Monday, December 13, 2021

HUMAN RIGHTS - Suhakam HR Commissioner monthly allowance RM6,000 only? Higher budget for SUHAKAM for its good work on HR?

Time to increase monthly allowance/pay of Human Rights Commissioners, increase budget for SUHAKAM, etc. I thought that the SUHAKAM Commissioners were at the very least paid RM10,000 monthly allowance, and then, I found out that they were paid RM6,000 monthly allowance(and RM1k 'entertainment' allowance) - this is way too low. The higher the monthly allowance means the less they have to worry about other income to sustain their lives - and this may mean giving more time to SUHAKAM's work...

On Human Rights Day, one must appreciate SUHAKAM(National Human Rights Commission) and also the SURUHANJAYA INTEGRITI AGENSI PENGUATKUASAAN - Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC). Both these institutions, at the end of the day, has achieved far more than expected by Malaysians ...

Many may not know the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) had inquired into many deaths in custody - S.Balamurugan, Soh Kai Chiok, Syed Mohd Azlan, N. Dharmendran, J Ramesh - these are but some of the INQUIRY Reports published - can be viewed here. 

Read also related posts:- Court rules cops caused death of Syed Mohd Azlan, awards dad RM383,300? Have the police who killed or tampered with evidence been charged yet?

RM490,000 to widow of Dharmendran(died in police custody) - 4 officers charged for 'murder' remain FREE and in the police?

Comparatively, SUHAKAM has less public inquiry reports on death in custody -  REPORT OF SUHAKAM PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO THE DEATH IN CUSTODY OF S.HENDRY 17 & 18 FEBRUARY 2006

BUT, then  SUHAKAM had looked into so many different Human Rights issues, and had many public inquiries and reports - freedom of peaceful assembly, police torture and abuse of powers, and even enforced disappearance - go look at the SUHAKAM website

SUHAKAM - well, the performance seems to be all dependent on who the then Chairman is, and the then HR Commissioners. After, it started, many saw it as nothing more than a 'toothless tiger' - as what can one expect whether the government appoints wrong persons or rather 'correct persons' according to a government viewpoint who just want to highlight that Malaysia believes in human rights, and we even have a National Human Rights Commission. Whether they are an effective Human Rights Institution is immaterial.

"When I first became chairperson, the way we looked at the commission is that it’s worse than a toothless tiger. A tiger is a tiger, and before it opens its mouth to show it has no teeth, you are already scared looking at it."From my perspective, Suhakam is a watchdog that is tied to the post," Hasmy [Tan Sri Hasmy Agam] said at a press conference at Suhakam's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today, after the launch of its 2014 Annual Report. However, he said, even a watchdog can hold the government accountable. "A watchdog barks, and if you look at our record for the past several years, we have barked very loud," he said.

In the earlier period, the few HR Commissioners, who wanted to defend and promote human rights find themselves possibly suppressed by a 'gate keeper' Chairman who simply makes sure that the Commission does not expose the failings of government, its agents as far as human rights is concerned.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) was established by Parliament under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999, Act 597, which was gazetted on 9 September 1999. The inaugural meeting was held on 24 April 2000.

In my opinion, SUHAKAM started to free itself from 'government influence/control or 'individual fear of antagonizing government or its agents'...' under the Chairmanship of Tan Sri Hasmy Agam (2010-2016) and thereafter Tan Sri Razali Ismail(2016 to 2019) and began functioning bravely as a better National Human Rights Institution. Whilst SUHAKAM continues to maintain its ways, no evaluation yet on the current Tan Sri Othman Bin Hashim(since June 2019) 

Its Founding Statute

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) was established under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999, Act 597. Section 2 of this Act defines “human rights” as referring to the “fundamental liberties as enshrined in Part II of the Federal Constitution”.

Our Functions

The functions of SUHAKAM as set out in Section 4(1) are:

  1. to promote awareness of and provide education relating to human rights;
  2. to advise and assist Government in formulating legislation and procedures and recommend the necessary measures to be taken;
  3. to recommend to the Government with regard to subscription or accession of treaties and other international instruments in the field of human rights;
  4. to inquire into complaints regarding infringements of human rights.

Furthermore, section 4(4) of the Act provides that regard shall be had to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (UDHR) to the extent that is not inconsistent with the Federal Constitution. This means that whatever rights and liberties not mentioned in Part II but referred to in the UDHR must be considered provided that there is no conflict with the Constitution.

The function of inquiring into complaints about human rights infringements is subject to the conditions imposed by section 12 of the Act. Section 12 empowers SUHAKAM to act on its own motion to inquire into allegations of infringement of human rights, in addition to acting on complaints submitted to it. SUHAKAM, however, may not investigate complaints which are the subject matter of proceedings pending in a court of law or which have been finally decided by any court. Such investigations have to cease if the matter being investigated is brought before the courts.

As public awareness and confidence begins to build, thanks to the human rights commitment displayed not just by words but also actions. Human Rights Commissioner's jurisdiction is the whole of Malaysia, and they do go down to the ground to meet victims, and conduct investigations personally. They also rush to detention places when made aware of torture and deaths in custody. They also do spend days committed in PUBLIC INQUIRIES...  

RM6,000 monthly allowance  for a SUHAKAM Commissioner is shockingly low - when today a High Court Judge gets a salary of RM26,500.00 per month(as at July 2015). Maybe, there should be an increase here...

Worse that when the salary of SUHAKAM's staff is almost as high(or better) than a HR Commissioner.

Salary Scale
: RM5,206.00 and additional allowance of RM1,550.00 per month - a SUHAKAM 2019 Staff advert

SUHAKAM definitely need a higher budget, to at the very least have a presence/office all over Malaysia to facilitate easy access of the public to SUHAKAM, and mind you this includes Sabah and Sarawak too.

How much is the 2022 BUDGET allocation for SUHAKAM? Looking at all the Annual Reports, Public Inquiry Reports, Media Statements and other matters - no one can deny that SUHAKAM has been doing good work to uphold, defend and promote Human Rights.

To not mess up with the good work SUHAKAM has been doing, not only is it important to increase BUDGET, but also continue to appoint good persons who will act without fear or favour in the work of upholding the cause of human rights and justice...As we know, SUHAKAM in the past did suffer almost 50% budget cuts - but despite all problems including financial problems Malaysia may be facing, the government must provide a larger BUDGET for SUHAKAM, EAIC and the promotion of human rights

For 2015, Suhakam was allocated an operating budget of RM10,986,200. However, this amount was reduced by a further 10% by the Ministry of Finance and by approximately 9% by the Prime Minister’s Office. In comparison, Suhakam has been allocated a sum of RM5,509,400 for 2016, a reduction of almost 50%. - ALIRAN, November 2015

The same call is also made for EAIC - as they have been doing good work, including doing inquiries and coming out with reports on death in custody, fisherman -- That is why I objected to Pakatan Harapan Plus's plan to transform the EAIC to their version of watered down Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) Bill - and now even more watered down by a Bill for another Commission...that we will discuss later...


Press Statement No. 40-2021_Budget for SUHAKAM to Carry Out the Full Range of Its Core Function


KUALA LUMPUR (1 DECEMBER 2021)   –   The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) underscores that the Parliament has a critical role in the promotion and protection of human rights. As such, SUHAKAM expresses support for Members of Parliament in raising matters that affect the rights of the people of Malaysia as well as on those that impact the effective delivery of SUHAKAM’s statutory functions.

In connection to the issue raised by Member of Parliament concerning SUHAKAM’s budget allocation during the Parliament sitting on 22 November 2021, SUHAKAM reiterates its call for the government to ensure that SUHAKAM receives adequate funding and afforded the necessary powers, to enable it to safely, independently and effectively promote and protect human rights in Malaysia. SUHAKAM had recently undergone the reaccreditation process by the Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) of the Global Alliance of the National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), in which the SCA reminded that adequate funding should, to a reasonable degree, ensure gradual and progressive realisation of the improvement of the institution’s operations and the fulfilment of its mandate. In addition, it also stated that where NHRIs has been designated with additional responsibilities by the State, additional financial resources should be provided to enable it to assume the responsibilities of discharging these functions. Aside from the fact that SUHAKAM currently must address a wider range and increasingly complex human rights issues in the country, based on subsection 5(2) of the SUHAKAM Act 1999 (Act 597), the government appointed a dedicated Children’s Commissioner since April 2019 as part of the reforms undertaken by the government in protecting the rights of children. Therefore, the Government should consequently provide SUHAKAM with all the necessary support.

With respect to enhancing its independence, SUHAKAM is working closely with the Legal Affairs Division (BHEUU) of the Prime Minister’s Department towards amending the SUHAKAM Act 1999, among others, changes sought on SUHAKAM’s capacity as an independent NHRI as well as SUHAKAM’s Annual Report where the Section 21 of its enabling Act does not specifically mention that the Annual Report has to be debated in Parliament. SUHAKAM is of the view that it is crucial for Members of Parliament to critically discuss human right issues of public interest in Malaysia and propose possible solutions to these issues, especially since Putrajaya had pledged to prioritise human rights in its application and, subsequently, its election as a member to the Human Rights Council (HRC) under the auspices of the United Nations for the 2022-2024 term.


Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM)

1 December 2021


Suhakam probing four death-in-custody cases

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Twelve custodial deaths have been reported since Jan 1 this year. (Reuters pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) says it has launched an investigation into four more death-in-custody cases.

Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph said they were investigating three deaths under the prison department and one under the police.

The three cases under the prison department were Surendran Shanker at the Simpang Renggam prison in Johor on May 27, Roopan Karnagaran at Kajang prison on June 21, and a Nepalese prisoner at the Kluang prison on May 30.

The fourth case involves S Sivabalan, who died while at the Gombak district police headquarters on May 20.
Jerald Joseph.

Twelve custodial deaths have been reported since Jan 1 this year.

“Not all cases are caused by torture or abuse by the authorities. Sometimes, it is caused by health negligence and failure to adhere to court procedures,” Joseph said during a virtual press conference today.

Other than deaths in custody, Suhakam also presented its findings on other issues, namely the arrest of human rights defenders and matters pertaining to refugees and asylum seekers.

Joseph noted that since Jan 1 last year, the authorities had probed several politicians, activists and reporters under the Sedition Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

These included the arrest of activist and graphic designer Fahmi Reza over his work and the investigation of a short animated film titled “Chilli powder and Thinner” that depicts alleged police brutality.

“The government needs to recognise that human rights-related work is ‘essential’ during this Covid-19 pandemic.

“The government must respect freedom of speech and the authorities must not restrict this right by applying laws such as the Sedition Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.”

Joseph said Suhakam had received 15 complaints from refugee-status holders regarding placement in three countries.

According to the complainants, they had attended interviews by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for the placement process since 2015 but had not received any feedback or decision.

He said the delay was because of the limited placement quota in these countries.




Suhakam: We're worse than a toothless tiger
Zikri Kamarulzaman
Published:  Apr 15, 2015 12:56 PM
Updated: 4:01 PM
Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) chief Hasmy Agam reiterated his view today that the commission is "worse than a toothless tiger".

"When I first became chairperson, the way we looked at the commission is that it’s worse than a toothless tiger. A tiger is a tiger, and before it opens its mouth to show it has no teeth, you are already scared looking at it.

"From my perspective, Suhakam is a watchdog that is tied to the post," Hasmy said at a press conference at Suhakam's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today, after the launch of its 2014 Annual Report.

However, he said, even a watchdog can hold the government accountable.

"A watchdog barks, and if you look at our record for the past several years, we have barked very loud," he said.

Hasmy admitted that among others, the government does not really consult with Suhakam before amending or introducing new laws, such as the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota)

"From time to time, the government has said that it consulted Suhakam. That's not quite true. They have only briefed us," he said.

Gov't never debated any Suhakam report

Suhakam is also frustrated, Hasmy said, that the government has not debated any of the commission's annual reports in Parliament since Suhakam was established in 2008.

"It has taken too long. This is where we find ourselves in a bit of a frustrating situation to get the government to get the commission to move along," he said.

As such, Suhakam has been pushing several recommendations to the government, to give the commission more bite.

Among them is one to make it mandatory for the government to consult Suhakam before amending or introducing laws, to debate the Suhakam reports in Parliament and to give the commission the power to conduct spot checks.

"Even if we don't become a full tiger, at least we are a watchdog with teeth to bite," Hasmy said.

Among others, the report touches on deaths in police detention and makes recommendations on the detention of children by the Immigration Department. - Malaysiakini, 15/4/2015

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