Civil society should keep pressure on for reforms, says Thomas


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 29 May 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Civil society should hound Pakatan Harapan ministers and politicians for civil rights reforms, said Attorney General Tommy Thomas (pic).

The advice by the government’s top legal adviser came after criticisms were levelled against it for withdrawing from ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd), and the Rome Statute that governs the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“My job is to advise the government on legal matters, and as far as I am concerned, there are no legal impediments to Malaysia ratifying or signing the treaties.

“But it was a political decision made by the Cabinet.

“My advice to civil society is that you should go and nab them (ministers and politicians); catch them wherever they are and ask them why they have not implemented their manifesto,” he said at the launching of Suara Rakyat Malaysia’s (Suaram) Malaysia Human Rights Report 2018 yesterday.

He noted that ministers like Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo and Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran were lawyers and could help push the Cabinet for the reforms.

Thomas also lamented that civil rights groups had become complacent after Pakatan took over as the government.

“I think all of us have become complacent after May 10 and expect the government, or even me, to perform miracles.

“No one can make the changes alone,” he added.

He said civil rights groups should focus on bringing about changes through the law, rather than seeking constitutional amendments.

Thomas assured civil rights groups that his office would act swiftly to draft changes to the laws, once the government decided to amend them.

Later at a press conference, Suaram director Dr Kua Kia Soong said the government should make public the report of the Institutional Reforms Committee, which is under the aegis of the Council of Eminent Persons.

He said numerous civil rights groups had contributed to the report, which has since been classified under the Official Secrets Act by the government.

“We decided to publish the views which we provided to the committee on our website.

“Several other NGOs also did the same,” he added.

The Malaysia Human Rights Report 2018 can be downloaded at https://www.suaram.net.