Home Civil Society Voices Complaint of racial discrimination and abuse of power in Suhakam

Complaint of racial discrimination and abuse of power in Suhakam

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G25 is deeply dismayed at the unfortunate state of affairs in Suhakam, our nation’s national human rights institution, wherein there is a complaint of racial discrimination and abuse of power by a senior officer of Suhakam (the deputy secretary of Suhakam) against the chairperson of Suhakam itself.

In this regard, we refer to –

  • the Suhakam press statement of 16 June
  • a Malaysia Now report of 16 June titled “Factionalism splits Suhakam as campaign to oust chairman gains pace”
  • a Free Malaysia Today report of 16 June titled “Suhakam chairman to withdraw defamation suit against staff member” and
  • a Malaysiakini report of 20 June titled “Suaram urges Suhakam chair take garden leave amid probe”

Such internal crisis, and, ironically, the very nature of the complaint (racial discrimination and abuse of power), with the publicity that it attracts, without doubt will affect negatively the reputation of our country’s human rights commission.

In our respectful view, for the chairperson to have filed a defamation suit against his own officer, just because that officer lodged a formal complaint against him, was rash and highhanded. We are, however, relieved to know from Suhakam’s press statement that the suit was subsequently been withdrawn.

G25, therefore, respectfully urges the government to step in and take speedy action to have the complaint promptly investigated and resolved in a manner that is fair and just; so that Suhakam can carry out its function of promoting and protecting human rights honourably and in a conducive environment, and in the manner that it is designed to be, without unnecessary interruptions.

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We note that Suhakam has assured the public that (to quote Suhakam’s own words in its press statement) “the internal investigation will be carried out by an independent body, ensuring a meticulous, impartial, and fair process in accordance with best practices”.

With respect, we are not clear here as to what is meant by “internal investigation”. We are of the view that an internal investigation is not the appropriate step to be taken, if what is meant by internal is that the investigation would be carried out by Suhakam itself. An investigation by Suhakam itself against its very own chairperson could never ever be perceived by the public to be independent.

Therefore, G25 earnestly hopes that a truly independent committee (a committee independent of Suhakam) would be appointed by the government as soon as possible. The committee should preferably be headed by a retired judge, and that the investigation would be meticulous, impartial and fair.

G25 supports the proposal by Suaram that, pending the conclusion of the investigation, the chairperson should gracefully take garden leave. G25 would like to add that, during his absence, the functions of the chairperson be taken over by the vice-chairperson pursuant to Section 6(4) of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999. – G25

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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