An Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Malaysia

Sept 9, 2020

The Right Honourable Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

Letter to the Prime Minister of Malaysia

Dear Tan Sri,

Malaysian CSOs have been very active at the local, national, regional and global levels on common humanitarian and justice concerns which impact ordinary people negatively. We have been active on matters pertaining to the Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations reform and partnership matters. We hosted two national-level virtual Zoom discussions in conjunction with the UN@75 initiative and in partnership with UN2020.

We all know that Malaysia has been active in the UN since 1957 and we have played a key role especially in peacekeeping, on human rights, having served in the Human Rights Council, global advocacy on the removal of the apartheid regime in South Africa and on the rights of Palestinian and Rohingya people. Malaysia has also been active at the global, regional (especially ASEAN) and domestic levels in promoting the role of the UN in development and global peace.

As civil society partners, we in Malaysia have also joined the global campaign through UN2020 to share our view and to enhance the role and impact of the UN during this period of review in conjunction with the 75th anniversary. At the latest Zoom discussions, we worked in partnership with the Malaysian government, the UN country team, representatives from the private sector and civil society organisations in Malaysia. We reviewed the UN Secretary General’s call for input to the theme “The Future we want and the UN we need”. We reviewed both the Ministerial statement and the Global statement by the UN2020 civil society network. We participated at the online Civil Society Global Forum in May 2020.

On reflecting on all these discussions, I write this letter to you Sir as a Malaysian citizen and global citizen (in terms of SDG 4.7) and call upon you in your capacity as the Prime Minister of Malaysia to continue our global commitments, especially in a time such as this during this global COVID-19 pandemic by accelerating our UN commitments for a better world for all the people of the world.

In this context:

We call on Malaysia during the September 2020 gathering of world leaders to also support the global call for the reform of the UN’s role, its structure, its funding base and the enlargement of people participation in the UN process to truly make the UN a people-to-people global institution.

We specifically call for a review of the UN Security Council, especially the veto vote, to ensure that the UN operates on democratic principles of one vote, one country so as to ensure that regardless of whether a member state is powerful and developed, or an economically poor nation, the voices of every member state have equal weight. 

We call on the UN to strengthen the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a blueprint on ‘leaving no one behind’ and in building peaceful societies. In this context, there is an urgent need for the establishment of the UN SDG Commission to ensure the 17 SDGs are followed up and effectively implemented.

We call for the greater participation of civil society and the need for a high level official at the Secretary General’s office with a specific responsibility for CSOs and NGOs representing the grassroots and the diversity of people’s organisations.

In this context of participation of CSO/NGOs in the UN regional and global process, it is important for Malaysia to build the capability of Malaysian CSOs as well as provide the resources for CSO representation in these regional and global discussions. Malaysia must create the means, structure and resources for CSO engagement with relevant government agencies in Malaysia on the UN obligations such as the Universal Periodic Review process and the monitoring of the UN conventions which Malaysia has ratified.

Dear Prime Minister, Malaysia as a high middle income country and in good relationship with all its immediate neighbouring countries in ASEAN and among the OIC countries can play a major role for global SDGs, peace and harmony. This historical review is taking place on Sept 21, 2020 and we hope that in your tenure of your premiership, Malaysia stands tall as a member state that truly champions the UN to be strengthened as a people’s UN for global peace and harmony and in doing so ensures that no individual community or nation is left behind. 

Thank you

Yours sincerely,

Prof Datuk Denison Jayasooria is the Co chair of the Malaysian CSO SDG Alliance and the former Practice Professor of Public advocacy from the Institute of Ethnic Studies, National University of Malaysia.