By Amar Shah Mohsen
KUALA LUMPUR — The amendments being made to the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) Act 1999 affirms the Federal government’s continued commitment to its reform agenda.
Pakatan Harapan’s Bangi MP Syahredzan Johan said this in the Dewan Rakyat amid allegations that the Unity Government under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has strayed from its original goal of pushing for institutional reforms.
Debating the Suhakam (Amendment) Bill 2023, Syahredzan said the proposed changes are the most significant to happen to the Act since its introduction about 24 years ago.
“In principle, the amendment will further empower Suhakam to carry out its functions and responsibilities,” he said today.
“Simultaneously, it proves that the government remains committed to institutional reforms. This government has not abandoned its commitment to reform.”
Syahredzan also said that the responsibility to advocate and support the human rights agenda, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution, should not be left solely to Suhakam.
“It is the shared responsibility of the government, MPs, judiciary and every individual. Human rights are the rights and responsibilities of all.”
Under the amendment, the government, among other things, aims to include a new section stating that Suhakam must be informed of actions taken following violations that are referred to the body.
The commission will be given the power to visit any detention centres or locations to probe allegations of human rights abuses and make necessary recommendations.
The proposed amendments will also see at least 30 per cent of Suhakam members consist of women and one person with disabilities.
Separately, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner will be empowered through the appointment of a chief children’s commissioner and two other children’s commissioners.
Law and Institutional Reform Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman had previously said the amendment aims to strengthen the function and role of the watchdog authority as an independent body that protects and promotes human rights in Malaysia.