PETALING JAYA: A prominent rights activist said he sensed frustration in the resignation of Razali Ismail as chairman of the government’s Humans Rights Commission (Suhakam), just about two weeks short of the end of his tenure.
Kua Kia Soong, who is the adviser to Suaram, also praised the former United Nations envoy for taking on the government in several controversies, including the recent inquiry into missing persons where the commission accused the police of being involved in their abductions.
“To have the courage to hold Bukit Aman’s Special Branch responsible for the disappearances was very important,” Kua told FMT.
It was reported today that Razali had already tendered his resignation letter to the Agong.
“I have done three years (at Suhakam). I think I did a pretty credible job and I (now) want to do more than advocacy. Doing things like human rights, it’s an advocacy job and it is enough after a while. It continues to be what it is, advocacy. It doesn’t make a big difference on the ground,” he was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying.
Earlier this month, Suhakam ruled that Pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat were victims of enforced disappearances.
Kua said Razali must have been frustrated by the government’s cool reaction to its findings on the missing persons.
He said Putrajaya’s “U-turns” on the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the Rome Statute may have also frustrated Razali.
“This is an important lesson for the government, it must take Suhakam more seriously and act on its recommendations. Otherwise, you may have people resigning or others not wanting to be a part of it,” he said.
Rama Ramanathan, who is part of a pressure group on enforced disappearance, expressed shock over Razali’s resignation.
“Razali acted out of compassion, daring to say and do things which politicians dared not when he agreed that Suhakam would investigate the disappearances,” said Rama, who is part of the Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED).
He said the former diplomat leaves behind “a great legacy” in promoting human rights.
“The end result is a set of reports which are so thorough that any human rights court in the world will recognise them as solid examples of commitment to human rights and a willingness to admit even inconvenient truths about the state.”
Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph also expressed surprise over news of Razali’s resignation.
“He must have some good reasons for doing so, we will issue a statement soon.”