From Human Rights Watch
(New York) – Malaysia’s human rights situation improved significantly in 2018 after the election of a new government that ran on a manifesto promising make the country’s rights record “respected by the world,” Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2019. The government’s commitment to reform is being tested, however, by political backlash from members of the former ruling coalition and conservative religious leaders determined to resist change.
The newly elected prime minister, Mahathir Mohammed, told the United Nations General Assembly in September that a “New Malaysia” would abide by “the principles of truth, human rights, the rule of law, justice, fairness, responsibility and accountability, as well as sustainability.” He also pledged to ratify all remaining core UN instruments related to the protection of human rights.
“Since the landmark election last May, Malaysia has been a bright spot for progress on human rights in Southeast Asia,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “But it will only remain that way if the government stops backtracking and follows through on its promises for human rights reforms.”
In the 674-page World Report 2019, its 29th edition, Human Rights Watch reviewed human rights practices in more than 100 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth says that the populists spreading hatred and intolerance in many countries are spawning a resistance. New alliances of rights-respecting governments, often prompted and joined by civic groups and the public, are raising the cost of autocratic excess. Their successes illustrate the possibility of defending human rights – indeed, the responsibility to do so – even in darker times.
Read full report here.