Malaysia urged to stop ‘harassment’ of activists

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 September, 2012, 12:50pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 September, 2012, 12:54pm

Amnesty International has called on Malaysia to stop the “harassment” of a human rights organisation that has accused the government of corruption.

Authorities are investigating the funding of Suaram, an opposition-leaning group that has long campaigned against police brutality and other abuse.

Earlier this year, a French court started hearing a complaint launched by Suaram, accusing Prime Minister Najib Razak and others over a 2002 deal to buy two submarines from France.

Amnesty International urged Malaysia to “end all forms of harassment and intimidation”, saying the recent probe against Suaram appeared “to be a concerted, multi-departmental government campaign”.

“Amnesty International is concerned that the recent government actions against Suaram appear to be linked to the organisation’s legitimate work, in particular a corruption case which it has brought before the French courts,” the London-based group said.

A government spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

Suaram has said the probe is proof that the government is determined to silence critical voices after it alleged corruption over the purchase of the two Scorpene submarines while Najib was defence minister.

The allegations have posed a headache for Najib, who must face elections by the middle of next year and has been seeking to gain support by touting a reform agenda, including abolishing and amending strict security laws.

But critics have dismissed this as a ploy to bring back voters, who in the last elections in 2008 dealt Najib’s Barisan Nasional coalition its worst ever results, costing it its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority.