DENIAL OF FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION A STEP BACKWARD TO DEMOCRACY

PRESS STATEMENT: 17 AUGUST 2011
DENIAL OF FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION A STEP BACKWARD TO DEMOCRACY
                                                                                                         
SUARAM is of the views that the decision of the High Court to reject Human Rights Party (HRP) right to be registered as a Political party is a step backward to democracy and freedom of association in Malaysia. The decision demonstrates another failure to recognise the fundamental human rights principle enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Justice Datuk Rohana Yusuf on 16 August 2011 in her judgment said that the court was set to hear the  application but it had to dismiss it because it was rendered academic following the ROS ruling.  Furthermore she also ruled that the applicant has to pay RM 2,500 in costs to the three respondents following the ruling in chambers. Suaram express concern over the rejection of the application as the court failed to rectify the redress seeks by the applicants following a decision made by the ROS. Suaram is alarmed to view that the judiciary is becoming the mouth piece of the political masters and of its vindictive nature of punishing the applicants with the cost ruling on a public interest matter.
In an August 4 letter the ROS stipulated its grounds for rejection: HRP was not properly organised and did not have a constitution compliant to ROS requirements.  The party was formed on 2009 and sent their application to the ROS on November 25, 2010 to register HRP as political party.  Suaram is of the view that the reason given is purely technical and it should be the responsibility of the Registrar to assist and cure the technical requirement. Suaram views that the duties of a civil service is to assist the public on their rights and application and not to merely implement the political decision of the ruling party.
SUARAM is deeply disappointed with the judgment as the court should allow the hearing to be proceed and the applicants be heard in an open court. The move by the Judge has set a bad precedent to the judiciary system in Malaysia.
The court verdict also demonstrated that, although the right of association is guaranteed in the Malaysian constitution, the stated rights remain subjected to political decision and scrutiny of the ruling party hence the enjoyment of this fundamental rights that is core to a democratic nation remain unachieved.
We view the High Court decision a step backward to democracy and freedom of association in Malaysia. The court held on to a feeble reason to deny a political party the right to represent the people in a democratic system.
The citizens of Malaysia have a right for an open electoral competition to allow for political participation in decision-making processes.
We call on the government to immediately allow for the registration of the HRP as political party in Malaysia and respect and uphold the spirit of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia and Article 2 & 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Released By,
Nalini.E
Program Manager
SUARAM