Time to remove all reservations and sign the Optional Protocols: The Malaysian Bar – July 8, 2010

The Malaysian Bar
Press Release: Time to remove all reservations and sign the Optional Protocols

Thursday, 08 July 2010 03:11pm
The Malaysian Bar welcomes the Government’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Alongside Malaysia’s well-publicised ratification, the Government has nonetheless taken reservations to Article 3 on general principles, Article 5 on equality and non-discrimination, Article 15 on freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Article 18 on liberty of movement and nationality, and Article 30 on participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.

This means that the Malaysian Government does not fully subscribe to the fundamental principles that persons with disabilities should enjoy such equality, non-discrimination, freedom or liberty, or to fully participate in culture, recreation, leisure and sport. This makes for a hollow ratification since such reservations take away from fundamental principles that underpin CRPD.

These kinds of reservations are consistent with the reservations made to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which Malaysia acceded to in 1995. Despite withdrawing reservations to Articles 1, 13 and 15 of CRC, Malaysia still has five reservations in place. These are to Article 2 on non-discrimination; Article 7 on name and nationality; Article 14 on freedom of thought, conscience and religion; Article 28(1)(a) on free and compulsory education at primary level; and Article 37 on torture and deprivation of liberty. This indicates that the Malaysian Government still takes the view that children can be discriminated against, have no right to a name or nationality, have no freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and staggeringly, should not be free from torture and deprivation of liberty.

The Malaysian Bar also welcome the Government’s withdrawal of reservations to Articles 5(a), 7(b) and 16(2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). While noteworthy strides have been made in terms of efforts to eliminate discrimination against women, Malaysia also still has five reservations in place with respect to CEDAW. These deal with equal rights for women to pass their nationality to their children (Article 9(2)); equal rights to enter into marriage (Article 16(1)(a)); equal rights and responsibilities during marriage and at its dissolution (Article 16(1)(c)); equal rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children (Article 16(1)(f)); and the same personal rights in a marriage, including the right to choose a family name, a profession and an occupation (Article 16(1)(g)).

In addition to these reservations, the Malaysian Government has still not signed or ratified any of the Optional Protocols to CRPD, CRC or CEDAW. These Optional Protocols grant specific rights to the citizens/residents of a country to refer their government to the international supervisory committee for non-compliance with each of these conventions. At present, although Malaysia is a State Party to these conventions, Malaysians cannot hold the Government accountable if it does not honour or comply with their provisions.

Similarly, the Persons With Disabilities Act 2008, which supposedly implemented the provisions of CRPD and which came into force in July 2008, does not provide for any form of punishment or remedy for breaches. It remains to be seen how the Malaysian Government will ensure that provisions of that Act are implemented. The Act also does not ensure that the persons with disabilities are not discriminated against, e.g. in education and employment opportunities.

The ratification of CRPD, and the withdrawal of some of the reservations to CRC and CEDAW, are all positive steps. However, more can, and should, be done.

We call on the Malaysian Government to give full effect to its international obligations by removing all remaining reservations, and by signing all three Optional Protocols. It should also expand the scope of the existing Child Act 2001 and Persons With Disabilities Act 2008 to comprehensively cover all areas of CRC and CRPD respectively. Currently, many of the provisions of CRC and CRPD have been left out of the enabling Malaysian legislation.

Finally, to show that it is fully transparent and accountable to the rakyat, we call on the Malaysian Government to insert provisions in all enabling legislation to allow the Malaysian Government to be challenged in Malaysian courts for non-compliance with its full obligations under CRPD, CRC and CEDAW. In particular, as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Malaysian Government should do no less.

Lim Chee Wee
Malaysian Bar

8 July 2010

Malaysia Signs Convention On Rights Of Persons With Disabilities: Bernama – July 6, 2010

July 06, 2010 21:21 PM

Malaysia Signs Convention On Rights Of Persons With Disabilities

KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 (Bernama) — Malaysia on Tuesday signed the instrument to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and withdrew its reservations on several articles in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

The signing of the instrument by Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil showed the government’s commitment to protecting and improving the welfare of the disabled, women and children.

Shahrizat said the Convention on the disabled outlined eight common principles, including respect and self-reliance, removing discrimination against the disabled, and their full and effective participation in society.

“We hope it will bring change to the lives of the disabled in this country,” she said at the signing ceremony, here.

Shahrizat also handed over the instrument ratifying the Convention to Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Richard Riot Jaem to be sent to the United Nations for further action.

On the withdrawing of Malaysia’ reservations on certain articles in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Shahrizat said the government would give children the freedom to have their say and the right to form associations and to assemble peacefully.

She said the move was in line with the recognition given to children’s rights as they would be the nation’s future leaders.

Besides that, she added, the government would also fix the minimum age for women to marry and make the marriage registration compulsory, remove prejudices and customs that discriminated against women, and stress on opportunities to be given to women to hold public office.

Shahrizat said when the government agreed to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, it acted by appointing two women as Syariah Court judges recently.

“This is a positive step in raising the status of women in this country by giving them important decision-making positions,” she said.


AirAsia, Wheelchair Users And Indemnity Form: The Ongoing Saga

With no satisfactory official response forthcoming from AirAsia regarding the policy of imposing indemnity form on wheelchair users after more than two months, I decided to refer my complaint to the Minister of Transport Dato’ Sri Chan Kong Choy and the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Dato’ Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

The complaint was sent via email just now and hardcopies will posted to the respective ministers and three other persons in the carbon copy list, namely Senator Prof Datuk Dr. Ismail Md Salleh, Society of Orthopaedically Handicapped Malaysia President Dr. Tiun Ling Ta and Malaysian Spinal Injuries Association President Dr. Rahim bin Noor. I am a member of both organisations. Not long after the email was sent, Ministry of Transport Secretary General Dato’ Haji Zakaria Hj Bahari forwarded the mail to AirAsia CEO Datuk Tony Fernandes asking him to take action accordingly.

Below is the content of my complaint letter:

4 Januari, 2008

Y.B. Dato’ Sri Chan Kong Choy Melalui emel dan pos
Menteri Pengangkutan
Blok D5, Kompleks D
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan
62616 Putrajaya

Y. B. Dato’ Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil Melalui emel dan pos
Menteri Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga dan Masyarakat
Aras 1-6, Blok E
Kompleks Pejabat Kerajaan Bukit Perdana
Jalan Dato’ Onn
50515 Kuala Lumpur

Dato’ Sri Chan dan Dato’ Sri Shahrizat,


Saya ingin membuat aduan tentang perkara di atas yang telah berlaku pada diri saya.

1. Pada 30 Oktober 2007, saya bersama isteri saya telah daftar masuk di Lapangan Terbangan Antarabangsa Kota Kinabalu untuk menaiki penerbangan AirAsia AK 5107 ke Kuala Lumpur. Saya adalah pengguna kerusi roda.

2. Seorang pegawai AirAsia meminta saya menandatangani borang lepas tanggungan (Release and Indemnity). Antara fasal yang terkandung di dalam borang itu adalah:
– AirAsia tidak akan bertanggungjawab sekiranya berlaku apa-apa pada diri saya semasa penerbangan.
– Saya bersetuju menanggung segala perbelanjaan AirAsia yang mungkin disebabkan oleh diri saya dalam penerbangan tersebut.
– Saya telah menandatangani borang itu secara sukarela .

3. Saya telah membantah dengan sekerasnya dan meminta perkara ini dirujuk kepada pihak pengurusan AirAsia di Kuala Lumpur sebab perbuatan yang mewajibkan saya menandatangani borang itu adalah diskriminasi terhadap saya sebagai seorang pengguna kerusi roda.

4. Setelah pegawai itu merujuk kepada pengurusnya, saya diberitahu bahawa sekiranya saya tidak menandatangani borang tersebut, saya tidak akan dibenarkan menaiki pesawat. Saya tidak mempunyai pilihan kecuali menandatangani borang tersebut untuk dibenarkan menaiki pesawat kembali ke Kuala Lumpur. Apabila menandatangani borang tersebut, saya juga telah menulis dengan huruf besar yang terang bahawa saya membantah perbuatan tersebut. Salinan borang tersebut dilampirkan.

5. Saya telah memaklumkan kejadian tersebut kepada Datuk Tony Fernandez dan Encik Bo Lingam dari AirAsia melalui emel. Maklumbalas dari kedua-dua mereka sungguh tidak memuaskan. Sehingga kini, selepas dua bulan, pihak AirAsia masih belum memberi penerangan yang munasabah mengenai syarat ini kecuali mengatakan bahawa ia adalah syarat dari syarikat insurans mereka. Alasan ini tidak boleh diterima kerana Malaysia Airlines tidak mengenakan syarat ini keatas pengguna kerusi roda kecuali satu kesilapan di Jepun di mana Profesor Yutaka Takamine diminta mendandatangani surat lepas tanggungan. Malaysia Airlines telah pun meminta maaf kepada Profesor Yutaka seperti yang Dato’ Sri-Dato’ Sri sudah dimaklumkan.

6. Saya telah menghadiri kursus “Independent Living Program for People with Disabilities” di Jepun dan Thailand pada 2006 yang dianjurkan bersama oleh Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat Malaysia dan Japan International Cooperation Agency. Dalam penerbangan ke kursus-kursus tersebut dengan Japan Airlines dan Malaysia Airlines, saya tidak diminta untuk menandatangani borang lepas tanggungan. Saya juga telah menghadiri 7th Disabled Peoples’ International World Assembly dan Global Summit on Independent Living di Korea baru-baru ini sebagai speaker untuk kedua-dua perhimpunan tersebut dengan penerbangan Malaysia Airlines dan juga tidak diminta untuk menandatangi borang tersebut.

7. Saya ingin merujuk kepada cadangan daripada 18 pertubuhan OKU yang diserahkan kepada Dato’ Sri Chan pada mesyuarat di Kementerian Pengangkutan pada 12 Mac 2007 di mana kami meminta supaya syarat yang mewajipkan pengguna kerusi roda menandatangani surat lepas tanggunan yang diamalkan oleh syarikat penerbangan dilarang sama sekali. Salinan cadangan tersebut dilampirkan.

8. Syarat yang diskriminasi ini melanggar hak asasi saya. Saya berharap Dato’ Sri Chan dan Dato’ Sri Shahrizat akan mengambil tindakan dengan segera supaya perkara yang sebegini tidak berlaku lagi. Ia juga untuk memelihara hak OKU yang termaktub dalam Rang Undang-Undang Orang Kurang Upaya 2007 dan Konvensyen Mengenai Hak Orang Kurang Upaya (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).

Perhatian Dato’ Sri-Dato’ Sri di atas perkara ini amat dihargai.

Sekian, terima kasih.

Related entry:
BEAT’s Recommendation To The Ministry of Transport Malaysia