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Suhakam chief resigns, no reason given

The move comes after months of pressure from a faction in the rights body calling for his replacement.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Suhakam chairman Rahmat Mohamad. Photo: Bernama
Suhakam chairman Rahmat Mohamad. Photo: Bernama

The chairman of the government's Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), Rahmat Mohamad, will step down on Aug 31, two years before his tenure expires in 2025.

The Prime Minister's Department, which announced his resignation, however, did not give any reason for his sudden departure.

A short statement from the department's Legal Affairs Division said Rahmat would continue to lead the Asian International Arbitration Centre Board, adding that the position suits his background in international law.

Rahmat's resignation came following reports of internal bickering within the rights body and a campaign to oust him by a faction that was opposed to his appointment by the previous administration under Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The move also came amid criticism by a DAP leader that Suhakam was "more quiet" than it used to be.

"In the past, we always saw commissioners going to the field for various activities, such as monitoring the Bersih rallies, holding open hearings for victims who complained of power abuse by enforcement officers, and so on.

"But today, we rarely read Suhakam's statements and activities, and most of us do not know Suhakam's commissioners," Seputeh MP Teresa Kok told the Dewan Rakyat in June.

MalaysiaNow previously reported that a petition carrying 20 names was sent to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Azalina Othman Said, calling for Rahmat to be replaced.

"There is clearly a campaign to oust Rahmat, and it has been gathering steam after the change of government," a source had told MalaysiaNow.

His critics often cited his role in opposing Malaysia's ratification of the Rome Statute, a treaty that established the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court (ICC).

In 2019, Putrajaya, under the then Pakatan Harapan government led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was forced to withdraw Malaysia's ratification of the treaty following protests from the Malay rulers, who voiced concern over the jurisdiction of the ICC over Malaysia's sovereignty, including constitutional provisions on Malay privileges and Malay rulers.

Rahmat was involved in drafting a paper to advise the Malay rulers on the problems with Malaysia being part of the statute, whose signatories do not include countries like China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, while others such as the US, Egypt, Iran, and Russia signed the treaty without ratifying it.