An image from Mandalay, Myanmar, following the recent military coup (© Kantabon)

According to recent reports, Malaysia is set to deport 1200 detainees back to Myanmar, following an offer from certain Myanmar authorities to facilitate their transfer via naval vessels. In light of the recent seizure of power by Myanmar’s military, Malaysia should reconsider this decision, and suspend deportations to Myanmar.

Malaysia has rightly expressed ‘serious concern’ over the situation in Myanmar, following the military coup initiated on 1 February 2021. Going ahead with this deportation in the present circumstances is, with respect, not an appropriate course of action.

This is for two reasons: (1) Malaysia’s obligations under international law, and (2)…

It is difficult to overstate the seriousness of the reports from earlier this month regarding a 16 year old girl detained by Malaysian police in Miri, Sarawak. All appearances indicate that the girl was raped by another detainee after a failure of the police there to provide adequate supervision.

This incident should be a wake up call for Malaysia on children’s rights. Although the country has legally committed itself to the main source of international law on children’s rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), implementation remains lacking. …

A Malaysian road sign reading ‘CAUTION — ACCIDENT AREA’ (© Fiq Shafiq:

Last month, Malaysia’s Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin was injured after cycling over a pothole in Banting, Selangor. The minister’s social media post about his accident sparked conversation amongst netizens over the safety of Malaysian roads.

Many pointed out that potholes have been a recurrent issue since long before the minster’s accident — some estimates put the number of potholes in the state of Selangor alone at over 52,000. Indeed, shortly after Khairy’s accident, a 75-year old man, Ho Yan Fee, was killed after hitting a pothole and losing control of his motorcycle. …

Last November, I responded to a call for stakeholder inputs from the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David R Boyd — these responses will inform the Special Rapporteur’s preparation of a 2021 thematic report.

This post reproduces my response, which outlined challenges to the realisation of human rights related to water pollution, scarcity and floods in Malaysia. My response is also available on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website here.

Responses to selected questions:

Question 1

Please provide examples of ways in which water pollution, water scarcity and floods are having…

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (UN). Founded by an initial 51 countries, known as Member States, the organisation’s membership has since expanded to the present total of 193.

The UN is composed of six principal organs, among them the UN General Assembly, UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice. A huge range of different programmes and bodies operate under the principal organs’ umbrellas.

One does not need to look far to find criticism of the UN. It is common to see the UN characterised as a bureaucratic, ineffective organisation, a place…

Malaysians will be curious to see what lies ahead in MUDA’s path

Former Malaysian Youth Minister Syed Saddiq has recently confirmed that he will be starting a new, multiracial political party, the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA). The party will not have an age-limit on membership, but Syed Saddiq is clear that the party will be “youth-driven” — indeed, the party’s acronym spells muda, Malay for “young”.

This post is not a prediction of how MUDA will fare in competition with other parties. Nor is it an endorsement, or criticism, of the party. …

The Jalur Gemilang flies at Tasik Cermin, Setia Alam

Today, Malaysia celebrates 63 years since the country, then as Malaya, won independence from colonial rule. Merdeka Day offers a chance to reflect upon the country’s history, so as to better understand the foundational values which underpin Malaysian nationhood. Undertaking such reflection is vital to guide action for the future, especially with regards to the place of human rights in Malaysian society.

As with all States formed as a result of anti-colonial struggle, the story of Malaysia’s independence is a story about human rights. While the precise role of human rights in 20th century decolonisation is still debated, it is…

A view from within the Segambut parliamentary constituency

Eligible Malaysians can register to vote online here. The process involves creating an account on the EC website, using your IC details, and photos of you and your IC. Once your account is created, you will then be able to complete Form A and enter details of a witness to register. Guides can be found here and here.

Although Malaysia’s 15th general election is only due in 2023, the current state of Malaysian politics means it could come much sooner. …

The Hague’s Peace Palace, where the ICJ sits (Photo by Yeu Ninje)

In an ongoing case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), The Gambia is suing (‘bringing a case against’) Myanmar, accusing Myanmar of committing genocide against its Rohingya population. This post outlines how the case has been brought to the ICJ (see also previous analysis of the case’s route to the ICJ, for example here, here and here).

The ICJ is the UN’s top court, composed of 15 independent judges. Although the ICJ may issue formally non-binding ‘advisory opinions’, its primary role is to make binding judgments to settle disputes between countries, referred to as ‘States’ in legal terminology. The…

Lake Geneva, a location close to UNHCR’s headquarters

Yesterday, Malaysia’s Road Transport Department (JPJ) released a statement which implied that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Malaysia office has issued driving licences to displaced persons in the country. Subsequent media reports reproducing the statement made the same curious implication (see e.g. The Star, New Straits Times).

The statement makes the point that “UNHCR Driving Licences” are not valid under Malaysian law. Malaysia is not a party to the Refugee Convention, and does not accord displaced persons in the country the legal status they would need to obtain a normal driving licence.

UNHCR Malaysia does regularly provide UNHCR…

Jefferi Hamzah Sendut

Law graduate (University of Cambridge '19) // writes about public international law and Malaysian current affairs // views expressed are entirely my own

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