Archive for category International

Obama’s Malaysia Test

Bridget Welsh
Project Syndicate

APR 25, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR – When Barack Obama lands in Malaysia this weekend, his two-day stopover will be the first visit by a US president since 1966. Unfortunately, human rights will probably not be on the agenda. Even as Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s government pursues yet another politically motivated case against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, the United States, by refusing to schedule a meeting with Anwar, has signaled that it will not stand up for justice in Malaysia.

In fact, the Obama administration has refused to treat Malaysia like a normal country and engage leaders from all sides – a stance that has emboldened Najib to move against Anwar, whose coalition received a higher proportion of the popular vote in the May 2013 election than Obama did in the 2012 US election. And the many serious challenges to human rights and governance in Malaysia do not end with politicized convictions of opposition leaders. Just days after Obama declared last October that Malaysia was a model of “diversity and tolerance,” Malaysian authorities denied non-Muslims the right to use the word “Allah” in the practice of their own faiths – a decision condemned throughout the Muslim world for its negative portrayal of Islam.

Moreover, members of Najib’s government endorse hudud, a class of penalties within sharia law that could imply strict limitations on Muslims’ right to choose how they practice their faith. According to the US State Department’s own human-rights reports, curbs on religious freedoms have included demolition of Hindu temples, bombings of Christian churches, and a ban on the practice of Shia Islam, to which some 15% of the world’s Muslims adhere. Likewise, according to the Pew Research Center, Najib’s government has “very high” restrictions on religious freedom. Read the rest of this entry »

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British PM David Cameron meets Tamils in Jaffna; Sri Lanka fumes at CHOGM

The Times of India
AFP | Nov 15, 2013

COLOMBO: Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron made an historic visit Friday to Sri Lanka’s former warzone, stealing the spotlight from a Commonwealth summit after the host, President Mahinda Rajapakse, warned against passing judgment on his country’s past.

Only hours after the summit opened in Colombo, Cameron flew into the northern Jaffna region where some 100,000 people lost their lives in fighting between Tamil rebels and troops from the majority Sinhalese government.

Several women who lost relatives during the war tried to hurl themselves in front of Cameron’s motorcade as he became the first foreign leader to visit Jaffna since the former British colony gained independence in 1948.

Clutching photos of their missing loved ones, they screamed “We Want Justice” before the premier sped away.

He later toured the offices of a Tamil newspaper whose printing presses have been torched several times, including in April this year, and which has lost five staff in attacks since Rajapakse came to power in 2005.

“This is going to make a very lasting impression on me. That is something you don’t forget,” Cameron told journalists at “Uthayan” (Sun) daily where the portraits of slain staff line the walls.

“But it’s only when you see it with your own eyes, it really brings home just how much you’re suffering.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Obama’s victory of hope over hate

by Bridget Welsh
Malaysiakini
Nov 8, 2012

COMMENT

When the presidential election was finally called, the results confirmed what most people expected – Barack Obama was returned to office for another four years.

It was not quite the nail-biter the media hyped it up to be, but there certainly were moments of uncertainty and anxiety on both sides.

In terms of the popular vote, Obama’s margin was extremely slim, although the electoral college system gave him a comfortable margin as he picked up the key swing states, including Florida (where I voted).

The election had a record turnout as Americans took their right to vote seriously (with some queuing for hours) and the process carefully monitored by observers.

The US 2012 election offers some simple lessons on understanding electoral behaviour and what can deliver political victory in close contests. Read the rest of this entry »

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9 takeaways from 2012 election

By Politico
NewJersey.Com
Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Day is finally here.

And even though neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney has been declared a winner yet, there are some things that will still hold true no matter which candidate wins the White House tonight — or in the wee hours of the morning.

Here are POLITICO’s nine takeaways from the 2012 campaign:

1. Luck matters — a lot

Obama has assembled some of the best field operatives around. His team has run the gauntlet before, prepared a ground game for five years, had a basic playbook for the 2012 cycle and (mostly) stuck to it. Obama’s natural skills as a politician are far better than Romney’s. The auto bailout helped Obama maintain what has been a small but consistent polling lead in critical states like Ohio.

And yet a little bit of luck goes an awfully long way. For all his troubles throughout his term, Obama caught some needed breaks. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Golden opportunity to make a stand on war crimes lost’

By Tarani Palani
June 16, 2011 | Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Parliament lost a ‘golden opportunity’ to enhance its standing in the international community when a motion to discuss Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s visit to Malaysia was rejected, said an opposition MP.

Ipoh Barat MP, M Kulasegaran said it would have given MPs an opportunity to show “displeasure at world leaders who abuse their citizens and have scant respect for the rule of law”.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in the war-torn western Sudanese region of Darfur, where about 300,000 people have died since 2003. Read the rest of this entry »

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