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Human

 Rights

Definition
(J09  Q1b)
-­‐ The  basic  rights  that  all  human  beings  are  entitled  to  enjoy
-­‐ Section  2  of  the  Human  Rights  Commission  of  Malaysia  Act  1999  defines  human  rights  to  
mean  the  fundamental  liberties  provided  for  under  the  Federal  Constitution  of  Malaysia.

SUHAKAM
‘The  Human  Rights  Commission  of  Malaysia’
was  established  by  Parliament  under  the  Human  Rights  Commission  of  Malaysia  Act  1999.

Functions Powers
Section  4(1)  HRCoMA’99 Section  4(2)  HRCoMA’99

(i) To  promote  awareness  of  and  provide  eduction   (i) To  undertake  research  by  conduction  programs,  
relating  to  human  rights; seminars  and  workshops  and  to  disseminate  and  
distribute  the  results  of  such  research;
(ii)To  advise  and  assist  Government  in  formulating  
legislation  and  procedures  and  recommend  the   (ii)To  advise  the  Government  and/or  relevant  authorities  
necessary  measure  to  be  taken; of  complaints  against  them  and  to  recommend  
appropriate  measure  to  be  taken;
(iii)To  recommend  to  the  Government  with  regard  to  
subscription  or  accession  of  treaties  and  other   (iii)To  study  and  verify  any  infringement  of  human  rights;
international  instruments  in  the  field  of  human  rights;
(iv)To  visit  places  of  detention  in  accordance  with  
(iv)To  inquire  into  complaints  regarding  infringements  in   procedures  as  prescribed  by  laws  relating  to  the  
of  human  rights. places  of  detention  and  to  make  necessary  
recommendations;

(v)To  issue  public  statements  on  human  rights  as  and  


Section  4(4)  HRCoM’99 when  necessary;
“for  the  purpose  of  this  Act,  regard  shall  be  had  to  the  
Universal  Declaration  of  Human  Rights  1948  (UDHR)  to  
the  extent  that  it  is  not  inconsistent  with  the  Federal   (vi)To  undertake  appropriate  activities  as  are  necessary.
Constitution.”

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Fundamental  Liberties
(J’09  Q1b)

-­‐ The  Federal  Constitution  contains  several  provisions  which  are  designed  to  protect  the  freedom  of  the  individual.  
-­‐ These  are  referred  to  as  fundamental  rights  or  fundamental  liberties
-­‐ These  rights  are  said  to  be  entrenched  or  enshrined  because  these  rights  cannot  be  altered  or  taken  away  altogether  
unless  the  Constitution  itself  is  amended.  
-­‐ This  can  only  be  done  with  the  approval  of  a  ⅔  majority  of  all  the  members  of  Parliament.

1. No  person  may  be  deprived  of  his  life  or  personal  liberty  except  in  accordance  with  the  law.  (Article  5)
-­‐ This  provision  protects  the  individual  from  being  unlawfully  imprisoned  or  put  to  death.
-­‐ An  individual  who  is  unlawfully  detained,  may  obtain  an  order  of  the  court  through  a  writ  of  ‘habeas  corpus’.  This  
is  an  order  of  the  court  requiring  that  he  be  lawfully  charged  in  court  or  be  released.
-­‐ However,  this  right  is  not  absolute.  A  person  may  still  be  deprived  of  his  life  or  liberty  in  accordance  with  the  law.
-­‐ Thus  the  Internal  Security  Act  1960,  which  was  passed  under  powers  conferred  by  Article  149  of  the  Constitution  
permits,  among  other  things,  preventive  detention.  

2.No  person  may  be  subject  to  slavery  or  forced  labour.  (Article  6)
-­‐ The  constitution  recognizes  that  individuals  should  not  be  regarded  as  the  property  of  others  and  thus  bans  all  
forms  of  slavery  and  forced  labour.
-­‐ However,  this  right  of  the  individual  is  given  subject  to  the  paramount  interest  of  the  nation.  
-­‐ Thus,  Parliament  may  make  laws  providing  for  compulsory  national  service.

3.No  person  can  be  punished  under  a  law  which  was  not  in  force  when  the  alleged  crime  was  committed.  (Article  7)
-­‐ This  protects  the  individual  from  being  charged  with  a  crime  that  was  not  recognized  as  a  crime  at  the  time  the  
alleged  wrongful  act  was  done.
-­‐ Thus,  for  example,  a  person  professing  the  Hindu  religion  cannot  be  charge  with  bigamy  if  his  purported  second  
marriage  was  entered  into  prior  to  the  implementation  of  the  Law  Reform  (Marriages  and  Divorce)  Act  1976,  
which  made  non  Muslim  marriages  monogamous.  This  effectively  means  that  laws  against  crimes  cannot  be  
passed  with  retrospective  effect.

4.A  person  cannot  be  tried  more  than  once  for  the  same  crime,  where  he  has  already  been  acquitted  or  convicted  
earlier.  
-­‐ This  right  recognizes  that  an  individual  should  not  be  placed  in  a  position  of  double  jeopardy,  where  he  is  made  
to  undergo  more  than  one  trial  for  the  same  offense  if  he  has  already  previously  been  tried  and  either  acquitted  
or  convicted.  
-­‐ If  the  law  were  otherwise,  there  might  be  no  end  to  the  punishments  meted  out  to  the  individual  who  has  
committed  an  offense,  even  if  it  is  a  minor  one.
-­‐ However,  this  does  not  apply  in  cases  where  a  higher  court  has  quashed  an  earlier  trial  and  ordered  a  re-­‐trial.

5.All  persons  are  equal  before  the  law  and  entitle  to  its  protection.
-­‐ Article  8  entrenches  this  right.
-­‐ Exceptions  -­‐  Clause  5
(i)  any  provision  regulating  personal  law
(ii)any  provision  or  practice  restricting  matters  connected  with  religion  to  persons  professing  that  religion  only.
(iii)any  provision  for  protection,  well  being  or  advancement  of  the  aboriginal  peoples  of  the  Federation.
(iv)any  provision  restricting  enlistment  in  the  Malay  Regiment  to  Malays.
in  addition,  State  laws  may  provide  for  reservation  of  land  for  Malays.  Articles  89  and  90.

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6. Citizens  cannot  be  discriminated  against  in  relation  to  appointment  to  any  office  or  employment  (Article  13)
-­‐ under  a  public  authority,  or  i  relation  to  acquisition  of  property,  establishing  or  carrying  on  of  any  trade,  business,  
professions,  vocation  or  employment,  merely  on  grounds  of  religion,  race,  descent  or  place  of  birth.
-­‐ However,  this  right  is  subject  to  Article  153  of  the  Federal  Constitution  which  permits  the  granting  of  special  
privileges  to  bumiputras.

7.Citizens  cannot  be  discriminated  against  in  relation  to  the  providing  of  education  (Article  12)
-­‐ merely  on  grounds  of  religion,  race,  descent  or  place  of  birth.
-­‐ This  again  is  subject  to  Article  153  as  stated  above.

8.Freedom  of  religion.  (Article  11)


-­‐ The  constitution  also  entrenches  the  right  of  the  individual  to  profess,  practice  and  propagate  his  own  religion.
-­‐ However,  as  Islam  is  the  religion  of  the  country,  restrictions  may  be  placed  upon  the  propagation  of  other  
religions  among  Muslims.

9.No  citizen  may  be  banished  from  the  country.  (Article  9)
-­‐ However,  this  right  is  subject  to  exceptions  whereby  the  Federal  Government  is  permitted  to  deprive  a  person  of  
his  citizenship  under  certain  circumstances.

10.Every  citizen  has  the  right  to  freedom  of  speech,  peaceful  assembly  and  association.  (Article  10)
-­‐ However,  in  the  interests  of  security,  public  order  or  morality,  Parliament  may  impose  certain  restrictions.
-­‐ For  example,  the  Sedition  Act  1948  provides  that  it  is  an  offense  to  question  the  sovereignty,  powers  and  
prerogatives  of  the  rulers  and  the  special  position  of  the  Malays.
-­‐ Further,  the  freedom  of  speech  does  not  entitle  a  person  to  defame  another.  This  will  entitle  the  person  defamed  
to  sue  the  other  under  the  Law  of  defamation.

(It  must  be  noted  that  a  number  of  these  liberties  may  be  overridden  by  Article  149  and  150  of  the  Constitution.  
Among  other  things,  Article  149  empowers  Parliament  to  make  laws  against  subversion,  whether  or  not  an  
emergency  is  proclaimed.  Such  laws  may  be  inconsistent  with  a  number  of  the  entrenched  fundamental  liberties  
such  as  liberty  of  the  person,  free  movement  and  freedom  of  speech  assembly  and  association.  The  Internal  
Security  Act  1960  is  an  example.)

Article  150
-­‐ the  Yang  diPertuan  Agung  to  proclaim  an  emergency  if  he  is  satisfied  that  there  is  imminent  danger  of  the  
occurrence  of  such  event.
-­‐ During  such  emergency,  the  Yang  diPertuan  Agung  may  proclaim  Ordinances  which  would  be  valid  even  if  they  
go  against  the  provisions  of  the  constitution  or  nay  other  law.

Article  153
-­‐ allows  for  special  privileges  to  be  accorded  to  Malays.
-­‐ This  would  validate  laws  which  would  otherwise  go  against  the  rights  of  equality  and  non-­‐discrimination.

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