Monday, April 28, 2014

BARU BIAN: OPEN LETTER TO BARACK OBAMA


Dear Mr President,

Welcome to Malaysia.

Even though you will not be meeting Anwar Ibrahim in person, I am pleased to learn that your National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s schedule includes an appointment with him. Please bear in mind that he leads the coalition of 3 multi-racial parties that won 52% of the popular votes in the general elections held last year in spite of the fraud and attempted fraud at the polls. The practice of malapportionment and gerrymandering in our electoral system has allowed the coalition of parties led by the current prime minister to cling on to the reins of government. As pointed out by Anwar Ibrahim in his opinion piece published in The Washington Post, recent research carried out by the Universities of Sydney and Harvard has ranked Malaysia as having one of the worst records on electoral integrity in the world.

Not surprisingly, the poor electoral integrity of this country is reflected in the steadily weakening of the democratic rights of her citizens. Abuse of power and corruption is widespread at all levels of the executive, legislative and judicial systems. Persecution and imprisonment of opposition leaders is the government’s preferred method of dealing with dissent. Citizens who dare to march in the streets for their rights are assaulted with teargas, acid-laced water cannons, beatings and arrests. The mainstream press is tightly controlled by the authorities; indeed many of them are owned by those with close links to the ruling coalition. Racial and religious intolerance is allowed to simmer and fester by those who have the authority and means to stop it but lack the political will and fortitude to do so. Religious extremists and bigots are attempting to convert this secular country into an Islamic state but our Prime Minister dares not defend our constitutional rights for fear of offending the Islamists. Deaths of those in police custody continue to occur unabated with at least one death reported per month since the year 2000.

In Sarawak, the rights of indigenous people are treated with indifference and contempt. Large tracts of their native customary land are taken by logging companies, huge plantations and dam builders, often without notice, consultation and free prior-consent and/or compensation as required under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). These activities are often sanctioned or even aided by those in authority. The government has ignored confirmed reports by their own agencies of the rape and impregnation of native girls by logging company workers in the remote jungles.

If the world had been blind to the erosion of human rights, justice and fairness in Malaysia, the disappearance of MH 370 has trained the focus of international media on our country and on our current government leaders and officials, who have been found greatly wanting. 

You, Mr President have been noted for being the champion of democracy and freedom. In this your final term, I pray that you will use this God-given opportunity to look beyond the deceptive picture of Malaysia that will be painted for you by the government of the day. I pray that you will hear the many voices who will be speaking about our hopes and dreams for a beautiful, free and fair Malaysia that was meant to be, and which has the potential to be, if given the chance. Malaysians are a patient lot and many have been trying to chip away at the grip that the oppressive, self-serving and corrupt regime has on the reins of power.  We need you to take the lead of international leaders to recognise the struggle for democracy that is happening now in Malaysia.

At this opportune meeting with our Prime Minister, may I humbly urge you, Mr President, to raise all the above-mentioned issues with our Honourable Prime Minister and respectfully request him to do what is right and just for our people.

Thank you.

Baru Bian
Chairman, PKR Sarawak.     

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