Thursday, December 10, 2020

Human Rights Day(10th December) – Respect and Promote Human Rights including Democratic Rights


Media Statement – 10/12/2020

Human Rights Day – Respect and Promote Human Rights including Democratic Rights

On the occasion of World Human Rights Day (10th December), MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) calls for a greater respect, protection and promotion of human rights in Malaysia.

Democracy and Human Rights

During the 14th General Elections in 2008, Malaysians exercised their human rights to vote and choose their peoples’ representatives and government/s, and at the Federal level, we saw the defeat of the previous UMNO led Barisan Nasional(BN) government, when the Pakatan Harapan(PH) Coalition managed to win 113 of the 222 Parliamentary seats. The PH Plus also managed to emerge the government of all States save for Pahang, Perlis and Sarawak.  

Thereafter, we saw a violation of human rights of voters, when we saw many peoples’ representatives hopping out of their parties, and some joining other parties. Then in early 2020, we saw one of the PH parties and several MPs of some PH parties abandoning the PH Plus government, to join and form a new government together with the ousted UMNO-BN and others, and this can be seen as a violation of human rights of the people of Malaysia. The rights of the people to choose their peoples’ representatives and government were violated, simply because elected people’s representatives changed their position and party affliation without any prior mandate from those that voted for them.

Malaysian local government(or local council) elections which existed, were suspended after the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation in 1964, and this human and democratic right was not restored speedily even after that. The government opted to simply appoint their ‘chosen ones’ rather than to allow the people to democratically elect their own local council.

The alternative Pakatan Harapan Plus government parties had been fighting for local council elections, but when they came into power, they too preferred political appointees rather that democratically elected persons.

The fundamental human right of people to choose our representatives must be restored fully, and political appointment must end.

Right to elect community leaders and Local Government/Local Council

Malaysians also are denied the human right to be able to democratically elect and chose their kampong/village and local community leaders. Many thought that this happens only in Orang Asli communities, but the truth is that there is no democratic elections at kampungs, kampong barus/new villages, tamans or other communities.

The local community leaders and the local government/local council continue to be political appointees chosen by the State/Federal governments in power.

Every person have a human right to participate in government, and also to be consulted and to even object to some projects, logging activities and/or developments proposed. This human right is now denied, or ‘stolen’ political appointees who claim that they represent the people, when in fact, they are not chosen and democratically elected representatives of the people. These politically appointed ‘community leaders’ and local government/local council members maybe supporting or objecting without any mandate, prior knowledge and/or consultation with the people of the community – hence the ordinary people are deprived of the freedom of expression, opinion, right to be represented and participation in Malaysia, that claims to be a democracy.

Loss of right to be represented by a peoples’ representative

When peoples’ elected representative, being Members of Parliaments (MP) and State Assembly Persons (ADUN) elect to follow faithfully the orders of their party leaders in their expressions, actions  and votes in the Dewan Rakyat, and not act in accordance to the voices and/or positions of the people, then again peoples’  human rights  in a democracy is violated.

It is nonsense to believe that once elected, a peoples’ representative can do as he/she pleases without consultation and/or instructions from the people they represent.

Malaysians still do not have the right to remove an elected peoples’ representative who has lost the confidence of the majority in the constituency. This is a human right that Malaysians may claim, the right to remove elected representatives who change parties and/or betray the people.

Protect HR Defenders – Enact anti-SLAPP laws

Malaysians’ human rights are also violated when peoples and Human Rights Defender’s freedom of expression and opinion is violated, or denied by, amongst others, the use of threats, denial of public space and also the use of strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP).  

SLAPP lawsuits are intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

It is sad that in Malaysia, it not just corporations and human rights violators that use SLAPP lawsuits, but also some politicians who use such SLAPP lawsuits in the form of defamation suits to try to silence those who highlight alleged wrongdoings.  Such lawsuits are also often tools of the rich against the poor, who simply do not have the needed resources to fight lengthy expensive battles in court – and this reality forces many to simply give up the struggle for human rights.

Malaysia sadly still not does not have anti-SLAPP laws that will ensure that the persons who speak up and struggle for human rights are silenced by such SLAPP legal suits. There is the need for the enactment of anti-SLAPP laws, and courts must review the cost and damages it awards taking into consideration that high amounts effectively is discriminatory against the poor, which will lead to also their sacrificing of their right to defend and protect human rights.


Some journalist and several media agents have found themselves in the past victims of SLAPP lawsuits by corporations and others, and the consequence is detrimental to human rights, human rights defenders, especially the poor and/or those with limited financial resources.

Voices of the ordinary and/or community human rights defenders now is not highlighted or published media’s fear and reluctance is possibly for fear of SLAPP law suits by corporations, the rich and others.

For the sake of human rights, journalists and media must once again be brave and willing to provide space and highlight the voices of human rights defenders, not just politicians and celebrities. Media should also without fear and favour uphold the cause of human rights and justice.

Protect Human Rights Defenders

Malaysians who struggle against human rights violations are at risk, and they also find themselves sometimes victims of police and legal enforcement bodies, sometimes acting at the behest of human rights violators and/or their friends. This must end and law enforcement officers must practice justice and avoid being used by potential or otherwise human rights violators, who may even use corruption or political influence.

The use of threats, violence and fear against the ordinary human rights defenders including workers must end.

We recall the murder of environmental and native customary rights human rights defender Bill Kayong that was murdered in 2016, and others who find themselves victims of enforced disappearance.

Even though we may not agree with the opinions and expressions of some, we must never forget that everyone has the human right to freely express themselves, voice their opinions and/or exercise the right to peaceful assembly.

Right to Peaceful Assembly Still Stifled

The right to peaceful assembly is still hindered by draconian legal requirements, and it was disappointing that the then alternative Pakatan Harapan Plus government failed to restore this right to us in Malaysia.

What the PH Plus government did was basically reduce the requirement for notice to the police from 10 days to 5 days, but it failed to remove all the other hurdles that makes it impossible for ordinary people to exercise this right, including the need to get consent from the authorities to use public spaces.

We deplore the fact that Malaysia again in 2020 failed to table and debate in Parliament the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) Report, and this is indicative of the level of commitment the Malaysian government has for human rights in Malaysia. One must acknowledge the fact that peaceful assemblies happen many a times not because anyone or organization organized it, but simply people coming together to protest as happened during the Reformasi protests in 1998, which happened every Saturday for several weeks.

MADPET calls for the full human rights in a true democracy becomes a reality in Malaysia. End political appointments, in favour of democratically elected by the people representatives at governments at all levels.

MADPET urges Malaysia to respect and promote human rights and to protect human rights defenders including ensuring that violators do not use law enforcement mechanisms to curtail the struggle for human rights.

MADPET calls for the enactment of anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) laws that will prevent the use of the courts as a means to hinder or curtail human rights defenders.

MADPET calls for more Malaysians to abandon fear and bravely stand up and become human rights defenders fighting not just for the rights of themselves, but also others.


Charles Hector

For and on behalf of MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)







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