Participation in the conduct of public affairs

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Lack of Consultations

While the Government of Malaysia has conducted a number of national consultations for a variety of national issues, there still exists a lack of broad and meaningful consultations with stakeholders including civil society as a whole. An example of this would be the Government’s consultation process in the development of Malaysia’s first ever National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP), overseen by the Legal Affairs Division (BHEUU) under the Prime Minister’s Department. It was observed that the Steering Committee for the NHRAP not only did not include stakeholders from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), but that consultations with CSOs would only take place at a later stage. In this regard, the Commission submitted a Recommendation Paper to the Government of Malaysia, recommending, among others, that CSOs, being key grassroots representatives of society, be made a part of the Steering Committee to ensure that the Malaysian public would benefit from a dynamic and significant Plan.

There is also a similar lack of engagement with stakeholders with regard to the consultations that the Government should have had with respect to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). In the course of the briefing sessions on Malaysia’s second UPR that the Commission held nationwide in 2014, it appeared that awareness of the UPR was very varied. Many of the Government and CSO representatives, especially at the State level, were unaware of the UPR process, what it entailed, and the recommendations that were put forth to Malaysia. This shows the limitations to the rights of participation for Malaysian citizens, due to the clear absence of consistent, broad and meaningful engagementments with the Government. Not only that, it also appears that the Government of Malaysia is not giving due consideration to the view of civil society, even concerning issues that are of national interest.

Essentially, the Commission is of the view that there is still much room for improvement with regard to the Government's frequency in engaging with civil society as whole. The principle of meaningful consultations should be entrenched and present in all aspects of the Government's decision-making processes, especially when they concern issues that affect citizens such as the enactment of new laws, the formulation of policies, National Budgets, etc, to ensure that the Malaysian Government’s decisions are in line with the interests of its peoples.

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