Clock ticking for the Najib regime

By Jeswant Kaur, FMT

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s move to punish supporters of a rally supporting the call for clean and fair elections has brought him tremendous shame. Still, the premier continues to remain oblivious to the July 9 misdeeds committed and goes on pleading for the rakyat’s support.

International human rights agencies did not mince their words in condemning Najib for abusing the tenets of human rights and using the police to pulverise Bersih 2.0 “Walk for Democracy” rally supporters.

More recently, stinging criticism against the heavy-handed approach used by Najib to quell the rally supporters has come from LawAsia, a global organisation of lawyers, judges and legal experts.

LawAsia president Lester Huang hit the nail on the head when he said “the government of the day appeared to make political survival a priority instead of adhering to the country’s democratic principles”.

Malaysia, said Huang, did not comply with the “United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials” which it adopted in 1990.

In the July 9 rally, police allegedly fired tear gas canisters directly into the crowds of protesters. Premises like the Tung Shin Hospital also bore the brunt of the unbridled police action when water cannons and tear gas were fired inside its compound.

Huang is not the least convinced that the approach used by the police to disperse the rally supporters was a standard operating procedure.

The LawAsia head warned Malaysia’s leadership that it had to be more mindful of the rights of its citizens and take its regional role seriously. He said Malaysia’s membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council was called into question.

Malaysia was last year re-elected by the UN General Assembly for a three-year term on the 47-nation Human Rights Council based in Geneva.

“It is of profound regret to the regional legal community that the reaction to the Bersih movement sees these principles cast aside. Actions of this sort in any country will always deserve the strongest criticism from the legal community on both legal and humanitarian grounds,” Huang said.

But then the Najib regime has scant respect for citizens’ right to peaceful assembly or their right to know the truth, the latter referring to the purchase of the Scorpene submarines.

‘Gag’ order on rakyat remains

Be it the May 1 Labour Day rally or the Bersih 2.0 “Walk for Democracy”, the status quo remains in Malaysia, where a “gag” order is placed on the rakyat, preventing them from taking a stand and supporting any cause.

Likewise, all attempts are made by Najib to hide the truth from the people. The appearance of French human rights lawyer William Bourdon to speak about the procurement of the submarines left Najib, under whom the deal was inked, gasping for ways to get rid of Bourdon.

Bourdon was hired by Malaysian human rights body Suaram in 2009 to file a case against French naval giant DCNS over irregularities in the Scorpene submarines purchase that allegedly involved millions of ringgit in kickbacks.

The French authorities are currently probing the deal, which was also linked to Najib and the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Using the excuse that Bourdon had violated his social visa, the “powers that be” made it difficult for the lawyer, which prompted Bourdon to take a flight back to Paris two days ahead of his scheduled departure.