P Kasthuriraani must not mislead Parliament, be more constitutionally literate – MACSA
18 October 2018
Recently media reports in particular one by Free Malaysia Today on 16 October 2018 have quoted the Honourable Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan, P Kasthuriraani, urging the Government to “ratify” a certain United Nations General Assembly Resolution, the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
The said Member of Parliament and the general public must understand that it is not possible to ratify a declaration. Declarations are statements of principles that are not legally binding, and are made for emphasis of point, hence the operative word of a declaration. Examples of these are United Nations General Assembly Resolutions, and the declaration referred to by the Member of Parliament is such a resolution that was adopted by the said assembly without vote on 25 November 1981. Another example of a declaration is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948.
Declarations are distinguished from conventions, which like agreements, covenants and protocols are treaties governed by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (adopted 23 May 1969).
These operate as international level agreements that are open for the signature and ratification of states. Examples of these include the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights 1966 as well as the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966.
Had the said Member of Parliament urged the Government to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination it would have made sense but what was urged by the Honourable Member was the ratification of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. That she had failed to grasp the difference between the two beggars’ belief and her conduct in making this call clearly amounts to misleading Parliament.
P Kasthuriraani has also, per the words of the Hansard dated 15 October 2018 misquoted Article 11 of the Constitution when she said “…perkara 11 dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan yang menyatakan, “Agama Islam merupakan agama persekutuan dan agama-agama lain boleh diamalkan dengan aman dan damai, di mana-mana bahagian Persekutuan”.
Article 11(1) of the Constitution states that every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and subject to certain restrictions, to propagate it. It is Article 3(1) of the Constitution and not Article 11, which enshrines Islam’s sacrosanct position as the religion of our federation. This constitutional illiteracy displayed by P. Kasthuriraani is abysmal and unbecoming for an elected Member of Parliament who are expected to know the provisions of our apex law by heart.
While we welcome the said Member of Parliament’s concern for human rights and the standing of Malaysia when it faces the UN Human Rights Council for its 3rd Universal Periodic Review this November, her aforementioned indiscretions do naught to advance the human rights cause and is a potentially embarrassing setback that will make us a laughing stock internationally. We thus urge the Honourable Member to apologise to Parliament and to Malaysians generally for both her mistakes soonest.
JOINT STATEMENT BY:
Azril Mohd Amin, Chief Executive, CENTHRA and Chairperson, MACSA or the Malaysian Alliance of Civil Society Organisations in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Process.
Associate Professor Dr. Rafidah Hanim Mokhtar, President of The International Women’s Alliance for Family Institution and Quality Education WAFIQ) and Co-Chairperson, MACSA.
The Malaysian Alliance of Civil Society Organisations in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Process (MACSA) is a coalition of 52 civil society organisations with the specific aim and object to look into, as well as advocate, human rights issues in Malaysia for the UPR Process