KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — The government must still follow through with its commitment and improve human rights in Malaysia beyond what has already been achieved, said advocacy group Pusat Komas.

During a forum at Malaysia’s 4th Universal Periodic Review (UPR) review here last night, Pusat Komas programme director Ryan Chua there was still a gap between the country’s stated intention to adopt human rights norms and the implementation.

“It is nice to speak human rights language and it is nice to proclaim that we have done so much but I think there’s still a lot of things that have to be done.

“And of course, we are very open to hear that the government is now open for consultations, they are open to invite us for all these multi stakeholder consultations but a lot of education still needs to be done with government agencies themselves to adopt human rights as a framework for their work,” he said.


He also said there is an ongoing need for advocacy and education to integrate human rights principles into governmental practices, as some members of the parliaments may not be inherently human rights-friendly.

Chua acknowledged that a delicate balance was needed to address some right issues in Malaysia, but said it was important to avoid unfair treatment or biases.

“You also have to be very careful because a lot of intricate issues which are related to religion and not address a lot of things that are spoken or international commitments. But you know, when it comes to the 3R’s (royalty, religion, and race) in Malaysia, how do we navigate the difficult conversation here?


“Certain groups are very good at speaking, they say they protect human rights, but they are culturally specific. So, I think we cannot have double standards in our country and I think this is a constant struggle to fight,” he added.

Human rights officer of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Office for South East Asia Shivani Verma said Malaysia has played a crucial role in addressing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in prioritising vulnerable groups.

She said this was also built upon the country’s efforts towards human rights during earlier editions of the UPR.

“It was largely a response to UN’s prior engagement with the UPR in highlighting marginalised and excluded groups in society that led in Malaysia for vulnerable groups, which included undocumented migrants to be included in the Covid-19 vaccination programme,” she said during the same session.

She said it is vital for the UPR process to provide a platform for marginalised or vulnerable groups to have their voices heard.

Citing an example from Thailand in 2015, she said the UN supported the participation of HIV-affected women in the UPR process which resulted in groundbreaking recommendations and marked the first-ever UPR submission on the transitional justice process.

“The UPR process has also created the space for bringing forward voices of the marginalised or vulnerable groups. For example, in Thailand in 2015, during its review, the UN supported the participation of HIV affected women in the UPR process.

“It was for the first time, conflict affected victims, timelines and being the first ever UPR submission on the transitional justice process which actually resulted in recommendations from member states at the UPR process, which was followed by the support of those recommendations by the government,” she added.