Malaysia: Opportunity for new government to put human rights at the forefront of reformation


18 MAY 2018

Amnesty International Malaysia welcomes and congratulates the Malaysian people on the smooth accession of the new Malaysian government last week and the formation of the new cabinet today under the leadership of Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohammad.

The new government from Pakatan Harapan have highlighted several human rights reforms such as abolishing the mandatory death penalty, addressing refugee rights, freedom of expression, press freedom, indigenous rights, accountability for police impunity and ratifying several UN conventions.

“This historic election result shows that the Malaysian people are ready for reforms including those pertaining to the development of human rights in Malaysia. The end of the travel ban against political cartoonist Zunar and the swift royal pardon and release of Amnesty International’s prisoner of conscience, Anwar Ibrahim are commendable steps by the new government to uphold human rights,” said Gwen Lee, Interim Executive Director, Amnesty International Malaysia.

On 24 April, Amnesty International published a Human Rights Agenda, outlining eight key human rights issues that those elected to the next government should prioritize. These include ensuring the rights to freedom of expression and association, better protections for refugees and people seeking asylum, indigenous rights, ending torture and ill-treatment, and abolishing the death penalty.

The Agenda sets out a concrete action plan to improve the human rights situation in Malaysia which will give the government an opportunity to turn the country into a leader on human rights in Southeast Asia as a whole.

“Amnesty International is ready to work with the new government and parliament members to not only facilitate some of the promises made by Pakatan Harapan in their manifesto but to also advise and consult on future human rights development based on Amnesty International’s 8-Point Agenda. A very first step should be to repeal repressive laws including the 1948 Sedition Act and the Anti-Fake News Act,” said Gwen Lee.


Malaysia’s first change in government for almost 60 years presents a historic opportunity to break with the human rights violations of the past.

An opposition alliance fronted by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad defeated the Barisan Nasional coalition led by his protégé Najib Razak, whose premiership was tainted by repeated attacks on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and arbitrary detentions under draconian laws.

Amnesty International has published a Human Rights Agenda outlining eight key human rights issues that the new government must prioritize. These include the rights to freedom of expression and association, better protections for refugees and people seeking asylum, respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples, protecting LGBTI individuals, abolishing the death penalty and ending the persecution of human rights defenders.


To arrange an interview, please contact: Nisshanthan Dhanapalan, [email protected]

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please call Amnesty International Malaysia’s office in Petaling Jaya, Selangor on:

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