Malaysia government defends rights record

Malaysia on Wednesday defended its rights record a day after Human Rights Watch accused the government of abandoning earlier promises of reform.

"Under Prime Minister Najib Razak, civil liberties have been expanded and outdated laws repealed," a Malaysian government spokesman said in a statement.

The spokesman noted that tough laws including the colonial-era Internal Security Act have been replaced, and said Najib planned to follow through on a promise to abolish the country's anti-sedition law.

The 57-year-old government dominated by the United Malays National Organisation had been accused for decades of using those and other laws to silence dissent.

"The government remains committed to replacing the Sedition Act, and to continuing the Prime Minister's reform programme," the spokesman said.

In an annual report released Tuesday, Human Rights Watch said the government took a "significant" step backwards on rights after suffering a historic setback in elections in May.

"The election was followed by a significant deterioration in human rights and the apparent abrupt end to Prime Minister Najib's oft-touted reform agenda," the report said.

It noted the passage of new laws reinstating detention without trial and arrests of some opposition activists over peaceful protests.

Facing ebbing voter support, Najib had in 2011 abolished some repressive laws and pledged to change the government's authoritarian ways.

But Human Rights Watch noted that the government in October approved new anti-crime measures restoring detention without trial in the multi-ethnic but Muslim-majority country.

Najib also relaxed media restrictions, but critics have dismissed the changes as cosmetic and say traditional media remain firmly under the government's thumb.

Authorities in December suspended a business magazine after it published an article viewed as critical of Najib.

The opposition brands the reform pledges a cynical ploy before last May's polls.

"Malaysia in 2013 was marked by a 'tale of two Najibs' -- promising legal reforms before the election and restoring repressive laws after it," Phil Robertson, the rights group's deputy Asia director, said in a statement.

Najib is widely believed to be under pressure from powerful UMNO conservatives who want to turn the clock back on reform.

Human Rights Watch also said the government "continued to bring dubious criminal charges against its political opponents," including prominent activists who face trial for violating the Sedition Act.

Najib pledged in 2012 to repeal the dreaded Sedition Act, but authorities continue to use it.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • United States seeks access to Philippine bases as part of Asia pivot
    United States seeks access to Philippine bases as part of Asia pivot

    The United States has asked for access to Philippine military bases in eight locations to rotate troops, aircraft, and ships as Washington shifts its forces to Asia and as China expands its military presence in the South China Sea. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a speech in Arizona, has outlined Washington's next phase in its Asia "pivot", deploying its most sophisticated destroyers, bombers and fighters to the region. The Asia "pivot" has already seen U.S. Marines rotating through the …

  • China's island-building to loom large at SE Asia summit
    China's island-building to loom large at SE Asia summit

    China's creation of new island footholds in contested seas will hover over a Southeast Asian summit that has become an annual test of the region's nerve in standing up to its massive neighbour. The South China Sea hot potato drops this year into Malaysia's lap as the rotating chair of the 10 member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and host of Monday's meeting. ASEAN states Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim parts of the strategic South China Sea, but Beijing …

  • Philippines, China trade accusations over sea threats

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines accused China of aggressive maneuvers against its reconnaissance plane and fishermen in disputed seas where Beijing has stepped up construction of artificial islands, but China reiterated its claim on the strategic waterways. …

  • Indonesia orders execution of Mary Jane, 9 others
    Indonesia orders execution of Mary Jane, 9 others

    Indonesia has ordered preparations for the execution of 10 drug convicts, including Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, as the Philippine government filed yesterday a second appeal for judicial review of the case to save the maid from death by firing squad. The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) of Indonesia released an official letter dated April 23, instructing prosecutors to prepare for the execution of 10 convicts, the Jakarta Post reported yesterday. The execution would be conducted after the …

  • Noy to visit Canada, Japan
    Noy to visit Canada, Japan

    President Aquino will embark on a state visit to Canada in May and Japan in June to meet with his counterparts and promote Philippine interests. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Aquino accepted the invitation from Canadian Governor General David Johnston to make a state visit to Canada from May 7 to 9. Tied to this trip is the President’s one-day working visit to the United States to meet with potential investors and with the local Filipino community in Chicago, Valte …

  • Business groups back K to 12 program
    Business groups back K to 12 program

    The government’s K to 12 program adding two more years to basic education received support from various business groups yesterday. However, they urged relevant government agencies to deal with issues regarding the implementation of Republic Act 10533, the Enhanced Basic Education Act or K-12 Law. In a statement, business groups led by the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) said RA 10533 is a milestone piece of legislation that intends to bring the Philippines up to par with the rest of …

  • Happiest nations: Phl ranks 90th
    Happiest nations: Phl ranks 90th

    Switzerland is the happiest country in the world, while the Philippines placed 90th, according to a global ranking of happiness unveiled in New York on Thursday. Switzerland was followed closely by Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada. The 2015 World Happiness Report is the third annual report seeking to quantify happiness as a means of influencing government policy. The United Nations published the first study in 2012. …

  • Asean leaders want binding sea code with China
    Asean leaders want binding sea code with China

    Southeast Asian leaders will seek to speed up plans for a binding code of conduct with China governing behavior in the disputed South China Sea at a summit next week, Malaysia’s foreign minister said Friday. Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said a massive flow of Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to neighboring countries will also be discussed at the two-day summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which starts Monday. Anifah said leaders are expected to raise concerns …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options