(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Yesterday, the Malaysian Government marked the world-wide 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by showing that Malaysia is getting closer to the human rights record of the Burmese military junta with the arrest of four opposition leaders for distributing pamphlets.
The four opposition leaders, three from Parti Rakyat Malaysia, namely PRM deputy president, Abdul Razak Ahmad, PRM youth chief Hassan Abdul Karim and PRM deputy secretary general Mohamad Salleh Ahmad and one from the DAP, namely Chan Jock Lan, Johore DAP State committee member, were arrested in Johore Bahru yesterday after distributing pamphlets to promote human rights and democratic reforms in Malaysia.
The four, who were held for about seven hours for questioning and were later released on police bail, may be charged under Section 27 of the Police Act for illegal assembly. The DAP condemns the police arrest of the four political activists from PRM and DAP in Johore Bahru yesterday.
It is most shocking that when the world was commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with governments reaffirming commitments to promote and protect human rights all over the world, the Malaysian Government should be arresting political activists for exercising the very fundamental rights enshrined in the Declaration - the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
The Barisan Nasional Government commands a five-sixth majority in Parliament, controlling some 90 per cent of the parliamentary seats - but it is behaving and conducting itself in a manner as if its hold on power is so fragile that it is even frightened at the distribution of pamphlets promoting human rights and democratic reforms by political activists among the public to mark the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.