Timing of Mahathirís call for review of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights immediately after controversial admission of Burma into ASEAN most disturbing


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday):
The timing of the call by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, for review of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights immediately after the controversial admission of Burma into ASEAN is most disturbing.

The nagging question is whether ASEANís call for review of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would reinforce the stubborn refusal of the Burmese military junta, the State Law and Order Restoration Council, to heed international calls to embark on democratic reforms and national reconciliation as well as be used as an excuse by the original ASEAN Five of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Burma, Thailand and Philippines to sideline the need for greater democratisation in their respective societies.

The United Nations Human Rights Declaration is not confined to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but is now represented by three documents as the 1948 Universal Declaraton has been elaborated upon by two other UN declarations, namely the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights 1966 and the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966.

Malaysia is one of those nations which had voted for these two International Covenants in the UN General Assembly in 1966, but unfortunately, the Malaysian government had not ratified these two international covenants although it could not give the excuse that they were adopted before Malaysia had joined the United Nations as an independent sovereign nation as in the case of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

At the informal ASEAN Leadersí Summit in Kuala Lumpur in December, to give greater meaning to the 30th anniversary of ASEAN, the ASEAN heads of governments should set up an ASEAN Commission of Human Rights to show the world that ASEAN governments are equally concerned about promotion of human rights and do not advocate the sacrifice of civil and political rights at the altar of economic progress.

(30/7/97)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong