Media Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong,
Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Saturday, July 3, 1999:

Khalil's statement that Opposition parties will not be given air-time anymore makes a mockery of the government's
proposal to set up a National Human Rights Commission to promote and protect human rights

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The statement by the Information Minister, Tan Sri Mohd Khalil Yaakob yesterday that "the electronic media in Malaysia are not keen to give air time to opposition parties anymore" makes a mockery of the government's proposal to set up a National Human Rights Commission to protect and promote human rights.

Parliament, when it reconvenes on July 12, is expected to debate and enact the National Commission of Human Rights Bill, which is to set up a National Commission of Human Rights whose mandate would include:

· to create awareness and provide education concerning human rights; · to advise and assist the government in formulating laws, directives, administrative procedures and provide suggestions; · to propose to the government certain ideas by participating in treaty and other international covenants on human rights; · to investigate complaints on violations of human rights; · to issue public statements on human rights when needed; and · to visit detention places according to the procedures set by the law
and to make necessary recommendations and suggestions.

How can the Government expect Malaysians to take the proposed National Commission of Human Rights seriously when at a time it is proposing a bill for its establishment, government agencies are blatantly trampling on human rights to the extent that the Information Minister could declare without any tinge of shame or remorse that "Radio and Televisyen Malaysia would not give air time to opposition parties to air their views or criticise the Government".

The Cabinet should set up a Cabinet Committee on Human Rights whose first task is to "create awareness and provide education concerning human rights" to  all the Cabinet Ministers and government agencies, starting with the Information Minister to make him understand that to deny air time to the Opposition parties over Radio and Televisyen Malaysia is a gross
violation of the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression.
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Lim Kit Siang   -