MIRI: SAVE Rivers chairman Peter Kallang says he has previously by-passed Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) office in Sarawak as its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur was more pro-active and responsive.

So he is looking forward to a new chapter in the state under newly minted Commissioner Dr Madeline Berma as he expressed his support and hope that it will be more pro-active in promoting and educating the people on human rights.

“Do not just sit in the office waiting for complaints to be lodged,” he said in his response to Madeline’s statement expressing surprise at the lack of reports received by Suhakam in Sarawak previously.

Suhakam, he said, should organise courses and workshops to educate the general public, especially the civil society organisations, on human rights issues. These include labour, women, racial problems and government policies issues affecting the people.

“ They should be in touch with people on the ground, “ he added.

Relating his experience, he said the Suhakam headquarters in Kuala Lumpur is more pro-active and had worked with him in many cases in the state previously.

Madeline had expressed surprise at the small number of complaints received by Suhakam from Sarawak in 2018 as a cause for concern. In an interview with online news portal FMT, she wondered if the scenario was due to either there was nothing for Sarawakians to complain about or they were not aware of Suhakam’s existence. She said the main responsibilities of Suhakam were to protect and to promote human rights, and found it disturbing that cases on land issues were not reported to Suhakam Sarawak.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) was established by Parliament under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999, Act 597. The Act was gazetted on 9 September 1999.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Musa Hitam was appointed the first chairman of the commission which held its inaugural meeting on 24 April 2000.

Madeline was announced as one of the commissioners in June this year with Tan Sri Othman Hashim as the fifth chairman, taking over the baton from Tan Sri Razali Ismail.

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