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Friday, 3 March 2017

Global Human Rights

Bar Council's Human Rights Committee co-chairperson Andrew Khoo fears that Malaysia will use US President Donald Trump's anti-human right policies in justifying similar approaches taken by Putrajaya.
Malaysians who speak about the importance of human rights and uphold fundamental rights would be disregarded, he said.
"This is the worrying part, (they would say,) 'If the US can do it, why can't we continue to do it?'," he said.
"When Trump said US first, he basically said everybody else is not a priority, that has a trickle down effect on the rest of the world, too," he said.
Trump, the controversial US president who took office on Jan 20, was widely criticised as a threat to human rights, anti-globalisation and labelled sexist and racist.
Amnesty International had claimed the divisive and "poisonous" language used by Trump is putting vulnerable populations at risk and making the whole world a more dangerous place
Rise of right-wing Christians in M'sia?
Beside worrying about the spillover effect on the human rights movement in Malaysia and other parts of the world, Khoo also claimed Trump's white supremacy has affected Malaysia.
"Since the day US did not vote against the resolution of the (United Nation) Security Council in December (2016) which criticised Israel for building settlements, I have received (messages on how) the resurgence of right-wing Christians have taken control.
"Even though I am a Christian, this is frightening to me because there are so many people in Malaysia who seem to support the right-wing Christian agenda coming from the US," he added.
"I wonder why? If you are talking about role models, definitely Trump is not a role model," he told the room packed with more than 150 people.
The pro-Israel and anti-Arab approaches taken by US on this matter and the putting aside of human rights was rather dangerous, he said.
He also expressed concern on the phenomenon in the country where non-Muslim are being labelled as anti-Islam while those who are not mainstream Muslim being deemed as deviant and terrorist when they speak on religious issues.
US would not attend to help foreign countries
Khoo offered his personal views at the forum titled 'Global Human Rights In the Era of President Trump' held by Penang Institute in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur last night.
Other speakers were former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, Promotion of Human Rights Malaysia (Proham) secretary-general Denison Jayasooria and Human Rights Watch Asia deputy director Phil Robertson.
Describing Trump as having brought "unmitigated disaster" to human rights, Robertson expected things were likely to get worse before they got better.
Robertson said he wasn't sure how US would react when civil society from the rest of the world, including Malaysia, seek help on human rights issues.
Citing activist Lena Hendry's prosecution, he said the then-US ambassador was persuaded to talk to the Sri Lanka high commissioner in Malaysia, to urge the government to drop the prosecution against her.
"We are not going to have that any more," he said.
Denison feared that Trump's rhetoric would have an impact on the minorities if the ethno-religious nationalist take centre stage, as had happened in India and Myanmar.
While noting the narrowing space for the civil society who uphold equal rights, he remained optimistic with the future of US and the rest of the world.
"I think the US society will rise (against Trump) because the institutions and media are strong, they are holding him accountable and it will help the US to rediscover its soul," he said.
He urged Malaysians to show solidarity with Americans who were impacted by Trump's policies.
He wanted the National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) which was advocated by Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) for some years, to be implemented by the government.
Muslim countries urged to examine 'discriminatory policies'
Pillay, who is also a former judge of the International Criminal Court, expressed her disappointment with the absence of Suhakam chairperson Razali Ismail at the forum.
"I am surprised and a little disappointed that the chair of Suhakam did not attend the discussion. The national human rights institution is the watchdog and guardian in ensuring the government implements its undertaking internationally," she said. 
Pillay pointed out that the US courts had placed a stay on Trump's travel ban against seven Muslim countries on the grounds the discrimination on religious ground was unconstitutional and violated international laws.

"Now, it's time that Muslim-majority countries need to also take a deep look on whether their policies on religious grounds are something that Trump vouches for.
"When you exclude and discriminate minorities of other religious and ethnic groups in favour of one sect of a particular religion, then you are doing exactly what Trump is doing now," she said.
This is the appropriate moment for this to be examined by countries that discriminate on religious grounds, she said.
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