by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 12th June 1991:
Dr.Mahathir should allow the DAP motion on the ratification of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights to be debated and adopted in Dewan Rakyat next week
I have given notice to the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat, Tan Sri Mohamed Zahir, of a motion to ratify the 1966 International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, which Malaysia had voted in support in the United Nations General Assembly but had failed to ratify in the past 25 years.
I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr.Mahathir Mohamed, to agree to allow this motion to be debated and adopted in the Dewan Rakyat next week.
The debate and adoption of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights by Parliament would be a historic milestone for human rights in Malaysia and is particularly important in view of recent developments.
Last month, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report 1991 ranked Malaysia 55th among 88 countries in the Human Freedom Index, which provoked an angry outburst from Dr.Mahathir about an international conspiracy against Malaysia.
A few days ago, it was reported that the Washington-based international Labour Rights Education and Research fund (ILRERF) lobbying the United States Government to deny Malaysia duty-free trade cuts under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for violation of trade union rights.
As far as the GSP issue is concerned, the DAP calls on the United States Government not to withdraw GSP privileges for Malaysia, as this will adversely affect the employment opportunities of Malaysian workers.
The GSP issue should be a reminder that Malaysia’s human rights record will increasingly come under international scrutiny and the Malaysian Government must be very serious in its commitment to human rights in Malaysia.
Malaysia does not have a good human rights record at present, and Malaysia will be able to comply with all the human rights standards set in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights overnight.
The ratification of the International Covenant of Civil and Political would however signify the commitment, not only by the Malaysian Government, but by the entire Malaysian society, to work towards the standards of civil and political rights enshrined in the Covenant, which Malaysia voted in support a quarter of a century ago.
The ratification of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights is not a party political affair, and I hope that all MPs, regardless of party affiliation, can support that the motion for its ratification be debated and adopted in Parliament next week.
Let it not be said that the state of civil and political rights in Malaysia is so deplorable that even a motion for the ratification of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights 1966 could not have time for debate in the Malaysian Parliament!