We laud the setting up of “Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia” (Proham).(Report in the Star 13th March 2011) As much as we are appreciative of the formation of yet another Human Rights organization in the country, we are equally apprehensive that this may be just another toothless Human Rights organization or worse still yet another organization to legitimize current UMNO regime’s racist practices.
What makes us apprehensive at the outset that this organization may amount to very little more, if at all, is the fact that it totally lacks new credible Human Rights Defenders’ in the list of its officers. All the leading office holders except two are ex-Suhakam Commissioners. One does not need to be reminded of Suhakam’s record of defending Human Rights in the country – it is shameful, to say the least. And most of the office holders in this new organization are part of that same Suhakam team to whom that shameful record may be attributed. Can we be faulted for our apprehensions premised on this very very sad and continuing experience.
For starters Proham wants to begin its career on March 21st 2011 with a roundtable discussion on “ the United Nations Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination”, in conjunction with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrim-ination.
Noble as that sounds, it appears that it will be just more vague talk as with all the toothless talk they have engaged in, in the past while in Suhakam. If the Proham Officers are serious and mean real Human Rights business and want to make a difference to the nation, and not just to use Proham to further burnish their individuals biodata, then they should conduct a more relevant and specific discussion on the current controversy surrounding the novel “Interlok”. They should invite people from across the spectrum for a panel discussion on 21st of March 2011 instead, to evaluate the truth of the allegations that the book is racially divisive and a tool to perpetuate racism by UMNO.
We would like this to be an open and meaningful discussion. It is our clear opinion that the UMNO government promotes its racist ideology through covert means by making this book a part of the compulsory education curriculum for the young of our country. Containing many serious negative racial stereotypes, this book damagingly perpetuates the Ketuanan Melayu racist ideology subtly into the future. It is this kind of racist tendencies within society that organizations like the Human Rights Party or Proham or Suhakam are supposed to check. Does Proham have it in its DNA to rise to the challenge.
So, Proham, if you are serious – do not begin in vagueness, begin with your end clear in mind.
Hindraf Makkal Sakthi and the Human Rights Party