KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 — The public should know the five people responsible for shortlisting candidates to be part of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), sitting commissioner Jerald Joseph said today.
He said the commission is proposing for the veil to be lifted as part of amendments to the Suhakam Act 1999 as it was crucial to determine the competency of potential commissioners.
“Prior to 2008, Suhakam commissioners were appointed directly by the PM and his office, and where it was not necessary to keep the commission informed of the new appointments,” Joseph said during Suhakam's 20th anniversary forum at Istana Hotel.
Following amendments to the Suhakam Act that year, the five-person committee was formed, consisting of government officials as well as members of the public.
“So the committee oversees the applications to become commissioners, conducting interviews, and eventually they submit the shortlisted names to the prime minister for consideration.
“The only unanswered question remains, if the names reach the PM but he does not sign it and takes it to the King, then what happens?” he said.
This grey area, among others, is something Suhakam is attempting to remedy in its proposal.
Another issue is transferring authority over the commission from the Prime Minister's Department to Parliament.
“We also proposed that the parliamentary select committee for Suhakam establish an independent committee, which must be staffed by outsiders and not MPs.
“In turn, this independent committee will then be in charge of the whole long process of interviewing candidates, and upon completion, it will be sent back to Parliament for a decision,” Joseph said.
Earlier on, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said in his officiating speech to the forum that the Act is set to be amended by next year, so as to provide Suhakam with broader powers when it comes to the handling and investigation of human rights-related complaints.