Saturday, April 26, 2014

Obama should meet with Opposition Leader not just NGOs

It is obvious that it was the overwhelming public opinion that finally pressured US President Barack Obama to agree to meet with leaders of Malaysian civil society movements, including Bersih, Islamic Renaissance Front and the Bar Council during his visit to Kuala Lumpur this weekend. It was also public pressure that led to the US embassy to arrange Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice to meet with Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

While these gestures may be encouraging admission that the US still values human rights and democracy but they are far from sufficient to redeem the declining faith in the super power to stand up to its role as the leader and champion of democracy in a complex and sophisticated world today.

Anwar is no ordinary man in Malaysian politics. He has managed to unite the opposition to gain the support of 52% of the voters in the last general election just a year ago. He should have been the rightful prime minister but due to undemocratic electoral practices he remains as the opposition leader but is still capable of mounting another challenge to the present government in the next elections. He is now the leader of a formidable opposition in parliament.

However he has been unjustly tried and convicted of a crime that could land him in jail for life, thereby destroying his political career. It is ironical he is may be jailed for an alleged crime that in the US is a legitimate right of a citizen – sodomy.

If Obama and the US are truly committed to champion democracy and human rights in the world where such principles are blatantly abused, he must agree meet with our opposition leader to get a first-hand information of his views which reflects the views of the majority of Malaysians.

Mr.President the ball is in your court, please do not let down the millions of Malaysians who have high regard for you, your esteemed Office and your country.


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