It would appear that the Najib administration can’t help stumbling from one disaster to another, leaving the Barisan Nasional government in a perpetual state of crisis.
While the heat from the New Year’s Eve price hike protests and the recent confiscation of Al-Kitabs by the religious authorities has barely subsided, the Ministry of Home Affairs decided to add further sizzle by declaring COMANGO, a loose coalition of 54 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as an illegal society.
The declaration that COMANGO is an illegal society reeks badly of deja-vu where the previous Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein declared BERSIH2.0, a 62-member Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections as an illegal organisation in June 2011.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself had defended the ban in July 2011 by declaring that BERSIH2.0 is an illegal entity as it is not registered with the Registrar of Societies. He said that “it has never been registered, so it remains as an illegal organisation,”
Ambitious Zahid wants to outdo Hisham: But at whose expense
It appears that the new Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi is attempting to outdo his predecessor with the same stunt, despite the fact that
BERSIH has successfully reversed the Home Minister’s order. The Kuala Lumpur High Court has quashed the Home Minister’s order on 6 September 2012 on the grounds that Datuk Seri Hishamuddin’s decision was “tainted with irrationality.”
Hence clearly, the BN Ministers are once bitten, twice the fool for Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi intends to taint himself with matching irrationality.
Firstly, like BERSIH2.0, COMANGO is a coalition of 54 NGOs which never regarded itself as a society but merely a common platform for the NGOs to collaborate, share and present their views.
COMANGO had presented its report the the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) organised by the UN Human Rights Council for 2013. The UN Human Rights Council process reviews each of the 193 UN member states’ human rights records once every four and a half years. Other organisations which submitted their reports included the Bar Council, SUHAKAM, Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia and the Child Rights Coalition.
According to Honey Tan, who spoke on behalf of COMANGO, “the government made many commitments at the previous UPR session in 2009 and only 23% are fully implemented… For instance, though the government recently ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) and removed a few reservations it had on the UN conventions on women (CEDAW) and on children (CRC), it has yet to ratify the six other core UN human rights conventions.”
The report also highlighted human rights issues that were not included in Malaysia’s report in 2008 e.g., the rights of non-citizens, sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) rights, and racism.
But the biggest fool made is Najib himself
It now seems that the Home Minister has succumbed to pressure from extreme right wing elements within UMNO as well as entities such as Perkasa and Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia, who accused COMANGO of promoting unnatural sex and threatening the position of Islam in its human rights report.
It is an accusation which COMANGO strongly denies, for the proposals to the Human Rights Council were within the framework of the Universal Declarations of Human Rights.
While the repeated move proved the consistent “irrationality” of the Home Ministers, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein and Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi, they made the Prime Minister himself the biggest fool.
He has obviously failed to learn from the recent High Court meted embarrassment. Worse, instead of establishing a reputation of being a moderate and a democrat, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak has proven himself the both intolerant of criticism and dissenting views, as well as sleeping with the religious bigots and extremists.
Tony Pua is the MP for PJ Utara