PETALING JAYA, May 8 — The ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) must stop conceding to pressure from Umno and PAS if Malaysia is to ever progress in terms of human rights, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said today.
The global rights group’s deputy director for Asia Phil Robertson labelled the Umno-PAS pact that emerged after PH’s GE14 victory last year as an “anti-human rights alliance” and noted that they had become bolder with their demands after succeeding in getting the government to back down from ratifying several treaties.
“This is what we said to Malaysia. We said look, we understand you have some misgivings, but go ahead and ratify and then sort it out later, but they were not listening. They were not prepared and so when the debate on ICERD came out, there was no response that they could bring out because they hadn’t thought it through.
“And the problem was because the ICERD debate went so badly for the government and they sort of withdrew in disarray, that we have seen that the government is afraid to move forward with other new ratifications,” he told a news conference here on HRW’s assessment of PH’s governance after a year.
ICERD refers to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Robertson said the ICERD concession has emboldened the two Malay-Muslim political parties to demand other things that risk Malaysia’s human rights record internationally.