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Human rights an integral part of Islam

Graphic: Tan Sri Hasmy Agam interviewed by a journalist

The Commission said it was "dismayed" by the narrow approach taken by the country's leadership to interpret and understand human rights principles.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) said in a statement it was "dismayed" by the narrow approach taken by the country's leadership to interpret and understand the long established universal human rights principles.

The statement by SUHAKAM Chairperson Tan Sri Hasmy noted that human rights belong to all people and are based on the fundamental principles of non-discrimination, equality, fairness, justice and respect for human dignity.

SUHAKAM was responding to comments by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that, while his administration would uphold basic human rights in Malaysia, it will only do so within the context of the Islamic teachings of balance and wasatiyyah (moderation).

The Prime Minister also stated that Malaysia cannot defend all aspects of human rights, citing lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender rights as example.

"This may not only send a misleading message both domestically and internationally, but may undermine both Malaysia's well-respected international position, particularly within the United Nations, and the work of the Commission which has tirelessly since its inception been pushing for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country," said Tan Sri Hasmy Agam.

"Accordingly, it is important for the country's leadership to maintain a consistency of position and approach in its interpretation irrespective of which segment of the community is being addressed," he said.

SUHAKAM's statement also noted that with the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI), all human rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) were in line with the Shariah teachings and the need to confine its practices to one religion no longer existed.

"For purposes of clarity, the Commission emphasises that the CDHRI guarantees many of the same rights as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), while at the same time affirming the Sha'riah as its source.

"Nevertheless, it is stressed that the 30 articles of the UDHR are not contrary to the tenets of Islam.

The statement further noted that the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 provides legitimacy to the UDHR, making it a crucial component in Malaysia's human rights practices.

According to Hasmy, the fact that Malaysia was the Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year and a former member of the UN Human Rights Council meant that it had a responsibility to abide by the human right pledges made at the international level.

Read the full statement by Tan Sri Hasmy Agam.

Date: 20 August 2015


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  1. Tan Sri Hasmy Agam interviewed by a journalist - Human Rights Commission of Malaysia