After ministry’s omission, Comango declares itself legal

Representatives from NGOs under Comango at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur January 13, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Representatives from NGOs under Comango at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur January 13, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — The Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the UPR Process (Comango) declared today it was no longer an outlawed outfit after learning the Home Ministry recently revised its announcement of the ban.

Pointing to the amendment of a January 8 statement on the Home Ministry’s website, the 54-member group said it was glad to be off the banned list.

“However, we are deeply concerned that instead of issuing a fresh press statement, MOHA had quietly decided to merely delete the last sentence in the media statement dated January 8, 2014,” it said in a statement jointly issued by Empower’s Honey Tan Lay Ean and Suaram’s Yap Swee Seng on behalf of the coalition, using the home ministry’s acronym.

According to a copy of the original statement previously sent to The Malay Mail Online today, the ministry stated in the last paragraph that; “COMANGO dengan itu merupakan sebuah pertubuhan HARAM” (Comango therefore is an illegal organisation).

The statement currently available on the Home Ministry’s website, however, omits that last paragraph, though the rest of the statement was left untouched.

Today the group said it was disappointed the ministry had not alerted the media to its amended statement on Comango, as it contrasted the government’s swift action in declaring the coalition illegal last month.

According to the ministry, Comango was illegal because only 15 out of the 54 groups under its umbrella were registered.

In a statement, the ministry’s secretary-general said that by remaining unregistered, Comango members had failed to fulfil Section 7 of the Societies Act 1966, leading to its banning under Section 41(1)(b) of the same Act.

The ministry also accused the coalition of promoting sexual rights contrary to Islam.

The Malay Mail Online has contacted the home ministry for a response and is awaiting its comment.

Comango insisted today that it was never an illegal entity, pointing to Article 10 of the Federal Constitution that allows all citizens the right to form associations.

“Comango is glad that the government took the advice of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in this instance to ‘maximize the space for human rights activists and organisations to operate freely’,” its statement said.

A screen grab from the Home Ministry’s website.
A screen grab from the Home Ministry’s website.

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