1Malaysia: BERSIH (clean) or KOTOR (dirty)?

 Happy those…whose hope is in the LORD, their God, The maker of heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in them. Who keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed,gives food to the hungry.The LORD sets prisoners free.

Psalm 146

There must be some mistake. In 1Malaysia the right to peaceful assembly, association, and expression are guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Malaysia is a member of the Human Rights Council and has pledged to foster and uphold human rights.

It cannot be true. Unarmed citizens demonstrating peacefully for free and fair elections get tear gas and water cannons turned on them because they are supposedly guilty of illegal assembly and of wanting to topple the government? 1600 people arrested from among the thousands who gathered peacefully for BERSIH 2.0.Tak boleh, lah!

It cannot be true. Six people dedicated to working for the rights of the voiceless and the under-represented poor are seen by the government as a threat to security?  Asking for access to healthcare, for an improvement to the minimum wage to ensure that it is at the very least a living wage: that’s a threat to national security? Tak boleh, lah!

Sadly, Malaysia boleh… in the most repressive way. Malaysia can, and has arrested thousands of citizens demonstrating peacefully. Sadly, Malaysia can, and has detained six members of the Parti Socialis Malaysia(PSM) – Dr.Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, Sukumaran Munisamy, Letchumanan Aseer Patham, Choo Chon Kai, Sarasvathy Muthu, and Satat Babu Raman under the Emergency Ordinance, denying them access to legal counsel and to family. They have not been charged, and they do not have to be under the provisions of the Emergency Ordinance that allows for detention without trial for up to 60 days. (Dr. Jeyakumar has since been hospitalized for heart problems but is still under detention.)

Malaysia’s advertising campaigns have long promoted the idea of “Malaysia Truly Asia” to attract visitors. How can the same government that turns on the charm for investors and tourists treat Malaysians working for the common good as if they are enemies of the state? The Malaysian government can make things right. It needs to demonstrate that it respects the values we tell the world we live by as a people and as a nation. Prime Minister, Dato Sri Najib Razak himself rightly describes the responsibility of the government in two words: people first.”

In thanking the public for their expressions of support and efforts to secure the freedom of all six PSM members, Dr. Jeyakumar reminded everyone that what they were doing “was totally within the democratic space allowed by the constitution.” Even if the “police appear unable to differentiate between nation and constitution and the party in power” he called on Malaysians to “stand up for democratic rights and not allow this kind of intimidation to hold us back.” In other words, put people first.

p.s. the media reports plans for the Malaysian PM to visit the Vatican. Perhaps Psalm 146 might figure in the conversation.

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Posted in Catholics and Culture, Free and Fair Elections, Governing, Human Rights in Malaysia, I BLOG, Politics and Religion, Uncategorized, Vatican, Workers' Rights

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