KUALA LUMPUR, April 15, 2015:
Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) Chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam likened the Commission’s position in the country to a watchdog tied to a post.
At a press conference at Suhakam’s headquarters here today, Hasmy said without the government’s mandate, the commission was nothing more than a “toothless tiger”.
“However, a tiger is a tiger and before it even opens its mouth, you are already scared just looking at it.
“When I took over Suhakam, it was like a watchdog tied to a post but a watchdog is better than nothing. A watchdog barks and if you look at our record, we bark a lot.”
He added that although a watchdog could not chase the authorities, it could highlight and bring attention to matters that the government was accountable for.
He also warned that the world was watching and in accordance with Malaysia’s position in the United Nations Security Council, it was responsible to follow the standards set by the council.
“Suhakam has been in existence for 15 years but none of the issues and recommendations given by us were ever debated in Parliament.
“Maybe because the issues can be over politicised or maybe our parliamentarians are not disciplined enough to discuss them.
“But human rights matters cannot be divorced from politics. I think we are in a good position to show the world that the country is taking the necessary steps in line with our position in the UN Human Rights Council, UN Security Council and as 2015 Asean chairman.”
Hasmy told reporters that despite the government claiming that it had consulted Suhakam prior to introducing or amending Acts, the truth was that the Commission had only been briefed on the changes.
In an effort to ensure that at least some of its recommendations are heeded, Suhakam has resorted to simply settle for issues to be discussed privately and by a small group of Parliamentarians.
“We hope to create a situation where our Parliament members will be confident enough to discuss the issues and one day debate them in Parliament.”