing and reducing disaster risk must be recognized and harnessed, while their special needs are also addressed.
However none of the above will be possible without accountable, transparent, participatory and just institutions, especially in the state domain. Private sector as development partners and economic players must also be subject to stringent norms of scrutiny, as we would ourselves be. Stakeholder participation must be underpinned by human rights principles including universality, non-discrimination, social and gender equality, participation, empowerment and accountability. Finally civil society participation in sustainable development processes and mechanisms must be institutionalized based on principles of non-regression, democracy and equality, as guided by the HLPF and the Agenda itself.
Bangkok, April 2, 2016