As an ordinary Malaysian citizen and voter, I share the disappointment expressed by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) that its 2019 annual report will not be debated in Parliament this year.
This was due to the government’s decision that it has no plans to allow the report to be debated in the House due to time constraints.
I am quite sure that many Malaysians and civil society groups who care about human rights issues are also disappointed by this decision.
Suhakam said the report, which was tabled in Parliament on Nov 4, highlights serious human rights issues that require urgent action by the government.
It is pertinent to note that on Dec 5 last year, our Parliament made history when it debated Suhakam’s annual report for the first time.
This provided the opportunity for our parliamentarians to debate and highlight the various issues raised, which included complaints from ordinary citizens and stateless persons regarding arbitrary arrest or detention and matters related to the rights of women and children, gender discrimination and the plight of refugees.
Given that Suhakam was established under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999, it is only proper that this report be debated in Parliament, even though it is not mandatory.
This is in keeping with best international practices as many countries around the world allow their legislative bodies to discuss and debate the findings and reports of their human rights entities.
As has been suggested by some members of Parliament, perhaps the government may wish to consider extending the current sitting of the Dewan Rakyat by a day to debate the report.
HUSSAIN ABU BAKAR