The importance of Timor Leste’s 2017 elections

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Source: Facebook.

Timor-Leste’s 15 years of independence have been marked by a mixed performance of progress and crisis. Having emerged from war and internal conflict in the late 1990s, Timor-Leste has a challenging path to get on par with other countries, in particular on issues related to development.

After 15 years of independence, it is time to take stock of how far things have come. The country’s presidential election will be held on March 20, with a potential second round of voting in April before the parliamentary election in July, the first such election to be held since the United Nations (UN) Mission departed in 2012.

Eight candidates, including one female candidate, will be contesting the March 20 presidential elections after fulfilling the criteria, including securing enough supporters. The eight candidates are Amorim Vieira, Angela Freitas, Antonio da Conceição, Antonio Maher, Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo, Jose Luis Guterres, Luis Alves Tilman, and Jose Antonio Neves. All eight candidates are scheduled to carry out their political campaigns from March 3-17. Voting is scheduled to take place simultaneously on March 20 both inside the country and overseas for Timorese abroad.

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Civil Society Commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

This is the CSO statement that was delivered to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Economic Planning, Dato’ Seri Wahid Omar at the SDGs Symposium on 23 February 2016. 

Following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the global development agenda at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, more than 20 civil society organisations (CSOs) in Malaysia met on three occasions since October 2015 to reflect on the relevance of SDGs to the country.

We recognise that under the principle of leaving no one behind, the SDGs integrate human rights and development in a balanced, inclusive and ecologically sustainable way.

We note that the 11th Malaysia Plan (2016-2020) and the SDGs share some common policy and program focus. With that, the 17 goals, 169 targets and the many indicators identified will guide a clear direction for both policy and delivery in Malaysia’s development program.

We recognise the gaps and shortcomings in the Government’s development planning, priorities and implementation. However, many of these gaps could be addressed through the SDGs over the next 15 years between 2016 -2030.

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We unite, therefore we protest

Lawyers don’t march every day. But if they march, then something must be very wrong. That was what the then-chairman of the Bar Council Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said during the “Walk for Justice” by the lawyers in 2007. What Ambiga said was right. Unfortunately after seven years, lawyers once again have no option but to march again. Why are people prepared to protest or march for a cause? It is a question that has intrigued not only the academic community but also the general public. The heart of every protest originates from grievances. It could be feelings of injustice, inequality or relative deprivation. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly”. Certainly this time around, amidst the “crazy” numbers of arrests made under the Sedition Act in this year alone, would you not want to protest?

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Human rights are no jargon

12239560_553685104782990_7520679424001966569_nIn conjunction with International Human Rights Day on December 10, I was invited to present a talk on “Introduction on Human Rights” yesterday, organised by Democracy Academy of Malaysia and the Civil Rights Committee of Kuala Lumpur at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall. This year marks the 67th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). I am always excited, yet anxious whenever I receive an invitation to either speak or discuss human rights. I am excited because I get to share my thoughts by speaking on the topic. I am also anxious because everyone has their own interpretation when it comes to human rights and it is never easy to come to agreement.

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Sustainable Development Goals and ASEAN Community

This speech was delivered at “SDGs and ASEAN, Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights as Framework for Conflict Resolution and Mediation: Implications for ASEAN and Malaysia”, 27 Oct 2015 in KL Convention Centre. The event was organised by Global Movement of Moderates (GMM), Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM) and Institute of Ethnic Studies-Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (KITA-UKM). You may also find a copy of this speech in UKM Ethnic Studies Paper Series No. 45, February 2016, “Sustainable Development Goals and Malaysia Society: Civil Society Perspectives edited by Denison Jayasooria.

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How can Asean promote the realization of SDGs? We are basically hearing the same language of socially responsible, people-oriented and people-centered development in SDGs and Asean. Recognizing that the MDGs might have failed certain people and countries, the 2030 Agenda sets out to “reach the furthest behind first” and concludes with a pledge that “no one will be left behind”.

SDGs are an opportunity for Asean. Asean should utilize the adoption of SDGs to both strengthen and partly refocus their framework for regional integration, as doing so would better serve sustainable development across the region. In practice, this would mean aligning the overall objectives of the Asean Community with those of the SDGs and strengthening this regional framework.

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