SUARAM launched its Human Rights Report 2015 Overview in conjunction with the International Human Rights Day which falls on the 10th December 2015.
It noted that 2015 marks the beginning of a new dark age for Human Rights in Malaysia. Throughout the year, SUARAM observed the increasing political crackdown against dissenters and civil activists such as, Zunar, Khalid Ismath, Eric Paulsen, Maria Chin, Arutchelvan, Jannie Lasimbang, YB Sivarasa and many more. These human rights violations that took place in 2015 were not limited to politicians and civil activists but extended to various vulnerable groups in Malaysia.
In the myriad of human rights violations that were documented in 2015, SUARAM highlighted six worrying trends:
1. The rapidly shrinking space for dissent in 2015 rivals that during the dark days of the Internal Security Act 1960. With the exposure of the 1MDB Financial Scandal and the fallout that resulted from the revelations, the Government of Malaysia under Prime Minister Najib Razak opted for the widespread use of the Sedition Act 1948 and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 against politician and civil activists. The Government of Malaysia also actively took steps to criminalize and harass organizers and participants of public protests and rallies that took place in 2015. The draconian manner in which the Government cracked down on political dissent is eroding what is left of our democratic institutions and setting Malaysia on a clear path to tyranny.
2. With the security threat posed by the Islamic State and other terror cells, Malaysia has introduced more legislation that undermines civil liberties in Malaysia. From the introduction of Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 to the passing of the National Security Council Bill, the executive of Malaysia now holds unprecedented powers purportedly to ‘maintain peace and security’ in Malaysia. With the abuse of power (affirmed by the use of SOSMA against Khairuddin Abu Hassan and Matthias Chang), many have voiced their concerns against these legislations. On this note, SUARAM have documented 46 cases of detention under SOSMA in 2015 and notes that hundreds more have been detained under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959.
3. The situation faced by refugees and victims of human trafficking continue to deteriorate without any government intervention. With the mass graves discovered in May and August and the rejection of refugee boats by the Government of Malaysia, it was surprising that the United States decided to upgrade Malaysia’s standing in their human trafficking report.
4. Gender discrimination remained at an all-time high with little to no concrete steps taken to rectify the situation. From ill-thought out jokes to crude and debasing slurs uttered in Parliament by representatives from the Government, it has reinforced the perception that the Government of Malaysia is not sincere in fulfilling their obligations under Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
5. Indigenous peoples of Malaysia continue to suffer from various human rights violations. With the introduction of various ‘mega’ projects and deforestation for commercial purposes by various corporations, land grab is a common occurrence in the indigenous tribes’ customary lands. General apathy of relevant government agencies remains prevalent and was reflected in the various plights including but not limited to the case of 7 missing children in Kelantan; the poor condition of the transit centre in Gua Musang and the health problem suffered by the Jahai Tribe in Perak.
6. After the months of secrecy, the terms of TPPA were finally made public. With the wide reach and the monumental impact posed by TPPA, it is unconscionable for the Government of Malaysia to sign the TPPA without conducting a Human Rights Impact Assessment to evaluate the potential consequences posed by the TPPA. Further, with the increasing influence of corporations in Malaysia, active steps must be taken to ensure that these corporations comply with international human rights standards.
SUARAM urges the Government of Malaysia to take proactive step in safeguarding the human rights for all and take effective step to cease and desist with the human rights violations taking place in Malaysia and provide due remedy for those that have suffered as a result of the human rights violations. Laws that are incompatible with recognized international human rights listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Bill of Rights must be repealed immediately.
We call on the government to be accountable to the people and to place human rights and democracy on top of any government and political agenda. Anything less would undoubtedly jeopardize the future generation of Malaysians and lay waste the sacrifices made by our forefathers.