A National Human Rights Mechanism
The Malaysians are in the right direction. Their national human rights mechanism, Suhakam, shows that human rights bodies can be impartial and responsible. A human rights body should not be seen as the government’s bane. If the government of the day sees such bodies this way, then maybe the government needs to be changed. Whatever we hear about corruption, nepotism, lawlessness and bumiputraism in Malaysia, our neighbour has a head start over Singapore on respecting the importance of having a human rights watchdog. With the regional group coming up with a flimsy token ASEAN Human Rights Body soon, will Singapore’s turn to have our own Temasek Human Rights Watch come soon?
KOTA BARU: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has defended the behaviour of police during Saturday’s protest march in Kuala Lumpur.
It said no illegal arrests were made and police reacted only when they were challenged physically during the protest.
Human Rights Commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said the police only moved to quell the protests when the crowd got rowdy.
“Suhakam monitored the entire protest from morning till evening. I think it was on most accounts a peaceful demonstration and police reacted accordingly,” he said after a human rights dialogue with the people here.
The demonstration, organised by the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih) – which called for more transparency in the next general election, caused major traffic jams throughout the Klang Valley.
Subramaniam added that Suhakam would propose to the Government to have a system to allow for peaceful demonstrations in the country as it was part of freedom of expression.
He said that the proposal would be forwarded to the Government in light of unhappiness expressed by certain quarters over their rights to hold demonstrations in the country.
The system calls for peaceful demonstrations to be held in open areas, far from urbanised zones and the organisers have to ensure that the law is not breached.
It also calls for ample notice to be given to the security authorities to ensure there would be no untoward incidents, Subramaniam said.
Suhakam vice-chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun said he received complaints that when Barisan Nasional holds a demonstration, no action is taken.
“I think a system to conduct a peaceful sense of demonstration can be looked at. One which does not disrupt the daily lives of residents and far away from urban settings,” he said.
Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, who also attended the dialogue, said human rights was a basic democratic right, so the Government should go ahead and allow peaceful demonstrations and that action should be taken only when the protesters throw stones or injure people.