A good friend sent me the link to this article today.
I usually don't read Sin Chew, but this piece was so salient that I thought it necessary to share with my readers.
Welcome to Malaysia
Opinion 2011-07-28 12:21
By DAVID D. MATHEW
Malaysia receives thousands of visitors every day. Some come looking for jobs while others are travelers yearning to enjoy our sunny beaches and delicious food.
But this article is not about jobseekers or tourists.
It is about two men.
About a month ago, Malaysia welcomed someone from a country formerly known as Rhodesia. He was treated very well and afforded all the luxuries and hospitality Wisma Putra could possibly provide.
This man, who so easily entered Malaysia, has a European Union travel ban against him name.
When this man appeared at a food summit in Rome in 2008, Mark Malloch Brown, the British Foreign Office minister for Africa, Asia and the UN commented that this was “like Pol Pot going to a human rights conference.”
The Australian foreign minister, Stephen Smith, said that the man’s attendance at the food summit was obscene because "This is a person who has presided over the starvation of his people."
In 2006, the African Union's Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights released a report which expressed concern over “the continuing violations and the deterioration of the human rights situation” and “the number of internally displaced persons and the violations of fundamental individual and collective rights resulting from the forced evictions” that was being carried out by the government led by this man.
Three years ago the Queen of England stripped this man of his honorary knighthood which was awarded to him in 1994.
Without mincing his words, a British Foreign Office spokesman said that the action had been taken "as a mark of revulsion at the abuse of human rights and abject disregard for the democratic process” in the country over which this man presided.
The man being referred to is Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. He visited Malaysia last month to attend the Ninth Langkawi International Dialogue as an invitee of the government.
Much of the world chides him. Thousands of his people have died of starvation because of his policies. Hundreds of his political opponents have been savagely beaten and tortured by the state.
Yet, Malaysia welcomes him.
Last week, the former General Secretary of the International Federation for Human Rights visited Malaysia.
This man has been very active in initiating legal proceedings in France against former Serbian or Rwandan leaders suspected of crimes against humanity and crimes of war.
He acts for Franco-Chilean families who were victims of the former dictator Augusto Pinochet. He also defends several French prisoners detained in Guantanamo.
The man also founded Sherpa, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and defending victims of economic crimes.
In 2009, Sherpa along with other non-profit organizations lodged a complaint in France against Dalhoff, Larsen and Horneman (DLH), one of the world's leading international timber wholesalers.
It is alleged that during the civil war in Liberia from 2000-2003, DLH brought timber from Liberian companies that provided support to Charles Taylor's brutal regime.
According to the claimants, by importing timber from forest concessions operated by corrupt Liberian companies, the French arm of DLH is guilty of handling and profiting from goods obtained illegally which is punishable under French criminal law.
The man being referred to is French human rights lawyer William Bourdon.
He arrived in Malaysia last week at the invitation of local human rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) to attend three fund-raising dinners. After the first dinner in Penang, Bourdon was detained by the authorities on his return to Kuala Lumpur and then unceremoniously deported.
Bourdon is in fact engaged by SUARAM to represent them in a case pending at the French courts concerning alleged financial kickbacks received by top government officials both in France and Malaysia over the purchase of the Scorpene submarines.
The Mugabe and Bourdon incidents raise grave concerns about the Malaysian foreign and immigration policies.
How can it be possible that we welcome an undisputed, evil despot but kick out a human rights campaigner who at the end of the day is merely advocating the stand of a local organization trying to have their day in the French courts?
I guess it all comes back to something I have written about before.
We don’t like it when it is about us.
March and rally all you like if it is against Israel or America. But it is not alright to march when it concerns local issues like free and fair elections.
Welcome to Malaysia if you don’t criticize us, doesn’t matter about what you do elsewhere.
Get out if you are here to talk about the possible shortcomings of those in government.
Only time will tell if Bourdon and SUARAM succeed in proving their case. But one thing is for sure. Robert Mugabe is no hero and if there is one person in this world that does not deserve to enter this land, it would be him.