Sunday, September 23, 2012

Kit Siang urges Suhakam to intervene in harassment of Suaram

September 23, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — Lim Kit Siang today called upon the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) to invoke its powers to protect Suaram from what he described as “continued government harassment and infringement of human rights” over its funding sources.
The DAP parliamentary leader (picture) today called upon Suhakam to intervene in Putrajaya’s continued harassment of Suaram’s parent company, Suara Inisiatif Sdn. Bhd “as they (Suaram) had been continually persecuted by the government and its agencies since July 2012”.
Human rights group Suaram is currently in the limelight due to its part in an ongoing French inquiry probing possible corruption in Malaysia’s multi-billion ringgit purchase of two Scorpene submarines, which has been linked to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the murder of Mongolian model Altantuyaa Shaariibuu.
Lim explained that Suaram has since asked Suhakam to take a stand on Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s “overreaching powers in interrupting and influencing investigations by the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) and to acknowledge the normalcy of foreign funding to organisations in Malaysia”.
He urged Suhakam to act under Section 4(1) (4) of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 which vested it with functions “to inquire into complaints regarding infringements of human rights” and Section 4(2)(3) empowering it “to study and verify any infringement of human rights”.
Lim also called upon prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to end the harassment of “other independent-minded human rights NGOs and news portals”.
“This is totally inimical to word and spirit of his (Najib’s) ‘political transformation’ and pledge to make Malaysia’s the ‘world’s best democracy’,” he said today in a press statement.
“(It is) also totally alien to the ‘new politics’ recently advocated by deputy higher education minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah which envisaged a positive partnership of government with business and civil society to create a new governance framework,” he added.
Earlier this month, the CCM raided the office of Suara Inisiatif. Ismail Sabri was quoted as saying the accounts of Suara Inisitatif were “highly suspicious”.
Suaram, established since 1989, has been investigated by the CCM since early 2012 for being registered as a company instead of a society, a practice among NGOs whose applications under the Societies Act 1966 were rejected by the government.
The NGO has come under pressure since it started scrutinising the purchase of Scorpene submarines by the Defence Ministry.
When asked by reporters to comment on its foreign funding, Suaram director Dr Kua Kia Soong said many NGOs used the funds for programmes without intervention or advice from such parties.
Kua was referring to allegations by Malay dailies that Suaram took aid from the George Soros Foundation, which made them an agent of the billionaire currency speculator.

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