KUALA LUMPUR: International non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) has taken a jab at Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic), claiming that the former prime minister bears responsibility for the current state of political affairs in the country.
Human Rights Watch Asia director Brad Adams said he was old enough to remember the Dr Mahathir years and the oppression he caused during his premiership.
"Dr Mahathir used the Internal Security Act (ISA) and civil defamation. He and (former Singapore prime minister) Lee Kuan Yew decided that the best way to deal with political opponents was to bankrupt people, keep them in criminal proceedings so they are busy defending themselves and can not engage themselves in politics," he said during the release of the HRW report titled "Creating a Culture of Fear: The Criminalisation of Peaceful Expression in Malaysia" at the Park Royal Hotel here Tuesday.
Adams said that Dr Mahathir upped the ante when he went after former Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
"He is the father of all this in Malaysia and for him to stand in public and complain about lack of freedom of speech or democracy is really unacceptable.
"He should just be quiet and apologise for what he has done," said Adams.
Adams said that HRW was trying to arrange a meeting with the senior officials in the Attorney-General's Chambers, Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister's Department.
"It should be a genuine conversation with them. I am sure the Foreign Affairs Ministry will advise us to stay out of the country's internal fairs, but there is no such thing as internal affairs. We only believe universal human rights.
"When the Prime Minister took office in Apr 2009, he pledged to "uphold civil liberties" and "regard for fundamental rights of the people."
"However, things changed when the ruling coalition lost the popular vote in the 2013 general election," he said.
The 143-page report documents the Government's use of a range of broad laws to clamp down on peaceful expression, including debates on matters of public interest.
The report also highlights alleged abuses of the legal process and looks into laws such as the Sedition Act, Printing Presses and Publications Act, Communications and Multimedia Act, Peaceful Assembly Act and several provisions of the Penal Code.
Did you find this article insightful?