After Bersih, doubts over Malaysia’s UNHRC spot

By Debra Chong
The Malaysian Insider
Jul 27, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 — LawAsia, a global organisation of lawyers, judges and legal experts has reminded Putrajaya it could lose its seat in the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for its strong-arm tactics over the Bersih 2.0 affair.

The 45-year-old society based in Brisbane, with membership from over 50 countries in Asia and the Pacific region, issued a strong-worded statement earlier this week rebuking the Malaysian government for breaching the fundamental rights to freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when it attempted to prevent the Bersih 2.0 rally for electoral reform on July 9.

It said the Najib administration’s actions of July 9 also appear to seriously breach another global agreement, the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which it said Malaysia adopted in 1990.

“The queries over Malaysia’s fitness to hold a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, in view of its apparent disdain for the fundamental human rights of its citizenry aptly highlight international concern that aspirations to hold political power now far outstrip an adherence to the democratic principles on which the country was founded,” it said.

A Bersih marcher near past a spent tear-gas grenade. — Picture by Choo Choy May
“Above all, LawAsia encourages the Malaysian government to be mindful not only of the rights of its citizens but also of the message that its actions in respect of the Bersih movement have sent to the wider world,” it added.

It noted with alarm the arrests of more than 1,600 people on the rally day itself and the “haphazard crowd control methods employed by police saw a hospital compound in Kuala Lumpur affected by both tear gas and water cannon, an action for which there can be no justification”.

It also condemned the federal government for using the Emergency Ordinance (EO) in some arrests, noting those laws allow for “long detention without access to due court processes”, shutting down public space in the capital city and roads leading to it and an “eventual display of police brutality against rallying citizens and others that was both uncivilised and wholly unmerited”.

“Actions of this sort in any country will always deserve the strongest criticism from the legal community on both legal and humanitarian grounds,” it said.

The prominent legal society said it regretted that Malaysia appeared to have “cast aside” universally-held principles on human rights, the democratic process and the rule of law, and questioned if Malaysia could still play a leading role in the region in the future.

It urged the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) to set up an independent investigation into the entire affair.

Suhakam has already formed a three-man public inquiry panel consists of the commission’s vice-chairman Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee who will be aided by Professor Datuk Dr Mahmood Zuhdi Abdul Majid and Detta Samen.

The Malaysian Insider understands it is now in the process of recording statements from witnesses over the July 9 public rally which the authorities insist was illegal.

  1. #1 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 - 6:24 pm

    The evidence is on tape.

    Just drop Malaysia from the UNHRC now.

    The evil twins NR and HH must be taught in no uncertain terms that roguish and oppressive force is a no-no amongst civil society.

  2. #2 by k1980 on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 - 6:32 pm

    Better still, suspend racist Canland from the UN.

    ( The UN General Assembly decided to suspend apartheid South Africa from participation in the work of the Assembly’s 29th session on 12 November 1974 )

  3. #3 by DAP man on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 - 8:25 pm

    Sack this pariah state.

  4. #4 by sad country on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 - 9:31 pm

    Where can there be human rights when we still have EO and ISA???!!!

  5. #5 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 - 10:31 pm

    UNHRC must do d RIGHT thing lor, otherwise it becomes a larfing stock 1, no principle 1

  6. #6 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 - 10:33 pm

    NR and HH – twin trouble;

    A.k.a terrible twins;

    Or: teruk tempura.

    Aiya: t (squared) whatever; not worth spilling pearls trying to coin phrases and terms for 2 worthless characters not worth tuppence.

  7. #7 by bruno on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 - 11:39 pm

    Why or how should Authoritarian Malaysia lose its seat in the UNHRG when it should never have been there in the first place.

  8. #8 by bruno on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 - 11:45 pm

    Why or how could police state Malaysia lose its seat in the UNHRG when it should never have been there in the first place.An oversight ,maybe.

  9. #9 by dcasey on Thursday, 28 July 2011 - 12:23 am

    Soon Najib, his twin cousin HH and Moo will pin another foreign bogeyman, the Law Asia, as working in cahoots with Bersih to topple the GOM. Our Immigrasi guys will start deporting all those foreign Law Asia members who are flying into KL for any conference.

  10. #10 by Taikohtai on Thursday, 28 July 2011 - 10:45 am

    If I were LawAsia, I would send an official letter to Najib asking him why Malaysia should not be suspended from UN straight away. Najib needs to refute all the photgraphic evidence and a stern warning issued if he is unable to do so. Time for UN to be proactive and not dilly dally with rights of citizens of its members. Otherwise, its members might as well join China and Russia to create a viable two party world system :).

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