Sunday, July 21, 2013

COMANGO briefing at Parliament - 11.7.2013

Plush corridors of Parliament.
Honey Tan, AWL member, is a member of Empower which coordinates COMANGO (a Coalition of Malaysian NGOs) in the Universal Periodic Review Process (UPR).

Although the Bar Council is not an NGO, it participates in the UPR process.

Basically, every 4 1/2 years, the United Nations Human Rights Council will review the human rights performance of 193 UN member states including Malaysia to see if any improvement has been made since the last review in 2009.

COMANGO which consists of 45 local NGOs, had on 11th March, 2013, submitted a human rights report to the UN for purposes of the upcoming review in October 2013. Honey was one of the lead writers of this report.

Malaysia will be put under the international spotlight during the UPR process. The Government must take this seriously.

However, its actions in fixing meetings with COMANGO on 28.12.2012 (when most activists are away on long break) and on the eve of GE 13!! does not demonstrate sincerity in listening to or addressing human rights issues which are sought to be highlighted by the local NGOs.

Honey managed to secure a meeting with the Pakatan Rakyat MPs for a COMANGO briefing on the 11th July, 2013 from 1-2.30 pm.

Invitations to the Back Benchers Club unfortunately, received no response.
Walking down the corridors to Bilik Jawatankuasa 1
Honey Tan (in blue) and me. I was her designated "COMANGO photographer". Hahahah..
Those who delivered presentations that day:
1. Honey Tan (COMANGO report)
2. Mrs Wong (CRC report - Convention on the Rights of the Child)
3. Angela Kukathas (SOGI report - Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity)
4. Shafie (JKOASM report - Orang Asli)
5. Masjaliza Hamzah (CIJ report - Centre of Independent Journalism)
6. Daniel Lo (MWG report by CAMSA, ie Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia)
7. Andrew Khoo (Malaysian Bar)

Honey was the first presenter and explained how the government had made many commitments in the previous UPR in 2009 but only 23% had been implemented. There are still many reservations on various international conventions eg UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), CEDAW and CRC, it had yet to ratify 6 other core UN human rights conventions.

Masjaliza Hamzah (Centre of Independent Journalism - CIJ)
speaking about media freedoms and harrassment faced by members of the press.

Tian Chua chaired the meeting. To his right is Teresa Kok.


NGOs (left), Pakatan MPs (right) facing each other. Each MP was given a bag filled with reports
prepared by the various NGOs and the CEDAW Alternative report.

Other issues highlighted were the rights of stateless children, the rights of the LGBT community. We were told a story of a 7 year old LGBT child being kicked out from his home by his family. That provoked some response from the MPs present.

October is only 3 months away, it is urgent and important to generate as much publicity and discussion amongst Malaysians on UPR for the sake of improving the state of our human rights. We need to put pressure on the ruling Government to first hear and take cognisance of the various human rights areas that need attention.

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