Pathetic State of Human Rights
Do the right thing
By: Giam Say Khoon (Mon, 11 Dec 2006)
KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 11, 2006): Big organisations and political parties were taken to task for shying away from tackling human rights issues. Describing it as “pathetic”, People’s Progressive Party president Datuk M. Kayveas said when they did this, they ignored issues important to citizens.
“I would personally prefer larger participation (on such issues), and human rights should not only be seen to be propagated by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), it should also involve the government,” Kayveas, who is also deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said.
He said the current impression was that there was a group fighting for human rights, but the government was against it. “It is the wrong impression,” he said at the Festival of Rights organised by the Bar Council on Sunday to commemorate International Human Rights Day.
He was the only party leader from Barisan Nasional who accepted the invitation to attend the event. He said if any human rights issue were raised with him, he would convey it to the government.
Asked if the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for detention without trial, should be abolished, he said that while many people opposed the Act, some developed countries had adopted such laws to fight terrorism.
“So we have to look and see whether there is a necessity to abolish the Act. Maybe some amendments are required,” he said.
Some 80 to 90 NGO representatives took part in a march from Dataran Merdeka to the Perdana Lake Gardens.
Bar Council chairman Yeo Yang Poh said it was the second time the council had organised such an event, and the response was better than last year’s.
During his speech, Yeo said Dec 10 was a day for Malaysians to be concerned about human rights issues.
“We have a lot of human rights issues that need to be tackled urgently. We cannot be neutral but have to be pro-rights and pro-freedom so that things can improve.
“If we do not gather in huge numbers (to fight for human rights causes), the country will head towards lesser and lesser freedom,” he said.
The groups at the festival pledged, among others, to:
* protect and defend the inalienable rights of all human beings, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
* treat people with respect and dignity, irrespective of status, gender, race, religion and occupation;
* defend the rights of all Malaysians even if they hold differing views;
* implore the government to fully ratify all international human rights treaties; and
* make human rights real in people’s daily lives so that men, women and children everywhere can enjoy freedom of speech and belief, and freedom from fear and want.
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