Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia – SUHAKAM or S.H.A.M.?

I refer to the report titled “Dire Human Rights Situation In Malaysia” appearing in Malaysia Today this morning.

During the annual human rights talk organised by HAKAM (a Human Rights NGO whose President is Malik Imtiaz) about two months ago, leading lawyer, Raja Aziz Adrusse, in his speech, said that the actual acronym for Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia should be S.H.A.M. and not SUHAKAM, as it is presently known.

When comments from the floor were invited, I quickly went to the microphone and blasted SHAM for being and “armless, limbless, powerless, lame and impotent” organisation. And this was in the presence of one of the commissioners from that organisation!

To say that I am disappointed with this statutory body would be an understatement.

What do you think of a human rights commission which is headed by a person who, during his tenure as the Attorney General, oversaw Operasi Lalang; amendments of the Federal Constitution to take away judicial powers from the Courts; amendments to the ISA to render our Courts into one of the most useless Courts in the world when it is only permitted to scrutinise full stops and comas in a habeas corpus application; amendments to the Federal Constitution yet again to give the Attorney General to pick and choose the Court in which he wants to charge a person and also to pick and choose the procedure which he wants to use in such Courts?

Where was this SHAM when the 5 lawyers were arrested by the police just because they had wanted to see their clients? Where were this SHAM in cases involving Lina Joy and all others? What have they done about the Kugan case? What about the state of our detention centers and the death cases occurring there? What about the allegations of torture and sexual abuse there? Did you all take an interest in the Irene Fernandez case? What about the Penan girls who were raped and whose human rights trampled every single day?

Where were you during the anti-ISA rally? Oh, of course, you did not attend because it was an illegal assembly. But excuse me, is it not your function to fight for the right of peaceful assembly – a right which is guaranteed by our Federal Constitution – in this country? Have you even fought for the right to wear black t-shirts? What did you do when Edmund Bon and some lawyers were arrested some time ago for orgainising and participating in a Human Rights walk?

Why was there no representative sent by this SHAM to the Courts to obtain observer status or to watch brief in cases involving blatant human rights abuses such as the Raja Petra Kamaruddin case and many many others? As a lawyer, I had even been issued with a mandate to appear as an observer in Court for the International Commission of Jurists in a case involving a conversion from Islam case. The ICJ did it. But did SHAM do it? No.

Are they too busy? Or they don’t see the need?

I admit that it does not have executive powers. But hell, can’t you all be vocal just a teeny wee bit more. You can shout and scream and make a hell lot of noise. So that you would get the attention that you want.

There is no use for this body to have so much powers if it does not intend to use them. There is also no use for its members to cry and whine about the lack of executive powers blah blah blah. Just USE THE POWERS WHICH YOU ALREADY HAVE TO THE HILT and see what would happen.

If you think that you could only sit down in your air-conditioned room and “investigate” and “inquire” and make some reports here and there, than just bleeding forget about it please.

I think SUARAM and HAKAM, the two NGOs, have done more and have made their presence felt even more than this statutory body despite their limited resources.

Human Rights Day celebration in Malaysia. What a freaking joke!


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Posted on 10 September 2009. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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2 Responses to Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia – SUHAKAM or S.H.A.M.?

  1. Excellent!

    All Malaysians, including the SHAM commissioners, should start thinking about moving out of their comfort zone, including whatever perks the federal government accords the commissioners for being silent. Stand up, make some the noise, be counted, and that's certainly something not comfortable to do, but something meaningful and leaves behind long-lasting legacy in whatever useful life you have left.

  2. Aston

    Excellent piece Art!