Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s failure to back a Commonwealth review on human rights has cast serious doubts to his reform pledges in Malaysia, the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang said today.
The prime minister is currently in Perth attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) where one of the key issues discussed was the appointment of a Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights.
The idea was mooted by the Eminent Person’s Group (EPG) following criticism that the Commonwealth leaders meeting failed to uphold the principles of democracy and human rights.
Lim attacked Malaysia’s prime minister in a strongly-worded statement today, saying he found it “shocking” and “deplorable” that Najib did not support the EPG’s recommendations.
He added that Najib’s  actions have cast “a very dark shadow” over his reform promises to Malaysians, which included the repeal of the outdated Internal Security Act (ISA) and other security and laws that provide for one man to arbitrarily order a person detained under the flimsiest excuses.
“When the Prime Minister of Malaysia is not prepared to give full-hearted support to the EPG Report which is chaired by his predecessor the previous prime minister, how could one fault the other Commonwealth Heads of Government who opposes the EPG and its reform recommendations?” the DAP parliamentary leader asked.
The EPG is chaired by former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was reported as saying today that there is an “urgent need” for bold initiatives to reform the Commonwealth and warned that the bloc will go down in history as a “failure” if the EPG’s proposals were not followed through.
Malaysia is among a number of Commonwealth countries who are opposed to the appointment of a Commissioner for human rights.
“It is a bit contentious at this stage and there are a lot of divergent views about the appointment,” Najib was quoted by The Star as saying today.
Other countries which were opposed to the idea included India, which felt that the bloc should merely focus on development challenges instead of human rights issues.

Charles and David Koch are each worth about $25bn, which makes them the fourth richest Americans. When you combine their fortunes, they are the third wealthiest people in the world. Radical libertarians who use their money to oppose government and virtually all regulation as interference with the free market, the Kochs are in a class of their own as players on the American political stage. Their web of influence in the US stretches from state capitals to the halls of congress in Washington DC.
The Koch brothers fueled the conservative Tea Party movement that vigorously opposes Barack Obama, the US president. They fund efforts to derail action on global warming, and support politicians who object to raising taxes on corporations or the wealthy to help fix America’s fiscal problems. According to New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, who wrote a groundbreaking exposé of the Kochs in 2010, they have built a top to bottom operation to shape public policy that has been “incredibly effective. They are so rich that their pockets are almost bottomless, and they can keep pouring money into this whole process”.
Koch industries, the second largest privately-held company in the US, is an oil refining, chemical, paper products and financial services company with revenues of a $100bn a year. Virtually every American household has some Koch product – from paper towels and lumber, to Stainmaster carpet and Lycra in sports clothes, to gasoline for cars. The Koch’s political philosophy of rolling back environmental and financial regulations is also beneficial to their business interests.
The Kochs rarely talk to the press, and conduct their affairs behind closed doors. But at a secret meeting of conservative activists and funders the Kochs held in Vail, Colorado this past summer, someone made undercover recordings. One caught Charles Koch urging participants to dig deep into their pockets to defeat Obama. “This is the mother of all wars we’ve got in the next 18 months,” he says, “for the life or death of this country.” He called out the names of 31 people at the Vail meeting who each contributed more than $1m over the past 12 months.

In the 2010 congressional elections, the Kochs and their partners spent at least $40m, helping to swing the balance of power in the US House of Representatives towards right-wing Tea Party Republicans. It has been reported that the Kochs are planning to raise and spend more than $200m to defeat Obama in 2012. But the brothers could easily kick in more without anyone knowing due to loopholes in US law.
The Kochs founded and provide millions to Americans for Prosperity, a political organisation that builds grassroots support for conservative causes and candidates. Americans for Prosperity, which has 33 state chapters and claims to have about two million members, has close ties to Tea Party groups and played a key role in opposing Obama’s health care initiative.
This year, Americans for Prosperity spent at least half a million dollars supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s efforts to cut social spending and roll back collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. The legislation passed by Walker makes it more difficult for unions, which are major backers of Democratic candidates, to secure funds for political purposes. Americans for Prosperity is also very active in a battle against unions in Ohio, another important 2012 presidential state. Its president, Tim Phillips, says that the organisation is winning in Wisconsin and around the country “because on the policies of economic freedom, we’re right”. He refused to tell People & Powerreporter Bob Abeshouse how much the organisation is spending to combat the unions.
The Kochs have also poured millions into think tanks and academia to influence the battle over ideas. According to Kert Davies, the director of research for Greenpeace in the US, the Kochs have spent more than $50m since 1998 on “various front groups and think tanks who … oppose the consensus view that climate change is real, urgent and we have to do something about it”. As operators of oil pipelines and refineries, the Kochs have opposed all efforts to encourage alternative sources of energy by imposing a tax on fossil fuels.
Patrick Michaels, a senior fellow at the CATO Institute, often appears in the media to contest global warming science. CATO was founded by Charles Koch, and the Kochs and their foundations have contributed about $14m to CATO. Since 2009, there has been a sharp drop in the percentage of Americans who see global warming as a serious threat according to Gallup polls. Davies argues that the change can be attributed in large measure to the efforts of scientists like Michaels and others who are funded by the fossil fuel industry.
The Kochs have also promoted their free market ideology and business interests through aggressive lobbying in Washington DC, and financial support of political candidates. Greenpeace has tracked more than $50m that Koch Industries has spent on lobbyists since 2006, when Cap and Trade and other legislation to combat global warming was being considered. The Kochs have been the largest political spender since 2000 in the energy sector, exceeding Exxon, Chevron, and other major players.
The Kochs contributed to 62 of the 87 new members of the US House of Representatives in 2010. Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the Kochs supported have taken the lead in opposing US Environmental Protection Agency efforts to reduce global warming emissions. Other members backed by the Kochs belong to the right-wing Tea Party bloc that took the US to the brink of default in July by refusing to consider a budget deal that would include tax increases.
In 2012, many believe that President Obama can raise a billion dollars for the presidential race, and break all fundraising records. But as Lee Fang of the Center for American Progress tells reporter Bob Abeshouse, in the end it may not matter “because the Koch brothers alone increased their wealth by $11bn in the last two years”.


The main hindrance to competitiveness in the Malaysian business sphere is the government’s own insistence that there should be no competition when it comes to any or all their ventures. We have in place huge monopolies in oil, electricity generation and even television; in which the government holds strategic stakes that basically curtails and dampens any form of competitiveness.
Dismantling these systems is something the BN is not prepared to do. Its own component parties, Umno in particular, hold large stakes in these monopolies.
Prime Minister Najib Razak’s recent call for meritocracy amongst the bumiputera community means allowing the best Malays in the country to emerge through competition amongst themselvesbut not through competition with other races whether in the country or from overseas.
It has nothing to do with abolishing policies that favour the Bumiputera. This itself makes a mockery of his other statement that the economy will continue to be liberalized. It takes two hands to clap and liberalization cannot take place with competition and meritocracy. So as usual, clueless Najib was speaking in a fog of his own making.
Oil and water
Najib’s assertion that the New Economic Policy and meritocracy can co-exist is akin to saying that water and oil can mix. There is just no plausible way for co-existence. For true meritocracy to exist in Malaysia, the NEP has to go.
Najib’s assertion rings hollow and is obviously meant to pacify the non-bumiputera quarters in Malaysia, but without antagonizing the Malay electorate which still depends a lot on the NEP for economic survival.
If Najib is to prove his point, then meritocracy should begin when selecting the nation’s leaders. Cabinet members or those holding key governmental positions need not come from BN or Pakatan Rakyat or any political entity but rather from the pool of Malaysian intellectuals that are the envy of the global world. Would not this also attract more Malaysian intellectuals to come back to assist their motherland?
Key cabinet or ministerial areas such as national defence, finance, education, tourism, agriculture and information can be given to individuals who are authority figures in such fields. There are plenty of competent Malaysian engineers, financial experts, tourism experts, educationists and media consultants who can best serve the ministries and strategic and objectively steer the nations’ policies.
Cabinet may be ‘decimated’
But as many know, if meritocracy is practiced in selecting the nation’s leaders; many in the Cabinet will be out of a job and the current structure of UMNO would be void and empty. There is just no platform within the BN that supports meritocracy.
To allow meritocracy would mean the death of Malay dominance in the economic sphere of Malaysia. Yet, this is also contributing to the lack of competitiveness Malaysia is facing in the global arena.
Ironically, the companies that are totally geared up to face the global competition are those that have enjoyed the least from NEP, even-though one can argue that these companies enjoyed a direct connection to the Executive when it came to gaining a foothold in Malaysian business. Names like Genting, YTL and Berjaya come to mind.
There is no point speaking of meritocracy while maintaining the NEP, if the Najib establishment is unprepared to practice this at the national leadership level. And even if Najib really wanted a meritocratic system in place to implement the NEP, does he really have the political will to do so?
Especially since, meritocracy itself would mean getting rid of those that have no merit, intelligence or moral integrity, but who are currently sitting in the government. Indeed, meritocracy  would mean a lot of BN ‘leaders’ would have to find new jobs.
Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, known for his decades of inhumane administration, has come out strongly against Human Rights in Malaysia. This was after Rahim Noor, the thuggish former policeman who beat up Anwar Ibrahim while he was handcuffed, equated the Human Rights movement with Communism.
Mahathir declared that he was against Human Rights because it would allow people of the same sex to marry. Clearly he is mixing it up with gay rights. But then, Mahathir always seems to have homosexuality on his mind, right from his graphic description of a homosexual act on national television in 1998. He also built the twin towers, an entirely unnecessary piece of real estate for a small nation like Malaysia, and a phallic symbol if there ever was one. It remains an unviable and loss-making entity, propped up by Petronas and clever accounting.
What Mahathir needs perhaps is a clinical psychologist, one who could delve into his childhood and discover the roots of Mahathir’s psychosis and his many pet hatreds and fears . Perhaps the psychologist could explain to Mahathir that building tall buildings and making up tall tales will never serve to save him from his own feelings of inadequacy. Many serial killers had childhoods like Mahathir; a doting mother, a distant father, an oedipal son. Watch Hitchcock’s Psycho.
Don’t ever question me!

Guess who is Perkasa's guest of honour
What Mahathir is really against is the right of Malaysians to question him. Particularly to question the many projects of his witless sons and insatiably greedy cronies. For with Human Rights comes free speech and with free speech comes transparency. For a financial Nosferatu like Mahathir, transparency is as deadly an enemy as sunlight was to Count Orlok.
So we have this sinister, contrived dance between Mahathir and Rahim Noor. First we have the Neanderthalian Rahim Noor, of whose capability to count to ten we cannot be entirely certain, postulating the preposterous hypothesis that Human Rights is like Communism.
This is then followed up with Mahathir’s remarkable theory that Human Rights is some kind of gay movement. There is, of course, a pattern here. Communism and homosexuality are both anathema to Malaysia’s Malay community. Mahathir would like to render Human Rights unpalatable to the majority of Malaysia’s voters.
Unfortunately for Mahathir, he is at least ten years behind time. Neither the Malays, nor any of Malaysia’s other communities, are easily fooled any more. It will not work, as the earlier attempt by Himpun, a collective brainchild of Umno and Perkasa, did not succeed in driving a wedge between religions.
Behind time
Xenophobia, Mahathir will find, is no longer so easy to stir up in Malaysia. Mahathir, and his devious, contemptible tactics, have no place in the new, post-2008 Malaysia.
However, it is not just Mahathir who is against Human Rights. The BN is also most certainly against Human Rights. But while Mahathir appears to take pride in politically incorrect statements, quite convinced perhaps, that this makes him look clever; the BN engages in deceit and doubletalk.
Prime Minister Najib Razak offers to scrap the ISA, but in the same breath notes that it will be replaced by two new laws. The Emergency Ordinance is repealed; but only after it would have been political suicide to ever use it again.
Malaysians will never be given back the freedoms guaranteed them in Malaysia’s constitution as long as the BN is in power. If Malaysians want genuine freedom, they will have to take it for themselves, in the next General Election.
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