PETALING JAYA: Hasnal Rezua Merican Habib Merican has insisted that there is no need for him to step down from his post as a Suhakam commissioner after being named Barisan Nasional’s candidate for the Kuang state seat in Selangor.
Speaking to FMT, the Selayang Umno chief questioned those making such calls and their claims that it could lead to political interference.
He also asked his critics to examine his track record since assuming his post at Suhakam last July for the 2022-2025 session.
Hasnal said the matter has been blown out of proportion since his appointment and called on his critics to refer to Section 5(3) of the Suhakam Act 1999, which states that commission members must come from diverse religious, political, and human rights experience backgrounds.
“Where have human rights issues been compromised because of my political position (as Selayang Umno chief)? There should be evidence by now since I have a one-year record (at Suhakam),” he said.
“I am not a full-time politician. Instead, I have been a lawyer and advocate for the past 30 years (but) I have extensive experience in human rights issues.
“Why do (people) assume I was chosen because of my political affiliation? Why do (they) think I am not qualified to be there (at Suhakam) as a lawyer who has practised criminal and labour law for 30 years?
“Do not exclude qualified individuals just because you believe that Suhakam should function in the way you think it should.”
Hasnal was among the Suhakam commissioners appointed in July last year alongside Noor Aziah Awal, former Malaysian Bar president Ragunath Kesavan, Nordin Ibrahim, Dr Chew Chee Ming, Mary @ Mariati Robert and Nazira Abdul Rahim.
Commenting on Hasnal’s appointment previously, Ragunath had said his political background did not prevent him from joining Suhakam.
Recently, various parties, including former Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph, urged Hasnal to resign following his announcement as BN’s Kuang candidate, stating it was important the office remains free from politics.
A coalition of civil society organisations known as CSO Platform for Reform also called on Hasnal to step down from his Suhakam post as it said “the potential for conflicts of interest raises further concern”.
It said there was a possibility Suhakam’s functions may be compromised, especially when its primary duty was to safeguard the principles of accountability and respect for human rights.
In response, Hasnal said he would relinquish his post only if he wins in the coming election as he would not be able to focus on his legal practice and commission duties.
If that were to happen, he said, he would follow the proper procedure by submitting a resignation letter to the government and seeking the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.