The Malaysian government  should be more sensitive and  responsive to the increasing demands of Malaysians for more democratic freedoms and political reforms without having to be told by foreign leaders like American Vice President Al Gore


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang 
 

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The speech by the American Vice President Al Gore at the Apec Business Summit dinner  in Kuala Lumpur last night expressing support for democratic and political reforms in Malaysia has stirred a hornetís nest, with the International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Azia describing it as "the most disgusting speech I have ever heard" while the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad commenting that "Iíve never seen anybody so rude".

However, for political leaders and Malaysians who have been striving  for more democratic freedoms and political reforms through the peaceful and constitutional process, sometimes with great risk to personal liberties,  Goreís outspoken speech has aroused mixed feelings.

Firstly, there is the  feeling that the struggle for democratic change and political reforms is receving international recognition and support, especially as the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993 in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA)  stressed that the promotion and protection of all human rights is a legitimate concern of the internaitonal community, that all human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated; and affirmed that democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.  The Malaysian Government was a party to the Vienna Conference  which adopted by consensus the VDPA.

Secondly, there is the feeling of national embarrassment that a foreign leader should be talking about the need for democratic change in Malaysia on our own soil, although he may be stating the truth that the calls for democracy made in many languages, like  'people power,' 'Doi Moi,' 'reformasi' are now being heard in the country - as in the final analysis it is the Malaysians who through their own efforts, energies and sacrifices who must bring about these reforms in the country and not by the intervention of foreign powers.

The Malaysian government  should be more sensitive and  responsive to the increasing demands of Malaysians for more democratic freedoms and political reforms without having to be told by foreign leaders like American Vice President Al Gore when visiting Malaysia.

In fact, this is the  message which DAP leaders have been conveying, both inside and outside Parliament,  during the 16-month economic crisis in Malaysia - that in the final analysis, an economic crisis is a political crisis testing the capabilities of the political leadership in government to institute far-reaching political reforms to clean up the system, including cronyism, corruption and nepotism, to restore the peopleís confidence.

Malaysians want Mahathir and the Government to respond to their demands for democratic change and political reforms to bring about a Malaysia where there is justice, freedom and  democracy, with public confidence in the rule of law and the system of governance, rather than to have another foreign leader to make a similar speech like Goreís which is something Malaysians would want prefer to avoid.

(17/11/98)


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