Much to do for human rights in Malaysia, says Suhakam on its 15th anniversary

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) turned 15-years-old Tuesday, but it still has much to do in relation to human rights in the country, said its chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam.

Published: Tuesday September 9, 2014 MYT 6:11:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday September 9, 2014 MYT 6:14:30 PM

by Victoria Brown

KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) turned 15-years-old Tuesday, but it still has much to do in relation to human rights in the country, said its chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam.

He said that Suhakam was still considered a “child” in that regard, and hoped that Malaysia would grow faster in the realm of human rights.

“We will become a developed country in six years and we will be judged as such. Therefore we should accede to the remaining six core international human right conventions,” said Hasmy.

Hasmy said Malaysia had a poor record in acceding to the core conventions and has only acceded to three of the nine specified as core human rights by the United Nations.

“We should accede to all of these conventions well before 2020,” said Hasmy.

“The Government accepted quite a few Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations, I hope that they will fulfill the recommendations, accede to the core conventions, and remove outdated laws,” he said.

Suhakam hoped that more awareness and support would be raised in conjunction of Suhakam Day, a day commemorating the gazetting of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act by the Parliament on Sept 9, 1999.

In celebration of Suhakam Day, it hosted an awards ceremony to recognise individuals, media, organisations, businesses and agencies that had an outstanding track record in the advancement of human rights in Malaysia.

The Star journalist Elan Perumal was one of the eight winners who received an award from Suhakam.

Other winners included the late Irene Fernandez, the former Tenaganita executive chairman, who was honoured for her outstanding and tireless effort in defending the rights of marginalised groups, including domestic and migrant workers, women and refugees.

The Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) received an award in the Organisation category for its significant work in the promotion of women’s equality and elimination of violence against women and children, as well as in empowering young women in rural areas in Sarawak.

Elan and Wan Noor Hayati from Berita Harian were honoured with print media awards for their investigative reporting in uncovering truths on human rights issues that affected the rights of the grassroots communities.

Radio station BFM89.9 received an award in the broadcast media category for demonstrating fair and balanced reporting on community, social justice as well as human rights issues of public concern.

DiB (deaf-in-business) Coffees of Hawaii won in the new business category in recognition of its commendable effort in providing equal employment and capacity building opportunities for deaf people toward promoting a rights-based business approach.

Markas Angkatan Bersama from the Malaysian Armed Forces was honoured with an award in the Government agency category for its voluntary initiative in providing informal education for the underprivileged children in Pulau Berhala, Sandakan since 2009.

A special award was also conferred on Hafrulidzwan Mohd Isa for his continuous efforts in promoting human rights best practices and the Convention on the Rights of the Child among school communities.

All winners received RM2,000, a certificate and plaque.

“The selected recipients are really deserving and are worthy people that need recognition. We hope that we will get more nominations next year,” said Hasmy.

Hasmy shared his hopes that Suhakam’s Human Rights Awards will promote greater understanding and support among civil societies, and promote active involvement among various communities in the protection of human rights in the country.