by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, January 14, 1992:
DAP calls on Dr.Mahathir to approve registration of Malaysian Amnesty International
Last month, the Malaysian government rejected the application for the registration of a human rights organisation in Malaysia- the Malaysian Amnestly International.
The protem committee of the Malaysian Amnestly International has appealed to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr.Mahathir Mohamed, against the government’s rejection, and the DAP calls on Dr.Mahathir to accept the appeal and allow the Malaysian Amnestly International to be established and operate under the laws of the country.
The approval for the registration of the Malaysian Amnestly International is important for three reasons:
Firstly, it is to demonstrate that the speeches and statements by Malaysian leaders, in particular by Dr.Mahathir at international forums about the country’s commitment to human tights and democratic freedoms is not just mere lip-service but is fully reflected in government policies and actions; and
Secondly, to demonstrate the sincerity of the Barisan Nasional Government about its Vision 2020 where Malaysia will be a fully developed and democratic country.
DAP calls on Cabinet to adopt a new policy which recognises the role of the NGOs in the promotion of human rights
The third reason is for Malaysia to set a leading example in the Commonwealth and the world among Third World countries in recognising the key role of the Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) in the promotion of human rights.
DAP would on fact call on the Cabinet to adopt a new government policy on the Non-Government Organisations (NOGs) which does not view NGOs as elements hostile to the government, but as potential allies in the search for human rights.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference (CHOGM) in Harare in October last year was presented with a Report entitled “Toward a Commonwealth Human Rights Policy” drafted by a non-government advisory group neaded by former Canadian Foreign Minister, Flora MacDonald.
This Commonwealth non-government advisory group report made six recommendations to all Commonwealth Government on the role of NGOs, and the DAP calls on the Malaysian Government to accept these six recommendations as the Government’s new policy on the NGOs.
These six recommendations are:
1. Government should recognise the role of NGOs in the promotion of human rights.
2.Governments should undertake that they will neither sponsor or countenance attacks on human rights organisations and individuals.
3. Human rights groups should be free to come into existence, and to operate within the law, without harassment. National laws must ensure that no unnecessary legal impediments are placed in the way of the formation and functioning of NGOs. The laws and administrative practive must ensure their autonomy.
4. Government must recognise the legitimacy of the NGOs to speak on behalf of their constituencies, and their responsibilities for the defence and enforcement of human rights. Government should make clear commitments to freedom of association and to an atmosphere which at least permits, and preferably encourages, the work of NGOs engaged in the protection and promotion of human rights.
5. Domestic NGOs should have a special standing on human right questions with their governments.
6. NGOs should be free to gather information for reports to local and international bodies set up to monitor the implementation of human rights.
Government trying to use both the carrot and the stick to destroy the independence of lawyers
Yesterday, Dr.Mahathir said that the government would consider the UMNO Youth suggestion that the Government revoke contracts given to legal firms whose lawyers are involved in anti-government activities.
Threats of this nature are most unbecoming and unworthy of a government which claims to be democratic.
The purpose of such proposal, like the one proposing that the Attorney-General or the Justice Minister should head the Bar Council, is designed to destroy the independence of Malaysian lawyers, which is a crucial pillar to the important principle of the Rule of Law and the Independence of the Judiciary.
The Barisan Nasional government is trying to use both the carrot and the stick to destroy the independence of the lawyers.