Suhakam 'worse than a toothless tiger'

16 Apr 2015 / 15:43 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) lamented today that it is “worse than a toothless tiger”.
“Our record over the past 20 years shows that we bark very loud, except that we are tethered to a post and can’t chase you,” its chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said after the launch of its 2014 Annual Report today.
He said Suhakam is trying to push the government to give them more “teeth”.
“We have appealed to the government to give us more power. We have made a few proposals to the government but we have no positive feedback yet,” he said.
He urged the media to highlight the handicaps Suhakam faces and its lack of power.
“When I took over five years ago, we were a watchdog tethered to a post, but even that is better than having no watchdog at all,” he said.
Although they are just a watchdog, Hasmy said they still have the power to hold the government accountable.
He also revealed that Suhakam was not consulted before the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) was passed in Parliament last week.
“I have taken note that the Home Minister said that Suhakam’s views were taken into account; but we were not consulted, we were not privy to the whole process,” he said.
This was also the case with other laws which are going to be tabled or amended.
“From time to time, the government has said that they have consulted Suhakam, but it is not quite true; on occasions, they just brief us on amendments to the act,” he said.
Hasmy said they should have been consulted before these acts were tabled in Parliament.
“We will now try to propose to the government to re-look the act and amend it in accordance with human rights principles,” he added.
In its annual report, Suhakam stated that it regrets the government’s decision to not only retain the Sedition Act 1948 but strengthen it with additional provisions.
Suhakam vice-chairman Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee said that the decision does not bode well with the country assuming two high-profile international positions this year, namely, getting a seat on the United Nations Security Council and the chairmanship of Asean.
She said that the commission strongly urges the government to ensure the amendments to existing or new laws must be based on full engagement and consultations with stakeholders and the public in compliance with due process.

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