ATTEMPTS by activists to link the summit in Indonesia next week of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum to Jakarta's human-rights abuses in East Timor, and elsewhere, are misguided. The human-rights campaigners are displaying increasing signs of aggressiveness and intolerance and they should realise that multilateral international bodies should not be held responsible for domestic abuses by individual members. Few people outside the Indonesian Government would try to defend Jakarta's human rights record. The recent banning of four publications - and the beating of demonstrators on the streets of the capital - highlight the administration's repressive tendencies. Indeed, few Asian nations that would pass a human-rights test skewed to suit Washington's current pre-occupations, which have expanded from such abuses as torture and arbitrary arrest to more amorphous issues, such as sexual harassment, domestic violence and the environment. However, all this has nothing to do with APEC. APEC exists to encourage regional co-operation, primarily in economic affairs, as a means of promoting trade - and development. Such multilateral organisations depend for their existence on an understanding among member nations that they will not use the organisation to launch attacks on other members' domestic policies. Hijacking a summit aimed at promoting regional economic co-operation can only work to undermine the good that APEC can achieve and there is no doubt that freer trade within the region will benefit Asian countries and their peoples. United States President Bill Clinton was right to abandon the unsuccessful policy of linking trade with China with human rights. Attempts to foist such a linkage on to APEC, or any other regional forum, are doomed to failure.