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‘Will parliament ever hear us?’

 | June 18, 2012

Suhakam has compiled countless reports but none have been heard or debated in parliament.

KOTA KINABALU: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) is tired and frustrated. More than a decade has passed and “none” of their reports and recommendations have ever seen light in parliament.

The commissioners have just finished a rigourous 10-day National Inquiry on Land Rights of Indigenous People in Malaysia and will now have to collate their thoughts and sitdown to discuss the issues raised and heard.

They’ve gone through this motion countless times on multiple issues. But in the end, their words and thoughts stay bound within the covers of their annual report.

Apparently no ‘politically powerful’ folk ever read their recommendations.

Said an exasperated Suhakam chairman Hasmy Agam: “For the past 11 or 12 years in terms of Suhakam annual reports is that none have been discussed or debated in parliament.

“Every Suhakam chairman, including myself, have been pressing the government to bring it to parliament,” he said.

He said leaders have made promises in the past but to no avail.

“There were undertakings in the last two years from Nazri Aziz (Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of parliamentary affairs).

“He assured me he would discuss with our parliament speaker to find a slot in parliament but nothing so far….,” he said.

‘We want a slot’

But Hasmy is determined. He is fervently hoping that their National Inquiry on Land Rights of Indigenous People Report will find a slot in parliament or at the least be presented to a committee of political parties from both sides of the divide.

“We want a slot in parliament… I am hoping to convene a meeting with the Speaker (Pandikar Amin Mulia) to enable the report to be tabled and debated in parliament.

“But if we can’t find a slot, then perhaps we could have it discussed in a committee where all members of the political parties are there to discuss,” he said.

Hasmy said the current report could be ready by August.

“We’ll try to speed up the process and if everybody more or less agrees to the general sense in the report with recommendations, then maybe we can do it by July or August,” he said adding that compilation will contain long, medium and short-term solutions on the issue.

During the 10-day inquiry, Suhakam commissioners heard testimonies from local victims of forced land grabs by private companies, inaction from local authorities, loss of ancestral lands due to re-zoning of forest reserves, water catchment and agricultural purposes.

The hearing was aimed at identifying problems faced by Sabah’s indigenous people and formulating strategies to protect their rights.


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