Society’s duty to push for recognition of human rights

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Source: FMT News

Expert on social democracy dismisses Malaysia’s arguments for not signing the UN Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.

PETALING JAYA: It is the peoples’ obligation to push their governments to recognise universally acknowledged rights, says renowned authority on social democracy Thomas Meyer.

Speaking to FMT, Meyer said political values of social justice are universal values, which governments needed to cater for, if they wanted the support of the people.

He said this when asked if social democratic aspirations could be achieved in Malaysia even though the country was not a signatory to the United Nations’ International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.

Social democracy is a socialistic system of government achieved by democratic means.

Meyer, a lecturer at the University of Dortmund, who gave a talk on social democratic values and policies here yesterday, noted the importance of the covenant in the context of social democracy

Malaysia had cited “special Asian values and different understanding of basic rights” as reasons for refraining from signing, but he dismissed it as nonsense.

“Citizens here have the same understanding of rights as other people around the world.”

However, he said that even if Malaysia did not sign the pact, which was legally binding, it did not mean the government could not recognise such rights, stressing that citizens had to push the government to do so.

The covenant calls on signatory parties to respect civil and political rights, including the right to free speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and so on.