Minister: Amendments to Suhakam Act will give commission more independence, authority

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong speaks during the 20 Years of Suhakam and Way Forward event in Kuala Lumpur September 12, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong speaks during the 20 Years of Suhakam and Way Forward event in Kuala Lumpur September 12, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) Act 1999 will be amended to allow parliamentary oversight of the panel, Datuk Liew Vui Keong said today.

Presently, Suhakam comes under the Prime Minister’s Department and its members are effectively chosen by the prime minister.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department also said the amendments are aimed at empowering Suhakam to directly investigate and handle human rights-related complaints, as opposed only making recommendations to the government currently.

“The amendments will give more leeway and expand the commission’s powers, especially when it comes to human rights complaints and complainants,” Liew said after officiating the forum marking Suhakam’s 20th anniversary at Hotel Istana. 

The minister in charge of legal affairs added that the amendments are also in line with Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto. 

PH pledged to reduce the concentration of power in the hands of the prime minister and to give Parliament oversight of key public appointments.

Under the present Act, the Chief Secretary to the Government chairs a selection committee that then submits a list of candidates to the prime minister, who will make recommendations for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s consideration. 

Liew said today, however, that the amendments will not appear in the next parliamentary meeting.

“That amendment will take some time, as it is still in the pipeline. Considering everything, I think it is possible for amendments to be tabled by next year or so,” Liew said. 

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