SDP Leaders To Present Letter To Malaysian High Commission On Monday Sunday, Dec 16 2007 

Singapore Democrats, 16 Dec 2007

Leaders of the Singapore Democrats will present a letter to the Malaysian High Commissioner on 17 Dec 07, Monday, at the High Commission at 30 Hill Street #02-01 at 11:30 am.

The letter is in protest of the recent crackdown on opposition parties, bar council, NGOs, and peaceful protesters in Malaysia.

Pseudonymity: Click here, here and here about the recent events in Malaysia

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SDP calls on Malaysian Government to respect human rights, Singapore Democrats, 17 Dec 2007

Leaders from the SDP presented a letter to the Malaysian High Commissioner today, calling on Malaysia to stop its persecution of human rights defenders in the country.

Malaysia has seen a spate of protests by different sectors of society including the opposition, legal community, and civil society who are demanding democracy and human rights in the country.

Mr Gandhi Ambalam, Dr Chee Soon Juan, Mr John Tan, Ms Chee Siok Chin, and Mr Charles Tan were present at the embassy at Jervois Road to present the letter of protest (see below).

The High Commission had expected the visit and promptly ushered the Singapore Democrats into its premises. The SDP leaders were received by a senior official, Counsellor Zainudin Abdul Shukor.

A few journalists and members of SgHumanRights activists were also present to cover the activity but they were not allowed in.

During the meeting SDP Chairman Ambalam expressed the party’s concern at the undemocratic actions of the Malaysian Government. He then handed the letter over to Mr Zainudin who assured the delegation that it would be given to the High Commissioner.

Mr Ambalam stressed on the need for Malaysia to release those presently detained under the ISA and for its government to respect the rights of its citizens.

Members of the ethnic Indian community have also protested against government policy that they say discriminate against them. As a result five of their leaders have been detained under the Internal Security Act.

Letter presented to the Malaysian High Commission

17 December 2007

The High Commissioner
Malaysian High Commission
30, Hill Street #02-01
Singapore 179360

Dear Mr High Commissioner,

We are extremely perturbed by the recent crackdown on opposition leaders, civil society activists, members of the bar council and peaceful protesters in Malaysia. These persons have been detained without trial, arrested, and harassed for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly.

For the Government of Malaysia to treat such acts the way that it did is to signal weakness, not strength. The brave protesters and their leaders want a democratic Malaysia which can only mean long-term security and stability for the country as well as for the region.

With Burma in turmoil, Singapore as repressive as ever, and Thailand trying to regain its democratic footing ASEAN seems like a bad thing waiting to happen. A region where systems that guarantee peaceful and orderly transitions of power are absent is a region of weakness and uncertainty.

ASEAN recently signed its charter where member states promised to respect the fundamental freedoms of their citizens. Let this not be an exercise in dishonesty and hypocrisy. Let ASEAN not become the laughing stock of the world.

We, therefore, call on His Excellency, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, to immediately and unconditionally release the five leaders of HINDRAF currently under ISA detention, stop arresting leaders of Malaysian opposition parties and the bar council, and cease all harassment of peaceful protesters.

For the sake of a democratic and peaceful Malaysia and Southeast Asia, we call on you to respect the civil and political rights of all Malaysians.

Sincerely,

Gandhi Ambalam
Chairman
Singapore Democratic Party

Saffron Revolution Is Not Over Sunday, Dec 16 2007 

by Lalit K Jha / Washington, The Irrawaddy, 14 Dec 2007

Although civil opposition to the Burmese military junta might appear to have subsided, a report released this week claims that the “Saffron Revolution” is not yet over and the desire for change among the Burmese people is “greater than ever.”

The report released by the International Federation for Human Rights and the International Trade Union Congress calls on the UN Security Council to pass a binding resolution against the military government in Burma and urges the international community to act and help the people of Burma in achieving their goal of democracy and rule of law in the country. The FIDH is an apex body of 155 human rights bodies from nearly 100 countries, while the ITUC is the world’s largest trade union federation.

In its 50-page report titled “Saffron Revolution Is Not Over,” the FIDH-ITUC concluded that the violent repression, particularly against revered monks leading peaceful demonstrations, has deeply antagonized Burmese society and has further alienated the population from its current military leaders.

“The level of fear, but also anger amongst the general population is unprecedented, as even religious leaders are now clearly not exempt from such violence and repression,” the report states. This is different from the pro-democracy demonstrations in 1988, when monks were not directly targeted. In present-day Burma, all segments of the population have grown hostile to the regime, including factions within the military’s own ranks, it stated.

Observing that the “desire to change is greater than ever,” the report asserted that the future of Burma will depend on three factors: the extent to which the population will be able to organize new rounds of social movement; the reaction of the State Peace and Development Council; and the influence the international community—the UN in particular—can exert on the junta.

The Burmese authorities were forced to accept the good offices mission of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, while UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro was allowed access to the country for the first time in four years. In addition, Aung San Suu Kyi and members of the National League for Democracy were given permission to meet with each other for the first time since May 2003.

“Yet these positive signs are still weak: a genuine process of political change has not started yet,” the report states. “Such a process, involving the democratic parties and ethnic groups, is fundamental to establishing peace, human rights and development in Burma. To achieve that, the international community must keep its focus on Burma, and maximize its efforts and capacity to help bring about political transition.”

There are four key principles and four key leverage points to influence the SPDC regime, which, if implemented, should force the regime to negotiate a peaceful transition, in which the military would become a professional body in charge of defending the country against external threats, and not a tool for repression in the hands of a dictatorship.

These principles could loosely be defined as: keeping Burma a priority; acknowledging that increasing pressure on the junta is useful and not harmful; accepting responsibility for Burma instead of passing the buck; and implementing a two-pronged approach in order to influence the regime and encourage the people of Burma.

Leverage points include: a binding Security Council resolution based on the responsibility to protect and the fact that Burma is a threat to peace; cutting the SPDC’s economic lifeline (comprehensive sanctions, in particular, on the key priority sectors of oil and gas, timber, gems and financial services, with due consideration for exceptions on justified humanitarian or similar grounds); and efforts to prepare for transition, the report stated.

Observing that the demand for reform in Burma is profound and insistent and that the determination of the democratic movement is strong, FIDH-ITUC urged the international community to seize the opportunity of ending military dictatorship in Burma.

“A business-as-usual approach to the current situation is no longer defensible; nor can it succeed in contributing positively to change. Instead, clear benchmarks should be set for a transition towards democracy, and progress towards this objective must be closely monitored,” it said.

If the military government fails to take key positive steps within a reasonable time, the international community should draw the required conclusions from the absence of progress, it said. In that case, an agenda of escalating demands should be pushed forward.

The international community cannot take the risk of losing the current window of opportunity, according to the report, which said, “The widespread and persistent human rights violations committed in Burma put the willingness of the international community to the test. It is our collective capacity to effectively realize and promote peace, human rights and democracy, which is at stake. The lives, human rights, dignity and future of Burma’s 54 million people require concerted and focused commitment from the international community now, and not at some undetermined time in the future.”

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