PETALING JAYA: Malaysia risks losing its seat on the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council if Putrajaya fails to promptly appoint Suhakam’s new commissioners, warns a retired Court of Appeal judge.
Mah Weng Kwai voiced concerns over the government’s delay in appointing the new Suhakam commissioners, after their three-year term ended on April 27.
“Don’t forget that we are on the Human Rights Council and we’ve worked so hard to earn a seat there. If this thing continues, we might lose our seat next time, they might downgrade us,” said Mah, a former Suhakam commissioner, at a press conference.
Malaysia had been elected to the council for the 2022-2024 term after it won one of the 18 seats with 183 votes.
Mah questioned why it was taking the government so long to make the appointments, saying Suhakam could not function without its commissioners.
“Three years ago there was also a delay of two months. Whether it’s a coincidence or deliberate, I really don’t know. The question is why?” he said, adding that “two wrongs don’t make a right”.
The former judge had served two terms as Suhakam commissioner, the maximum allowed under the Suhakam Act.
In May, eight NGOs issued a statement urging Putrajaya to appoint new commissioners to Suhakam immediately. They asked for the right people to be appointed to ensure that the commission remained vocal and not “pro-government”, in order to uphold human rights in Malaysia.
The statement was signed by Aliran, Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture, Greenpeace Malaysia, International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific, Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia, the Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy, and Workers Hub For Change.