KUALA LUMPUR: The fact that United States (US) President Barack Obama will not meet with Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is not indicative of his lack of concern over civil liberties in Malaysia.
The President pointed out that there were many other people he did not meet with and the subject of civil rights is prominent in his meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
“What I have shared is the core belief that societies that respect the rule of law, freedom of speech, right of opposition to oppose even when it’s inconvenient, the freedom of assembly, respect for people of different races and political philosophies, is a good gauge on how the society is going to be successful in the 21st century,” said Obama during a joint press conference held with Najib in Putrajaya on Sunday.
Obama acknowledged that Malaysia still has some work to do, much like the US, and that he will “continue to encourage him (Najib) as a friend and partner to make sure we are making progress on that front.”
Commenting on Anwar Ibrahim’s case, Najib stressed that it is not that the government is against him, but it was an action taken in the interest of justice.
“The matter is before the courts and it is not right for me to comment anything more on that," said Najib.
He noted that more work needs to be done in terms of civil liberties in the country and that the society has to be prepared for a change.
“Malaysia is committed to the rule of law, the independence of judiciary, and to civil liberties. There is more work to be done but it also means society needs to be prepared for change," said Najib.
He added the is committed in his aim of providing peace, stability and harmony in the country.