With tongue in cheek, Angeline Loh thanks the BN government for making Malaysians aware of human rights through its rights violations.
In this commemoration of international human rights, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) born on 10 December 1948; congratulations and thanks are conveyed to the Barisan Nasional government for achieving international recognition as a member of the ‘International Human Rights Breakers Club’.
The genesis of this achievement commenced 52 years ago from Day-One of Merdeka and still continues to be developed and fine tuned to unimaginable heights in competition with other countries in and outside the Asean region that have scaled the heights of international notoriety for human rights abuse.
The Barisan Nasiaonal coalition has laid the foundations for this amazing process on its agreed system of communal, racial and religious political ideology juxtaposed on the colonial capitalist economic framework set up by the European colonial powers centuries before Merdeka (Independence) in 1957.
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Since then, the seeds of corruption that were sown on this foundation have taken root and grown into trees that spread their branches all over the land, bearing the fruits of corruption, nepotism and cronyism from its very top to ground-level seedlings. The juices of corruption continue to nurture and feed new shoots from this parent tree.
Nonetheless, recent attempts have been made by the BN Government to prune what it deems the “weak, unhealthy or mutant” off shoots to further ensure the continued consolidation and strong growth of its main trunk. The ruling party has also made attempts to weed out ‘threats’ posed by seedlings of other botanic species that may be nourished from the ground and grow to share or dominate the same fertile soil.
So, on the birthday of the UDHR, we remember the ‘achievements’ of our government and grovelling-ly thank them for making us more aware of the existence of human rights and its importance to our lives and the world today.
We, the Malaysian people, subserviently thank the ruling Barisan Nasional for the following renowned suppression of our human and democratic rights and more that may still remain hidden from the public-eye.
We thank you for:
• Promoting a culture of money politics, political scandals and ‘rasuah’ practised by ‘well-intentioned’ BN leaders and politicians, their minions and cronies.
• Suppressing our fundamental Article 19 UDHR right to freedom of expression by a controlled media and draconian laws such as the Sedition Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Emergency Ordinance, the Internal Security Act (ISA), the Multimedia and Communications Act, the Official Secrets Act (OSA), the Penal Code and the Dangerous Drugs Act. These have inculcated media self-censorship and taught ordinary citizen to be silent in the face of the denial of our basic human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as our constitutional rights.
• Denying our human rights and fundamental freedom to assemble under Article 20 of the UDHR to peacefully express public objection to or protest at implementation of policies that have adverse effects on our lives including the price hikes of essential goods and services. We are told by the PM himself that peaceful public protests are ‘un-Malaysian’(unless these public protests are held by BN members) and that the government is agreeable to our suffering in silence.
• Closing an eye to brutality by police and other enforcement personnel from the Immigration authorities, Rela and MACC that have resulted in an increasing number of deaths in custody of suspects and the violation of the rights of those outside custody (ordinary citizens, opposition leaders, documented and undocumented migrants, asylum seekers and UNHCR registered refugees) in violation of Article 5 of the UDHR.
• Arbitrarily arresting and detaining people without trial to keep law and order and your attempts to stamp out illegal immigration. We are led to believe that we should preserve a xenophobic attitude towards migrants and that violations of human rights under Articles 3, 5,and 9 of UDHR are necessary for the preservation of law and order and national security.
( Article 3 – Right to life, liberty and security of person, Article 5 – No one shall be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Article 9 – No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.)
• Denying the right to adequate health care and medical treatment (which is against Article 25 of the UDHR) particularly of those detained in immigration detention camps (IDCs), including migrant women and children, pregnant women and women with babies newly delivered. Being immigration detainees appears to justify the inadequacy of health care and medical treatment for those suffering life-threatening illness and disease, vulnerable infants, children and women. In your understanding these migrants are the second biggest threat to our national security and therefore should be shown no mercy or humanity. Their crime is to be found on Malaysian soil without legally recognised documents or being undocumented. How they came to be here or why they are here is totally irrelevant and immaterial, despite Malaysia’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
• Governing with a judiciary that is perceived to be less than independent and with a justice system that is seen to be subservient to the Executive. The judiciary, like most of the national mainstream media, is now perceived to be within the civil service of the Government.
• Ousting the Pakatan Rakyat-led Perak state government using sleazy tactics and money politics to entice three over-ambitious and power hungry Aduns who had got themselves elected on opposition party tickets. The Perak electorate are expected to accept or tolerate the violation of their civil and political rights enshrined in Article 21 of the UDHR.
• Allowing non-transparent government and the failing to consult the public before approving plans for mega projects that adversely affect ordinary citizens. The rakyat applaud you for these ‘white elephants’ although we have not yet seen any of the benefits derived from them, so far.
• Privatising public utilities and making the cost of living rise by leaps and bounds but paying little or no attention to the quality of services provided. This has caused a boom in the economy of particular industries to alleviate daily difficulties e.g. getting a clean water supply. Think of how many water filters are sold to ensure that homes can obtain clean, crystal-clear water through our taps. No doubt, the manufacturers of such devices are deeply grateful to you for bumping up their profits.
• Permitting environmental degradation and hill-slope building construction without guaranteeing the safety of potential occupiers and residents in the surrounding areas. We understand that the tragedies of Highland Towers and Bukit Antarabangsa (to name only two well-known high-rise disasters) have diminished in your political estimation and that it is now vital for you to support the demands of crony contractors and developers to boost profits in currently flagging economic circumstances.
• Sucking up millions of ringgit via the PKFZ debacle that may have been put to better use to improve the lives of millions of lower income and hardcore poor in the country through, say, the provision of low-cost housing, shelters for homeless people or provision and services for single-parents.
• Giving a share of our staple rice production to foreign investors to feed your cronies first while feeding the rakyat comes second. In your wisdom you advise ordinary citizens of average means to continue tightening our belts and be ever grateful to you for such well-intentioned advice. We will be entertained at the sight of your lavish banquets in five-star hotels and bungalow houses, your glamorous and fashionable clothes and accessories, your botox-ed and re-constructed faces and figures, your hip hairstyles and luxury cars. We will share in your laughter to forget our rumbling stomachs behind our tightened belts.
• Depleting our natural forests by permitting logging in Orang Asli and East Malaysian traditional customary land, adversely affecting their culture and traditional way of life. You continue to make your generous contribution to poverty and climate change causing natural disasters around the globe with your obsessive pursuit of profit.
• Refusing to accede to or ratify the remaining seven major international human rights treaties and the 1951 Refugee Convention, which will be treated the same way as the Cedaw and CRC you have in your wisdom ratified only on paper.
For all this and more, we thank you, our wise and well-intentioned government.
Our awareness of what we lack and our hope for a better future will one day bear fruit, although not from the tree you planted under whose overhanging branches we now stand.
We, the rakyat, will work hard at our planting and will surprise you one day with how well we have learned the lessons you taught us.
Ribuan terimakasih beratus-ratus kali ganda! (A thousand thanks, hundreds of times over!)
Angeline Loh is an Aliran member specialising in international human rights law.
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