Malaysia: Govt’s Human Rights Report to UN ‘Less Than Truthful’

The Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the UPR Process (Comango) has slammed the government for being “less than truthful” in its report to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is the Human Rights Council’s mechanism to promote and protect human rights through peer review process every 4.5 years. Malaysia is scheduled to present its report for the second time on Oct 24 in Geneva.

The 20-page report talks about the current human rights conditions and efforts put into improving them. Among the Issues touched upon are rights of women, children and indigenous people, healthcare, right to education and healthcare, as well as political and civil rights.

Comango spokesperson Honey Tan claimed that the report was deceiving as it states that the government has implemented “all” of the recommendations from the first UPR in 2009.

“The suggestions were phrases like ‘beginning to study’ or ‘to investigate’. There are no substantial steps taken to really address human rights violation,” she said at a briefing here today..

Tan, who is with Pusat Kesedaran Kominiti Selangor (Empower), also criticized the report for not providing sufficient details on how resources were allocated for action taken to tackle the problems.

Comango had complied a report to the government in March but the authorities only sought consultation from the NGOs two days before the May 5 general election.

“We boycotted the consultation because it was so short notice, and clearly we do not have enough time to discuss what should be written in the report. And here, the government claims that it has consulted us,” said Tan.

The coalition is made up of 54 NGOs including Suaram, KL-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, All Women’s Action Society (Awam), Tenaganita and the Centre for Independant Journalism.

Bar Council vice-president Andrew Khoo, who were also at the briefing today, said the government’s report was merely a lip service.

“The government is taking the credit for the work done by the NGOs. The report is superficial and weak, it underscores the attitude of our government towards human rights issues.”

He noted that the government has proudly announced the abolition of the “draconian” Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA), but there was no mention of how the Prevention of Crime Act will inherit ISA’s detention without trial nature.

Another example highlighted by Tenaganita’s Katrina Jorene Maliamauv was the 6P Programme to legalise foreign workers and immigrants.

In the report, the government hailed the programme as “beneficial”, but in reality, the programme has created even more room for employers to exploit foreign workers.