Our problems none of Asean parliamentarians business
Published on: Sunday, February 21, 2021
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THE news about 90 Asean Members of Parliament and former elected representatives expressing their concerns over Malaysia’s state of emergency and urging the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and prime minister to allow Parliament to reconvene as soon as possible is appalling, to say the least.

The group’s message is a clear breach of the principle of non-interference that has been the foundation of regional relations between Asean member states.

The Bangkok Declaration had sought, among other things, to prevent external interference for the sake of upholding domestic and regional stability.

It is unbecoming for them to disrespect the core foundation of Asean by signing a joint statement to Putrajaya, urging Malaysia to protect human rights and to allow Parliament to review the emergency measures.

These past and present foreign MPs also appear to interfere in our domestic issues by urging Dewan Rakyat speaker Datuk Seri Azhar Azizan Harun to ensure parliamentary committees were active and meet regularly.

What rights do these foreign MPs and ex-lawmakers have to interfere in our business? Malaysia, just like other Asean member states, has more than sufficient capability to manage its own domestic problems, without the need for others to interfere.

Spokesperson Tom Villarin, a board member of Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) and a former Philippine MP, claims the fact that so many lawmakers from across the region are speaking out shows the level of regional concern over the emergency’s impact on parliamentary democracy in Malaysia.

But APHR itself is not representative of the region. It’s membership of over 100 individuals does not include representatives from all Asean countries, according to their official website.

APHR was founded in 2013 with the objective of promoting democracy and human rights across Southeast Asia, with founding members including DAP’s Charles Santiago and Lim Kit Siang.

Malaysia doesn’t need the interference of foreign politicians to determine its direction and future. Our domestic cohesion and resilience to internal and external threats have always worked out successfully, and that is the way it should continue to be.

Whatever the differences, we hope our politicians never resort to actions that could be seen as seeking intervention from foreign countries in our domestic affairs. Doing so would be akin to sacrificing our sovereignty.


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