Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Human Rights in Malaysia

11th Assembly — A Forum by Nation Building School

15th December 2016 (Thursday)

7.00 pm - 10.00 pm
* Dinner is provided
* Praying space for Muslims is available

Impact Hub Kuala Lumpur
D7 @ Sentul East Design Centre, Jalan Sentul, 51000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia.

Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Human Rights in Malaysia


1. Associate Prof. Dr. Azmi Bin Sharom — Law Professor
2. Woon King Chai — Independent Journalist & Former Student Activist
3. Amir Fareed Rahim Political Analyst & Head of Special Projects, KRA Group
4. Dr Lin Mui Kiang — Former United Nations Coordination Specialist for Malaysia


In conjunction with International Human Rights Day, Nation Building School will be inviting our speakers to talk about the state of our fundamental rights (expression, movement, assembly, association) in Malaysia in accordance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

15th September 2011 was a historic day for human rights in Malaysia. Prime Minister Najib Razak in a progressive turn announced the repeal of the notorious ISA and many archaic draconian laws. He instructed the government to review traditional restrictive laws such as Police Act, Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) and OSA.

However, due to lack of electoral support and pressure from right-wing conservative elements, the government has had to make many u-turns. In the name of maintaining order, the government introduced POTA, SOSMA, Peaceful Assembly Act and National Security Act. Instead of abolishing it, the Sedition Act has been strengthened.

The controversial use of the legislation has sparked concerns, particularly from the civil society that our civil liberties have eroded. International observers have noted further deterioration of fundamental rights. The US-based Freedom House rates Malaysia as ‘partly free’ in its annual report. As the world celebrates the 50th year of two important fundamental human rights treaties — ICCPR & ICESCR — Malaysia has yet to even sign it.

Government leaders have responded to these allegations by arguing it has had to balance the nation’s security and individual liberties. It needs adequate preventive laws to address the threat of terrorism especially from Daesh. The government has also asserted it has to incorporate religious and ‘Asian’ values in upholding human rights in the context of a diverse society such as Malaysia.

Against this backdrop, Nation Building School would like to propose the following questions to the speakers:
1. In your opinion, what is the state of human rights in Malaysia?
2. There is an argument that Asian values and our collective well-being trumps individual liberty. What do you think?
3. What is one thing the Malaysian government can do to immediately improve its human rights record?
4. In your opinion, what is one piece of legislation impinging on human rights that government needs to urgently review?
5. What more can human rights champions and CSOs do to improve the situation?
6. What is the trajectory of human rights in Malaysia? What do you hope or fear for?


Nation Building School is a youth development non-profit organisation. Our vision is to democratise leadership for youth through active civic engagement. We do this through our signature “Guruship” leadership incubator. As a young professionals-led organisation, we have collaborated with over 100 organisations such as Microsoft, WWF and United Nations. We aspire to build leaders out of 8 million young Malaysians between 18 and 30 years old.

This forum is supported by the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

  • The event description was updated. Diff#213746 2016-12-14 10:33:13
More updates
Thu Dec 15, 2016
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM MYT
Add to Calendar
Impact Hub Kuala Lumpur
Nation Building Pass FULL
Venue Address
D7 Sentul East Design Centre, Jalan Sentul Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan 51000 Malaysia Malaysia
8min walk from LRT Sentul / 5min walk from Komuter Sentul
Nation Building School