(Kuala Lumpur, Saturday): In the last 24 hours, Malaysia’s international reputation which has already sunk to an unpredented low in the nation’s history, received another two body blows when two unfavourable international reports on democracy and human rights in the country were issued.
The United States Department of State released its 1998 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Malaysia, which referred to the "worsening" human rights record of the Malaysian government which "stifled freedom of expression" and "led to a high degree of press self-censorship".
Even more serious, however, is the damning report by the United
Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the
right to freedom of opinion and expression, Abid Hussain, which was released
in Geneva yesterday, which said that freedom of opinion is
systematically curtailed in Malaysia, the domestic press is muzzled, foreign
journalists routinely persecuted and demonstrators arrested.
Abid Hussain, who paid a five-day visit to Malaysia last October, said he was "deeply concerned" at the extent to which laws such as the Internal Security Act, the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act were used to supress or repress expression and curb peaceful assembly.
Abid Hussein also referred to defamation laws in Malaysia which "appear to be having a very chilling effect" on freedom of expression and "need to be curbed".
One way to counter the "chilling effect" of defamation laws to freedom of expression is to institute defamation proceedings against Barisan Nasional leaders and their agents, to send out the clear message that they could also be at the receiving end of mega multi-million ringgit defamation suits.
This is why I have instituted three RM250 million defamation suits against the Utusan Malaysia, the New Straits Times and the New Sunday Times - and will institute my fourth RM250 million defamation suit against the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, if he does not retract and apologise his defamatory statement against me about the prison condition of DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng in Kajang Prison by March 8.
I thank Adil, PAS, PRM and NGO representatives for their attendance at the DAP Chinese New Year Tea-Party as we are bound together by our common goal to establish justice, freedom, democracy and good governance for the best interests of the people and nation.
There is in the country a growing list of victims of injustice of the system of governance practised by the Barisan Nasional, like Guan Eng, Anwar Ibrahim, Irene Fernandez, the 126 `reformasi’ demonstrators being tried for illegal assembly or the total of 923 ‘reformasi’ demonstrators arrested for illegal assembly. The latest victim of injustice in Malaysia is with us tonight - Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, whose services as the Director of the Centre of Civilisational Dialogue at the University of Malaya was summarily and arbitrarily terminated with four day’s notice!
In the name of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance, let
Malaysians regardless of race, religion or party affiliation, stand united
to make seven demands, namely: