Parliament should debate not only the resolution sponsored by seven US Congressmen on Anwar’s trial but even more important the resolution adopted by the 104th Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Jakarta last month calling for Anwar’s release from jail pending appeal

Media statement
by Lim Kit Siang 

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Barisan Nasional leaders and MPs are spouting fire and brimstone over the resolution in the United States Congress submitted by seven American Congressmen calling on  the Malaysian government to give former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim a new trial "under fair and transparent procedures" or dismiss all the charges against him.

They argued that the government's actions in the two trials that the former deputy prime minister faced "represent a breakdown in democracy and the rule of law" in Malaysia and "have the potential to harm relations between the Government of the United States and the Government of Malaysia".

The resolution was tabled on Oct 27 and is currently before the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations.

The resolution is sponsored by Christopher Smith, Ms Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Tom Lantos, Dana Rohrabacher, Edward Royce, Neil Abercrombie and Robert Wexler.

It outlines the history behind Anwar's fall from grace, saying that he was arrested as a result of political disagreements. The Congress representatives added that Anwar's trial for corruption and sodomy was "marred by serious irregularities".

Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has led the Malaysian government counter-offensive by denouncing the seven United States Congressmen as "an interference in the country’s affairs" and Barisan Nasional Backbenchers’ Club (BBC) Chairman, Datuk Dr Jamaluddin Mohd Jarjis had announced that government backbenchers would table a motion in the Dewan Rakyat next week to condemn the proposed US Congress resolution.

The BBC proposal to debate the proposed US Congress resolution in Parliament next week is the right and proper one and I hope Jamaluddin would not have "cold feet" and back down from a specific parliamentary debate on the matter or some trivial excuses given to avoid a specific parliamentary debate on the issue.

However, both the Malaysian Government and the Barisan Nasional MPs should face up to a new reality of international life that the sovereignty of national domestic affairs must reconcile with the new established international principle that the promotion and protection of all human rights is a legitimate concern of the international community.

The Malaysian Government accepted this new international principle in global relations when it supported  the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action unanimously adopted by the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights at Vienna in 1993.

This means that no country can now plead that any human right violation or erosion of the rule of law is a domestic  sovereign right of any nation but must instead be able to withstand international scrutiny.

It is in accordance with this international principle that the promotion and protection of all human rights is a legitimate concern of the international community that the 167th Inter-Parliamentary Council meeting in Jakarta on 21st October 2000 adopted without a vote a resolution adding its voice of  concern and dismay at the trial of Anwar and calling for his immediate release from prison pending appeal.

The resolution of  the  Jakarta conference of the Council of the Inter- Parliamentary Union (IPU) should take a higher profile and priority among the legislators in the country as the IPU’s  membership comes from 140 member Parliaments and five international parliamentary assemblies and represent a worldwide reach which seven US Congressmen cannot hope to match.

It is therefore even more important and urgent that the Malaysian Parliament should debate the IPU resolution deploring the treatment of Anwar Ibrahim, which should be taken and debated together in connection with the proposed resolution of the seven US Congressmen to be initiated by the BBC next week.

The IPU resolution adopted by the 167th Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Council at its 167th session in Jakarta on  21 October 2000 reads:

It would be even better if a referendum is held in the country  soliciting the views of ordinary Malaysians to the IPU resolution as well as the one proposed by the seven US Congressmen.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman