(Melaka, Sunday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has confirmed that the government would allow the holding of an Asia-Pacific People's Summit by NGOs on the occasion of the 1998 APEC Summit in Kuala Lumpur next November.
I raised the issue with Mahathir when I met him in Langkawi yesterday together with DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, for an exchange of views on the national economic crisis.
Mahathir conceded that a People's Summit by NGOs has become an integral part of international conferences and he said the government would allow the holding of the People's Summit by NGOs but would not permit illegal demonstrations.
I welcome Mahathir's confirmation and urge the Cabinet to give official support to the holding of the NGO's Alternative People's Summit in conjunction with the 1998 APEC Summit in Kuala Lumpur next November to demonstrate the Malaysian government's commitment to the development of a global civil society, not only in giving an allocation for the meeting but also providing help as in facilities for the holding of the People's Summit.
Malaysia should in fact take the initiative at the APEC Summit in Kuala Lumpur next year to secure explicit recognition by APEC leaders to the importance of NGOs in highlighting the social and economic consequences of trade and economic development ranging from workers' rights, women issues, the environment and human rights.