Saturday, October 26, 2013

Obama should have checked his facts before commenting

Suaram wrote a letter to the US president yesterday, rebutting a statement made by President Barack Obama on Oct 11 that Malaysia is a global model for "diversity, tolerance and progress".

President Obama's statement on Malaysia's "model" totally ignored the history of racism, religious extremism, corruption, electoral fraud and various other criminal activities the nation has endured while one government has ruled uninterrupted for 56 years.

Among other issues, spiralling violence, electoral fraud, corruption and serious human rights abuses that have taken place, and continue to be committed, under the leadership of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Since the election outcome, PM Najib's office has overseen the demonisation of Malaysia's non-Malays, whose 'crime' was voting for the opposition. The Malaysian government has also selectively deployed repressive legislation such as the Sedition Act 1948, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 and the Penal Code to suppress protests against the election result by human rights defenders, opposition leaders and all the concern and peaceful Malaysians from various religions and ethnicity.

While President Obama's statement marked PM Najib's government with the word "progress", the Parliament - that the Malaysian leader dominates by gerrymandering - three weeks ago passed a Bill to amend the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) to allow detention without trial.

Suaram reminds the US president that Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson stated that "Malaysia is taking a huge step backwards on rights by returning to administrative detention practices much like the draconian Internal Security Act" (ISA).

There is no doubt Malaysia's PM has publicly backtracked on a commitment made in 2011 to do away with detention without trial and that such a policy reversal represents anything but "progress".

Further, Malaysia's home minister recently announced that police have the right to "shoot to kill" without question any person suspected of being a criminal. Political and community leaders who have defended the minister's strategy have accused one race in particular of committing crimes against another, deliberately fanning racial tension and encouraging racial violence.

On the religious front, we have a judiciary that remains infamously compliant to the BN government. On Oct 14, the politically driven judgment that day by Malaysia's Court of Appeal banned non-Muslims from using the word 'Allah' in Malay-language publications. This appeal against an earlier High Court verdict was lodged by the Malaysian government.

Suaram urges President Obama to revisit an ill-considered and dangerous complicity with PM Najib's regime.

In light of the gravity of the issues raised in the letter, Suaram fully expects the office of the president of the United States of America to formally reply to our letter, which was written on behalf of millions of long-suffering Malaysians.

Executive Director

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