(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The deafening silence of Cabinet Ministers in particular and the Malaysian government in general on the occasion of 50th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights is testimony that human rights has become a "dirty word" in the Barisan Nasional political dictionary.
It is a sad commentary on the lowly place the Malaysian Government has placed human rights that the Malaysian government has virtually ignored if not boycotted the universal commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson told a special UN General Assembly debate to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic human rights document that it was time to close the gap between rhetoric and reality of human rights - but the Malaysian government seems to have decided to even abandon the rhetoric of human rights, let alone focus on the reality of human rights!
In Malaysia in the past few days, it is only opposition political parties and NGOs which have marked the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with events, speeches and statements - as compared to the complete absence of any response on the part of the government.
Even worse, the police had even arrested political activists in Johore Bahru on the Human Rights Day on Dec. 10 for distributing copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - as if this international bill of rights, which has been accepted world-wide as a basis for standards of fundamental freedoms of thought, opinion, expression, belief, assembly and economic opportunity, has become a subversive document in the eyes of the Malaysian authorities.
The Malaysian government is probably right that as far as Malaysia is concerned, there is no cause to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which are being observed more in the breach than adherence.