Opposition party members have asked that Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah step down as chairman of an ASEAN intergovernmental committee, due to his close relations to Umno.
BY MAYURI MEI LIN
Published: February 16, 2015 01:49 PM
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 16 — Opposition party members have asked that Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah step down as chairman of an ASEAN intergovernmental committee, due to his close relations to Umno.
PAS election director Dr. Hatta Ramli said Shafee, who assumed the role of chairman of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) last week, was not likely to protect the basic rights of those in Southeast Asia seeing as his ally Umno is the “worst offender of human rights violations in Malaysia”.
“With our government’s appalling record in upholding human rights and human dignity in the country, I have zero expectations that Muhammad Shafee will perform,” Hatta told a press conference at the Lembah Pantai MP Office.
Shafee, also a prosecutor in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial, has been making headlines for attacking the latter despite his limited role as a public prosecutor-by-fiat for the case.
Hatta also alleged today that Shafee would not be a good human rights advocate as he would not dare to criticise Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“Under the prevailing oppressive atmosphere in Malaysia, it would be delusional to pin our hopes of Shafee standing up to and criticising Najib Razak’s U-turn in abolishing the Sedition Act or challenge the crackdown on opposition politicians, students, activists, journalists, teachers,” he said.
Hatta added that as the chairman of a human rights committee, Shafee should have intervened when cartoonist Zunar, PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli and DAP MP Nga Kor Ming were investigated under the Sedition Act over tweets questioning Anwar’s conviction for sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.
“Last few days also, we saw a few arrests for activists mostly under Sedition Act. We didn’t hear from the new chairman disputing these arrests,” he said.
Hatta urged Putrajaya to act immediately to replace Shafee with other qualified candidates be it from non-government organisations or government bodies.
“We feel many public figures could try, not necessarily from lawyers, can chair this human rights committee for ASEAN. We have the former chairman of Suhakam (Malaysia’s Human Rights Commission) and also the current chairman maybe. And we have NGOs that take on important roles in human rights,” he said.
“This isn’t for anything but the image of Malaysia. We must be serious about human rights,” he added.
Last Tuesday, the Federal Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s conviction of Anwar and sentenced him to five years behind bars.
Shafee has been giving interviews to local dailies insisting that there was no conspiracy behind the case and slammed Anwar’s supporters for perpetuating what he claimed was a ploy to gain sympathy.
Shafee also ridiculed Anwar’s family for calling Anwar’s jailing as a sacrifice, claiming a real sacrifice would have required him to plead guilty from the start.