SPEAKING NOTES OF
DATO’ SAIFUDDIN ABDULLAH
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, MALAYSIA
AT THE INTERFACE BETWEEN ASEAN FOREIGN MINISTERS’ MEETING (AMM) AND THE ASEAN INTERGOVERNMENTAL COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS (AICHR)
1 AUGUST 2017
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.
Your Excellencies and distinguished AICHR Representatives.
1. I wish to congratulate His Excellency Ambassador Barry Desker, the AICHR Chairperson, for his efficient leadership of the AICHR. I must commend the AICHR Representatives for their sincere efforts. I am also pleased to note that the AICHR has had more active engagement with Civil Society Organisations across the region.
2. Let me share with you Malaysia’s view on human rights.
3. Human rights will be at the forefront of Malaysia’s foreign policies. We have ratified three international human rights conventions and is committed to ratifying the remaining six conventions. We will not only strengthen the role of our domestic human rights institutions including the office of the Representative of Malaysia to the AICHR, but we will also increase our support to the work of the AICHR.
4. The AICHR is the overarching Charter body established to promote and protect human rights. I have noticed the good accomplishments of the AICHR seeking to improve the lives of everyone without discrimination, and for the ASEAN peoples to live in harmony, dignity and prosperity. The peoples look to the AICHR for solace in times of distress, and for remedies in times of grave violations. Moving forward, the AICHR can only do better.
5. Firstly, we view the neglect to review the AICHR’s Terms of Reference (TOR) under paragraph 9.6 of the TOR as an issue that should be dealt with immediately. Such a review that ought to provide for a communication mechanism is long overdue, and I would propose that an Eminent Persons Panel be formed to undertake the said review to enhance human rights protection in ASEAN. While Malaysia will support any initiative that would enlarge the functions and mandate of the AICHR, we are firm that the AICHR should not be restricted in any manner or form, capping or otherwise. Malaysia’s aspiration is to enhance the AICHR’s work, not to limit it.
6. Secondly, we encourage the AICHR to be more robust in setting standards on human rights for the region by developing jurisprudence on human rights cases affecting ASEAN Member States. I think it is imperative that the AICHR – through its Representatives – publishes clear observations, comments or recommendations that could advise ASEAN Member States on the applicable human rights standards on the matters of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration 2012.
7. Thirdly, Malaysia is heartened to note that Myanmar has established a four member Independent Commission of Enquiry as part of its national initiative to address reconciliation, peace, stability and development in the Rakhine State; and to investigate the allegations of human rights violations and related issues.
8. I urge ASEAN through the AICHR and the Sectoral Bodies to play a greater proactive role to assist Myanmar in its efforts to support and protect the vulnerable and marginalised groups affected by the continuing state of affairs. These groups include asylum-seekers, refugees and internally displaced persons. A good start would be for an ASEAN High-Level Dialogue among its stakeholders to implement medical and health initiatives such as the commissioning of mobile health clinics. ASEAN Member States who are able and willing to mobilise its assets may, through the Senior Officials Meeting on Health Development, offer technical aid on the ground to administer and manage the said clinics. Further, a human rights needs assessment and analysis should also be conducted in cooperation with the Government of Myanmar.
9. Fourthly, Malaysia would like to encourage the AICHR to upload its Annual Report 2018 on the AICHR website and ASEAN’s social media links. The uploading of the AICHR’s Annual Reports have been a consistent feature and good practice of the AICHR since 2016, and this practice should continue.
10. In closing, I would call on the AICHR to persistently strive to realise its full potential to both promote and protect human rights – constructively, progressively and effectively – to benefit the people of ASEAN.