PETALING JAYA – Parts of Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah’s acceptance speech when accepting the Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award (ADHRA) in Taiwan last week were censored by organisers.
A copy of the speech made available by the electoral reforms coalition today showed the censored portion was on state investment fund 1MDB and the allegations of corruption plaguing Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration.
The section of the speech, titled “Unfettered corruption”, was removed “due to diplomatic sensitivity”, the coalition said.
It read: “In July 2016, the US Department of Justice exposed a complicated trial of money laundered through 1MDB, wholly-owned by the finance ministry, Malaysia.
“More than US$3.5 billion was misappropriated, whereby US$681 million was transferred to Najib’s private account. Parts of the illicit funds were used to finance the previous 13th general election.”
Maria also referred to the removal of the attorney-general in 2015 and the suspension to investigations into 1MDB.
“1MDB court cases are happening in seven major countries but in Malaysia it was case closed,” she said in the text of her speech.
Bersih 2.0 received the Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award (ADHRA) on Dec 10, in conjunction with International Human Rights Day.
The event was attended by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy chairman Su Jia-chyuan, the foundation’s president Hsu Szu-chien and civil society leaders.
Maria in her speech also touched on the lack of freedom of expression, attacks against human rights defenders, and the government’s use of laws such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2015 (Sosma).
She charged that hate politics was part of a strategy to vilify rights activists.
“The politics of hate, religious intolerance and exclusion, which adversely affect the freedom and human rights, are used against human rights defenders. Yet, impunity against wrong doers is not addressed,” she said, adding that change was still a long road ahead.
“Malaysians’ voices are loud and clear – racial hostility, generated hatred, intolerance, violence and poverty have no place in our nation.
“Our clarion call: They can jail us. They can beat us up. But, they can never break our spirit,” she said.