Suaram: Malaysia facing crises of credibility, cronyism, climate change

Suaram adviser Kua Kia Soong (right) speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur December 9, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Suaram adviser Kua Kia Soong (right) speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur December 9, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — The Pakatan Harapan government must resolve crises surrounding its credibility, cronyism in public contracts, and climate change, human rights watchdog Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) said today.

Suaram adviser Kua Kia Soong noted the infighting in PKR over the weekend, but urged the coalition to pay attention instead to the crises his group highlighted.

“I see three very critical crises facing the country. I hope the government will take heed of these crises and pay less attention on their political struggles and concentrate more on these crises facing the nation,” he said at the launch of Suaram’s 2019 edition of its report on human rights in Malaysia.

In outlining the first crisis, Kua said the change of government did not eliminate preventive detention that remained through laws such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act or Sosma, Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) and Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota).

“The first crisis is the question of a credibility crisis that confronts the police and the Home Ministry. Suaram as you know, we monitor detention without trial, we monitor abuse of police powers.

“But there have been many cases of these abuses in which the Home Ministry tries to pass the buck and we think that as the Home Ministry, the home minister has to take responsibility for what goes on when it comes to law enforcement or when it comes to alleged crimes being charged,” he said in his speech.

He noted allegations by members of the PH administration that the “deep state” was involved in the detention of 12 individuals for alleged links to the defunct Sri Lankan separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

He said both the prime minister and the home minister should have responded to this claim about the “deep state”.

The police and the home minister’s failure to address the enforced disappearance allegations in the cases of Pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat also diminished the government’s credibility, he said.

He also highlighted the deaths of former DAP aide Teoh Beng Hock and Sarawak human rights defender Bill Kayong, and a sex video scandal allegedly involving a member of the administration.

Kua said that there is now “creeping cronyism” in the country, citing privatisation, the sale of state assets, and the prime minister’s remark that ministers were entitled to directly award contracts related to their portfolio..

Kua said the PH coalition promised in its 2018 elections manifesto to end political appointments but power over national assets appeared to be concentrating in a few leaders.

“Today as you know, with the new change of government, Mahathir today controls Khazanah, Azmin Ali the economic affairs minister controls a slew of GLCs.

“And put all the GLCs in Malaysia together, it sums up the vast majority of the wealth of this country. So if we are concerned about cronyism, kleptocratic cronyism, corruption, I call upon Malaysians to be aware of this and to put a stop to this,” he said.

On climate change, he said Malaysians must join the world’s concern as the country was already directly experiencing the effects, such as floods and fatal landslides.

While noting that the Malaysian government had submitted a report to the United Nations to recognise the serious consequences of climate change in the country, Kua pointed out that the government has not declared an emergency over climate change.

Kua also claimed that there was denial or misinformation on the part of government, such as conflicting statistics with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’s 2010 finding over the actual percentage of primary forests left in the country, and also over how forests have been lost to palm oil plantations, and the lack of clean rivers and pollution of water sources by illegal factories and businesses.

“We hope in the country’s Shared Prosperity Vision, this three critical crises facing this country will be met,” he said, referring to the country’s new roadmap that was launched on October 5, 2019.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had during the SPV 2030’s launch said that the new roadmap would see the government tackling cronyism better, including by revoking contracts given out to cronies.

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