KUCHING: The almost two-month delay in the appointment of the new chairman and commissioners of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) may affect the image and effectiveness of the body in carrying out its role and function to promote, protect and monitor human rights in this country.
Former Suhakam commissioner (2013-2019) Francis Johen, when asked about the delay, said he was still waiting for the announcement and hoping that the appointment would be in the near future.
According to him, without a chairman being appointed, no person would be responsible for giving leadership, direction and proper guidance to Suhakam officials at their jobs.
In fact, he said any job vacancy in Suhakam should also be approved by commissioners in particular meetings.
“There are also many other things such as those finance-related which require approval of the commissioners.
“For Suhakam branches such those as in Sarawak and Sabah, no programme will be scheduled as long as the commissioners are not appointed.
“Therefore, it is very important that the appointment of commissioners for the 2019-2022 session is made immediately,” he explained when contacted yesterday.
According to Francis, under the Suhakam Act 1999, a total of 20 commissioners including a chairman may be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister for a period of three years.
However, he said the actual number of commissioners to be appointed for a certain period would depend on the budget allocated by the federal government.
He added for the 2019-2022 session, it was probable that a new commissioner would be appointed to take responsibility for the rights of children as proposed by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry several months ago.
Whether this would be a reality depended on the budget given to Suhakam later.
Meanwhile, former Suhakam commissioner (2006-2010) Denison Jayasooria wants the Pakatan Harapan government to explain why Suhakam’s new chairman and commissioners have not been appointed since two months ago.
“The time-frame is already fixed. The government must pay attention to new appointments rather than delaying time,” he said.
Last April, Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail resigned two weeks before his term of service ended, following Suhakam’s probe on the disappearance of a pastor and two activists.
Seven Suhakam commissioners, Lok Yim Pheng, Mah Weng Kwai, Aishah Bidin, Nik Salida Suhaila Nik Saleh, Francis Johen, Godfrey Gregory Joitol and Jerald Joseph, ended their three-year service on April 25.