Mr. Rudd, please be honest

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

When you first visited my country in July 2008, you proclaimed that Malaysia is a vibrant and flourishing democracy and that Malaysia was a “great testament to the political wisdom of the people of this country.” In your recent visit, a year later, you praised Malaysia for energetically combating the trafficking of people.

On both counts, Mr. Prime Minister, you are categorically wrong. You are right if you were comparing Malaysia to Myanmar, Zimbabwe or the likes but your statements as reported in press tells me that you are pandering to a racist, corrupt and authoritarian regime.

Mr. Prime Minister, are you aware that 1,535 people (citizens and non – citizens) have died in the custody of the Malaysian government from the lack of care and/or from outright abuse between 2003 and 2007. Have you read the Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 by the U.S. Department of State which downgraded Malaysia to Tier 3 for not meeting the established minimum standards to curb human trafficking? Are you aware that there are credible reports of the Malaysia’s Immigration authority active involvement in the trafficking of refugees?

As for democratic practise in Malaysia – Mr. Prime Minister, we’re a basket case. By any definition, Malaysia is run by a corrupt, racist, authoritarian regime. The General Elections of 2008 provided a window of opportunity for Malaysians to claim their country. But the overwhelming power of the state has undermined and continues to undermine every legitimate right of Malaysians.

Mr. Prime Minister, I understand that the historical political baggage Australia has with Malaysia restricts your ability to speak freely on matters relating to human rights and democracy in Malaysia. However, you do no favour to the millions of Malaysians who are trying to get rid of this racist, corrupt, authoritarian regime which has done untold damage to Malaysia and continues to perpetuate it.

The least that I expect from you is to be honest to yourself.

Gregore Pio Lopez is a Malaysian, doing a PhD at the Australian National University