Was the former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Rahim Noor’s Perkasa speech warning of “a human rights wave” which would be like “a new religion” and threaten and erode the basis on which the nation was founded an open proxy shot in a battle of three Malaysian Prime Ministers about democracy, human rights and the rule of law not only in Malaysia but in the Commonwealth and the world?
It can be no coincidence that Rahim Noor’s speech was immediately given endorsement by his former boss and the fourth Malaysian Prime Minister of 22 years, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who warned that “Opposition politicians are using human rights issues for their political benefit”.
It can also be no coincidence that the two warnings by Mahathir and Rahim, made in a matter of 24 hours, came on the eve of the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, which is to consider the scathing report of the 11-member Eminent Persons Group (EPG) with wide-ranging and far-reaching reform proposals to end its organizational “decay” and to avoid the Commonwealth being condemned by history as “hypocritical” allowing rogue member states to violate human rights and democratic conventions.
It has been reported that the 220-page report of the EPG, which has not been made public despite the EPG’s request that it be released before the CHOGM opening this morning, contained “a wide ranging and at times unexpectedly radical road map for change, outlined in 106 detailed recommendations aimed at hauling the organization into the 21st century” – including the appointment of an independent Commonwealth Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights commissioner empowered to monitor violations and propose action against them.
And heading the EPG – which includes former British Conservative foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind and retired Australian High Court justice Michael Kirkby – is none other than the fifth Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Were the warnings by Mahathir and Rahim Noor pre-emptive strikes in the battle of the three Malaysian Prime Ministers, with the fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad warning the sixth and current Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak not to support or have any truck with fifth Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah’s EPG proposals to improve the Commonwealth record in responding to human rights violations?
What is Najib’s stand – to endorse Abdullah and the EPG proposals at the Perth 2011 CHOGM or to buckle under to pressures by Mahathir and Rahim Noor and to prevent the rogue Commonwealth countries which violate human rights from scrutiny and censure by a Commonwealth Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights?
The stand Najib will take in Perth 2011 CHOGM on the EPG report on Commonwealth reforms and the appointment of a Commonwealth Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights – whether to back Mahathir or Abdullah – will be a clear indication as to whether his promises of democratisation and political transformation, whether on electoral reforms, repeal of the Internal Security Act, removal of draconian and undemocratic laws and measures, have any credibility at all.
Najib should take serious note of the blunt warning of the EPG report about the Commonwealth “in danger of losing its relevance”.
The EPG report had warned:
“Now is the time for the Perth CHOGM to authorise the urgent reform this report recommends and to mandate a concrete implementation plan.
“Reform has never been more necessary.
“There may not be another chance to renew, reinvigorate and revitalise the Commonwealth to make it relevant to its times and people in the future.”
The warning of the EPG report that “there may not be another chance to renew, reinvigorate and revitalise Commonwealth to make it relevant to its times and people in the future” is of equal pertinence to Najib as to the relevance of his premiership and UMNO/Barisan Nasional rule to the people and country of Malaysia.
Will Najib prove to be unequal not only to the task of Commonwealth reform but also to the challenge of reform and national transformation of Malaysia?