by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, May 25, 1991:
DAP calls on Cabinet to make a determined effort to raise the level of human freedom under the OPP.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, is visibly angry with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report 1991 released on Thursday which ranked Malaysia 55th among 88 countries in the Human Freedom Index. The same report praised Malaysia for having a high level of human development.
Dr. Mahathir virtually accused the UNDP of malice when he commented on the Report: “They rub our back and then punch you in the nose”.
What is important is not what the UNDP thinks, but what Malaysians think, and there is no doubt
that Malaysian will generally agree with the UNDP that Malaysia has a low level of human freedom while having a high level of human development.
Dr. Mahathir said that Malaysia did not want to have human freedom to the extent that the people could riot in the streets and burn houses to give vent to their feelings.
It is most unfair to suggest that this is the type of human freedom that the UNDP is talking about, and is merely a red herring to distract attention from the valid criticisms about abuse and violation of human rights in Malaysia.
Nobody in Malaysia is asking for the right to riot in the streets and burn houses, but the human right of the liberty of the person from arbitrary arrest, freedom of expression, thought and belief, the freedom of information, the freedom of assembly and association and the upholding of important democratic principles like the Independence of the Judiciary.
In Malaysia, violations of basic fundamental human freedoms is everywhere for all to see. Only 12 days ago, the Sabah Foundation director, Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, was detained under the Internal Security Act allegedly for involvement in a plot to take Sabah out of Malaysia.
Although the Government and the Police had been alleging that there had been such a secession plot for the past year, and had detained six other persons under the ISA, the Government has not been able to produce one iota of evidence to substantiate its allegation. Up to now, the Government has not been able to respond to the DAP call for a White Paper on the so-called Sabah Secession Plot.
Dr. Jeffrey’s wife, Datin Susan Kitingan, and their children have not been able to see Jeffrey after 12 days of detention, and are worried about his ‘physical and mental health’.
Why is the Police refusing to allow Dr. Jeffrey to be visited by his family, unless it hopes to use psychological and other methods to try to break down Jeffrey and coerce him to make statements and confessions as had happened with other ISA detainees?
I call on the Police to allow Susan and the children to visit Jeffrey Kitingan. Visits. Has the Police so little confidence of itself that the Police is afraid of such visits, which are only humanitarian in nature?
All Malaysians want to see the government make a greater effort to raise the level of human freedoms in Malaysia. DAP calls on the Cabinet to make a special commitment to raise the level of human freedom in Malaysia under the Outline Perspective Plan (OPP) next Wednesday.
Malaysia wants to have both a high level of human development and high level of human freedom. There is nothing to be proud to have a low level of human freedom in the world.