Malaysia should not support Mugabe’s tyranny and undemocratic rule or it will tarnish Abdullah’s international reputation as the Abuja CHOGM is the first international conference after he became Prime Minister as well as raise questions about the relevance of NAM and OIC both of which Malaysia is Chair
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Malaysia should not support Robert Mugabe’s tyranny and undemocratic rule of Zimbabwe or it will tarnish the international reputation of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the Abuja Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on Friday is the first international conference after he became Prime Minister as well as raise questions about the relevance of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), both of which Malaysia is Chair.
Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar has given the impression that Malaysia is siding with the Zimbabwe President, who attended the NAM Summit in Kuala Lumpur in February, and is aligned with Commonwealth members who want Zimzbabe’s suspension from the Commonwealth to be lifted.
It would be a great shame if the Commonwealth is split along racial lines on the issue of Zimbabwe’s continued suspension following widespread violence and ballot-rigging in last year’s presidential elections, and it is important for Malaysia’s international image that it should not be seen as a champion of despotism, closing its eyes to the rampant and continued abuse of fundamental human rights and the principles of good governance and rule of law in Zimbabwe.
A recent example of such violations is the closure of the Daily News, and the Media and Information Commission’s subsequent rejection of its application for registration – an abuse of law and a flagrant interference with freedom of expression.
Other ongoing violations in Zimbabwe are the infringement of freedoms of association, expression and assembly through the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) 2002.
Instead of siding with Mugabe and despotism, Malaysia should take a strong stand at the CHOGM 2003 for firm action to be taken by the Commonwealth for the restoration to the Zimbabwean people the respect for their rights and welfare by establishing a specific human rights inquiry into the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe.
Tanzania has indicated that it might skip the Abuja CHOGM in solidarity with Mugabe, who had not been invited to the Nigerian meeting because of Zimbabwe’s continued suspension. Is Abdullah staying away from the Abuja CHOGM a tacit solidarity with Mugabe in utter disregard of the 1991 Harare Commonwealth Declaration on democracy, the rule of law and good governance?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman