Question human rights record before strengthening ties with Malaysia, Suaram urges UK

Suaram has urged the British government to look into several critical issues like spiralling violence, electoral fraud, corruption and serious abuse of human rights before deciding to strengthen bilateral ties with Malaysia.

In a letter to its Prime Minister David Cameron and Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the human rights group said these issues continue to take place under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

In a statement today, Suaram’s executive director E. Nalini pointed out that it was important that UK leaders “fearlessly examine Malaysia’s track record on human rights” before the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) which will be held in London from October 29 to 31.

Najib will represent Malaysia at the forum with former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, chairman of WIEF Tan Sri Musa Hitam and Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah while the British attendees will include Cameron, Johnson, MP Greg Clark and Baroness Warsi.

Suaram lashed out at Najib who portrayed Malaysia to be “moderate and peace-loving”, despite the serious threats to basic human rights in the country.

“The government under Najib continues to severely limit freedom of expression as well as freedom of assembly and association,” Suaram said.

“It also employs harsh measures against any form of dissent. Institutionalised religious inequality, bribery and gerrymandering in Malaysia’s electoral system of elections remain widespread.

“Massive and popular protests in favour of reforming the electoral system have been brutally suppressed over the past several years,” the statement said in reference to the Bersih gatherings held in previous years.

Nalini added that Putrajaya had also introduced laws which allowed for detention without trial, ignored allegations of police brutality and compromised on the rights of indigenous people as well as minority groups.

“We call on the UK to seriously consider Malaysia’s worrying human rights record before forging new business and political partnerships.”

Suaram revealed that UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Hugo Swire had previously agreed that “allegations of irregularities made by opposition parties and civil society should be investigated fully”.

Suaram had previously written a similar letter to US President Barack Obama to counter his statement on October 11, that Malaysia is a global model for “diversity, tolerance and progress”.

“President Obama’s statement on Malaysia 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,” it said in the letter.