Malaysia may face possible trade sanctions if it does not buck up on human rights issues

I applaud the manner U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza defends the US stance on human rights and political matters in Malaysia. Condoleezza spoke a stern message at the 41st ASEAN meet in Singapore earlier this week on the manner Anwar was treated.

When warned by Malaysia's Foreign Minister Rais Yatim not to meddle in Malaysia's affairs, Rice stated firmly that 'We are always going to speak up on human rights cases, political cases, but again we do so in a spirit of respect for Malaysia'. Condoleezza had also brushed off Rais Yatim's statement that this was an 'internal affair', saying ' The United States doesn't recognize that it is simply internal affairs when a case of this kind comes up. We want to see transparency and for rule of law to be completely followed..' which means to say this is now US business and you all better not mug around with human rights.

Last Wednesday July 23, our Home Minister met up with foreign diplomats to 'brief' on the Anwar case. Brief? Do they need briefing? Sounds more like a subtle threat to me. 10 hours ago, the former chief of World Bank, IMF and even the ex-President of Canada released a press statement saying Malaysia should drop the sodomy charges against Anwar. Here's the rest of the report:

'"We have heard with deep concern the charges filed against the honorable Datuk Seri Dr. Anwar Ibrahim," said the statement by former Canadian prime minister Paul Martin, ex-World Bank chief James Wolfensohn, and Michel Camdessus, the former head of the International Monetary Fund. They said the charges were brought "in spite of the fact that similar unsubstantiated charges filed 10 years ago against him were overturned by the Supreme Court."

They therefore hoped that "the government of Malaysia will ... demonstrate, by dropping the charges... an exemplary sense of respect for the rights of the individual which are so important to the international standing of Malaysia."

The three reiterated their "full confidence in his (Anwar's) moral integrity."

I took a quick look at US trade sanctions policy. The US Treasury, which via its Office of Foreign Assets Control ('OFAC') controls and enforces the US foreign policy on countries outside the US considered to be:

- sponsoring/ carrying out terrorist activities
- carrying out narcotics trade
- producing/ procuring weapons of mass destruction.

Amongst the states which are under US sanctions are Libya, Zimbabwe,Syria, Iran, few other African states and Burma. What's Burma famous for? Not really terrorism activities; but as narcotics vendor, junta and Aung San Suu Kyi. US sanctioned because of human rights issues. If Malaysia doesn't watch it, it too will be in line for trade embargo. Remember, Condoleezza said, ' blah... blah... in a spirit of respect for Malaysia..' which means Malaysia is a borderline case- which should be now under current review by the OFAC for sanctions. Human rights is just one matter. Does anyone remember the Badawi-Scomi case which involved the supply of nuclear missile related parts to the Middle East. Yes, one more supporting point for the case. This is a red flag and should prompt the BN to sit up straight.

In summary, I demand :
- that the Ministers should revisit what's being being said to the US relating to Anwar and drop the hardball act on Anwar
- that the PR MPs must address this matter in the context of international trade and economic risk exposure; and pressure the BN to make the immediate repairs

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