An organisation consisting of former commissioners of Malaysia Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), threw its support behind Suaram, calling on the BN government to stop intimidating the human rights NGO.
The Association for the Promotion of Human
Rights (Proham) urged the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism
Ministry not to make unsubstantiated statements but to undertake a fair
and transparent investigation on the financial accounting and other
legal requirements of Suaram.
agency must undertake a full, thorough and fair investigation and make
the report public, for the people to judge its integrity," said Proham
in a statement issued today.
The statement was jointly issued by Proham chief Simon Sipaun (right),
deputy chief Hamdan Adnan, secretary-general Denison Jayasooria and
member Ramon Navaratnam. All four are former Suhakam commissioners.
statement stressed that receiving funding from any legitimate sources
for the promotion and protection of human rights cannot be constructed
as being illegal or anti-national in any way.
Proham pointed out
that foreign funding has been secured not just by civil society and
voluntary organisations but also the government.
"It has to be
stated that the government itself has received much foreign aid and
loans for development purposes from inter alia, the World Bank, the ADB
"Yet the government has never compromised its integrity
and sovereignty. Our question is, why must the authorities view foreign
findings received by Suaram differently?" it asked.
reminded the government that Malaysia is a member of the United Nations
Human Rights Council hence, it should show moderation and a more liberal
outlook to encourage the development of a more open, liberal and mature
democracy in the country.
“Proham recognises the right to
organise oneself as an association as a fundamental human right
guaranteed by the federal constitution and the Universal Declaration of
“In Malaysia, this right by law necessitates groups
to register themselves as a society or under the companies act which
will enable the groups to fulfil banking and financial transactions and
Proham: Make public funds available
this context, explained Proham, Suaram has been operating as a human
rights advocacy group since 1989 and has observed the laws scrupulously.
“They have consistently operated as a human rights organisation in the best interests of the nation".
cited the NGO's publications including 'Suaram, 20 years defending
human rights', a comprehensive documentation of the human rights
defenders track record, the annual human rights report published since
1998, as well as significant number of documentations which attest
Suram's track record in promoting and
advancing human rights, noted Proham, has been honoured by Suhakam with
the Human Rights Community Award.
“This is indeed a major
recognition as Suaram was also a major critic of Suhakam’s role as the
national human rights institution. This underscores the professionalism
and neutrality of Suaram".
Proham called on the federal
government and agencies to have a positive appreciation of human rights
especially the role of civil society as human rights defenders as civil
societies have played a very effective role in holding public officials
and institutions accountable.
“Surely this is consistent with the government’s aim to defend basis human rights and freedoms".
also called on the government to make public funds accessible for the
work of protecting and promoting human rights, as well as providing
further tax incentives to the private sector to fund such activities.
such funds were readily available there will be no need to secure
funding from overseas sources. Government has in a way indirectly
contributed to a situation whereby civil society has been forced to seek
overseas funds to operate effectively.
“This is indeed an
opportunity for government to review, revise and update its framework
and policies towards enhancing the volunteerism and contributions of
civil society, that is working hard, despite severe constraints, to help
build a better Malaysia,” it added.
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