DAP to consider launching a nation-wide signature campaign to ask Malaysian Government to honour the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM Communique and ratify the two international Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, as well as on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights


Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, when opening the DAP Public Forum on “Human Rights in Malaysia Post-Operation Lallang” held at Federal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 27th October 1989 at 7.30pm

DAP to consider launching a nation-wide signature campaign to ask Malaysian Government to honour the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM Communique and ratify the two international Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, as well as on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Kuala Lumpur CHOGM extravaganza ended three days before the second anniversary of Operation Lallang mass arrests, which illustrates the great contrast between the high-sounding principles and ideal on human right which Commonwealth heads of government declare in Commniques and Statements and the actual things they do in their own countries with regard to their citizens’ human rights of liberty of the person, and the freedom of expression, information, assembly, association, religion and other fundamental rights.

The Kuala Lumpur CHOGM Communique issued on October 24, had urged all commonwealth countries to ratify the two International Covenants on Human Rights, and as Malaysia is host to the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM and Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathair Mohamed had presided over the production of the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM Communique, the Malaysian government is both morally and duty-bound to set the example to ratify these two International Covenants.

These two International Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Tights, constitute the International Bill of Rights. These two Covenants are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Tights provides for the establishment of a 18-member Human Rights Committee which has the power to request member countries to submit reports on their human rights situation, and will have the power, for instance, to pass judgement on violations of human rights like the Operation Lallang mass arrests in 1987 or the series of draconian and undemocratic laws which curtail the human rights of Malaysians.

This is the primary reason why the Malaysian Government has refused to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as Malaysia’s human rights record will then be subject to international scrutiny and judgement. Dr. Mahathir and the Malaysian leaders have repeatedly claimed that such international examination of human rights is a gross interference of domestic affairs. This claim cannot be sued now, as Dr. Mahathir has presided over the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM Conference producing the Communique urging all /commonwealth countries to ratify both International Covenants.

As the Mahathir Government has given no indication that it is prepared to set a Commonwealth example to take the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM Communique seriously, the DAP is seriously considering launching a nation-wide signature campaign to urge the Malaysian Government to honour the Kuala Lumpur Communique and ratify the two International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, as well as on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

New Societies Amendment Bill is latest attack on the democratic basis of Malaysia in reducing the Judiciary to a minor government department

In the past three years, there has been a wholesale attack on the democratic basis of the Malaysian nation and system of government. The wholesale attack started with the Operation Lallang mass arrests in October/November 1987, and has widened to undermine the principle of the Independence of the Judiciary and to curtail democratic rights of Malaysians.

The new Societies Amendment Bill is the latest attack on the democratic basis of Malaysia in reducing the Judiciary to a minor government department.

In the past few years, more laws have been passed to remove from the Courts the power to review the exercise of Executive powers. The Courts cannot inquire as to whether the Emergency powers had been misused to enable the ruling parties o hang on to power; the courts cannot review the use and abuse of ISA powers by the Minister to detain a person without trial; and now under the new Societies Amendment Bill, the Courts are to lose power to hear suits challenging the legality of political party elections and disputes.

This will mean that Dr. Mahathir in UMNO Baru, Datuk Ling Liong Sik in MCA, Datuk Samy Vellu in MIC and Dr. Lim Keng Yaik In Gerakan, can do anything they like their respective political parties, throw their party constitution to the winds, use unlawful branches to elect unlawful delegates to influence political party national elections, and get away with such blue murder’ because the Court cannot now declare these acts unlawful.

It is significant that the new Societies Amendment Bill was introduced after the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM when all the Commonwealth heads of governments had left Malaysia. This is because the government realises that despot eth $200-$300 million hospitality the Malaysian government had lavished on the Commonwealth heads of government, some of them would have been shocked by the Societies Amendment Bill, and might comment unfavourably on it.

We are seeing about us the ever-concentration of powers in the hands of the Executive, and in particular in the hands of the Prime Minister himself, while Parliament is being reduced to a mere rubber stamp and the Judiciary to a minor department of the government.

This process of ever-concentration of power must be reversed, if democracy and human rights in Malaysia are to be assured in Malaysia.