From Shadow to Light
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) would like to wish all Malaysians a happy Deepavali and hope that this festival of lights would bring light and joy to everyone.
On this day, SUARAM would like to shed light on information that was shrouded in ambiguity and not made publicly known.
After 15 years of struggle, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) have obtained some degrees of recognition by Malaysians. While their success was not without flaws, the impact they have in the human rights discourse in Malaysia cannot be dismissed easily. Despite their success (or perhaps because of their success), the Government of Malaysia have decided to curtail and reduce the budget for SUHAKAM for 2016. The budget allocation for SUHAKAM for 2016 is a mere RM5,509,400 (in comparison, RM10,986,200 for 2015). It would be difficult for SUHAKAM to conduct its daily operation and public campaigns with almost a 50% cut in budget.
With Malaysia’s deteriorating human rights situation observed throughout 2015, this cut in budget clearly shows the Government of Malaysia’s lack of political will to empower SUHAKAM. The Government of Malaysia cannot in good conscience claim that they hold human rights and civil liberties in high regards when it is not reflected in the budget allocation for SUHAKAM.
On this note, SUARAM calls for the Government of Malaysia to review the budget allocation for SUHAKAM and provide more intervention power for SUHAKAM to conduct its daily operations and public campaigns in a manner that reflect its status as a National Human Rights Institution. Failure to do so would ensure that the Government of Malaysia’s fail in complying with the Paris Principles and eventually result in the downgrade of SUHAKAM from its current ‘A’ status. This downgrade would only add to the ever growing list of human rights violations by the Malaysian Government and further shame Malaysia in its commitment to uphold and human rights and democracy.