KUANTAN: Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (pic) hopes Malaysia will get a more positive comment at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday night (Nov 8).
He said even though the report submitted by the government covered the period until March 2018, it was hoped that the UPR would consider the new administration's efforts in strengthening the country's human rights system.
"The new government is more proactive in strengthening human rights. Although our new policies are not included in the UPR report, I believe our approach and announcements will be considered.
"Hopefully we can get better standing compared with the past two processes," Saifuddin said after closing a basketball tournament at SMK Tanah Putih here Thursday.
According to the United Nations Human Rights Council website, the UPR is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN member states.
The state-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, provides an opportunity for each state to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.
Saifuddin said UPR was just a process and it was more important to make sure Malaysia has a better human rights record.
"We work to repair our human rights record not only for UPR but for the people and our record on the international stage.
"We have pledged to ratify six international human rights conventions and of these, the UN Convention against Torture and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance are the easier ones to push through. These will be prioritised first," he said.
Saifuddin also said he found opponents of the International Convention Against All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) lacked understanding on its relation to the Federal Constitution.
"There have been some misunderstandings. The government will continue holding discussions with stakeholders since there is no time limit to the ratification of ICERD," he said.
On another matter, Saifuddin said the government will get advice from Japanese rail experts to increase the use of the country's existing railway infrastructure.
He said the Japanese government had agreed to send advisors from the JR Kyushu company to provide assistance in optimising Malaysia's railway use.
"The reason we asked for advice is because we realise that the railways from north to south are only used 30% of the time. We have all these assets and yet it is underutilised.
"In Japan, the railway lines are in use nearly all the time. The Prime Minister felt this is something we can learn from them," he said.
During Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's recent visit to Japan, his counterpart Shinzo Abe said a team of experts from Japan's railway companies would be dispatched to Malaysia at the end of November.
The team will be part of a study towards the possibility of extending yen loan with primary focus on transportation, education and human resource development.