Andrew Khoo who is the Deputy Chairperson of the Malaysian Bar’s Human Rights Committee, came up with an excellent response to Info Minister Zam’s strident objections to the Merdeka Statement. Excerpts from his letter in theSun:
Why was the Jabatan Perpaduan Negara re-named Jabatan Perpaduan Negara dan Integrasi Nasional? The 42 organisations which were listed as supporting (whether in whole or in part) the Merdeka Statement either deal with or represent ordinary people of all walks of life on an everyday basis. Does the Honourable Minister really think that the Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations is elitist? Or the Malaysian Confederation of the Disabled? Or Yayasan Strategik Sosial? This last organisation is a body that works with underprivileged and marginalised, mainly Indian, children and youths. How more “un-elitist” can you get?
Does he consider the Malaysia Hindu Sangam elitist? Or the Malaysian Buddhist Association? Rather than face the reality, the preferred response appears to be to classify these groups as an elitist unrepresentative fringe group, and then to dismiss them as “Irrelevant!”
Furthermore, when you actually take a look at the Merdeka Statement, is it so bad that under the first item there is a call to ensure that “all new policies should be tested against the tenets of the Federal Constitution and the Rukun Negara? Is it so horrible that “an independent and transparent National Consultative Council on Vision 2020 should be established immediately? Is it so intolerable that “a National Research Institute on Ethnic Relations should be established?” Are these things, in and of themselves, so repugnant to the average person in the street that the majority of Malaysians would be offended by such suggestions? [More]