PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) is currently without commissioners, as their terms expired on April 25.
Commissioners' terms typically run for three years, and the last round of appointments were made in July 2016 and backdated to April that year.
Back in 2016, Suhakam was left without a chairman and any commissioners for 58 days.
Tan Sri Razali Ismail was appointed chairman in 2016, but he resigned two weeks ahead of his term expiration in April.
The commissioners appointed in 2016 were former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mah Weng Kwai, Datuk Godfrey Gregory Joitol, Dr Nik Salida Suhaila Nik Salleh, Jerald Joseph, Datuk Lok Yim Pheng, Prof Datuk Dr Aishah Bidin and Francis Johen Adam.
The latter two have served a maximum of two terms, as commissioners and cannot be reappointed.
Jerald Joseph, who was acting chairman for two weeks, said that they still had no idea who would be appointed as commissioners for the new term and when any announcement would be made.
Under the Suhakam Act, a selection committee chaired by the Chief Secretary submits a list of candidates for the Prime Minister to consider and recommend to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) executive director Sevan Doraisamy said that the government had ample time to appoint new commissioners.
"Gaps in commissioners should not happen. Barisan Nasional left Suhakam for months without commissioners. Pakatan Harapan should have been more proactive," he said.
Suhakam was established by Parliament under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999, with a mandate to protect, promote and monitor human rights in Malaysia.
In its manifesto, Pakatan said the appointment of Suhakam commissioners would be done through a parliamentary committee.