Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) chief Hasmy Agam reiterated his view today that the commission is "worse than a toothless tiger".
"When I first became chairperson, the way we looked at the commission is that it’s worse than a toothless tiger. A tiger is a tiger, and before it opens its mouth to show it has no teeth, you are already scared looking at it.
"From my perspective, Suhakam is a watchdog that is tied to the post," Hasmy said at a press conference at Suhakam's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today, after the launch of its 2014 Annual Report.
However, he said, even a watchdog can hold the government accountable.
"A watchdog barks, and if you look at our record for the past several years, we have barked very loud," he said.
Hasmy admitted that among others, the government does not really consult with Suhakam before amending or introducing new laws, such as the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota)
"From time to time, the government has said that it consulted Suhakam. That's not quite true. They have only briefed us," he said.
Gov't never debated any Suhakam report
Suhakam is also frustrated, Hasmy said, that the government has not debated any of the commission's annual reports in Parliament since Suhakam was established in 2008.
"It has taken too long. This is where we find ourselves in a bit of a frustrating situation to get the government to get the commission to move along," he said.
As such, Suhakam has been pushing several recommendations to the government, to give the commission more bite.
Among them is one to make it mandatory for the government to consult Suhakam before amending or introducing laws, to debate the Suhakam reports in Parliament and to give the commission the power to conduct spot checks.
"Even if we don't become a full tiger, at least we are a watchdog with teeth to bite," Hasmy said.
Among others, the report touches on deaths in police detention and makes recommendations on the detention of children by the Immigration Department.