Bar Council: Obama believes Najib a moderate, but Umno, others a hindrance

Malaysian police and Secret Service vehicles escorting United States President Barack Obama's motorcade after a town-hall meeting with Asean youth at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Representatives from Malaysian civil rights groups also met the American president where they raised human rights issues. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, April 28, 2014.Malaysian police and Secret Service vehicles escorting United States President Barack Obama’s motorcade after a town-hall meeting with Asean youth at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Representatives from Malaysian civil rights groups also met the American president where they raised human rights issues. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, April 28, 2014.

By V ANBALAGAN

United States President Barack Obama recognises that Datuk Seri Najib Razak has the instinct for moderation and unity but elements outside and within Umno are the stumbling block, says the Malaysian Bar.

Its president, Christopher Leong, agreed with Obama that the Malaysian prime minister’s effort was a difficult task.

The US president’s three-day visit to Kuala Lumpur came 48 years after his predecessor Lyndon B. Johnson’s visit in 1966.

Leong replied to questions by The Malaysian Insider by text messages last night following his meeting with Obama together with nine other representatives from local civil rights groups.

He said the Bar which represents 13,000 lawyers would support Najib in his effort for moderation, unity and harmony.

“This is also important for Malaysia’s trade and economic development,” Leong added.

He said the US president, who was once a civil rights lawyer, was attentive on issues pertaining to the rule of law.

Leong said they also raised the reintroduction of detention without trial under the Prevention of Crime Act, the abuse of the Sedition Act against civil society and opposition political leaders to stifle the freedom of speech and expression.

“We also brought to his attention the use of the Printing, Presses and Publications Act to control the traditional media.”

Leong said Obama recognised the concerns raised and also supported the work put in by the civil rights groups, including the Bar.

He also said Obama agreed that Malaysia and the United States worked towards moderation, elimination of discrimination and promote the adherence to the rule of law.

“Obama also acknowledged that the US did not have 100% record on these issues but must continue to work and advocate improvement,” he said.

Obama left for the Philippines, the final stop of his Asian tour, this morning. – Malaysian Insider

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