PETALING JAYA: A DAP MP today questioned Prime Minister Najib Razak’s silence on International Human Rights Day, accusing his administration of locking up those who defend human rights instead.
Contrasting Najib’s silence on the matter with his strong words during the recent Umno general assembly, Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto asked why Najib had not been as vocal on strengthening fundamental liberties in the country.
“Instead, his administration is progressively locking up defenders of human rights.
“Prime Minister Najib Razak’s absent International Human Rights Day message on Dec 10 is a clear indication that threats against fundamental civil liberties and human rights in Malaysia will continue to escalate by the 14th general election (GE14),” she said in a statement.
In October, Malaysia lost its bid to be one of the 15 member nations in the United Nations Human Rights Council.
It was last elected to the council in the 2010-2013 term and had previously been elected for the 2006-2009 term.
Despite the loss, Kasthuri said the government remained thick-skinned and arrogant, and had made no significant changes in protecting and promoting human rights in Malaysia.
She said human rights defenders in Malaysia, whether students, activists, cartoonists, lecturers, journalists, pastors or teachers, had been subjected to intimidation, selective persecution, threats and scare tactics for criticising wrongdoings and abuse of power.
“After 60 years of independence and 13 general elections battled, the Malaysian Parliament still does not have a human rights committee which sees participation of MPs from both sides of the fence alongside human rights defenders, former judges, lawyers and even law lecturers vetting through bills before they are tabled in Parliament so the element of human rights is not abused and violated.
“As far as religious freedom is concerned, Malaysia has been on Tier 2 from 2014 till now, along with countries like Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, and Turkey that have gone through bloodshed and political turmoil due to dictatorial laws that oppress the right to freedom of religion and even freedom from religion.”
Malaysia was still “dragging its feet” in signing and ratifying international human rights treaties and conventions, she added.
She praised the human rights caucus led by Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz and Ipoh Barat MP Kulasegaran, calling it “a baby step in the right direction”.
However, she also urged Putrajaya to ratify the human rights treaties before GE14 to prove that Malaysia was serious about upholding human rights for all.