Suaram: With activist track record, Anwar must realise proposed reforms or risk being seen as ‘worst PM’

(MMO) – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim may risk being labelled the “worst prime minister” Malaysia ever had if he does not make concerted efforts to implement the changes and amendments he preached when he was in the Opposition, human rights watchdog Suaram said today.

Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said Anwar was a champion when it came to human rights advocacy and fighting for the rights of the people in the past however the slow efforts since he took over as prime minister in institutionalising the changes have been disappointing.

“If we compare the PM now and before I want to say Anwar is the better choice due to his reform agenda and background. But with that baggage, if he fails to deliver he would be the worst prime minister as the previous prime minister didn’t promise much in the form of reforms,” he said while launching Suaram’s report here.

Sevan said Anwar has promised so many reform agendas, but his administration has been slow with several low-hanging fruits still not finalised, such as the abolition of mandatory death penalty.

Earlier this month, the Parliament passed a Bill that proposed to make the death penalty an option and no longer mandatory. It was passed via a voice vote after it was tabled for its third reading, and would now need to be approved in the Dewan Negara as well before being presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for royal assent.

“You still have the opportunity, find a way and overcome the stumbling block, commit to what you have promised. Otherwise, you are just going to be [like] every other government suppressing human rights and also freedom of expression,” Sevan said.

Sevan recalled in the past a group of MPs fighting the Sedition Act and called for it to be abolished, but with those MPs now in the government, Sedition Act is not even on the list of laws that need amendment or to be abolished.

“Sosma we all know what is happening. The home minister said it won’t be repealed. We had the opportunity to engage with the law ministers directly to discuss matters but we’ve yet to meet the home minister directly,” he said, referring to the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) 2012 with its controversial detention provision.

“We feel these repressive laws need to be abolished and the expectations are there especially since lots of reforms were promised but all the low-hanging fruits are still not addressed. Where is the political will and courageousness in your team to abolish and amend these laws?” Sevan asked.

Suaram released its annual report for 2022 today. The highlights were on the death penalty abolishment, and reforms of Sosma and the Prevention of Crime Act (POCA)1959 to enable police to curb commercial crime activities more effectively.

Earlier this year, electoral watchdog Bersih urged Anwar’s coalition federal government to speed up some of the political reforms it had promised or risk further turmoil and instability in government, since only the anti-hopping law has been implemented while the rest such as on political financing and fair allocation of resources have yet to manifest themselves.

International watchdog Human Rights Watch also called on Anwar’s government to step up the pace of legal reforms to better protect minority communities and freedoms, highlighting several key areas like capital punishment, free speech, and protection of refugees and people with different sexual orientations.