Two days ago, the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi assured the nation that he would "thoroughly digest" the Suhakam report, saying: "I have yet to start reading the report as I have been away in four states over the past weekend. I would like to go through the report word for word, page by page."
It is most surprising therefore that Mahathir could denounce the Suhakam report of being biased, not in the interest of the nation and meant to please the West on his return from his overseas trip, without having the benefit of reading the Suhakam report.
Does Abdullah, after thoroughly digesting the Suhakam report, “word for word, page by page”, agree with the Prime Minister that it is “biased, not in the interest of the nation and meant to please the West”.
Abdullah’s position on the Suhakam report would be a crucial test as to whether the Deputy Prime Minister is prepared to disagree with the Prime Minister on a crucial issue which comes directly under his Ministerial portfolio, the Home Ministry, and whether he is prepared to present a more accommodative and sensitive response to the strictures of the Suhakam report on widespread police abuses when interacting with the public, including peaceful protestors who pose no threat to public order or security, in the discharge of police responsibilities.
Mahathir should substantiate his allegations that “Suhakam was disinclined to make an independent decision based on Malaysian values, fearing that it would not be praised by the orang putih (whites)”, which is not only baseless but seems to reflect a mentality that Malaysians are not fit unlike the people in the West to claim or enjoy human rights, although these fundamental liberties are entrenched in the Malaysian Constitution for the past 44 years.
What is even more preposterous, Mahathir seems to claim the right for the Malaysian police to perpetrate police brutalities and atrocities on the unarmed and the peaceful because such misdeeds or worse are also perpetrated in the West.
This mentality of wanting to compare with the worst rather than the best in the rest of the world as far as democracy and human rights in Malaysia are concerned has always been Mahathir’s first refuge to justify his government’s violation of human rights and democratic norms and I hope it will not be the theme of another divisive National Day Message by him this year.