Images Jean-Marc Ferré + MRMUN
After the not-so-shocking revelation that Malaysia lost its seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that was recently held, DAP National Political Education Director Liew Chin Tong seeks clarification via a submission of parliamentary questions to Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, in response to the pledge and commitments that the nation vowed to follow.
To summarise, the pledge seeks overall cooperation that ties in with United Nations and its practices, which include a diplomatic effort in improving human rights by giving ample freedom of expression, association and assembly, the freedom of belief and religion, and rights to marginalised communities like ethnic minorities, LGBTQs, and women. It also touches base on the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. In the grand scheme of things, none of that is practical since we’ve yet to clean our own backyard.
Inspired by Zan Azlee’s piece on why Malaysia lost at 129 to the other four candidates in Asia-pacific – Nepal (165), Qatar (155), Pakistan (151), Afghanistan (150) – we cherry-pick a few solid reasons as to why we became the sole candidate to lose the bid among 16 nations.
The elections are just shit
Azlee brought up gerrymandering during elections, which was evident in the last heated general election in 2013 that ended in total injustice, to say the least. We all know who won the popular vote (the opposition, in case you’re not that politically aware), but the rigid electoral system made the possibility for a fair election slim to none. The PM mentioned that popular votes serve no importance in a parliamentary system, while the unnecessary racial animosity towards minorities after GE13 was also a clear indication of fraud. The last thing we need is a threatened government who would do anything to stay in power, let’s not forget the endless corruption that’s hot in the headlines of foreign news outlets until today.
No freedom of expression
While it’s great that we have people like Fahmi Reza and Zunar, we can’t deny the kind of trouble they’ve received for their expressive art. Similarly, Azlee pointed the questionable freedom of press, exemplified by the suspension of The Edge for three months in 2015 and later on the closing of The Malaysian Insider in 2016, a publication known for saying things most news portals wouldn’t dare say. We’re currently at the 144th spot in the World Press Freedom Index, which is at least higher than China, but let’s not get too comfortable with that statistic shall we? We can do better than that.
We are just not there yet
Upon hearing the news of our lost at the UNHRC, sceptical Malaysians instantly figured out why due to the reality we live in. For this particular point, we’ve to take into consideration how little rights marginalised communities have in the country. Nepal for instance, is the first national constitution in Asia to include rights and protection for the LGBTQ community. We’ve yet to reach the level where tolerance and acceptance are actually practised, and vulnerable groups have yet to receive protection too. If there’s one thing we can learn from Nepal, is that the acknowledgement of fundamental human rights goes a long way in helping the country grow, and that means a change in mind-set is necessary.
Speaking of human rights, learn about your rights if you’ve been sexually assaulted or harassed here.