KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) shifted its Human Rights Day celebration to Sunday to avoid clashing with a rally against a United Nations treaty that bans racial discrimination.
Suhakam said earlier that it had postponed its event on advice from police who warned them of “security risks” that bordered on “national security”.
“Suhakam’s #HumanRightsDay celebration will now be held on December 9, 2018. Join us in #StandingUpForHumanRights,” Suhakam corporate communications told the press.
Earlier, at a press conference, Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail confirmed the postponement of Suhakam’s event initially scheduled for tomorrow.
He expressed disappointment after the statutory body was contacted by the police and the Prime Minister’s Office to do so following a potential ‘security risk’.
“Suhakam continues to be disappointed that this came about.
“Suhakam is not bound by any legality to ask permission from the police about what we have to do as we are a body mandated by Parliament to do so independently and we are very proud of our entity as that,” he said.
He said it was most likely that the prime minister would not be able to attend Sunday’s event as it was on a short notice, but nevertheless invitations would be re-sent to more people on the list especially Parliamentarians.
“The source of the mandate that Suhakam draws upon is from Parliament and from the support of the people,” he said.
Razali also pointed out that Suhakam acknowledged the demonstration against the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) that is set to take place tomorrow and wholeheartedly supported the principles of the assembly, as long as it remained peaceful.
Meanwhile, Suhakam Commissioner Datuk Mah Weng Kwai said it was “mischievous” of certain parties to label the gathering as a counter-rally or provocative.
“This is not a counter-rally but a celebration of human rights,” he said.
Singapore also issued a travel advisory warning its citizens to avoid the Malaysian capital tomorrow.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Ismail Bakar were among the dignitaries scheduled to attend the celebration that was to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10.
The Suhakam event was scheduled to start at 9am until 3pm and would feature various multicultural performances, booths, games and other activities on the public green opposite the AmCorp Mall.
Umno, PAS and several other groups have also planned their own rallies on the same day in the national capital, purportedly to express their gratitude to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government for not ratifying ICERD as promised.
On November 23, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that the PH government would not ratify the ICERD and would continue to defend the social contract.