Dr M is against full human rights

By Syed Jeymal Zahiid, FMT

KUALA LUMPUR: Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today Malaysia should support human rights but “only as far as we’re able to”, given the country’s “unique” nature.

Mahathir, whose 22-year reign as prime minister had been described as “dictatorial”, said Malaysia should ignore critics who call for greater human rights, calling the demands “excessive”.

“In general, we have to support human rights but only as far as we’re able to,” he said after speaking at the National Entrepreneurs Corporation Bhd (PUNB) symposium here.

He added that Malaysia’s multi-racial society and conservative religious values could not accommodate excessive human rights that, among others, would allow gay marriages.

Mahathir was responding to criticism against former Inspector-General of Police Rahim Noor who equated the fight for greater rights with the communist insurgency at yesterday’s general assembly of right-wing Malay group Perkasa.

Rahim had said the push for human rights was dangerous and could lead to racial strife, adding that the signs are already prevalent after activists allegedly question the existing “social contract”.

The former IGP was known for giving former deputy prime minister and current opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim a black eye when the latter was detained for sodomy charges in 1998.

Mahathir was quick to point out that civil liberty fighters here often look to the West as the model for human rights but forget that developed democracies, like the US, often resort to greater restrictions when in crisis.

“We detain people under ISA (Internal Security Act) but they detain people without laws… and even torture them,” he said, referring to the abuse cases on detainees at the Guantanamo Bay camp which was widely reported by the international media.