By : JANNIE LASIMBANG
IN CONJUNCTION with the International Human Rights Day, the Malaysian Commission of Human Rights (SUHAKAM), Kinabalu Running Club, PACOS Trust, Pusat Kebajikan Good Shepherd and The Yellow Dots are organising a Human Rights Relay Run, Exhibition and Concert on Saturday, 8 December 2012 at University Malaysia Sabah.
The purpose of this Human Rights Relay Run, Exhibition and Concert is to celebrate and raise the awareness of human rights in Malaysia. More than 1,500 members of the public have already signed up for the Relay Run. Various government departments, non-governmental organizations and companies have agreed to take part in the Human Rights Exhibition.
The exhibition would focus on the various efforts in promoting and protecting human rights. The concert will provide a healthy and constructive avenue for the youths to learn and to spread the awareness of human rights.
The organisers have put in months of hard work and preparation. The booking fees for the UMS stadium have been paid in full and approvals from the relevant authorities including UMS has been obtained. In fact, the police have been supportive and would provide monitoring personnel.
Yesterday, on the eve of the event, the organisers received a shocking telephone call from the officials of UMS. UMS had unilaterally retracted the permission to use their stadium and threatened to tighten security to prevent any human rights supporter and participant from entering its premises.
UMS had later put up a banner stating ‘Larian Hak Asasi SUHAKAM dibatalkan’. UMS ‘justified’ by citing the event is politically motivated and that they have received a directive from the Chief Minister’s Department.
All efforts to contact the authorities, the Vice-Chancellor of UMS and other UMS officials to convince them that the event is purely for the promotion of the International Human Rights Day and to foster good relations between participants from government, NGOs and private sectors were futile. We have faced brickwalls from all sides of the UMS and government authorities.
This last minute instruction to UMS to prohibit the event is most regrettable and is strongly denounced.
SUHAKAM reminds the government and UMS that SUHAKAM is a statutory body created under an Act of Parliament to monitor and protect human rights as provided in the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. It is ironic and appalling that SUHAKAM and more importantly, Malaysian citizens are prohibited from enjoying one of the main tenets of human rights guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution: Freedom of Assembly.
Faced with such unfortunate circumstances, the organisers have arranged for the Human Rights Relay Run, Exhibition and Concert to be held at an alternative venue at Likas Lake, Kota Kinabalu starting from 2pm.
SUHAKAM urges the Government of Malaysia to be mindful of its commitment to human rights under Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the recent ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.