TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Former Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has criticized Southeast Asian countries that stay silent concerning electoral fraud and human rights violation in its region. Anwar hopes ASEAN and democratic countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines to speak out more on those issues.
"Democratic countries in Asia, like Indonesia and the Philippines, should step to the front. Even though relations with neighboring countries must be in harmony, they should not just stay silent on Rohingya or electoral fraud in Malaysia," Anwar said yesterday.
Anwar, who leads the opposition party in Malaysia, objected to the May 5 election result in his country which he thought had been filled with fraud. He claimed the opposition gained 52 percent popular votes, but his objection has been ignored by the Malaysian Election Commission.
ASEAN, in Anwar's opinion, is weak in human rights enforcement. For more than 30 years, ASEAN has not done much on democracy in Myanmar. Human rights figure, Aung San Suu Kyi, for example, had been released only after pressures coming from the United States and European Union.
"Even now, on violence issue towards Rohingya, no statement has come from ASEAN," he said.
These things happen due to the authority in one government that went on for too long. He took an example on Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's Prime Minister in 1959-1990, and Mahathir Muhammad, former Malaysia's Prime Minister in 1981-2003. He said, these kinds of regimes have fooled the people, and Asian nations are not ready for democracy. This statement is often used to justify authoritarian government.
Anwar also said democracy in Indonesia can be more developed if the government elites put their people’s interests above all else and do not steal the people's rights.