Source: The Malay Mail Online
Civil society activists sit down to a meeting with US President Barack Obama (right) at his hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 21, 2015. — Picture by Choo Choy May
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — A developed civil society and free press are important markers that reflect the development of a country, US President Barack Obama said today.
The world leader said he has emphasised the importance of civil society and press to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, after a rare meeting here yesterday with some of Malaysia’s civil society leaders and voiced the US government’s support for their work.
“I also emphasised to PM Najib the importance of civil society and free press,” he told a news conference during the Asean Summit here.
He added that while the US does not expect every country to follow its standards, a certain basic level should be met.
“Every country here has different levels and stages of development both socially and economically.
“We don’t expect that everybody follows the same pattern the US does, but there are some basic principles that are important for us to uphold, as friends and partners to the countries that we are talking to,” he said.
Obama has described Malaysia as a country with diverse faiths and cultures that will benefit from allowing a multitude of voices to be heard, after meeting several prominent civil society activists, including National Human Rights Society president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, electoral reforms watchdog chief Maria Chin Abdullah, anti-graft group C4 director Cynthia Gabriel, and Nisha Ayub from the Justice for Sisters group. Read more