KUALA LUMPUR: Umno lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah's appointment as chairman of the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and representative for Malaysia, was in respect of his experience in the legal and human rights fields, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said. The ministry, in a written reply, said that he has been the AICHR representative since 2009 for a three-year term and the government had renewed his appointment for another term. The ministry was responding to Kasthuriraani Patto (DAP-Batu Kawan), who asked on Tuesday to state the qualifications and expertise of Shafee for his appointment as Malaysia's representative for AICHR. "His appointment is based on his wide experience in the legal field and human rights. "These experiences have made him an expert in the dynamics of political and human rights issues at the national level as well as regionally. He also understands his responsibilities to the government on these issues," the ministry said. Defending the reappointment, the government said that Shafee has "institutional memory" on issues discussed by AICHR and this would make it easier for Shafee to help Malaysia to spearhead the implementation of various AICHR 2015 programmes and activities including the AICHR five-year working plan between 2016 and 2020. The ministry also said that his appointment was according to the five terms of reference set under AICHR. However his appointment has led to huge criticisms from the opposition coalition and NGOs. Shafee came under fire for his continued attacks on opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was found guilty of sodomy. The opposition had reportedly said that Shafee is not fit to represent Malaysia in the AICHR as he is linked to Umno, which it described as the "worst offender of human rights violation in Malaysia". "It is a well-known fact that Muhammad Shafee has very close relations with, and is an adviser to the ruling party," PR MPs Gooi Hisao Leung (PKR-Alor Setar), Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Segambut) and Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli (PAS-Kuala Krai) had reportedly said in a joint statement last month.