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‘Aiyoh… Wat Lah?!’ gets international recognition (fz.com)

My comment on the “Aiyoh… Wat Lah?!” Awards gaining international recognition!

“We are delighted that the Aiyoh… Wat Lah?! Awards has received this international recognition,” said Women’s Aid Organisation’s (WAO) Yu Ren Chung.
“This international recognition will raise the profile of the already popular awards, including of course its objective of raising awareness on sexism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia in Malaysia,” Yu added.

Read the full article on fz.com on 3 February 2014.

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Home Ministry ban signals crackdown on civil society, say Comango reps (The Malay Mail Online)

My comment on the Home Ministry’s press statement outlawing COMANGO:

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) advocacy officer Yu Ren Chung reiterated Suriani’s argument, stressing that Comango was merely abiding by the guidelines set by the UN, and that it need not be registered for it to present a report.

“If we submit a report under a coalition, the said report can be longer and more comprehensive, which is why we did so.

“I think ordinary Malaysians are not so blind, they can tell what the government is trying to do here, in trying to assert their own version of explanations, especially in light of most recent events,” Yu Ren spoke to the Malay Mail Online via a telephone interview.

Read the full article published in The Malay Mail Online on 9 February 2014.

“Grandmothers” in politics – stating facts can be sexist (Malaysiakini)

This article was published in Malaysiakini.

A few days ago Chief Minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng called Penang state opposition leader Jahara Hamid a “typical grandmother” and an “unreasonable and racist grandmother”, according to news reports. He was reacting to something Jahara had said in the Penang state legislative assembly.

Criticised promptly by Jahara and women’s groups, Lim apologised. Subsequently, some of his women colleagues called him out as well.

This apology is commendable. Yet, at least by reading though comments to the news reports of this episode, many seem to think that Lim had nothing to apologise for, that calling someone a “grandmother” is just stating a fact, not being sexist. I get the feeling many others feel this way too. Continue reading

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Universal values won’t help resolve issues faced by Malaysia (The Ant Daily)

My comment addressing allegations made against COMANGO, and on the compatibility and relevance of universal human rights mechanisms in Malaysia (definitely rebutting the claim highlighted in the article’s title):

Meanwhile, Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) advocacy officer Yu Ren Chung said while Isma and the Muslim groups are entitled to express their views on the matter, the use of state machinery to vilify Comango is a cause for concern.

WAO is one of the 54 endorsees of Comango’s demands and Yu said the coalition has been subjected to “outlandish comments” and “baseless allegations” – including through the official Friday prayers sermon text prepared by the Islamic Development Department Malaysia (Jakim) on Oct 18.

“It is our responsibility to respond to Isma because what they have said are factually untrue. Isma is claiming to speak on behalf of the larger Muslim community when that is not necessarily true either,” said Yu, in pointing out that matters of religion should be personal to every individual.

He also maintained the overall concept behind championing for adoption of universal human rights standards is so that every individual will be able to live their chosen life with dignity.

This, he said, is due to the fact that a UN member country will receive technical assistance to implement the resolutions which it has ratified for the betterment of the people.

Read the full article published in The Ant Daily on 23 November 2013. 

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It’s a critical issue afflicting both genders, say NGOs (New Straits Times)

My comment in an article about men as victims of domestic violence:

WAO advocacy officer Yu Ren Chung said there was a need to improve how frontline police officers responded to DV reports.

“Every report must be taken seriously,” he said.

I must note, that when contacted by the reporter, I stressed that domestic violence is a gender based violence that primarily affects women. The article in entirety captured this somewhat, though the title did not.

Read the full article published in the New Straits Times on 18 November 2013. 

 

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Comango: Muslim NGOs missing forest for the trees (The Malay Mail Online)

My comment on the perceived notion that human rights, including international mechanisms like the Universal Periodic Review, are foreign ideas and at odds with religion.

“There’s a misconception that human rights is something from the West … If one looks at the history of the human rights, it has global support,” said Yu Ren Chung from Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO).

According to Yu, two of the five authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) were P.C. Chang who was from China, and Charles Malik who was from Lebanon.

The UDHR was subsequently adopted by UN members in 1948, with 48 countries in favour and eight abstained ― mostly from the Soviet bloc.

The representatives also rubbished claims by Muslim NGOs that by ratifying international human rights protocol, Malaysia will open the floodgates to practices that “would threaten the position of Islam” such as same-sex marriages and apostasy.

“Realistically and practically speaking, it seems a far-flung idea, used simply to scare people into taking a position in line with (them) … They choose the most polemic of all topics, we’re not even at that stage yet,” said Suriani.

“By signing (the protocols), it sends a signal that we would like to meet these standards, basic global human rights standards, and one can work progressively to achieve that,” explained Yu.

Yu has also stressed that there are many Muslim countries that have ratified the global protocols, without any sudden spike in same-sex marriages and apostasy.

*Correction: I noted that there were eight or nine drafters of the UDHR, not five.

Read the full article published in The Malay Mail Online on 24 October 2013. 

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Reviewing Human Rights in Malaysia (BFM 89.9)

Suri Kempe from Sisters In Islam (SIS) and I shared our thoughts on Malaysia’s human rights situation, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), and COMANGO, with Lee Chwi Lynn on BFM’s The Bigger Picture.

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Prelude by BFM:

All member states of the United Nations are subjected to a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) every four and a half years by the Human Rights Council to gauge the extent to which the state under review is fulfilling its obligations to promote, protect and fulfil the rights of people who live in that country. Malaysia was first reviewed in 2009, and was reviewed again on 24th October for the second time.

As part of the review process, the UN would take into account the report submitted by the Malaysian government, various reports compiled by UN agencies, as well as a third report summarizing various stakeholders’ positions. One of those stakeholders is the coalition of Malaysian NGOs, or COMANGO, who is advocating for a more progressive agenda with an emphasis on equality. Another stakeholder is the coalition of Muslim NGOs, or MuslimUPro, who champions a more conservative agenda, which stress upon Malaysia’s unique circumstance as a multi-ethnic and multi-faith country.

Here to articulate COMANGO’s stance is Yu Ren Chung, advocacy officer of Women’s Aid Organization (WAO), and Suri Kempe, programme manager of Sisters in Islam (SIS).

Interview aired on BFM 89.9 on 25 October 2013.