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11 May, 2018

ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights lauds Malaysian election outcome

Official statement issued by the APHR Board on 11 May 2018

On behalf of the membership of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), we offer our heartfelt congratulations to the Malaysian people on a historic election.

Despite irregularities and other challenges that prevented the vote from being a fully free and fair contest, we are pleased that the election proceeded peacefully and that it ultimately reflected the will of the Malaysian people. The strong voter enthusiasm and high turnout were indicative of the strength of the democratic process and a firm belief in the power of change through peaceful, democratic means.

The vote marks a bright spot amidst dark times regionally, and we hope that Malaysia’s success will encourage neighboring governments to embrace reform and inspire civil society and publics around the ASEAN region to keep the struggle for democracy and human rights alive in their own countries.

Now, the hard work begins. Legislative and institutional reform will be critical for Malaysia to consolidate democratic gains. The new government should move swiftly to repeal or amend repressive security laws and other statutes, which have been abused to restrict fundamental freedoms and silence opposition. It must also work to enhance the independence of the judiciary, strengthen the rule of law, and rebuild public trust in the country’s institutions. In particular, emphasis should be placed on restoring press freedom and addressing longstanding concerns about corruption. Electoral reform must also remain a priority, including guaranteeing the independence of the election commission and an end to partisan gerrymandering.

As a new government takes shape, we hope that the selection process of the new cabinet, as well as its future policies and personnel decisions, embrace Malaysia’s diversity and ensure that people of all background are welcome.

We urge the new government to deepen its international human rights commitments and to tackle pressing national and regional human rights concerns, including by strengthening protections for migrant workers, refugees, and asylum seekers. We hope that Malaysia, under new leadership, will take steps to act as a strong voice for human rights and democracy around the ASEAN region.

We look forward to witnessing a peaceful transfer of power, and to those newly elected MPs, we look forward to welcoming you into the ranks of a growing network of regional legislators committed to the promotion and protection of human rights. Know that your parliamentary counterparts from around the region stand ready to support your efforts to ensure that this election results in meaningful, positive change for all Malaysians. Together, we will continue to strive for an ASEAN region that is peaceful, democratic, and rights-respecting.